Second Cronkite School dean candidate Zooms with students in private

Don Heider, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, met with a small group of Cronkite students Monday

Don Heider, the second dean candidate finalist for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, met with a group of students invited to meet with him Monday. 

Heider, the executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said he plans to emphasize keeping up to date with technology, updating class curriculum and growing from past mistakes, a person in the meeting told The State Press under the condition of anonymity. Students were not given permission to disclose the meeting's content. 

About 10 students were present, significantly less than the group that attended the last meeting, but grades, majors and student concentrations were well represented, the person said. 

A person who attended the meeting said it was made clear Heider had spoken with a group of faculty Monday before joining the students. Heider told The State Press Tuesday he spoke to about 45 faculty this week about some of the same concerns students had — how decisions will be made with input and what steps should be taken to make the Cronkite School an anti-racist institution.

Last week, the Cronkite School began hosting private panels for selected students to meet with finalists for a dean position that was vacated last summer after incoming Sonya Forte Duhé had her job offer rescinded after details emerged about her alleged history of making racist and homophobic comments toward her students

Students met with Battinto L. Batts Jr., the current director of journalism strategies at the Scripps Howard Foundation, last Thursday over Zoom, where he spoke about enhancing the Cronkite experience, putting student voice at the forefront of the school and maintaining administrative transparency.

READ MORE: Cronkite School begins private panels with dean candidates 

According to his public LinkedIn profile, Heider has been at Santa Clara University since 2018. Since 1991, Heider has worked in higher education in a variety of roles including instructor, professor and dean at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Maryland, Loyola University of Chicago and Santa Clara.

In the 1980s, Heider was a reporter and producer at several local TV news stations before beginning his Ph.D. in communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Heider told The State Press Tuesday he considers himself to be a journalist first. Reporting practices drive how he thinks, teaches and works in administration, he said. At the Cronkite School, Heider said he wants the school to be a "centerpiece for collaboration" across all degree programs and initiatives at ASU. 

Heider said Tuesday he thinks diversity and inclusion are step one to taking a strong stand against racism and supporting students, no matter their background. Taking a look in the mirror to confront personal bias would be the first step, Heider said, to reversing systemic challenges in journalism schools and higher education.

There is no easy solution to unpaid internships that are "de facto racism and classism," Heider said Tuesday. He said he'd like to implement fundraisers and sponsorships to even the playing field so all students can get professional work experience while in college without having to worry about personal finance.

At the meeting, Heider relied on past administrative experience to interact with students present on media subjects like objectivity. A person who attended said Heider was outwardly in favor of "solidarity journalism" – which is reporting which acts as a commitment to "social justice that translates into action," according to an article from the assistant director for journalism and media ethics and social sector ethics at Santa Clara

Heider told The State Press he doesn't think traditions are always right and change must be made to the way news is produced and disseminated because "just because it's embedded doesn't mean it can't change," he said.  

Editor's Note: Three members of The State Press were present at the student meeting with Heider but were not part of writing or editing this article. 

Reach the reporters at and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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