The longtime head of the University of South Carolina’s communications school will step down at the end of this school year.
Charles Bierbauer, 74, came to the College of Information and Communications in 2002 after more than 30 years in journalism, most notably as a correspondent for CNN and ABC News.
“I’ve certainly stayed longer than I thought when I came here in 2002,” USC’s longest-serving dean said Thursday, “so the challenge really was to determine what’s the right time (to depart) for me, for the college, for the university.”
Colleagues say much of Bierbauer’s legacy is evident walking the halls of USC’s new journalism school.
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They say Bierbauer’s patience and persistence were crucial to moving the school from the bowels of the 47-year-old Carolina Coliseum to a newly renovated, three-story building with state-of-the-art technology on the school’s historic Horseshoe.
The $25 million move – about $7 million of which the journalism school raised – signified the school’s move into the modern, digitally-focused era of journalism, faculty members said.
“It has exceeded anything I ever thought it would be,” said Scott Farrand, a senior instructor at the journalism school. “While it’s just mortar, it’s set a new attitude about engaging in a new journalism and being better than what we have been.”
Andrea Tanner, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, said she never will forget Bierbauer’s happiness at the opening of the new school last year.
The new building will bolster recruiting efforts, she added.
“When you are 18 years old and you are looking at schools ... looks matter, and it’s nice to have a place where students are wowed when they walk in the door, and they want to be a part of what we’re doing,” Tanner said. “I really see, as we move forward, our school ... truly becoming a destination school for people interested in journalism and mass communications.”
USC president Harris Pastides said Bierbauer’s legacy will be guiding the J-school into the digital age. “We’ve got one of the best programs in the country, frankly.”
USC provost Joan Gabel praised Bierbauer’s efforts to expand degree options for students and to champion Cocky’s Reading Express.
Bierbauer cautioned against calling his departure a retirement, adding he is not set on what he will do next. “It’s time for me to do something else.”
USC will conduct a national search for a new dean of the college, Gabel said.