Himelboim named the Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Analytics

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has named Itai Himelboim the Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Analytics. Himelboim is an associate professor of advertising and director of the SEE Suite, the Social media Engagement & Evaluation lab.

“Dr. Himelboim, one of the world’s leading experts on social media analysis, will take the Media Analytics program at Grady College to new heights as the Thomas C. Dowden Professor,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “The demand for students trained in media analytics grows daily, and we’re listening to industry demand in expanding our work in the field.”

As Dowden Professor, Himelboim will direct research on social, political and economic issues involving media, and social media in particular. These subjects align closely with his areas of study and teaching, which focus on the role that social media, including Twitter and Facebook, plays in news, politics and international communication. Applying network analysis, Himelboim examines the network structures that are formed when users interact on social media, including the emergence of information echo chambers and the diffusion of content within and across these communication silos.  His work also studies influential users, emerging communities and the impact that news media plays in these interpersonal communication spaces.

“In this big data era, media analytics is more important than ever for students, faculty and the industry,” Himelboim said. “I am thrilled and humbled to hold the Thomas C. Dowden Professorship in Media Analytics, and I look forward to continuing the work of making Grady College a leader in media analytics research and education.”

Himelboim joined Grady College in 2008 and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses including “Social Media Analytics, Listening & Engagement,” “Network Analysis of Social Media” and “Insights & Analytics,” among other courses.

Himelboim teaches in the SEE Suite, an analytics lab that he directs.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Himelboim also directs the SEE Suite, overseeing the analytics lab where students examine large, cross-platform social media data through a variety of software, like Crimson Hexagon.

He is a prolific contributor to academic journals including the “Journal of Political Marketing,” “Computers in Human Behavior,” “Social Media + Society,” “Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly,” “Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication” and “Communication Research,” among others. He is also a co-author of the forthcoming book, “Analyzing social media networks with NodeXL: Insights from a connected world (2nd edition)”.

Himelboim frequently speaks at international conferences and universities, as well. Some of his recent talks include “Social Media Analytics for Communication and Marketing: From Big Data to Actionable Insights” at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, the workshop “Network analysis of social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and semantic networks” at Hong Kong City University, “A Network Approach to Viral Advertising: The role of traditional influencers, new influencers and low-influencers,” at the American Academy of Advertising conference in New York, and “Understanding Social Media Conversations via Clusters in Social and Semantic Networks” at the University of Amsterdam.

.Himelboim earned his doctorate degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota. He has a master’s degree in political communication and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tel Aviv University.

The Dowden professorship was created in 2007.

Tom and Wendy Dowden at Grady College’s Centennial Celebration in 2015.

“While the original goal of the Dowden professorship was to explore the emergence of new media, the growing emphasis on media research and analytics is a new and important discipline in the field,” Dowden said of the new appointment. “I look forward to Itai’s involvement and contributions in this area under the aegis of the Dowden professorship.”

Dowden, a Grady College and UGA alumnus (ABJ ‘62; MA ‘64 in political science), is a pioneer in the cable industry, as well as founder and director of Dowden Communications. He is an emeritus chairman and member of the Peabody Board and emeritus UGA Foundation trustee. He received Grady’s John Holliman Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1990. He has been a generous supporter of the college, and has been committed to the development of the Graduate Certificate in Analytics program, with its focus on audience research and media innovation.

Ann Hollifield, who retired in January 2019, was the inaugural Dowden Professor.


Keith Herndon and Grace Ahn awarded by UGA Office of Instruction

Grady College faculty members Keith Herndon and Grace Ahn have been honored by the UGA Office of Instruction for incorporating innovation in their teaching.

Keith Herndon, William S. Morris Chair in News Strategy and Management, Director of the James M. Cox Jr. Institute and Professor of Practice in Journalism, is one of four professors campus-wide who received the Creative Teaching Award. Herndon was lauded for his use of virtual reality production with the Grady Mobile News lab and his leadership skills training through the Levin Leaders program.

At last year’s Grady Mobile News Lab, Herndon charged students with producing news stories without content leaving their phones.

“We give students a chance to experiment and practice,” Herndon said. “We experiment with new tools that are optimized for the smartphone and enable them to be multimedia journalists by creating content only on their phones.”

Herndon says the journalism industry is increasingly technology driven and it is important for students to have a wide variety of skills as they enter the workforce.

“As technology advances, we must be mindful of how to use modern tools in an ethical manner with journalistic principles to move media organizations into the next era,” Herndon said.

Herndon was presented with the Creative Teaching Award during the April 1 Faculty Recognition Banquet. He said the award is a testament to the hard work dedicated students do to learn new practices through extra-curricular opportunities.

Grace Ahn, Associate Professor in advertising and Director of the GAVEL Lab, was recognized as an outstanding First-Year Odyssey Seminar instructor. Ahn received the FYOS Teaching Award for “Harnessing the Power of Digital Technology for Better Lifestyle Choices.” She says she is delighted to connect students with research efforts.

“Students not only learn about the technologies but also have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience and become involved in research,” Ahn said. “It’s a pleasure to see my students realize the importance of research and that they can contribute to society’s grand challenges through research, even as freshmen students.”

Ahn says one of the joys of her work is to see students’ journeys develop from classroom discussions to cutting-edge research and career opportunities upon graduation.

Click here to see the full list of award winners from the UGA Office of Instruction.

Karen Russell named one of five 2017 Meigs Professors

Karen Russell, Jim Kennedy New Media Professor and associate professor of public relations at Grady College, is one of five University of Georgia professors named to the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship, the university’s highest recognition for excellence in instruction.

“This continues an amazing three-year streak of Grady representation in the university’s highest teaching honor, and is a true testament to the quality of teaching and mentorship all over the college,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “Dr. Russell is a state-of-the-art teacher who works tirelessly to keep pace with the rapid change in social media campaigns and digital marketing—areas on the leading edge of public relations.”

Russell joins five other Grady College faculty who are Meigs Professors: Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, James Hamilton, David Hazinksi, Karen King and Lynne Sallot.

The Meigs Professorship underscores the university’s commitment to excellence in teaching, the value placed on the learning experiences of students and the centrality of instruction to the university’s mission. The award includes a permanent salary increase of $6,000 and a one-year discretionary fund of $1,000.

“This year’s Meigs Professors create experiences both inside and outside of the classroom that challenge students to apply their knowledge to real-world situations,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten, whose office sponsors the award. “Their commitment to students helps make the University of Georgia one of the nation’s very best public universities.”

The other 2017 Meigs Professors are:

  • James “Jeb” Byers, professor and associate dean of administrative affairs and research in the Odum School of Ecology.
  • Markus Crepaz, professor and head of the international affairs department in the School of Public and International Affairs.
  • John Maerz, professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources,
  • Annette Poulsen, Augustus H. “Billy” Sterne Professor of Banking and Finance in the Terry College of Business.

Russell is an award-winning media historian who also uses 21st-century tools such as social media to prepare her public relations students for their careers. She developed a blog on teaching that became a resource for public relations students and faculty members around the globe. Russell has been hailed a “Top 40 Tweeter” by “PRWeek,” and her students have been commended by the Public Relations Student Society of America Bateman competition five times, winning a national championship in 2007. She created the popular campus-wide course “Online Reputation Management” and collaborated on the creation of an online continuing education social media certificate course. She is a recipient of top research awards in her field, including the Pathfinder Award from the Institute for Public Relations.

Meigs Professors are nominated by their school or college and chosen by a committee consisting of 12 faculty members, two undergraduate students and one graduate student.

More information about the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorships is online.