Temple Northup G’08

Temple Northup graduated from Newhouse in 2008 with a master’s in media studies. He currently works as the director of the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.

“From theory to research, the courses at Newhouse set me on the right path to become an effective researcher, which is what led me to getting tenure at my first university.”

Temple Northup, G’08

How did you obtain your current position?

I just started this position in July 2020 after being at the University of Houston the previous nine years. At the University of Houston, I was director of the Valenti School of Communication, a position I held for the last five years I was there. Before that, I was at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which is where I got my Ph.D. after graduating from Syracuse with my M.A.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

These days, average days are a bit different as I spend so much time on Zoom. But, ignoring that component of it, I would say it’s hard to describe an “average” day as they are almost never identical. As the administrative head of the school, my first and most important task is to make sure everything is running as planned—all our classes are happening, faculty are supported in their needs and our students are getting the help they need to graduate on time. Beyond those tasks, which take up a lot of time, I also work hard reaching out to alumni of the school in order to build stronger relationships with them, and to find new sources of revenue for our program. I also like to spend time thinking strategically about what we as a media school need to be doing to position ourselves as a leader in the field and what changes we need to make in order to keep our students prepared for the workforce.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse absolutely prepared me for my role—and frankly continues to help me in this position. It did this in a few ways.

First, being a graduate of the Newhouse M.A. in media studies, I got really well trained in some of the most important and core aspects of the communication discipline—from theory to research, the courses at Newhouse set me on the right path to become an effective researcher, which is what led me to getting tenure at my first university.

Second, getting to be a student at Newhouse meant I got to see some of the best faculty in action. As a future faculty member, and then administrator, I know what great teaching looks like, and I know what it looks like to be a great mentor to students. Those lessons I have carried with me in all aspects of my career.

Finally, being part of Newhouse meant I got to see some of the most innovative programs in the country—and that is something I continue to do. As the leader of a different school, I keep an eye on what Newhouse is doing because I know it will always be leading the field. I have such respect for all aspects of the Newhouse School, if I can lead our program to be anywhere near as strong, then I am doing great things!

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

When I applied to Newhouse, I honestly did not anticipate what it would truly be like or where my career would go. In that sense, it absolutely opened my eyes to becoming not just a teacher, which is what I had thought about doing after I graduated, but also an engaged researcher. The enthusiasm of the faculty and their research agendas was contagious, and although I entered the program thinking about teaching one day, I left wanting to do much more—I wanted to conduct research.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

The main thing that drew to Newhouse was its reputation. There are only a handful of programs in the US that everyone knows from its name, and Newhouse was one of those. That is unique—and the benefits pay off after you leave as I am constantly meeting people who went to Newhouse, and the network it provided me has been very beneficial during my career.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

Some of my research has gotten a lot of attention within the media—with one of them getting so much coverage, I actually ended up flying to New York City to appear on Fox & Friends (a place, for many reasons, I never thought I would be). That was quite an experience and certainly one of the more exciting things that have happened! I’ve also gotten to interview many high-profile media personalities including Anderson Cooper, which was really fun.

Northup Temple with Anderson Cooper
Temple Northup with Anderson Cooper. Photo courtesy of Temple Northup.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

I think it’s super important to connect with faculty early and get to know them. They are your best resources whatever your career goals, and so the better they know you, the more they will help you after graduation.