What’s Next at Newhouse

The Newhouse School today stands as one of the most well-regarded schools of communications in the country, with programs that represent all areas of the industry. Its roots at Syracuse University stretch back more than 100 years, to the founding of the Department of Journalism in 1919. And those roots are still strong.

“At the end of the day, journalism remains the heartbeat of the Newhouse School,” says Dean Mark J. Lodato. “Journalism is where we serve our most important purpose, as it is critical to our democracy.”

That sense of purpose underpins the school’s new academic strategic plan, created last fall as part of a campuswide strategic planning process launched by Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter that resulted in individual plans for each school and college as well as a University plan, “Leading With Distinction.”

Some 300 faculty, staff, students and alumni worked on the Newhouse plan, a comprehensive document that outlines a dynamic vision for the school’s future and charts a course for the next five years.

Here, Lodato discusses highlights of the plan and opportunities for the school moving forward. 

Defending the role of journalism in our democracy has become increasingly critical. What part will the Newhouse School play in that effort?  

I expect to see robust growth in our impact over the next five years. With the establishment of the Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship (IDJC), a joint effort with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, we are working toward a return to civil discourse and underscoring the importance of journalism in our democracy. The institute allows for cross-college collaboration and industry partnerships. Together with NBC News, IDJC is staging a series of focus groups to gain insights from key voting blocs in 2024 presidential election battleground states. The institute has also received a $250,000 grant to look at misinformation in the presidential election, which will involve IDJC researchers working with Senior Associate Dean Jennifer Stromer-Galley from the School of Information Studies, who is an expert in this area. All these things bring immense value to our country and our society.  

The concept of engaged citizenship is an important tenet of the University plan, and IDJC obviously plays into that. In what other ways does engaged citizenship resonate for Newhouse?   

We are producing students who want to engage. We are producing storytellers and journalists, advocates and persuasive communicators. We are keeping our communities informed, we are entertaining our communities and, as journalists, we’re taking responsibility for the future of our communities. We are also applying for grants that will help support local news and looking at how the school can work with media outlets or local organizations—especially in rural areas—to keep communities informed. An example of how this can work is the reporting and writing our students do to help [public radio station] WAER cover Central New York. Our students are also working with professional journalists from the USA Today Network and Central Current as part of a reporting team investigating the impact of police vehicle crashes on communities throughout New York state. That project is led by faculty members Jodi Upton and Nausheen Husain

Jodi Upton, Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism, co-leads an investigative reporting project in which Newhouse students work with professional journalists from the USA Today Network and Central Current.
Jodi Upton, Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism, co-leads an investigative reporting project in which Newhouse students work with professional journalists from the USA Today Network and Central Current.

Talk about ‘digital citizenship,’ a key phrase in Newhouse’s academic strategic plan.  

One major focus for the school is the connectivity between communications and technology. For years, we have enjoyed tremendous success and rich relationships with legacy media, and we need to continue that. But to truly lead in the future, we need to train our students around technology and communications. So that’s companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Netflix, and it is technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.   

We must ensure that our students can succeed in a rapidly changing communications environment. But that includes training and educating them to be good stewards of this technology. When we talk about digital citizenship, we’re talking about what it means to use technology responsibly if you’re a content creator, and also what it means to use technology in a responsible way if you’re a consumer. Newhouse can play a role in both those areas. We’re educating students, but we can also educate news consumers. It is a real opportunity for us.

How will the school embrace that opportunity?  

What we envision is what we are currently calling the Advanced Media Lab. I see it as a hub, ensuring that our departments and faculty use technology—the latest, greatest technology—in the most effective way within our curriculum. It can also be a conduit to external partners and resources. In three years, I would love to see a large company send their employees to us for training in artificial intelligence or corporate communications strategy, for example. It would be educational but would also provide avenues for collaboration with these amazing organizations when they bring their people to campus. We’re currently hiring a new faculty member to be part of this exciting effort and talking to companies about engaging with us at a high level. 

Students crossing a street in New York City.
Newhouse students have the opportunity to spend a semester studying, interning and experiencing life in New York City (above), Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

What are some other areas of opportunity for the Newhouse School?  

Our study away programs in Los Angeles and New York City are already strong, and we will continue to expand those while also working to grow our newer program in Washington, D.C. We are raising money to help reduce barriers to access so that 100% of students can take advantage of the opportunity to spend a semester in one of those cities or abroad. We’ll offer more Newhouse DEIA courses at study abroad locations, including a class in Santiago, Chile, that examines diversity in Chilean film, or a course in Madrid that addresses stereotypes in Spanish advertising. 

Newhouse is a leader, if not the leader, when it comes to experiential learning. Look at what our students have the opportunity to do, whether in Syracuse or off campus—reporting on Capitol Hill, producing content in New York City or Los Angeles. Few schools can rival that.

Students collaborating with each other in front of a computer screen.
Newhouse students interact during a news reporting class. The new Academic Strategic Plan reinforces the school’s core mission of providing a top-of-class educational experience.

Key Points

The Newhouse Academic Strategic Plan will guide the school’s core mission of providing a top-of-class educational experience focused on preparing graduates for a communications career.  The Newhouse School will foster the next generation of alumni and support the faculty and staff so instrumental in helping our students succeed.

While the plan sets 2028 as the target to reach goals, this blueprint will provide a foundation for Newhouse into the next decade and beyond.

Top commitments

  • Grow programs and student experiences, as well as faculty research and creative activities, that focus on the intersection of democracy, journalism and citizenship.
  • Invest in faculty projects, curriculum development and infrastructure that promote principles of inclusion and equity for students in every Newhouse communications discipline.
  • Expand industry partnerships and collaborations to create unmatched opportunities to pursue research and creative activities for students and faculty.
  • Develop student excellence and advance faculty expertise in technology-driven communication tools and practices, specifically in advanced and emerging media.
  • Emerge as a global hub for sports media and communications and the study of sports media through teaching, research and creative and professional activities.


  • Fall 2022
    Dean Mark J. Lodato appoints a Strategic Planning Committee composed of faculty, staff and students to oversee the strategic planning process.
  • Fall 2022 semester
    Committee hosts 13 listening sessions to gather input from all segments of the Newhouse community.
  • October 2022-April 2023
    Committee works on the strategic plan in conjunction with Dean Lodato and school leaders.
  • May 2023
    The strategic plan is formally submitted to the University Provost’s Office.
  • January 2024
    Implementation of strategic plan begins, establishing benchmarks through 2028.