Ray Eldon Hiebert, founding dean of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, died Aug. 5 in Carmel, Calif. He was 91.
According to Maryland Today, the university recruited him in 1968 “to revamp its journalism department, and after four years of progress, the program was elevated to college status with Hiebert as dean. In the following years, he concentrated on working with graduate students and served as chair or committee member of dozens of master’s theses and doctoral dissertations. He also continued a prolific writing and editing career that included textbooks, biographies and the founding of a prominent academic journal.
“Hiebert continued as dean until 1980 and remained on the faculty until his retirement in 1998, teaching for another 10 years on a part-time basis. He was inducted into the Merrill College Hall of Fame in 2023.
“”Ray was critical to getting Merrill College to where it is today, and he remained involved, interested and passionate about its mission throughout his life,” Merrill College Dean Rafael Lorente said. “I remember Ray as someone who cared deeply about teaching and positioning graduate students to be the journalism educators of the future.”
“UMD might have lost its journalism program altogether without Hiebert’s work, said Maurine Beasley, a professor emerita of journalism. When he stepped in, proposals were afoot to move journalism education to another campus in the University System of Maryland, which would have sacrificed the college’s proximity to one of the world’s most dynamic journalism markets.
““He recognized the need to have a journalism program that allied itself with the world of Washington media,” she said. “Ray, the founding dean of our college, always was forward-looking.”
“Hiebert was also an early backer of research into women’s roles and opportunities in the media, and in a tribute submitted to Merrill College, Beasley said she in part owes her career to that groundbreaking support.”
PHOTO: University of Maryland