Elisia (“eh-leesh-ah”) Cohen is currently Gifford Blyton Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Her research area focuses on the intersection of persuasion and public health. Current and recent projects examine communication strategies to increase HPV vaccinations, eliminate cancer disparities, and improve rural adult and adolescent preventative health outcomes. Much of her research engages with residents of Appalachian Kentucky and other medically underserved communities.
She is an award-winning administrator and researcher. At Kentucky she tackled financial issues, increased alumni engagement, and made diversity and student success priorities of her leadership. In 2016 Cohen won the Mayhew Derryberry award from the American Public Health Association. She also was the recipient of the 2014 Sarah Bennett Holmes Leadership Award at the University of Kentucky.
Cohen earned a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, an MA from Wake Forest and her BA in political science from the University of Louisville.
She succeeds Albert Tims, who served as director of SJMC since 1997. The School of Journalism and Mass Communication was established in 1922 and is accredited by Accreditation Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. In 2016-17, SJMC serves 712 undergraduate majors, 63 graduate students, and employs 17 faculty members. Its innovative degree programs include tracks in strategic communication, professional journalism, and mass communication for undergraduates; a 5-year BA/MA in health communication; and for graduate students joint programs in mass communication and law.
In appointing Professor Cohen, College of Liberal Arts Dean John Coleman says her vision for the growth of the SJMC was a critical factor. “Elisia will bring great energy, enthusiasm, and innovative thinking to further strengthen and elevate the SJMC,” he says. “She has a track record of strategic and visionary administrative leadership, and is also an outstanding and prolific scholar who builds connections within her own research and across disciplines.”
Based on her record at Kentucky, Coleman says, “we can expect to see her build strong ties with alumni and with the journalism, communications, and media sectors in the Twin Cities and Minnesota.”
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead this nationally recognized journalism school—an innovative group of faculty and staff committed to ensuring students engage with world class facilities, instructors, and researchers to address important problems in journalism, mass communication, advertising, strategic and health communication,” says Cohen. “I’m looking forward to building on the school’s history of academic excellence and interdisciplinary outreach into the professional and academic research communities, both in Minnesota and beyond.”
Her appointment is pending a tenure review and Board of Regents approval.
- Campus Affairs