Rafael Lorente named dean of UMD journalism school
By Braden Hamelin
Rafael Lorente has been named dean of the University of Maryland’s (UMD) Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Dean Lucy Dalglish steps down on June 30, and Lorente assumes the position the next day.
Lorente received his masters in journalism from UMD in 1998. He then worked as a Washington reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where he covered a number of high-visibility events including the 9/11 attacks, U.S.-Cuba relations and two presidential elections. He has been a full-time faculty member at the university since 2005 and has served as associate dean of the journalism school since 2015, working with Dean Dalglish for the last eight years of her 11-year tenure. He also directs the school’s master’s program.
“Rafael is very well thought of by our faculty and he has been the associate dean for academic affairs, so he’s very accustomed to working with the faculty and with our students,” Dalglish said.
As associate dean of the school, Lorente worked to expand the curriculum and adapt the program to meet evolving industry standards in the digital age.
“What I’ve been able to watch as associate dean is not only the changes in the industry, but the way the faculty have responded [to these changes] … [and] jumping in to teach online during COVID[-19] and then taking lessons from that,” he said.
Lorente credited Dalglish for elevating the school’s reputation and acknowledged that he has big shoes to fill.
“She took over a college 11 years ago that, you know, isn’t doing great … and 11 years later, we are unquestionably one of the top journalism programs in the country,” he said. “So by the standard of ‘Is the place better when you leave than when you arrived?’ she’s been wildly successful. My job now is to take it to the next level.”
And Lorente intends to do exactly that. He is setting his sights on revamping elements of the school’s approach, with an emphasis on the value of community journalism. He is also eager to boost enrollment at the school and says he intends to recruit students from broadly diverse backgrounds.
His commitment to diversity is backed by statistics, which show UMD’s graduate student cohorts having an average of 40% students of color during his tenure, according to a university press release.
“Journalism has to speak … [it] will listen to and speak for everyone,” he said. “And we need a more diverse newsroom. We need a different kind of culture, a different level of openness and willingness to listen to our audience.”