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Patricia Parker stands on campus.
Patricia Parker (photo by Kristen Chavez)

Patricia Parker has been named the next director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Her four-year term will begin July 1.

Parker, chair of the department of communication, has been a member of the Carolina faculty since 1998. Communication, one of the largest departments in the division of fine arts and humanities, is home to roughly 450 majors and 50 graduate students. A professor of critical organizational communication studies and director of the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research, she brings a wealth of leadership experience and engaged scholarship to the position. Her research and teaching focus on social justice leadership and decolonizing organizational communication processes.

Parker co-chairs, with professor James Leloudis, the University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward. As the inaugural director of faculty diversity initiatives for the College of Arts & Sciences (2012-2015), she developed the College’s diversity liaison program, catalyzing a network of critically engaged faculty leaders working for equity and inclusive excellence in their respective departments.

She is also founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism, a community-based not-for-profit organization building community power for social change and supporting girls’ and women’s leadership development. Her most recent book, published in November 2020, is Ella Baker’s Catalytic LeadershipA Primer on Community Engagement and Communication for Social Justice.

Parker’s work has been recognized with numerous honors, including the UNC Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for teaching in 2013, the University Diversity Award in 2014 and the National Communication Association’s Engaged Scholars Service Award (Organizational Communication) in 2010. She received her B.A. in speech communication at Arkansas Tech University, her M.A. from California State University and her Ph.D. in communication studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Parker will replace Andy Perrin, who has accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

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