Robert S. Littlefield will join the Nicholson School of Communication as its new director in August 2016, according to a press release.
The announcment of a new director follows the resignation of the previous director, Robert Chandler, after an official investigation found that he was found misusing university funds and resources. The investigation left Chandler on administrative leave with pay.
A letter written by the dean of the College of Sciences, Michael Johnson, stated that Chandler had made over 100 authorized trips in which costs were covered by the university. However, Chandler was accused of using a third-party entity for a "significant number of these trips" to reimburse him for his travel. Because Chandler was using a third-party, he was essentially getting paid to travel. Johnson referred to it as "double-dipping."
After five years of serving as director, Chandler resigned in May of 2015.
Arlen Chase, the associate dean of the College of Sciences, served as the interim director of NSC while the college interviewed new candidates.
Littlefield currently serves as Professor of Communication at North Dakota State University where he has also served as chair of the Communication Department, interim dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and director of the Institute for Study of Cultural Diversity.
With six published books and monographs, and more than 100 articles, chapters, and workbooks, Littlefield said that he is very excited about joining the faculty and staff at NSC.
“Having the opportunity to help guide the NSC as it moves forward with its doctoral program, to assist with the potential transition to a downtown location, and to lay the groundwork for future growth and development as an academic unit persuaded me that the University of Central Florida was the place where I wanted to be. I can’t wait to get started,” Littlefield said in the release.
The new director is a highly regarded scholar of crisis and risk communication. His most recent book, published last year, was co-authored by NSC Professor of Strategic Communication Timothy Sellnow. The book is titled Risk and Crisis Communication — Navigating the Tensions Between Organizations and the Public.
Littlefield has spent time working with a variety of organizations such as the American Forensic Association. He’s served as editor on the editorial boards of Communication Studies and the Journal of Applied Communication Research. According to the release, Littlefield is deeply engaged in service to the community and around the world, most notably as a member of the Board of Directors of the Lions Club International.
The new director said he felt right at home as soon as he began his interview process at NSC.
“It seemed like the stars aligned and this was the right position for me,” he said in the release. “As I met the faculty, staff and supporters of the NSC, there was a natural connection. When it’s right, you can’t resist. I was hooked from the start.”
Tim Brown, associate director at the Nicholson School of Communication said the faculty at the school were very involved in the search to fill the position.
“We evaluated a number of high caliber candidates. I think it’s fair to say that the faculty are very excited about working with Dr. Littlefield when he arrives in August,” Brown said in the release.
Littlefield is expected to start his new position at UCF on August 8, 2016.
Rosie Reitze is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @rosie_ucf or email her at RosieR@centralfloridafuture.com.