COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has named Rafael Lorente dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, effective July 1, 2023. As dean, Lorente will provide strong and visionary leadership for the College; support an environment of diversity and inclusive excellence in teaching and learning; and promote a culture of impactful research, scholarship and creative activities. Lorente will work among the College’s students, faculty, staff and alumni to effectively advance the mission of the College.
“Over the past 20 years, Rafael has proven his commitment to everything our university values and strives for: creating a diverse and inclusive community, providing our students unparalleled opportunities, and pursuing excellence in everything we do,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice. “Under his leadership, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism will teach the next generation of journalists to research, investigate and contextualize the grand challenges of our time.”
Lorente currently serves as associate dean for academic affairs and director of the master's program for UMD’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. In these roles, he works to connect research and practice to courses throughout the College’s curriculum, and collaborates with the journalism industry to facilitate partnerships and internships for students. He has steered the restructuring of the College’s curriculum toward strategic areas, including data journalism, changing business models and investigative journalism. With a particular focus on increasing diversity in the College’s master’s program, Lorente’s leadership has resulted in cohorts that average 40 percent students of color.
During his tenure, Lorente has worked closely with national news outlets to elevate opportunities for UMD’s journalism students. He initiated a partnership with the Associated Press, making Capital News Service one of the first student-staffed news services in the country to be distributed nationally by the Associated Press. He helped oversee a multi-university partnership for student coverage of the national political conventions in 2016, allowing UMD journalism students to report from the residence of the U.S. ambassador in London. He also worked with USA Today to create a co-taught class featuring a UMD faculty member and the company’s senior director of news strategy.
“I believe passionately in the power of journalism to right wrongs and create more level playing fields, and I believe in the power of universities and journalism programs to do the same,” said Lorente. “Merrill College and the University of Maryland are uniquely positioned to tackle the grand challenge of reimagining journalism education in the service of democracy, and in alignment with the university’s strategic plan. I am honored to lead these efforts as the College’s next dean.”
Lorente has led multiple innovative efforts to advance the College’s offerings. He helped lead a team of faculty and staff that put together the successful proposal for a three-year, $3 million grant for investigative journalism from the Scripps Howard Foundation to create the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism. He also co-led the interdisciplinary team that developed a master’s degree in data journalism to be offered jointly with the College of Information Studies.
Previously, Lorente was a senior lecturer in the College, and served as both the Washington and Annapolis Bureau Director for the College’s Capital News Service. Prior to joining academia, Lorente was a practicing journalist at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, particularly focused on legislative and political matters and higher education. He covered the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the attacks of September 11, and U.S.-Cuba relations.
He currently serves as vice chair of a national committee for the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication; on the board of directors for both the Center for Media Integrity of the Americas and the National Press Foundation; and chairs the D.C. Regional Planning Committee for Phillips Academy, Andover. He also recently served on the board of directors for the National Press Club Journalism Institute.
Lorente holds a master’s degree from the University of Maryland in journalism, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in English, politics and public affairs.