John L. Jackson, Jr. appointed Penn’s 31st Provost
On January 25, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill announced that John L. Jackson, Jr. had been elected Provost of Penn, effective June 1, 2023, upon ratification by Penn’s Board of Trustees. dr Jackson is currently Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Professor at Richard Perry University. He was previously the Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice and Senior Advisor to the Provost on Diversity at Penn.
“John Jackson is one of Penn’s most respected and accomplished academic leaders,” said President Magill. “He is a recognized scholar who has been extraordinarily successful in recruiting outstanding faculty, introducing innovations in teaching and learning, and building exceptional educational experiences for students. John is an outstanding fundraiser who has raised the profile of both schools he has run in Penn. I know he will take Penn to even greater heights.”
Dean Jackson becomes the thirty-first Provost in Penn history and was selected after an international search. His predecessor as Provost, Wendell Pritchett, returned to the faculty in 2022 after serving as interim president prior to the arrival of President Magill. Beth A. Winkelstein has served as Interim Provost since July 2021 and will return to her role as Deputy Provost. “Dr. Winkelstein has been an exceptional interim provost,” said President Magill. “She has established herself as a trusted partner and problem solver for her colleagues. Her steady leadership and unwavering commitment to Penn, especially during COVID and the presidential transition, have been invaluable. All of us at Penn are deeply grateful for the leadership she has provided.”
Dean Jackson earned his BA in Communications (Radio/TV/Film) from Howard University, his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University, and served as a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University before becoming an Assistant, then Associate Professor of Culture Anthropology at Duke University. In 2006 he joined the faculty at Penn.
As an urban researcher, media ethnographer, anthropologist of religion, and racial/ethnicity theorist, Dean Jackson’s work also explores how film and other non-traditional formats can be used effectively in scholarly research projects. Dean Jackson is one of the founding members of CAMRA, a Penn initiative that creates visual and performative research projects and establishes rigorous criteria for evaluating them.
Dean Jackson was Penn’s first Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professor, one of the university’s most prestigious chairs. PIK university professors are appointed to two or more faculties and use their positions to build bridges between disciplines through collaboration. He is currently a faculty member at Penn’s new Center for Experimental Ethnography and has ties to Penn’s African Studies and Anthropology departments, as well as the Graduate School of Education and the School of Social Policy & Practice.
“I couldn’t be more honored and genuinely humbled to be asked to fill this important position,” said Dean Jackson. “I look forward to working closely with President Magill and the entire Penn community as we meet today’s challenges and opportunities, and together prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.”
As Provost, Dean Jackson will oversee teaching, learning, research and student life across the university, as well as core areas such as admissions, arts, sports and recreation, libraries, online learning and global initiatives.
“The responsibilities of the Provost are far-reaching and have a profound impact on the success of the university,” said President Magill.
President Magill noted that Dean Jackson also currently chairs the Red and Blue Advisory Committee, which is leading a community-wide effort to inform Penn’s strategic next steps. The committee’s recommendations are presented to President Magill and provide a framework for Penn’s future. “John is a true university citizen who has led this effort boldly, collaboratively and creatively. He is well placed to take the lead as we begin to shape our university’s future academic priorities,” said President Magill.
In announcing Dean Jackson’s appointment, President Magill J. Larry Jameson, EVP of Penn Medicine and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, who chaired the Advisory Committee on the Provost Search, and thanked all members of the committee: “Dean Jameson and the Advisory Committee have done an excellent job,” said President Magill. “Your efforts helped ensure we had a talented and diverse pool of candidates to choose from.”
Filmmaker and urban anthropologist Dean Jackson is the author of Harlemworld: Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001); Real Black: Adventures in Racial Honesty (University of Chicago Press, 2005); Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic Civitas, 2008); Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (Harvard University Press, 2013); Rude Conversations: About Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2014), co-written with Cora Daniels; and Redemption on TV: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press, 2016), co-written with Carolyn Rouse and Marla Frederick. He is also the editor of social policy and social justice (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).
His most recent films include Bad Friday: Rastafari to Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012), co-authored with Deborah A. Thomas, and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South (Random Media, 2021), co-directed with Nora Gross and co-executive producer with E. Patrick Johnson.
The search for a replacement for Dean Jackson as Dean of the Annenberg School will begin immediately and details will be made available to the university community in the near future.