Stern to Lead Department of Media and Information

Michael Stern, Ph.D., a member of NORC’s Center for Excellence in Survey Research (CESR), has been named the Chair of the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

In his new role as Chair of the Department of Media and Information at MSU, Stern will head a research-heavy division of 30 nationally and internationally recognized faculty who work, among others, in human computer interaction, social effects of new and emerging media, media and information policy, as well as game programming and design. As the chair, he will work closely with faculty, while serving as a conduit to higher administrative staff. Stern will also support the department’s research efforts, funding opportunities, and annual reviews, while providing mentorship to Masters and Ph.D. candidates.

“Mike brings tremendous experience to our department. An accomplished scholar with a strong interests in digital inequality, social effects of the Internet, and research methods in a digital era, he will complement our faculty in critical areas. He also has extensive experience seeking and managing research funding from major public sector agencies," said Johannes M. Bauer, the outgoing chairperson of the Department of Media & Information.

Prior to coming to MSU, Stern served as the Director of the Web and Emerging Technologies Initiative for NORC at the University of Chicago. His position involved building research capabilities in web and emerging technologies, data science, innovative and technologically based research methods, and survey methodology by means of experimental work, as well as mentorship and administration.

He also served on the faculty at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and Oklahoma State University. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in technology and society, research methods, introductory statistics, categorical data analysis, survey research, new media and society, among many other sociology topics. 

Stern's research interests are two-fold. He focuses on theories of information seeking and digital inequality in the context of health, exploring how marginalized and traditionally underrepresented groups are excluded in the areas of internet usage, social media and mobile emerging technologies. He also focuses on how information and communication can be used in primary and secondary data collection, including mobile technology use, data science, network analysis and survey design, to name a few. During his career, Stern has written, led and contributed to nearly 40 grant proposals, leading to nearly $100 million in funding, including backing from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and numerous foundations. He has also been involved in training program officers at the NSF, NIH and the National Center for Educational Statistics.     

“We’re thrilled for Mike and this new opportunity,” said Don Jang, vice president and director of CESR. “We’re also excited that Mike will stay with us as a consultant, opening the doors to collaboration between NORC and MSU.”

As Stern transitions into his new role with MSU, he will remain an integral member of CESR as a senior fellow. Stern will continue to provide client counsel, project support, and thought leadership. Maintaining his role with both organizations, Stern will act as a bridge, connecting colleagues across both groups, facilitating collaboration and strengthening web and emerging technology research work across the board. In addition to bringing his skills to MSU, Stern offers a number of strong relationships to his new team.

“Working at NORC has given me a front row seat in observing the intricacies of data collection and understanding innovative ways to leverage the information we have at our fingertips,” said Stern. “I’m excited to bring that knowledge to the table at MSU as the department continues to grow our analytical capabilities.”

Stern will join Michigan State University in June, serving in the place of Dr. Johannes Bauer, who served as the Chair of the Department of Media & Information from 2013 to 2019.

Bauer has been named the Chair of the Quello Center for Media and Information Policy at MSU, and he plans to focus on research and leadership in national and international policy matters.

The Quello Center was established in 1998 to be a world-wide focal point for excellence in research, teaching, and the development and application of expertise in telecommunication management and policy. The center is dedicated to original research and outreach on current issues of information and communication management, law, and policy. The center maintains a strong reputation as a research center conducting innovative work on important public policy issues related to media and information industries. The ongoing work deals with digital inequalities and how they could be overcome, Internet governance and network neutrality, policies for next-generation wireless services, such as 5G and the Internet of Things, and the development of 21st century approaches to data ethics and privacy.

"A key priority will be the broadening of the external funding basis of Center research with the goal to support a larger number of doctoral students, visiting faculty, and to support local faculty, " said Bauer, who currently chairs both the center and the department. "I am thankful for the opportunity to work with great faculty and students."

Under Bauer's leadership, the culture in the Department of Media and Information advanced to become more research-oriented. The department saw faculty succeed in obtaining three National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER awards, as well as multiple other grants from federal funding agencies and foundations. Faculty also revised the undergraduate curriculum to strengthen core areas of education, including film and media production, interactive media and games, and human-centered technology and information management.

During the transition of leadership, Stern will continue to contribute to his existing client efforts with his NORC colleagues leading project work through April. Stern begins his term as Chair of MSU's Department of Media and Information on June 1, 2019.

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