University of the Pacific welcomed Christopher Callahan as its 26th president on July 1, 2020. Callahan joined Pacific from Arizona State University, where he was the founding dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and led it to become one of the nation’s top programs.
Callahan has an impressive track record of developing programs and leading efforts that dramatically increased student enrollment, retention, diversity, graduation rates and recruitment of out-of-state students.
He brings great ideas for unifying Pacific’s distinctive three-campus university in new ways. Callahan says that “…Pacific provides students the best attributes of a national comprehensive university combined with the close-knit, intimate learning environment of a small liberal arts college. It is truly the best of both worlds.”
Callahan and his wife, Jean, a human resources executive, live in the President’s Residence on the Stockton Campus.
Christopher Callahan became University of the Pacific's 26th president on July 1, 2020. Prior to joining Pacific, he was the founding dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, vice provost of the Downtown Phoenix Campus and CEO of Arizona PBS.
While at ASU, Callahan was responsible for 300 employees, 2,000 students, a $30 million annual operating budget and a weekly audience of 1 million viewers in the combined Cronkite/Arizona PBS operation. As vice provost, he was the lead university officer for the growing campus in downtown Phoenix, which includes six colleges and 13,000 students across an urban campus deeply embedded in the community.
In 2010, Callahan was named the Scripps Howard Foundation Journalism Administrator of the Year. In 2011, he was appointed vice provost of the university’s Phoenix campus and became the first journalism dean to join the Board of Directors of the American Society of News Editors. He also serves as chairman of the Hearst Awards Steering Committee and the Committee of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the discipline’s national accrediting body.
Callahan is the author of “A Journalist's Guide to the Internet,” now in its third edition. In 2004, he led a joint study by Maryland and UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc. that explored the lack of racial diversity in the Washington press corps. Before entering journalism education, Callahan was a correspondent for The Associated Press in Washington and New England.
Under Callahan’s leadership, the Cronkite School transformed into a national journalism leader known for its focus on multimedia journalism, innovation and entrepreneurship, intensive professional experiences and partnerships with news outlets.
Callahan brought to the Cronkite School the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, the Carnegie-Knight News21 digital journalism initiative, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program for international journalists.
Callahan spearheaded the creation of a dozen professional programs for students, including Cronkite News, a multiplatform news operation that features a nightly student-produced newscast on Arizona PBS, a robust multimedia website cronkitenews.azpbs.org and news bureaus in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Other professional programs included the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, the Cronkite Public Relations Lab and Cronkite Noticias, a Spanish-language multiplatform news outlet.
Callahan also created new programs and partnerships with partners, including the Mayo Clinic, the RAND Corp., the MIT Media Lab and dozens of media outlets around the country.
Under his leadership, the school’s faculty nearly tripled in size. He recruited five Pulitzer Prize winners, leaders in journalism and strategic communications and prolific mass media scholars. He also led the planning for the Cronkite School’s $71 million state-of-the art home on a new campus in downtown Phoenix and raised more than $60 million from foundations, corporations and individual donors.
Callahan holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication. He came to ASU from the University of Maryland, where he served as associate dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and senior editor of the American Journalism Review.
The president's cabinet is a dedicated group of higher education professionals who work to ensure that Pacific's values are upheld, and that the institution is positioned to meet the needs of its student body and communities.