A message from Dean Rachel Davis Mersey to the Moody College community

Hear from the seventh dean of Moody College
Rachel Davis Mersey


Dear Moody College staff, faculty and students,

The Moody College of Communication is in the strongest place it has been in its history, and I am honored to be selected to serve as the next dean, charged with leading us to new heights. I want to thank President Jay Hartzell and Provost Sharon Wood for their confidence in me. Thank you, too, to the search committee, led by Senior Associate Dean Anita Vangelisti, for its commitment to a robust, transparent process. 

We are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the transformational Moody Foundation gift that gave the college its name and set us, under the leadership of deans Rod Hart and Jay Bernhardt, on this path to being an institution of excellence and impact. With outstanding department chairs and directors, associate and assistant deans, faculty and staff who have served during these years, we are best-in-class across the fields of advertising and public relations; radio, television and film; speech, language, and hearing sciences; communication studies; journalism and media; and communication and leadership. In addition, we are home to the national champion speech team, spectacular student media organizations and the respected voice of Central Texas in KUT and KUTX. 

That’s not all, and we are not done! 

We will continue to look for opportunities to bridge our communication disciplines, conducting important research, creating new works and providing our students with unrivaled educational and professional preparation for our changing industries. We will continue to operate with excellence across our campus in Austin, and sites in Los Angeles and New York, so that we may offer more programs and services, attracting partnerships from our industries and adjacent fields of study. And we will continue to care for our community by creating spaces and events that welcome all. 

I can’t wait! 

I’d like to thank the people who have invested in Moody’s success and in me personally. Moody staff, faculty, Advisory Council, alumni and parents have had outstretched hands and been incredible resources during my interim period. The 18 other TEXAS deans and senior leaders across academics, operations, professional services, development and athletics have been a community of which I am proud to be a member because they do their jobs with care and character. To our students who have shared their stories and experiences with me, I am overjoyed to get to see the craft and study of communication through your eyes. I cannot wait to see how you will change the world. Thank you! 

To those of you who I have not had the opportunity to meet, I look forward to it!

When you’re a child with a father in the nuclear Navy, there are a few things you look forward to and some of my favorite memories are the Change of Command ceremonies. I’ll admit the highlight was the giant sheet cake served at the end, but I remember many other things: the dress whites, which my father paired with his sword from the depths of his closet; my mother, who I think dreaded the pomp and circumstance of it all; the band, which played our National Anthem and other classics; the red, white and blue bunting, which was attached to anything that was still; and the precision of every moment down to THE moment when command passes (“I relieve you, sir/ma’am” followed by “I stand relieved”). 

The ceremony is, by tradition, formal and impressive. And its point, I think, is not just about a ship’s leader but about her crew. A captain, like a dean, is only a steward of something far greater, and while there is no sheet cake (nor a sword, best I can tell), the larger analogy holds here. 

I am honored to take the helm in a community as talented and dedicated as Moody’s. I am committed to working collaboratively to do the right things for the right reasons. I am humbled to have been asked to serve. 

I am deeply saddened my father isn’t here for this “change of command.” He would have been quite proud. But I am thrilled to celebrate with my mother, who recently moved to Austin; my husband, who has bought me more burnt orange sneakers in the past six months than I could ever imagine; and the entire Moody community, the reason I am honored to serve as the seventh dean of the Moody College of Communication. 

As they say in the Navy, fair winds and following seas. 

Or as we say at TEXAS, hook ‘em!


Dean | Moody College of Communication

Moody College of Communication