Moody College Welcomes New Interim Dean

Jay M. Bernhardt begins as interim dean of the Moody College of Communication

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As of Aug. 1, 2015, Jay M. Bernhardt begins his appointment as interim dean of the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin.

Bernhardt has served as the Everett D. Collier Centennial Chair in Communication and professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations and founding director of the Center for Health Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. He will serve as interim dean until a permanent replacement is selected for outgoing Dean Roderick P. Hart.

“Dr. Bernhardt brings a unique blend of academic and applied communication expertise along with senior administrative experience to his role of interim dean”
- UT Austin President Greg Fenves

“I am deeply honored to be selected by President Fenves as the interim dean of the Moody College of Communication, one of the finest and most respected colleges of communication in the country,” Bernhardt said. “To follow in the enormous footsteps of a transformative leader like Dean Hart is profoundly humbling. The Moody College is a very special place with world-class faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and partners—I look forward to working closely with our talented team during this time of transition and opportunity.”

Prior to UT, Bernhardt served as professor and chair of Health Education and Behavior and founding director of the Center for Digital Health and Wellness at the University of Florida. He formerly served on the faculty at Emory University and the University of Georgia.

Bernhardt previously served as director of the National Center for Health Marketing at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this role he oversaw many of CDC’s most respected scientific publications, including Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and The Community Guide for Preventive Services along with CDC’s electronic communication and digital video production. Under Bernhardt’s leadership, the CDC significantly increased its emphasis on science-based health communication, including the innovative application of public and professional engagement using social networks, streaming media and mobile messaging.

“Dr. Bernhardt brings a unique blend of academic and applied communication expertise along with senior administrative experience to his role of interim dean,” Fenves said. “I am grateful to Dr. Bernhardt for his willingness to lead the college through this transitional time. I want to thank Dean Hart for his decade of service as dean of the Moody College. He leaves a remarkable legacy.” 

On Aug. 27, 2014, Hart announced he would be stepping down as dean of the Moody College after 11 years of service to return to teaching and scholarship as a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies, as well as a subsidiary appointment in the Department of Government.

Bernhardt’s research focuses on the application of digital communication technologies—including mobile, wearables and social media—to public health, healthcare and medicine. His recent research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Texas State Department of Health Services.

Bernhardt received a Ph.D. in health behavior with a concentration in health communication from what is now the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His master of public health degree is from what is now the Rutgers School of Public Health.

Bernhardt is a member of numerous honor societies and has received prestigious awards, such as the Everett Rogers Health Communication Award from the American Public Health Association, named for one of the most respected scholars in the field of health communication.

Nick Hundley