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Dr. Jisu Huh named Raymond O. Mithun Chair in Advertising

June 3, 2016

The first half of 2016 has been a whirlwind for Jisu Huh. Not only did the School of Journalism & Mass Communication Director of Graduate Studies begin her one-year term as president of the American Academy of Advertising, SJMC Director Albert Tims announced Huh’s promotion to the rank of professor and holder of the Raymond O. Mithun Land Grant Chair in Advertising.

She succeeds John Eighmey, who retired in May 2015 after 12 years in the position. Huh will be the school’s third Mithun Chair since it was established in 1987 and the first female to hold the chair.

“We are thrilled to name one of the field’s leading advertising scholars as our next Mithun professor,” Tims said.

Huh said she is honored to follow in the footsteps of her predecessors Eighmey and Bill Wells, two authorities on research in the advertising industry.

“This is a meaningful change in terms of how this chair is appointed and used. The past chairs were more accomplished and in the late stages of their academic careers with many accomplishments before they came into the chair position,” Huh said. “In my case, [SJMC is] investing in me, thinking about what I could do using the resources, what I can accomplish in the future. I’m very excited about the many opportunities and possibilities.”

The succession path is fitting. Huh and Eighmey started their SJMC careers in 2003: Huh as an assistant professor fresh out of graduate school and Eighmey, an authority on advertising, marketing and mass communication, who was brought in to launch the School’s Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication Program. Over the years, the pair worked closely on setting the direction of the School’s advertising, public relations and strategic communication programs, as well as the development of the Professional M.A. Program

Eighmey said Huh’s professional portfolio and academic achievements set her apart from the rest of the field. A native of Korea, Huh worked as an advertising and marketing researcher in Seoul before pursuing graduate studies in the United States. She earned an M.A. in journalism and mass communication and a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Georgia. She has established herself as a prolific health advertising researcher having published more than 50 journal articles, presented upward of 70 conference papers and authored about a dozen book chapters and reports.   

“Jisu is really at that intersection of understanding what the business problems are, what the social problems are, what the chief issues are that confront society and the economy,” Eighmey said. “She can place them in a rigorous, scholarly, theoretical framework so the research can be most productive. That’s what makes Jisu special.”

While the professional world continually redefines advertising, Huh said academic research has failed to keep up. Many industry professionals consider academic research irrelevant because it is often based on traditional advertising concepts, such as television and print media, and disconnected from today’s advertising landscape. Strengthening connections between academic research and industry practice is central to Huh’s vision for the Mithun Chair.

“When we bring industry people and academic people together, we can share the most innovative thinking and answer the compelling, pressing questions of the day,” Huh said. “Advertising is so much more in today’s world. We’re expanding the boundary of what advertising is. That is going to push the boundaries of advertising theory-building and what we mean by advertising research.”

Graduate students will have a vital role to play in advancing advertising research. Huh envisions creating a research center to support graduate student projects by creating a data repository for computational social science research on advertising and partnering with industry professionals.

“I’d like to globalize the program, and field, and really elevate the stature of SJMC as a prominent place where innovative advertising research and education is done,” Huh said. “By doing that, we can recruit the high-value graduate students from all over the world and we can encourage topnotch international scholars to come here to engage in collaborative research projects dealing with important questions facing advertising scholars and practitioners across national, cultural boundaries.”