Kapampangan new academic dean of Columbia Journalism School

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Thursday, January 23, 2014


Ian Ocampo Flora

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Filipino journalist Sheila Coronel, a grandniece of Kapampangan poet and playwright Juan Crisostomo Soto (Crissot) of Bacolor, will become the Dean of Academic Affairs of Columbia Journalism School, a report from the prestigious institution said.

Dean Steve Coll said that Coronel will be succeeding Bill Grueskin, who has served in the position since 2008. Coronel will assume the post on July 1, 2014.

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Coll said that Coronel is a "superb journalist, teacher and leader."

“Her deep commitment to investigative reporting, data science and global journalism make her ideally positioned to advance the school’s most important priorities. She has earned the great respect of her faculty colleagues and has done much to improve the school since she arrived here. She has also established herself as a media leader through her service to groups working to advance investigative journalism worldwide and to protect reporters under pressure. I look forward to learning from her and supporting her new leadership role at Columbia,” Coll said in the journalism school’s webpage.

Coronel joined the Columbia Journalism School in 2006 as the Toni Stabile Professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism and the Director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, is known globally for her investigative work. She was co-founder and director for many years of the pioneering, non-profit Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. As a journalist in her native Philippines, she reported on the turbulent democratic transition that followed the fall of Ferdinand Marcos, writing for both Philippine newspapers as well as The New York Times and the Guardian.

Coronel is the author and editor of more than a dozen books, including “Coups, Cults & Cannibals,” a collection of reportage; “The Rulemakers: How the wealthy and well-born dominate Congress”; and “Pork and other Perks: Corruption and Governance in the Philippines.” She has received numerous awards and widespread recognition of her work, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2003, one of Asia’s premier prizes. In 2011, she received the Presidential Teaching Award, which honors Columbia University’s best teachers. She is a member of Columbia Journalism Review’s Board of Overseers.

She received an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of the Philippines in 1979, and a master’s degree in political sociology from the London School of Economics in 1991. Coronel will continue to teach and serve as Director of the Stabile Center.

Sheila’s mother is Kapampangan Dorotea Soto who taught English literature in a public high school before becoming a full-time stay-at-home mother. In a biography, Coronel narrated that while taking care of the six children, her mother translated Kapampangan literature into English. Kapampangan is the local language of Pampanga in Central Luzon, Dorotea’s home province. Sheila traces her love of literature to her mother.

“My mother read a lot and there were always books in the house,” said Sheila. “Sometimes we just all were reading together. This was before TV became such a big thing in family life.”

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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