July 21, 2003

Search ends for new Halle director

Eric Rangus

Holli Semetko, professor and chair of audience and public opinion research on the faculty of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in the Netherlands, will become Emory’s new vice provost and director of the Halle Institute for Global Learning when she arrives on campus this summer.

Prior to her faculty appointment in Amsterdam, which she began in 1995, Semetko was a faculty member at the University of Michigan and Syracuse University, and she was a research fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

“Holli Semetko brings strength in her academic discipline and in her extensive experiences abroad,” said interim Provost Woody Hunter. “She has lived in Europe for a number of years and has traveled in many parts of the world. Her particular knowledge of the mass media and European politics will be helpful to her work in establishing a stronger international presence for Emory and in attracting leading public figures to Emory.”

“Top universities such as Emory have profoundly important roles to play in fostering international understanding through enhancing awareness and the exchange of ideas,” said Semetko, who has lived for most of the past two decades in Europe. A U.S. citizen, she earned her undergraduate degree in economics and political science at Albion College in 1980. She earned two graduate degrees in England.

Semetko’s research interests include media effects on public opinion, the role and influence of media in elections and politics, and cross-national comparative research. Author or co-author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters, Semetko’s most recent publications touch on the changing news and information environments in European countries, and the potential influence of news and information sources on political attitudes, citizens’ perceptions of political issues, parties, leaders and institutions, and voting behavior.

“It’s difficult to think about politics and political issues without also thinking about information brought to us by the news media,” Semetko said. “I became fascinated by British politics during my [graduate] studies at The London School of Economics and Political Science in the early 1980s.”

Semetko earned her Ph.D. at LSE in 1987, and her dissertation, Political Communication and Party Development in Britain: The Social Democratic Party, was awarded the Samuel H. Beer Prize from best dissertation in British politics in 1989.

After teaching stateside for a few years, Semetko moved to the Netherlands, where she was chair of audience and public opinion research for eight years. From 1997–2001, she also chaired UvA’s Department of Communication Science, which was one of the largest in Europe at the time with more than 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students.

Semetko has coauthored several books and her most recent volume, edited with Margaret Scammel, is The Media, Journalism and Democracy, published in 2000. She currently is working on an edited volume that brings together innovative and up-to-date literature on news frames (how journalists simplify information) and framing effects (the influences on citizen perception caused by the framing) in a European context.

The hiring of Semetko stabilizes a position that has not seen permanence in some time. Marion Creekmore served as interim vice provost during the 2002–03 academic year. Prior to that, current School of Law Dean Tom Arthur held the position on an interim basis. Creekmore was the last full-time vice provost; he retired in 2000 following seven years at the post. Creekmore also was founding director of the Halle Institute from 1997–2000.

In her new position, Semetko said she intends not only to enhance and expand an already impressive array of international activities at Emory and the Halle Institute, but also facilitate a long-term funding base.

“There have been very interesting speakers, papers and conferences organized by the Halle Institute in the past several years,” she said. “I intend to continue this and also draw upon a professional network that includes prominent political journalists, politicians, activists, legal experts, diplomats and government officials, market and public opinion researchers, as well as university administrators and educators.”