Hubbard School Announces Promotion for Four Faculty Members

Promotions take effect July 1, 2024

Following the recommendation of the faculty in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Liberal Arts, its Dean and the Provost, the University of Minnesota Regents voted to promote four Hubbard School faculty members. Benjamin Toff was promoted to associate professor with tenure; Erich Sommerfeldt and Emily Vraga were promoted to full professor; and Diane Cormany was promoted to associate professor. The vote was ratified on May 9, 2024, and the promotions take effect July 1, 2024. 

“We’re proud to announce the promotions of these valued faculty members,” said Hubbard School Director Elisia Cohen. “All four deeply deserve this award for their dedication to the School and its students and for their academic and professional accomplishments. They promote excellence within all the School’s programs.”

Ben Toff

Benjamin Toff, Associate Professor
Benjamin Toff studies public opinion, political communication, and changing media, with a particular focus on the public's relationship with news and journalism. His work has appeared in leading journals such as the Journal of Communication, Political Communication, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journalism, Journalism Studies, and Digital Journalism. He is also the author of Avoiding the News: Reluctant Audiences for Journalism (Columbia University Press, 2024, with Ruth Palmer and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen). In addition to serving as a core faculty member of the Center for the Study of Political Psychology, he is Director of the Hubbard School's Minnesota Journalism Center, which seeks to bolster the local news ecosystem through research and educational partnerships with the professional community statewide.

erich sommerfeldt

Erich Sommerfeldt, Professor
Erich Sommerfeldt received his Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the Gaylord School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma in 2011 and his M.A. in Communication from Western Michigan University in 2008. He specializes in public relations, with research emphases in civil society and development communication, public diplomacy, social capital, and social network analysis. He was selected in 2020 by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and the U.S. Department of State as a Jefferson Science Fellow. He was appointed as a Senior Advisor to the State Department in 2022. He was recently elected as vice chair of the public relations division of the International Communication Association.

Emily Vraga

Emily Vraga, Professor
Emily Vraga is the Don and Carole Larson Professor in Health Communication at the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Her research tests methods to identify and correct misinformation on social media, to improve audience resiliency through news literacy training, and to encourage attention to more diverse content online. Vraga has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters, and her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Andrew Carnegie Corporation. She serves on the editorial board for four journals and has consulted with health organizations, social media platforms, and government agencies to improve efforts to address misinformation online.

Diane Cormany

Diane Cormany, Associate Professor
Diane L. Cormany (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2017) is an associate professor and Writing Enriched Curriculum liaison in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Minnesota. Dr. Cormany specializes in popular culture, the impact of digital media practices, and diversity and media. Her research focuses on popular financial media and journalism, including personal finance celebrity Suze Orman, the cable channel CNBC, and Marketplace from American Public Media. Dr. Cormany’s peer-reviewed articles have been published in the Journal of Communication Impact, Communication, Culture & Critique, and Television & New Media.