Hubbard School Administration & Leadership

Elisia Cohen

Elisia Cohen, Director

Elisia Cohen earned her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota as Director and tenured Professor in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication she served as the Gifford Blyton Endowed Professor and chaired the University of Kentucky Department of Communication and led its Health Communication Research Collaborative. Dr. Cohen began her career at Saint Louis University, and after four years moved to the University of Kentucky where she rose through the ranks as she developed innovative media and community-based outreach strategies to improve cancer prevention and detection behaviors in underserved communities. At the University of Kentucky, she was awarded the campus Sarah Bennett Homes Award in recognition of her leadership, research, and service. She also was recognized with the American Public Health Association’s 2016 Mayhew Derryberry Award. Her research has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and private industry. In 2019, she was recognized with the Dale E. Brashers Distinguished Mentor Award from the National Communication Association health communication division. Her research on media reporting and public understanding of disease has appeared in journals such as: Health Communication, Health Education and Behavior, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Journal of Communication, Journal of Communication in Healthcare, Journal of Health Communication, Qualitative Health Research, and Prometheus. She has edited four volumes of Communication Yearbook.

To contact Elisia Cohen, reach out to Lisa McDaniel at 612-625-2576 or [email protected]

Maria Len-Rios

María Elizabeth Len-Ríos, Associate Director

Dr. María E. Len-Ríos (Ph.D., Missouri) joined the Hubbard School as professor and associate director after serving as the associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of public relations at the College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She conducts research in the areas of public relations, health, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2016 she co-edited the text Cross-cultural Journalism: Communicating Strategically about Diversity, which was updated and republished in 2019/20 under the title Cross-cultural Journalism and Strategic Communication: Storytelling and Diversity (Routledge). She has won more than 10 top paper awards at regional, national, and international academic conferences, published numerous journal articles with colleagues, and has served in various roles on large and small grant projects.

Contact María at [email protected]

Susan LoRusso

Susan LoRusso, Assistant Director for Curriculum and Instruction

Susan M. LoRusso earned her M.A. (’14) and Ph.D. (’17) in Mass Communication from the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After earning her Ph.D., she joined the Hubbard School faculty teaching courses in Information for Mass Communication, Principles of Health Communication, and Mass Media and Popular Culture. Dr. LoRusso joined the HSJMC leadership team in the Fall of 2019. Her research examines the effects of the public’s routine exposure to information in media, with a focus on misinformation, conflicting information, and controversial information. Research topics include news coverage of cancer and mental health information. Her research has been published in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Journal of Magazine & New Media Research, Health Communication, Preventive Medicine, and Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.  

Contact Susan LoRusso at [email protected]

Matt Carlson

Matt Carlson, Director of Graduate Studies

Matt Carlson is the author or editor of six books and has published over sixty journal articles and book chapters. His research within the field of journalism studies concentrates primarily on how different actors publicly compete to define journalism and its boundaries, dictate its normative and ethical commitments, and establish proper forms of news. He has served in leadership roles at the International Communication Association, and he is currently on the editorial board of eight journals. He also serves as Director of Graduate Studies at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Contact Matt Carlson at [email protected]


Ruth DeFoster

Ruth DeFoster, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ruth DeFoster is a lecturer and the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on media coverage of crime, mass shootings, terrorism and identity. She is the author of the book Terrorizing the Masses: Identity, Mass Shootings and the Media Construction of 'Terror.' Her professional background is in journalism, and she has more than a decade of experience as a writer, editor and journalist. She is the incoming Head of the Cultural and Critical Studies division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. 

Contact Ruth DeFoster at [email protected]


Jean Kucera

Jean Kucera, Chief of Staff

Jean has spent the majority of her professional career in management roles at the University of Minnesota. Her role as Chief of Staff in the Hubbard School has her working closely with the Director to make sure the department is running smoothly. She oversees all non-instructional aspects and is also the point of contact for all human resources functions. 

Contact Jean Kucera at [email protected]


Rebecca Rassier

Rebecca Rassier, Associate Director of Student Services

Rebecca earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked in student services in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota since 2000 and has received the John Tate Award for Excellence in Academic Advising and both the group and individual Outstanding Service Award in the College of Liberal Arts. Rebecca directs student services for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which includes curriculum management, advising, programming, policy, recruitment/promotion, admissions, scholarships, and instruction/conduct concerns.

Contact Rebecca Rassier at [email protected]