COLLEGE PARK (5/27/20) — University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism visiting professor DeNeen L. Brown has been appointed to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure, Dean Lucy A. Dalglish announced. The appointment has been approved by University President Wallace D. Loh.
“DeNeen Brown is an amazing and inspirational addition to our college faculty,” said Merrill College Professor and Senior Scholar Sarah Oates, who serves as chair of the college’s appointments, promotion and tenure committee. “Her career has focused on giving voice to the voiceless. There has never been a more important time to give our students her wisdom and experience to prepare them to contribute to American journalism.”
Brown joined the Merrill College faculty in 2019 after more than three decades as a staff writer at The Washington Post. Since coming to UMD, she has continued to write for The Post, including a series of stories on the deadly 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which led to the city’s mayor reopening an investigation into suspected mass graves.
“Merrill College seldom has the opportunity to conduct national searches for senior, tenured faculty members,” Dalglish said. “We are remarkably fortunate to have found Associate Professor Brown. During her first year at the college, she not only captivated her students but also continued work on her groundbreaking Tulsa project for The Post. Merrill College will benefit from her talents for years to come.”
Said Brown: “I’m honored to be a part of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, an excellent institution creating a new generation of outstanding young journalists. I’ve been impressed and amazed at just how well trained students perform as reporters.”
Among other jobs at The Post, Brown has covered police, courts and education, and was a foreign correspondent. She was a staff writer in The Post’s Metro and Style sections and a staff writer for The Washington Post Magazine. Brown has earned national recognition for writing narratives about the middle class, the homeless, culture, race, Black history, urban gentrification, poverty and the environment.
As The Post’s Canada bureau chief from 2000 to 2004, she traveled throughout the Canadian Arctic and Arctic Archipelago to write about climate change, melting permafrost, receding glaciers, indigenous populations and cultural erosion. She also has written dispatches from an icebreaker in the Northwest Passage, and covered stories from Greenland and Haiti.
She’s won national feature-writing prizes from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the National Association of Black Journalists, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, as well as regional awards from the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Press Association. In 2006, Brown’s story titled “Mr. Wonderful” won first place and the best-in-show award for daily writing from the Virginia Press Association.
Brown is a former Knight Fellow and Washington Post Media Fellow at Duke University. She has taught writing seminars at Harvard’s Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism and has been a guest lecturer on narrative writing at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in Florida.
She’s taught writing at National Writers Workshops around the country and at the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors conference. She was also an adjunct journalism instructor at Georgetown University.
Her essays about writing are published in “Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide.” Her award-winning narratives are published in “Best Newspaper Writing 1999: The Nation’s Best Journalism.”
Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.
She often tells students the story of how she grew up as a shy girl from Kansas — who wrote poetry, climbed trees and dreamt of faraway places — and went on to become a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post traveling to the Arctic.
“The story always begins with a journalism professor who cared,” Brown said. “Susanne Shaw, a professor at the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, saw my potential. Professor Shaw plucked me from an obscure writing class, became my academic advisor and nurtured me as a journalist. That led me to being hired by Ben Bradlee at The Post.”
Over the years, Brown has wanted to pass on that experience to young journalists.
“In the classroom, it is my mission to transfer my knowledge of reporting and writing rich narratives to a new generation of students,” Brown said. “As an instructor, I’d like to teach them what I learned in more than 34 years at The Post. I’d like to inspire students to discover the true power of writing. A good story, well reported, can change the world.”