Erica Weintraub Austin was born and raised in State College, Pennsylvania, the home of Pennsylvania State University, a land- grant university.
She never strayed far from those land- grant roots, joining Washington State University because of its dedication to research and instructional excellence, as well as its strong alumni support, and its dedication to its land- grant mission to make research practical and widely available to the public.
Austin was hired in 1989 as an assistant professor in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. She has served as the inaugural director of the Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion Research and for eight years served as the head of the Public Relations sequence. As interim director of the Murrow School, she led the campaign to elevate the School of Communication to college status and served as its inaugural dean.
Today, she serves as the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Accreditation Liaison Officer for WSU, as well as a professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, where she works with graduate students. During the 2015-16 year, she served as interim co-provost for the WSU system.
Austin’s research focuses on media literacy and on communication campaigns, with an emphasis on health promotion and civic engagement. One current project, funded by a $2.5 million federal grant, uses media literacy to teach families how to manage the media environment for better nutrition to prevent childhood obesity.
Another project, which combines alcohol safety and academic wellness into an alcohol safety awareness campaign, allows her to meld her goals as vice provost and as a researcher.
Her desire to learn how to maximize the positive effects of media messages and minimize the unintended effects, especially in messages targeting children and adolescents, bolstered her decision to pursue her doctorate at Stanford University after practicing public relations in a public school system..
Austin has over 55 published journal articles on health promotion and media literacy in various journals, as well as a popular textbook on strategic communication campaign planning, co-authored with Bruce Pinkleton.
Bio authored by Shelby M. Hein, Class of 2017