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Dr Rathna Ramanathan, Dean of the School of Communication, to stand down

The Royal College of Art today announced that Dr Rathna Ramanathan, Dean of the School of Communication, will be standing down from her role as Dean at the end of December. After five years of transformational service in two leadership posts, Rathna will be pursuing new opportunities aligned to her field. She will continue her role as principal investigator on key RCA research bids on community and critical communication based in South and Central Asia, and oversee the School’s submission to REF 2021. 

A Reader in Intercultural Communication, Rathna has stabilised, transformed and grown the School of Communication into a powerful, purposeful and internationally recognised place of research, learning and teaching, with student and staff experience at its core. She has led and developed a strong team who, under her guidance, have clarified and expanded communication to include multiple, diverse practices and research contributions, media, technologies and knowledges. This has included growing postgraduate taught and research student applications, and integrating important research and critical, cultural issues more deeply into the curriculum.

Prior to taking up the post of Dean in 2018, for three years as Head of Programme, Rathna  reimagined and revalidated Visual Communication, helping to ensure that it is now one of the College’s most popular programmes.

Professor Naren Barfield, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said:

‘It has been a privilege to work alongside Rathna as she pursues initiatives in research and international communication projects. Although we will all miss her as Dean of Communication, and as a colleague and a friend, we very much look forward to staying in touch, and collaborating on research and projects of shared importance.

‘Rathna’s radical vision for Communication and her commitment to shaping and delivering dynamic and innovative teaching and learning across all taught and research programmes have created a vibrant and dynamic School. 

‘I would like personally to thank Rathna not just as Dean but as a colleague who has had such a positive impact across the College whether it be to link Communication with advances in human knowledge, to contribute to the College’s world class research and academic developments, or to lead RCA2020, our online graduate platform.

‘We will work with the School of Communication team to ensure a smooth transition. 

‘I am sure everyone would want to join me in thanking Rathna for her immense contribution over five years, and for ensuring we are in a strong position going forward. She will continue to be a part of the wider RCA family.’

Dr Rathna Ramanathan said: 

‘I have had the honour and pleasure to work with colleagues within and outside of our School to build on a clear purpose for communication shaped by the question ‘What does it mean to be human?’. In a world of false news, visible inequalities, and global challenges, we recognise that it is imperative that we change the narrative of communication. I am proud of what we have achieved as a community, and look forward to seeing my colleagues progress this shared purpose and crucial contribution through our research, learning and teaching. 

‘In this current global situation, never has the role of communication in addressing critical human and non-human challenges been more urgently needed. I believe in the power of communication as a fundamental human right, and as a radical and meaningful tool that can create lasting positive change in the way in which we describe, interact and connect with each other. This is, and has been, a central aspect of my research in intercultural communication and in my work with marginalised communities both here in the UK, and internationally.

‘I look forward to what the future holds and to keeping in touch with the College. My gratitude and respect go to my RCA colleagues for their warmth, support and good wishes.’

A search agency has been appointed to undertake an international search to recruit a new Dean of Communication.