The dean of the College of Journalism and Communications announced Wednesday in an email to faculty and staff that he will step down in January 2013.
John Wright has been on medical leave since before fall final exams and is being treated for throat cancer. He became interim dean in July 2006 and assumed his role as the dean of the college in December 2007.
Wright wrote that he will remain as part of the faculty and thanked his colleagues for their support.
"I look forward to an extremely exciting year together in 2012 as we continue to enhance our
status as one of the elite journalism and communications programs in the world," he wrote.
The news comes days before the college is scheduled to be evaluated for accreditation. Mike Weigold, associate dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Enrollment Management, said Wright started preparing the college about a year ago for the visits that will take place Monday and Tuesday.
The results should be out in a few weeks.
"We're ready for this because John made sure we were ready," Weigold said.
He added that Executive Associate Dean Linda Childers Hon "has really stepped right in" for the time being.
Hon is acting as the standing dean, but Spiro Kiousis, chair of the public relations department, said Wright will be back in a limited capacity in the next few weeks.
In his email, Wright said he had planned to make the announcement at the end of the fall semester, but his treatment and hospitalization stalled the process.
Kiousis said Wright has enhanced the school's teaching research and productivity despite budget cuts, which he called a "pretty remarkable accomplishment."
Wright's time as dean brought an emphasis on digital and multimedia communications to the college. The Center for Media Innovation and Research opened in 2010 in Weimer Hall, and the building is under construction with the addition of a multimedia convergence newsroom.
Wright also contributed to the college's study abroad programs and distance learning partnerships, Kiousis said, as well as encouraging initiatives between different departments.
"We've been very fortunate to have him as our college leader," he said.