Gary Kebbel announces retirement after 10 years at CoJMC

Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 4:15pm

Journalism Prof. Gary Kebbel has retired after 10 years in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, two as dean.

During his time as dean, the college created the Nebraska News Service, with students reporting state news for about 100 new organizations across the state; the Jacht Ad Agency, a student-run, for-profit, full-service advertising agency; the Drone Journalism Lab, the first in the nation, and the collaboration lab, which became Maker Hours. The Nebraska Mosaic project, which gives voice to Lincoln’s refugee and immigrant communities, was expanded, and funding for Global Eyewitness world photojournalism trips doubled, enabling two trips a year to photograph people in need. Faculty created 12 new classes to significantly modernize the curriculum. 

He raised more than $2 million from private donors and foundations.

International teaching was expanded, with faculty teaching at Tsinghua University in Bejing, and Moscow State University in Moscow. Both are considered the top universities in their countries. Faculty also teamed with their counterparts in Delhi, India, to teach journalism there.

After stepping down as dean, Kebbel created the national MobileMe&You Conference, focusing on mobile-media best practices taught by experts at organizations like CNN, Univision, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune. The conference attracts about 500 college and high school students who want to learn new journalism and communication skills like virtual reality, augmented reality, place-based journalism, drone journalism, mobile multimedia news gathering and editing, social media platforms and audience analysis. The sixth conference is scheduled for October on the UNL campus.

As a faculty member, Kebbel was a grant partner with the Asian American Journalism Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association to embed a diversity reporter in the college for a year. The reporter wrote about Nebraska’s underrepresented populations, worked with newsrooms across the state and guest-lectured in classes. He received grants from UNL and from the Stevens Initiative (run by the Aspen Institute) to create a global news class where his students talked weekly with students in Oman about world issues. He also created classes in mobile media and in social media event planning.

Before coming to UNL, Kebbel was a co-creator of, and He was a home page editor at He was the director of AOL News, which at the time had an audience of 25 million people worldwide. He helped create and administer Knight Foundation’s News Challenge, a $25-million fund for grants to create new information technologies and increase community engagement. While at Knight Foundation, he helped distribute about $100 million in journalism and communication grants. 

Kebbel was awarded two Fulbright Senior Specialist grants from the U.S. State Department, one to help create a digital media curriculum at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa, and the other to consult with the African Union communications staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is a consultant and trainer for the U.S. State Department. He is former managing editor at newspapers in Upstate New York.

Kebbel has master’s degrees in journalism and in political science. He also has a Master of Social Work degree.

He and his husband, Ken Mason, plan to alternate between traveling, working in their garden and learning to cook better.

Gary Kebbel
Gary Kebbel