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Communications

AU School of Communication Celebrates 25 Years Susan Zirinsky, SOC Alumna and CBS Producer, Receives Dean's Award

Susan Zirinsky
48 Hours senior executive producer Susan Zirinsky was presented with the American University School of Communication Dean's Award.

American University (AU) alumni, faculty, staff, and students gathered at the Mexican Cultural Institute on October 16 to mark the 25th anniversary of the School of Communication (SOC) as an independent school and the generations of making media that matter.

In his remarks, SOC Dean Jeff Rutenbeck said, "Though I have only been part of the SOC story for six of the past 25 years, the experience on a personal level has been deeply moving. I have witnessed time and again the genuine sense of caring, of compassion, and of commitment that you all bring to your students and your colleagues."

Susan Zirinsky, senior executive producer of the award-winning crime and justice series 48 Hours and senior executive producer of the primetime series 48 Hours: NCIS, Whistleblower, and of the 2013 documentary series Brooklyn D.A., was honored at the event with the SOC Dean's Award. It was presented "in recognition of her role as a trailblazer, a mentor, and a transformational leader," said Rutenbeck.

In a tribute video made for the event, Zirinsky's colleagues, peers, and mentees describe the passion, energy, and tenacity she brings to everything she does. "There's a reason we call her 'Z'. And it's not just because it's the first letter of her name. It's because nothing and no one can follow her," said 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl in one clip.

Interior of Mexican Cultural Institute

SOC celebrated a quarter-century as an independent school at the Mexican Cultural Institute in the Columbia Heights section of Washington, DC.

Courtney Surls, Susan Zirinsky, Jack Cassell

From left to right: AU Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Courtney Surls; Senior Executive Producer of 48 Hours Susan Zirinsky; AU Board of Trustees Chairman Jack Cassell; Mexican Cultural Institute Executive Director Alberto Fierro Garza.

Jill Olmsted, Sandy Ungar, Jackie Judd

From left to right: SOC Associate Professor (and SOC alumna) Jill Olmsted, former SOC dean Sanford Ungar, and former ABC News correspondent (and SOC alumna) Jackie Judd.

Jack Cassell, Susan Zirinsky, Jeff Rutenbeck

From left to right: AU Board of Trustees Chairman Jack Cassell; Senior Executive Producer of 48 Hours Susan Zirinsky; SOC Dean Jeff Rutenbeck.