Eszter Hargittai named inaugural Delaney Family Professor
April McClain-Delaney (C86) and John Delaney have provided funding to the Northwestern University School of Communication to fund a new endowed professorship.
The April McClain-Delaney and John Delaney Research Professorship will support faculty research in the School of Communication. The inaugural Delaney Family Professor is Eszter Hargittai, a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies.
McClain-Delaney, a graduate of the school’s Department of Communication Studies, is the Washington Director of Common Sense Media, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing families trustworthy information and education on children’s media consumption. Prior to that she worked 15 years in the communications and media regulatory fields. She has a law degree from Georgetown University. Her husband, John Delaney, is a U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 6th congressional district. Prior to his election in January 2013, Delaney worked in banking, founding two New York Stock Exchange listed companies. He attended Columbia University and Georgetown University. The couple has four daughters, and are proud Northwestern parents of a current student.
Hargittai’s research focuses on the social and policy implications of information technologies with a particular interest in how they may contribute to or alleviate social inequalities. “The Internet has been heralded as the great equalizer, but empirical evidence seems to suggest that this is not necessarily true,” Hargittai said. “That’s why it’s so important to look at data about how people are incorporating digital media into their lives.”
Hargittai is the school’s expert on social media use, and with of-the-moment topics like Twitter and Facebook, time is key for keeping up with what is happening in the social media landscape.
The Delaney family’s support means Hargittai has more time to devote to cutting-edge research and can also fund additional research assistants—undergraduate students with an interest in the social implications of digital media. Student research assistants gain valuable hands-on experience—and resumé-boosting skills—participating in all aspects of research, from literature review and data collection to coding and analysis. Some of Hargittai’s student researchers have progressed to co-authoring papers with their professor including an article that received an academic prize.
“I’m grateful to the Delaney family for supporting research that addresses questions related to the increasing and increasingly complex ways in which digital media intertwine our lives,” Hargittai said.