Jenifer Whitten-Woodring Image

Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, Ph.D.

Dean of Honors College, Associate Professor of Political Science

Honors College
Political Science
Allen House


  • Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations, University of Southern California
  • M.S. in Radio, Television and Film, Syracuse University
  • B.F.A. in Communication, Emerson College


Jenifer Whitten-Woodring is Dean of the Honors College. She directed the Global Studies Ph.D. Program from 2016 to 2021. She holds a B.F.A. from Emerson College, an M.S. from Syracuse University and Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations from the University of Southern California in 2010.

Since Whitten-Woodring came to UMass Lowell in 2010, she has been engaged in the development and leadership of programs aimed at promoting faculty mentorship of students. These include the Emerging Scholars Program, which facilitates partnerships between faculty and promising undergraduate students; UMass Lowell’s Teaching Assistant Training Program; and the Launch@UML Program for new faculty. She is also an affiliate and past member of the Center for Women and Work’s leadership team.

Whitten-Woodring remains active as a political scientist. Her research focuses on human rights and civil liberties, including gendered rights, media freedom and freedom of expression. Her book, "Historical Guide to World Media Freedom: A Country-by-Country Analysis" (CQ Press/SAGE 2014, with Douglas Van Belle), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015, analyzes the evolution and devolution of media freedom in 196 countries from 1948 to 2013.

In 2019, Whitten-Woodring served as the Program Co-Chair for the International Studies Association’s Annual Convention. She is a past Chair of the International Communication Section of ISA. With the UMass Lowell Political Communication Group, she created the 2018 Program for the American Political Science Association’s Political Communication Pre-Conference. She also had leadership roles in APSA’s Human Rights and Foreign Policy sections. Additionally, she has served as a panelist for the National Science Foundation.

Prior to becoming a political scientist, Whitten-Woodring worked as a journalist in print and broadcast media and received five first place awards from the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association. She became interested in media freedom and the relationship between media, politics and human rights when she was a journalism instructor and student newspaper adviser, first at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and then at California State University at San Marcos.