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Chair's Corner: Winter 2024

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Media, Film & Journalism Studies

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Greetings from Gaylord Street!

Here in the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies, we have survived another Winter Quarter and are on our way to Spring and graduation in June!

Spring Quarter can be a challenge for faculty, staff, and students. We sometimes call it the “20-week marathon.” Transitioning from Winter Quarter to Spring Quarter with only a quick break to grade can be hard. But with exciting classes being offered this quarter and the weather warming, we know we will all finish the year strong. Please look for information about our Spring Quarter graduation events for our undergraduate and graduate students. We would love to see you on campus.

This Winter, we had our first Wolzien Lecture. The discussion of diversity in front of and behind the lens in Hollywood featured Visiting Professor Peter Lauer, Associate Professor Lauren DeCarvalho, and Theater Professor Anne Penner. The event focused on issues of representation in casting, directing, and producing. It was a great evening of discussion. I’d like to thank Tom and Valerie Wolzien once again for the generous gift of $500,000 to support this position and lecture event. Please keep an eye out for our Spring Wolzien Lecture “Hollywood from Behind the Camera: An Evening with Wolzein Visiting Professor Peter Lauer.”

We also played host to alumni William Sherak this Winter. William, a successful film producer, joined Peter for a discussion with our students about the roles of producing and acting. William’s new film, Abigail, should be hitting theaters just as you get this newsletter. Look for this exciting horror film about a teenage vampire.

As always, in this issue of our newsletter, you will find stories featuring our students and faculty. This winter, in addition to talks by William and Peter, we were visited by DU alumna Amy Nisenson. Amy, a member of the DU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science’s Alumni Advisory Council, met with students and faculty in the MFJS building to have an open talk regarding “the truth about failure.” Amy, the Regional Vice President for Effectv, the media sales division of Comcast Advertising, discussed how “failure” led her to find a satisfying career with Comcast. As Amy finishes up her term as the CAHSS Alumni Council President, we hope to have her even more involved in MFJS.

 You can also read about the work of MFJS Professor Dr. Nadia Kaneva in this edition. On February 28, 2024, DU held a special event to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Hosted by CAHSS, MFJS, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy, this event brought together a panel of faculty experts. Discussing this important topic were Nadia, Dr. Olena Fomenko, Dr. Debak Das, Dr. Rachel Epstein, and Dr. Suisheng Zhao.

You’ll also read about a group of graduate and undergraduate students from the DU who traveled to Mumbai, Delhi, and Agra, for a two-week interterm course to learn about Bollywood with adjunct faculty member Roma Sur. The class feature learning about social media and filmmaking, Master Classes by Bollywood industry experts, a Bollywood dance workshop, yoga classes, and visits to historic monuments. The department and the university are exploring ways to deepen and strengthen these connections, and we look forward to offering more of these opportunities.

In this edition of the newsletter, MFJS Associate Professor and DU Faculty Senate President Renee Botta. Renee, a dear friend, began working at DU in 2003. As you’ll read, the Faculty Senate is one of the governing bodies at DU and is the primary body for “shared governance.” As noted in the article, “Shared governance is a system that promotes inclusive and shared decision-making with different stakeholders in an organization.” Renee was elected President of the Faculty Senate and began her term in 2022. In this role, Renee works closely with Chancellor Jeremy Haefner and Provost Mary Clark to bring a faculty perspective to running DU. We are deeply grateful for Renee’s leadership in this area.

Finally, I’d like to ask you to “save the date” for homecoming next year. As part of homecoming, we will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the DU Clarion and hosting an MFJS alumni reunion. We will have more announcements about this later in the year, but for now, please save October 17-20 on your calendar. As part of the anniversary, we will also be hosting the Estlow Center’s Anvil of Freedom Award ceremony and the Margolin lecture. If you are interested in getting more information about the weekend, please go to If you would like to receive updates or are interested in volunteering to plan the event, please reach out with your contact information and we will be in communication with you as soon as possible.

As always, if you have any questions about anything in the newsletter, please reach out.




Derigan Silver, PhD


Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies