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MFJS Chair's Corner: Fall 2023

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Media, Film & Journalism Studies

Blog Post  •

As we finish off 2023, we have several exciting things to share. First, while it is not a new building, we are happy to share that this summer, we completed a large number of renovations to our building. This includes over $300,000 in new classroom equipment, a new equipment storage system to replace “the cage,” and many mechanical upgrades to the building, including new lights in our hallways and classrooms. The outside of the building even got a fresh coat of new paint.

In the upcoming year, we will be welcoming our first-ever Wolzien Visiting Professor of the Practice. Peter Lauer has agreed to join our department in Winter 2024 and Spring 2024.

Peter is a director with an extensive resume in television and streaming video. He has taught at UCLA Extension and the University of Arizona. He has directed episodes of Emily in Paris, Uncoupled, Arrested Development, Malcolm in the Middle, Pushing Daises, Chuck, The Gilmore Girls, and Strangers with Candy, in addition to other TV shows. He truly is a great professional addition to our department. Peter already volunteered to Zoom in to meet with students in last year’s scriptwriting course. His feedback and participation were incredible, and our students were so excited to have him participate in the course.

Peter will teach Directing, Visual Design and Storytelling, and Satire and Politics in Television and Film. Peter will also present at two Wolzien lectures. This winter, he will be leading a discussion on diversity in front of and behind the camera in Hollywood. Please stay tuned for dates and more information. In the Spring, Peter will do a second public lecture on a topic that will be announced in the new year.

Additionally, we have already met with Theater and the Lamont School of Music about other opportunities for Peter to contribute to CAHSS.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Tom and Valerie Wolzien for the generous gift of $500,000 to support this position. Because of Tom and Valerie’s generosity, we will be able to bring a different Visiting Professor of the Practice to MFJS each year for the next four years.

Thank you, Tom and Valerie!

In this issue of our newsletter, you will find stories featuring our students and faculty. First is an article on our Estlow Lecture Series featuring New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie. Bouie, in discussion with Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark and youth activist Santiago Mayer, discussed contemporary U.S. politics and its relationship to our historical context. You’ll also find several articles spotlighting our incredible departmental community via conversations with assistant professor Dr. David Coppini, Fulbright Fellow Olena Fomenko, Lance Clem Intern and Film Undergraduate Rachel Birnkrant, and alumnus Derek Dash. Lastly, Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark’s FSEM course launched a TikTok campaign to promote student wellness and mindfulness on campus.




Derigan Silver, PhD


Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies