In the academic scheme of things, the ritual of Labor Day usually marks the arrival of a new class.
This year, it’s nearly a clean sweep: new students, new staff, new management structure, new projects, and of course, new ambitions. The class of 2007, our largest to date, is profiled in this issue of IMR, as are our new visiting scholars and our staff.
The range of backgrounds, expertise and interests across the entire group continues to assure that we stay on target with our commitment to thinking across media, cultures, historical periods, and methodologies. With interests that range from digital storytelling and video games as educational platforms, to amusement parks as interactive narratives, to ethnographies of television wrestling, to the construction of non-fiction in the Chinese film industry, the members of the new class perfectly compliment the returning class of 2006 and the wide-ranging expertise of our faculty.
After our tragic loss of Chris Pomiecko last February, we are finally back to a complete staff. Sarah Wolozin, our new program administrator, comes to us with a highly developed (and deeply appreciated) background in chaos management, combined with media expertise, thanks to her years as a documentary producer. Gene Fierro’s sharply honed taste for eclectic music, film, literature, and various collectables has found a perfect match with CMS, where he’ll be working as undergraduate coordinator. Jenna Anstey’s background in graphic design together with her knack for languages (try her Afrikaans!) means that we have won far more than an administrative assistant. And David Edery’s long-term involvement with CMS game ventures together with his newly minted Sloan MBA combine to equal a new communications and development officer armed and ready for one of the tougher games out there
– garnering media attention and project support for the program.
Our alum have also proven to be an invaluable asset in the ongoing operation of the program. Over the summer, we reorganized the management structure of our various research initiatives in order more effectively to handle the mercurial developments on that front. Brett Camper’s competencies as a gamer and designer are matched only by his coolness as a manager. Both skill sets are helping to guide the work in the Educational Arcade. Parmesh Shahani’s boundless enthusiasm for trend tracking and creating a social buzz has found an appropriate outlet in the Convergence Culture Consortium (C3) project that he manages. And Margaret Weigel’s wry sense of humor and impressive design skills are keeping the New Media Literacies project (and its new website) on track as this MacArthurfunded initiative takes form.
The funding situation for these projects remains dynamic as the significant grants from MacArthur and Maryland Public Television attest, but we continue to seek long-term support for our various research activities.
CMS faculty and students continue to be well represented in international conferences, internships, and research projects, while Germany is particularly well represented in the latest wave of CMS visiting scholars. The Communications Forum’s new relationship with Kainan University in Taiwan together with our faculty and visiting scholar activities in China and Japan assure increased activity in Asia.
We always look forward to an exciting year, but this year’s mix of new people, perspectives, and opportunities promises to be particularly dynamic.