Intercollegiate Media Studies Loses Half its Core Faculty for 2011-12

The Intercollegiate Media Studies department will face the 2011-2012 academic year without nearly half of its core faculty members.

Next year, Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick will not be returning to Pomona, and neither will Professor Jennifer Friedlander. Professor Tracy MacLean will be leaving Pitzer, while Professor Jesse Lerner will also leave Pitzer for the fall semester. And Scripps will miss Professor Nancy Macko.

“The situation isn’t dire, just disappointing,” said Maclean, Professor at Pitzer and Assistant Director of Intercollegiate Media Studies. “It’s disappointing for all of the students who really like these professors, who wanted to take their classes, or have them as thesis advisers, but Media Studies will go on.”

Maclean, who has been at Pitzer since 2001, will move to Seattle for family reasons. She said that Lerner, Associate Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer, will be on sabbatical in the fall to work on his own filmmaking but plans to be back on campus by the spring.

Macko, Gender and Women's Studies Department Chair and Director of the Scripps Digital Art Program since 1990, will also be leaving Scripps to pursue work of her own for a year. She says the college approved her sabbatical last semester and is planning accordingly.

“We are aware of the gaps this leaves in the curriculum,” Macko said. “In my case, four of my five courses will be replaced next year. [Also] Professor Tran will return to the Art department and Media Studies full-time after her three-year service as Humanities Institute Director. She will be teaching a full load of five courses.”

Maclean says that although replacing classes taught by professors on sabbatical is typical at the other colleges, it has not been a policy at Pomona in the past.

“They will not let it fall apart though, because the college has been very dedicated to Media Studies since it became a department.”

Media Studies became a department at Pomona in 2009. Before that it was a program, which meant it could not hire its own faculty. This year there were three Media Studies faculty members and one post-doctoral fellow.

Of the three faculty members, two will not be here next year. Fitzpatrick, Professor of Media Studies, who was on sabbatical this year, recently asked for a yearlong leave of absence. Friedlander, Associate Professor of Media Studies and chair of the department, will be on sabbatical, which she says she will use to research and write a book.

Jonathan Hall, who began working in the department this year, will be the only remaining full-time faculty member.

Friedlander, however, insisted that her students should not worry.

“We plan to hire visiting professors for 2011-2012,” she said. “Since the major is firmly supported by the 5C infrastructure, there will be no restructuring as a result of these leaves.”

Maclean echoed this sentiment, explaining that, because IMS is intercollegiate, the colleges will be able to shift around classes to balance the temporary losses across the campuses.

“Media Studies students who are looking at the portal right now might notice that there are some classes missing, there aren’t as many as usual, but that will change soon as we figure out who will be covering the classes,” MacLean said. “Students should not worry, though. There will definitely still be the necessary introduction and senior seminar classes, as well as electives which will probably be cross-referenced with other departments.”

Pitzer has already begun filling the void with new hires. Ruti Talmor, currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Haverford College, will join the Media Studies department next year.

Friedlander said that this time of faculty transition is actually an exciting period of development.

“The Media Studies faculty, at Pomona and across the colleges, bring diverse expertise and evolving research interests into the classroom, so in this respect the major has continually enjoyed a high degree of dynamism,” she said.

“I really think students should look at this as a good thing, although some of it is disappointing,” Maclean added. “New people will bring new energy, inspiration, and ideas to a department that is all about innovation.”

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