Dean to appoint interim chair of CTVA 

By Olivia Cohen, Editor-in-Chief

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Before departing to Truman State University at the end of this semester, the dean of the School of Media Arts will appoint an interim chair to the Cinema and Television Arts Department, rather than a permanent chair. 

Dean Eric Freedman made the announcement in a forum with CTVA faculty Wednesday, days after he disclosed in an email obtained by the Chronicle that current CTVA Chair Thelma Vickroy would leave after her three-year contract ends on August 15. 

“I am here to say that I believe interim [chair] is the next solid decision to make,” Freedman said at the forum, which the Chronicle attended. “I believe the provost and I are on the same page that given my departure and where we are in the academic year … an interim makes the most sense.”

CTVA faculty are pushing the dean to allow them a larger role in picking the interim chair, a process that typically gives the dean and provost near complete control. 

The Faculty Manual, the core document that guides the governance of the college, states that when the position of chair of an existing department is to be vacated, the dean of the school “will consult” with the provost and the department’s faculty to determine whether the position is best filled by an internal or external search. 

Some CTVA faculty want the college to consider a more expansive view of the term “consultation,” giving faculty a bigger role in choosing candidates who would also give presentations. 

At the forum, Freedman and Ted Hardin, associate professor in the CTVA Department, debated the extent to which faculty could and should be consulted. Hardin is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. 

“Just to be clear, based on something you said, you envision consultation as what we want, not who we want,” Hardin said. Freedman pushed back against the phrasing, but acknowledged that consulting with faculty is “part of the process.” 

Freedman said he considered the forum itself to be part of the consultation process but declined to agree to open presentations from interim candidates. 

Interim chairs serve for two-year terms, and permanent chairs serve in the role for three-year terms. 

Freedman is asking for self-nominations for interim chair and has expressed preference in the past for candidates who are full professors. 

It “kind of breaks my heart some days when I come here and it is as quiet as it is because this place should be teaming with people eager and willing to learn how to become filmmakers, content makers, media makers,” Peter Hartel, associate professor in the CVTA Department, said in the forum. “So we do need some strong leadership; we can’t waste another couple of years. We have to move on this now.” 

CTVA is one of three departments going through a leadership transition. Interim Communication Chair Erin McCarthy will exit the role after this semester and Susan Padveen, the interim chair of the Theatre Department, will also be leaving her position. 

Freedman also has to be replaced when he departs for Truman State to be provost there. That position will be interim, the college has said. 

As the Chronicle previously reported, three professors – two from Communication and one from English and Creative Writing – are vying to be chair of the Communication Department. The candidates are current Assistant Chair Peg Murphy, Associate Professor in the Communications Department Anne Marie Mitchell and Hilary Sarat-St. Peter, an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department. Murphy’s presentation was on Thursday and concluded the forums. 

The Theatre Department has the final of its three candidate presentations on March 13. The candidates are Eleanor Holdridge, Jimmy Noriega and Jess Jung. 

Faculty are given an opportunity to provide feedback after each of the presentations. 

Under the faculty manual, “the dean will take the evaluations and comments into consideration and, in consultation with the provost, decide which candidate will receive the appointment.”

CTVA faculty want a similar process to apply for their interim chair appointment.  

This story has been updated.