Freedman talks School of Media Arts transition plans in light of Truman announcement

By Olivia Cohen, Editor-in-Chief

Columbia’s Dean of the School of Media Arts Eric Freedman has officially accepted the role as the next provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs at Truman State University as of Jan. 11, the same day the announcement from Truman was released. 

Freedman confirmed his new role at the college, located in Kirksville, Missouri, to the Chronicle in an email Tuesday evening. 

“I will be staying on through the spring semester at Columbia,” Freedman said, in a follow-up email to the Chronicle on Wednesday. “As I am here through the term, I will be leading any departmental transitions.” 

Freedman said he has already started the search for a new chair of the Communication Department. Erin McCarthy is currently filling the role on an interim basis. Freedman added that he is working in “close consultation” with the faculty and will be following up with a series of open forums to introduce internal candidates for the position. 

Freedman’s departure was announced to the Columbia community through an email sent by Senior Vice President and Provost Marcella David on Jan. 17. In the release, David said she is working on a plan for the transition and filling the dean position. 

“While this means that we will have a time of transition in this area, this appointment is a tremendous recognition of Eric’s leadership and accomplishments,” David said in the email. 

Freedman holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Cornell University, a master’s degree in art history and a doctorate in cinema-television critical studies, both from the University of Southern California. 

Freedman has served as the dean of the School of Media Arts since 2016, while also serving as a professor in the Cinema and Television Arts Department. 

Before coming to Columbia, Freedman served as the dean of the Knight School of Communication at Queens University. Freedman also served as the associate director of the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies at Florida Atlantic University, before becoming assistant dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the school in Boca Raton, Florida. 

“While I have had several leadership roles in schools of media and communication, my grounding has always been in the liberal arts,” Freedman said. “I have continued to emphasize the importance of studying media, communication and information technologies within that context, as a way to foster informed social change and with the important knowledge of our social, political and cultural landscape.” 

Freedman said at every institution he has worked at, he has been invested in creating “strong interdisciplinary bridges” that cut across liberal arts and sciences, the creative and performing arts, the media arts and a broad range of professional fields.

Freedman added that he will bring these same principles to Truman State University.  

“Working with others to build innovative disciplinary bridges that prepare our students for lives of rewarding work and that respond to the world beyond our walls is what excites me about the opportunity at Truman,” Freedman said.

In the email to the Columbia community, Freedman said he is proud of the accomplishments he and his colleagues have made at the college. 

“As I head to Truman, I will be leaving behind fantastic colleagues. I am proud of the work that we have accomplished together in the School of Media Arts, to serve our students and to build more integrated, vibrant and thoughtful approaches to our collective media industries,” Freedman said in the school’s press release. 

“Columbia is always proud when one of its own moves to the next stage of their career,” David said in a previous report by the Chronicle, through a spokesperson for the college. “We congratulate Dean (now Provost) Freedman and thank him for his contributions to Columbia and its students’ success.”