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Faculty plans course structure for new Los Angeles center

by Karen Morales / Beacon Correspondent • November 1, 2012

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The LA Center is located on Sunset Blvd.
The LA Center is located on Sunset Blvd.

Development of the course structure for the Los Angeles campus center has been completed and will be composed of programs for undergraduates, interns, graduate students, and professionals, according to President M. Lee Pelton. 

The center—the construction of which is set for completion in Jan. 2014— will be located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and house 215 students. The 37,000 square foot structure will also be host to classrooms, administrative offices, and meeting spaces. 

According to an update on the Los Angeles Center from Pelton, the development of an academic program began in 2010 under former President Jacqueline Liebergott. Last spring, Pelton chaired a faculty academic advisory group to finalize the course list. 

“This program is a subset of Emerson’s academic program. It is not parallel to it,” Pelton said in an interview. “The aim is not to replicate in LA what we do in Boston. We want to make sure what we do there is as distinctive and as linked to LA as possible.”

The organizing group consisted of faculty representatives from every department, as well as the Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Moore, the Dean of Liberal Arts Amy Ansell, and other senior administrators, according to the program statement.

Pelton said that although the committee helped frame the structure of the Los Angeles Center curriculum, the responsibility of selecting the exact courses and the organization of them will be in the hands of the senior executive director and dean of the center, a position yet to be filled, who will work with the faculty in Boston and in Los Angeles.

The college’s current West Coast program is focused on professional internships, but about 20 courses are offered to the students living and studying in the Hollywood Hills. The internship program will continue at the new center. 

Throughout last spring, the committee solicited and reviewed 60 course proposals, Pelton said. 

A suggested course from the visual and media arts department is a year-long class for undergraduates, graduates, and post-baccalaureate students titled Narrative Television Production. It would conclude with a capstone project, such as a television sitcom pilot, said Pelton. 

The course would also allow students to combine elements of camera studio work with single camera production and post-production support, said Pelton. 

Another possible class, in performing arts, is a certificate program called Translating Theatre Administrative Experience to Film and Television. Pelton said this could be a two semester program, with the purpose of helping people with experience in running performance arts theaters translate their skills to film and television.

Hassan Ildari, a visual and media arts assistant professor who was a member of the advisory group said that in addition to course proposals, departments also give suggestions for longer programs.  

Ildari said the difference between them is that a program consists of multiple courses and unlike classes, programs encompass students from many different majors.

One suggested program, Ildari said, was The Latino Experience, which would encompass art history, media studies, new media, film, television production, performing arts, and journalism, and would focus on the Latino influence in California, with an emphasis on LA.

Ildari said that the program, in its current proposal, would only be open to undergraduate students, but might, after the curriculum is finalized, include graduate students as well.

“There is this vibrant Latino culture in Los Angeles that will be brought into the academic program of ECLA,” said Ildari. 

Pelton said that internship students and undergraduate students might share the same academic curriculum, but this decision will be made by the Los Angeles Center program’s senior executive director and dean and the executive director of the internship program.

“There will be a large curriculum there, and my guess is that students will be able to choose from whatever courses are available to them, so that the internship students will have a larger palette of classes to choose from,” Pelton said. 

Taylor Kiss, a freshman journalism major said he would consider applying for the LA Center if it offered more journalism-related courses.  

“It would be cool going somewhere completely different from Boston, but still doing the whole Emerson thing,” he said.

Alicia Rodriguez, a sophomore visual and media arts major, agreed, and said the location of the new facility is important. 

“The fact that they’re building a center at the heart of Hollywood makes the school’s reputation even better,” Rodriguez said. “LA is where a lot of industries are at their peak. If you go to LA, journalism, marketing, PR, film, and TV — everything is just great there.”

Pelton said these programs and courses will be designed with the students in mind. 

“The undergrad program and internship program are for Emerson students,” said Pelton. “These are our students; they are just going from one side of the country to another to have a meaningful experience.”