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Wirtz Blackbox Dedicated

On Dec. 3, 2019, Northwestern University dedicated a blackbox theater at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts in the name of three trailblazing alumnae. The Clara, Lu ‛n’ Em Theater was named in recognition of a gift to the School of Communication, which will be used to create a dean’s discretionary fund supporting areas of greatest need. David Berolzheimer made the gift in memory of his mother, Northwestern alumna Isobel Carothers Berolzheimer, and two of her classmates — the trio co-created the first radio soap opera: “Clara, Lu ‛n’ Em.”

Berlanti Endows Professorship

Alumnus Greg Berlanti endows a professorship at the Northwestern University School of Communication, which will significantly expand the dramatic writing program. This is the largest ever gift from the Berlanti Family Foundation and is named in honor of Berlanti’s late mother.

MFA Documentary Media Alumni Film Shortlisted for Oscar

Stay Close, a short documentary created by MFA Documentary Media graduates, was shortlisted for an Oscar—the announcement for which came on December 17. The film was directed by Shuhan Fan (G16) and Luther Clement (GC17), produced by Nevo Shinaar (GC17) and co-produced by Ashley Brandon (GC17), and featured music and sound mixing by MA in Sound Arts and Industries graduates Xiameng Summer Lin (GC17) and Lianna Squillance (GC19), respectively. Nominations will be selected from the shortlist and will be announced on January 13. The 92nd Annual Academy Awards will take place on February 9 and air live on ABC.

Communication Studies Professor Noshir Contractor Elected 2019 AAAS Fellow

Noshir Contractor, the Jane S. and William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Communication, the McCormick School of Engineering, and in the Kellogg School of Management, was elected in November a 2019 fellow to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary science society.

‘Aesthetic Emergency’: New Series Explores Intersection of Art and Politics

A dozen distinguished artists and scholars will be presenting their work on campus this academic year as part of a new initiative that Northwestern launches this month called Humanities on the MAP (Media, Arts, Performance). The theme for the inaugural humanities series is “Aesthetic Emergency,” and the initiative aims to examine issues of urgency and importance in our world today. School of Communication faculty have curated events for each quarter of the 2019/2020 academic year and expect to present a new theme yearly.

Meet the First Class of MFA in Acting Students

The School of Communication welcomes this academic year our first-ever cohort of MFA in Acting students, signaling an exciting expansion of graduate curriculum. Eight talented actors from across the country comprise the brand-new class that began coursework on September 24. The actors join graduate artists in a suite of complementary MFA programs, which includes design, directing, writing, and documentary media. These programs will be housed in a forthcoming performing and media arts center in Abbott Hall on Northwestern’s campus in downtown Chicago.

New NHSI Program Seeks to Popularize Careers in Neuroscience and Communication

School of Communication’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders launched this summer its first collaboration with the National High School Institute (NHSI), which brought seven Chicago-area high schoolers to campus for a free, weeklong deep dive into Neuroscience and Communication. The program aims to diversify the fields of audiology and speech-language pathology through early exposure and recruitment.

School of Communication Alumni Receive Emmy Nominations

School of Communication alumni once again paint the town purple with a spate of 2019 Emmy Award nominations. Notable among them is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has the chance to make Emmy history (again) with a win for her role as Selina Meyer in HBO’s Veep, which she also executive produces.

Associate Professor Wins Grant Funding to Make TV More Representative

Aymar Jean Christian, associate professor in the Departments of Communication Studies and Radio/Television/Film, was awarded in June a Field Foundation of Illinois grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, honoring him as one of the 14 inaugural Leaders for a New Chicago. Christian is the founder of OTV | Open Television, a Chicago-based distribution platform for web series made by emerging intersectional artists.

Hollywood Producer/Writer/Director Greg Berlanti (94) Delivers Convocation Address

During a boisterous, heartfelt, and often funny speech, producer, director, and writer Greg Berlanti (C94) addressed the School of Communication’s 2019 graduates during a historic convocation in the Welsh-Ryan Arena at Northwestern University on June 22. For the first time in recent memory, the Theatre, Radio/Television/Film, Performance Studies, Communication Studies, and Communication Sciences and Disorders students shared a joint convocation rather than being split into two smaller back-to-back ceremonies.

MSC Program is Leading the Way to Train Professionals for the ‘Game of Crisis’

Twenty-eight professionals from businesses and organizations across the Chicago area immersed themselves into navigating negative public relations in the Master of Science in Communication’s (MSC) inaugural Crisis Communication Seminar and Simulation on May 17 in the Frances Searle Building on the Evanston campus. The Crisis Seminar is an executive education hybrid program that culminates with a live-action simulation—a full-day exercise that gives its participants the experience of riding through an organizational crisis that is playing out on multiple public and private platforms.

Award-winning alumna playwright speaks about writing and social change

Art—especially theatrical art—has the unique power to inquire, to challenge, and to help heal long-festering societal wounds. In award-winning playwright and alumna Lydia Diamond’s Voyeurs de Venus, our nation’s ugly racial past and its slow-moving reckoning get a closer examination on a Northwestern stage. Diamond (C91) returned to her alma mater May 26 for a discussion following the final performance of Venus at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for Performing Arts’ Josephine Louis Theatre. Also joining her was director Tasia Jones and the student cast of the show.

The 2019 Van Zelst Lecture Focuses on Time in the Digital Age

Judy Wajcman, the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, relayed her research into our complicated relationship with time during the 36th Annual Van Zelst Lecture in Communication at Norris University Center on May 22.

Niteskool Founders Celebrate Decades of Creativity

Alumni gathered on the Evanston campus on May 18 to celebrate Niteskool, the award-winning student music video production group that sprouted from the music video revolution, known for graduating Grammy-winners and other successful music and film professionals.

‘Law and Order’ Actress and Producer Stephanie March screens her new comedy at Northwestern

Stephanie March (C96), actress, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, returned to the Evanston campus in May to screen her award-winning “mockumentary,” The Social Ones. March executive produced the film, and costarred in it alongside fellow ‘Cat Richard Kind (C78), Debra Jo Rupp, Peter Scolari, and more. She shared some of her thoughts on showbusiness and beyond during a post-screening Q&A.

Wirtz Visiting Artist: Daniel Alexander Jones

Playwright, performer, and director Daniel Alexander Jones, known for his critically acclaimed performance pieces including Black Light, Duat, An Integrator’s Manual, and Radiate, visited classrooms and spoke to students May 15 as the School of Communication’s 2019 Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Visiting Artist.

Pepper Lecture: CSD Professor Shares Research on Improving Early Intervention for Children with Language Delays

How can more children with language delays access early treatment and improved outcomes? If diagnostic tests are made widely available and parents take a more hands-on role with therapy, they can and will, says Megan Roberts, the Jane Steiner Hoffman and Michael Hoffman Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, who gave the 2019 Pepper Lecture in the Frances Searle Building on May 8.

Northwestern Professors Bring Clinical and Diagnostic Advancements to the Autism Community

School of Communication faculty Molly Losh, Elizabeth Norton, and Megan Roberts hosted last week “Understanding the Autism Spectrum: Clinical, Biological, and Cultural perspectives,” an innovative conference to disseminate and discuss the latest findings and considerations in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. The event served as the fifth annual CSDConnect conference and the Lambert Family Communication Conference.

Award-winning Documentary Film Director Talks of Artistic—and Family—Duties

Acclaimed director and the 2019 Hoffman Visiting Artist for Documentary Media, Yance Ford, screened his Emmy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated documentary, Strong Island, in Annie Mae Swift Hall April 11. Strong Island, a Netflix documentary, focuses on the murder of Ford’s older brother on Long Island in 1992, the grand jury’s refusal to indict the white man who shot him, and the tragic repercussions for Ford’s family.

Redressing a Troubled History

For the last decade, associate professor of theatre Elizabeth Son has researched the so-called “comfort women”: the estimated 200,000 women from Japan, Korea and elsewhere who were coerced or kidnapped into sex slavery for the Japanese military between 1932 and 1945. Northwestern profiled Son and her work in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8.

Leading Researcher of Algorithmic Use in Journalism Receives CAREER Grant

Communication Studies assistant professor Nick Diakopoulos was awarded a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (or CAREER) Award, making him the seventh faculty in the department to receive this honor. Diakopoulos is a foremost researcher of computational and data journalism, with a focus on the human-centered use of algorithms, automation, and artificial intelligence in news production and consumption.

Teamwork on Mars

School of Communication professors Leslie DeChurch and Noshir Contractor are collaborating on four NASA-funded studies of the social science behind deep-space exploration. Their predictive models based on the observation analog crews in isolation have identified weak spots for a future Mars team.

Student Group Nominated for College Television Award

Student-run late-night-format comedy group, the Blackout, has been nominated for a College Television Award, an honor that is bestowed by the same enterprise that produces the Emmy Awards. The Blackout is being recognized for its “2018 Spring Quarter Update” segment, its first nomination.

AL Heartley joins the Wirtz Center as its new managing director

The School of Communication and the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts welcome Al Heartley as the center’s new managing director. Heartley comes to Northwestern from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut where he served as director of development.

New Reading Series Puts Graduate Writers’ Work on Stage

Staged readings of new work can be pivotal to writers. One can see a story play out from the eyes of the audience, gauge the authenticity of relationships and characters, and see if jokes land. A new series of staged readings aims to give MFA candidates in the Writing for Screen and Stage program the opportunity for this reflection and growth—and for audiences to have a glimpse at the next generation of writing talent.

Zimmerman’s “Soldier”

Mary Zimmerman, the Northwestern University Jaharis Family Foundation Chair in Performance Studies and School of Communication alumna, helms the world premiere of The Steadfast Tin Soldier at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company, where she is an ensemble member.

PBS Arts Advisor and Former NEA Director Addresses Working in the Arts

Good news for those worrying about the state of the American arts—it’s not nearly as bad as some say. Though, as Jane Chu, arts advisor for PBS and the former director of the National Endowment for the Arts, can attest, there are always highs and lows, and it’s important to always do the work. Chu discussed this and other functions of a career in the arts during a November talk sponsored by MSLCE.

2018-19 New School of Communication Faculty

The School of Communication welcomes an exciting crop of new faculty for the 2018-19 academic year, including an accomplished writer-researcher, an alumna and assistant dean, a stage director and movement specialist, an acclaimed screenwriter, and an expert in strategic health messaging. The new faculty represents growth and expertise in emerging fields. Read on for a glimpse into six of our new faces.

Ear Health Interventions

New understanding of hearing loss points to earlier intervention, says Sumit Dhar, but getting people to listen is a challenge.

Boczkowski Speaks at NU-Q

Communication Studies professor Pablo Boczkowski visited Northwestern’s campus in Qatar to discuss his new book, Trump and the Media. Topics included the collapse of the traditional media, rise of social media, the president’s love/hate relationship with the press, the influence of technology on storytelling, and more.

Reception Honors MSC’s 35th Anniversary and its Founders

The School of Communication’s Master of Science in Communication program celebrated in September its 35th anniversary while also honoring the founding faculty. The program was among the first of its kind and inspired the creation of additional groundbreaking professional programming with the School. MSC alumni have gone on to become prominent leaders in every industry.

Alumnus Speaks at NU-Q

Hollywood producer and School of Communication alumnus Jordan Horowitz, best known for the Oscar-nominated film La La Land, spoke at NU-Q’s annual convocation ceremony in September. This event marks the beginning of the academic year and inducted more than 100 members of NU-Q’s class of 2022, the largest in the school’s history.