By Michael Cavanaugh
This fall, Fordham welcomes Jacqueline Reich as the chair of the communication department. Prior to coming to Fordham, Reich spent 18 years at Stony Brook, a SUNY university.
“I liked it very much there,” said Reich of Stony Brook. “It was a wonderful group of students, very multiculturally diverse, very challenging.”
When asked why she left Stony Brook, Reich said that she had not been looking to leave, but took the position with Fordham’s communication department because of the value that the university places on a liberal arts education, rather than on “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) as many state universities do.
“There is a kind of erosion, in many ways, of the liberal arts core that Jesuit curriculums emphasize,” said Reich.
Reich said that she was very attracted to the idea of being at Fordham, knowing the role that the university plays in the community. She was also very excited for the opportunity to join a department that works so closely with Fordham’s radio station, WFUV, of which she has been an avid follower for the past 20 years.
Having now spent time among the Fordham students, Reich has experienced a very different type of classroom environment than the one she had become accustomed to at Stony Brook.
“I used to teach Film History to 200 students who couldn’t care less because it was a university requirement. Now I’m teaching Intro to Film History to 24 students who all want to be there, and that is fantastic. That is an enormous change for me.”
While the class size differs significantly from those she taught at Stony Brook, Reich attributes the enthusiastic classroom environment to the students themselves. She believes that the administration’s organization of the curriculum, as well as the close contact the faculty has with the student body, allows students to engage in productive discourse about topics and concentrations about which they are passionate. Passion, for Reich, is one of the most important aspects of her work, and it shows in the way she discusses film and media in general.
As it turns out, Reich’s greatest academic passion is Italian film. She received a doctorate in Italian Literature from the University of California at Berkeley, and was the first from her program to do a dissertation on film. She often works on the issue of stardom within her field of study.
Despite the prominence of her position as chair of the Communications department, Reich remains focused on her role as a member of the faculty team at Fordham.
“I’m really excited to be working [with] the faculty here. It’s not really my direction to take it [the department] — it’s our direction,” said Reich. “But we’re talking about doing a lot of things, and we’re really excited to have such a fantastic group of students to work with.”
Reich went on to say that the faculty intends to explore issues and do more with undergraduate research, as well as work more with the honor society and programs at the graduate level. However, it was Reich’s interest in the students that seemed to permeate the discussion about the direction of the department.
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is talking to the students and seeing where they would like to see the major go, and I encourage any student to come talk to me about it,” Reich said.