UNCSA School of Filmmaking Dean Susan Ruskin bids farewell
Susan Ruskin, dean of the UNCSA School of Filmmaking, will step down Aug. 16, having accepted the position of dean of American Film Institute Conservatory and executive vice-president of the Institute in Los Angeles.
Ruskin, who joined the School of Filmmaking faculty in 2009 and was head of the producing faculty, became the school’s first female dean in 2013, having served as interim dean in 2012 following the departure of Jordan Kerner, who’d served as dean since 2007.
“It is with a heavy heart that I leave UNCSA, but I know that the faculty, staff, students, and alumni are the heartbeat of what makes this institution work no matter who holds the position of the dean,” Ruskin said in an official statement.
“I am extremely grateful for the years of inspired collaboration, and I am proud to know the School of Filmmaking will thrive in the future.”
“I’m incredibly proud of Dean Ruskin’s accomplishments during her tenure at UNCSA,” praised UNCSA Chancellor Lindsay Bierman. “An accomplished filmmaker, she has proven herself to be a gifted educator and a strong administrator during the past decade at our school. Her leadership and vision will be sorely missed.”
During Ruskin’s tenure as dean, the School of Filmmaking made significant advancements in storytelling technology with the founding of the Media and Emerging Technology Lab (METL) and the very first Future of Reality Summit, which featured national leaders in immersive media.
In addition, she oversaw the completion of the New Media Building on campus, which is home to the animation and production-design departments and boasts state-of-the-art technology and equipment for animation, gaming, digital design, immersive films, and visual effects. She also leads in the creation of the film school’s new MFA programs in Creative Producing and Screenwriting, which prepares students for changes in the industry and to develop a pipeline of diverse storytellers and content creators.
“These innovations under Dean Ruskin have propelled the school forward and cemented its reputation as one of the world’s top film schools,” Bierman said. “The school is well-positioned to build on these successes under new leadership.”
Bierman himself will be stepping down as UNCSA chancellor on July 31 to become CEO of UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina on Aug. 12. Bierman, who succeeded interim Chancellor James Moeser in August 2014 said, “It has been one of the greatest joys of my career to serve this incomparable institution, and I’ll leave here forever in awe of the artistic talent that called so many of us here. The support and guidance I’ve received from my colleagues across the campus, our committed board members, alumni, and generous donors mean more than I could ever saw. The role of chancellor has been humbling, energizing, motivating, challenging and immensely rewarding.”
Ruskin began her film career in development at George Lucas’s Lucasfilm, Ltd. She was head of development for Robert Stigwood at RSO (Robert Stigwood Organization), before becoming an associate producer for Gene Wilder’s 1984 box office hit The Woman in Red for Orion Pictures, which won an Academy Award for Stevie Wonder’s chart-topping hit, “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
As president of production for Pal-Mel Productions, she produced the 1986 mystery spoof Haunted Honeymoon for writer/director/star Wilder, Gilda Radner (in her final film), Dom DeLuise, and Jonathan Pryce. She subsequently worked on the comedies See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991), which marked the final screen teaming of Wilder and Richard Pryor.
As president of production for Middle Fork, Ruskin was the executive producer of the horror hit Anaconda (1997), directed by Luis Llosa and starring Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz and Owen Wilson.
An interim School of Filmmaking dean will be selected in the next few weeks, followed by a nationwide search for the next dean.
For more information about all the goings-on at UNCSA, visit the official website.
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