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URI offers degree in film media

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1979 alumnus donates $100,000 to new program

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 9, 2005 -- Nowadays film plays a variety of roles. Expanding technologies involved in the production of moving images include but extend well beyond the silver screen. Indeed, cinematic practices are incorporated into television, video games, computer imagery, E-commerce and even cell phones.

The rapid development of new media as well as the expanding global role of film has resulted in an ever-growing demand for individuals fluent in film and related industries.

To prepare students for these escalating career opportunities, the University of Rhode Island is offering a new bachelor’s degree in film media, presented within its wide-ranging technological, artistic, and cultural contexts. The program emphasizes production and draws upon the arts, humanities, foreign language and communications disciplines.

In recognition of the establishment of the degree, Fred Joyal, a 1979 URI alumnus and successful CEO of 1-800-DENTIST, a Los Angeles-based dental referral service company, has pledged $100,000 to establish an endowment. Interest from the endowment will provide an annual prize for a promising filmmaker or scriptwriter enrolled in the program. Joyal initiated and continues to support URI’s annual film festival “Visualizations.” For the past seven years, URI students have competed for prizes in seven categories: film and video, film criticism, and original screenplay.

The new URI degree prepares students for careers in film and video production, film and media criticism, the production aspects of advertising, or for careers as independent artists. It also will provide graduates with a foundation for careers in computer animation for arts, sciences, and business applications, interactive media, and virtual reality.

“We are delighted to celebrate both the launch of a new major and the endowment established by Fred Joyal,” said Winnie Brownell, dean of URI’s College of Arts and Sciences. As a CEO who uses moving images in marketing, he appreciates the need to prepare students for a variety of careers that involve film media. We have already had a number of inquiries from prospective students who wish to enroll in the program this fall.”

The new degree will be good news to URI students who have been filling seats in film media classes in increasing numbers. In the last five years, enrollment has nearly doubled, growing from 245 students to nearly 500. The study of film media is not new to URI. In 1975, URI established a film studies program. As the program expanded, an interdisciplinary film studies minor was initiated in 1993. Technology expanded and interest soared so that today “film studies” has morphed into “film media” and courses are offered by 10 different URI departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and by 15 individuals who teach one or more sections of these courses.