SMPA finds fill-in professors

The School of Media and Public Affairs is currently looking for a permanent solution since electronic media department director David Liban recently notified the University he would not return to GW this fall.

Although SMPA hired two new adjunct professors about a week before the start of the semester to cover Liban’s classes, officials are still looking for a permanent program director. MPA professor Christopher Sterling will be acting director this semester, but officials do not have definite plans beyond that point.

William Hanff and David Stern will teach Digital Video Editing and Television Production, the classes Liban was slated to teach. Stern has experience teaching Final Cut Pro editing – the video editing program used by electronic media students – and he is also a feature filmmaker. Hanff graduated from SMPA in 1994 and does television directing for live trade shows and other large corporate events.

Liban, who would have been entering his fifth year at GW, was being reviewed for tenure but said he accepted a position in Washington as a video editor and television director instead.

“I was very disappointed with how my tenure case was being handled by the dean and the College Tenure and Promotion committee,” Liban said. “So I’ve been looking for a new position for months. I did not get the official offer for my new job until mid-August.”

Liban added that he immediately notified the University of his decision so replacement instructors could be found.

Sterling, EMDA acting director, will also temporarily take on Liban’s advisees.

Sterling said he could not estimate when the University will hire new faculty for the department, and SMPA is making arrangements for the EMDA classes for next semester.

“I don’t know if we’ll continue to use adjuncts or visiting professors … at this point, it’s too soon to know,” Sterling said. “The plan at the moment, which could change, is that both courses will run again (next semester) and with the same faculty.”

Liban said he helped with the interview process to hire part-time faculty to cover his classes. But he noted that they are only “temporary replacements” and that GW will have to do a national search to find a full-time instructor.”

“The big question will be, what kind of background will that new person have?” he said. “I think it should be a production person if EMDA is to continue what I’ve tried to build. However, it will be interesting to see which way the school will go.”

Liban’s expertise was in the creative and artistic aspects of electronic media, and he said a new instructor who is knowledgable in production would be able to fully utilize the news studio and editing equipment on the second and fifth floors of the SMPA building.

“Speaking for myself, I’d like to find somebody to continue the creative things (Professor Liban did),” Sterling said. “He brought many opportunities to the students, and I’d love to see someone continue that.”

Liban said he feels “guilty” for leaving on short notice and that he thinks his absence will impact his students.

“I think students will realize that the artistic component is not valued at GW. Also, they will see a decline in an interest in students producing their own videos, especially if they are news-oriented,” Liban said.

The University had not yet reached a decision on whether Liban would have been granted tenure, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said, and his credentials were still being.

After a professor’s sixth year at GW, he is reviewed for tenure based on teaching quality, research and scholarship and service to the school. University officials and outside professors and scholars review publications and research completed by the instructor who is under evaluation.

Being granted tenure solidifies a permanent professor’s position and promises stability at the University.

Lehman said a majority of professors at GW are granted tenure because the University “weeds out” poor instructors after three years and “mentors” faculty throughout their first few years at GW.

“Professors are given a three-year contract,” Lehman said. “Then they are subject to review after their first three years, and some don’t get renewed.”

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