Los Angeles Center Update Fall 2012

On Oct. 15, 2012, President Pelton sent an email to the Emerson campus community detailing the progress of the work on the new Los Angeles Center. The text of the email follows.

In January 2014, Emerson College will open an architecturally stunning new facility in the heart of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, dramatically advancing Emerson’s rapid growth as the world’s leading institution of higher education in the arts and communication. The Center enhances the Emerson curriculum by integrating its arts and communication learning disciplines with professional development opportunities, thus reinforcing the academically meaningful interplay between creative expression, critical inquiry and the development of discipline-based skills.

The new Los Angeles Center will expand significantly the current Los Angeles program of professional internships at television and film studios, music companies, media outlets, marketing agencies, and related enterprises. The internship program, now in its 26th year, enrolls 100-110 students, mostly seniors, per semester. Thousands of Emerson students have benefitted from this program already, gaining confidence, knowledge, and skills in their chosen crafts prior to launching their post-graduate lives and careers.

The Los Angeles Center will enhance and expand the internship program by creating a permanent home for Emerson College in Los Angeles that builds on the College’s commitment to teaching excellence, innovation, interdisciplinarity, and project-based, experiential learning. 

The Process         

The development of the Los Angeles Center academic program began in the Fall Term 2010, under the leadership of President Jackie Liebergott, who initiated a call for academic proposals from Emerson faculty.

Most recently, President Lee Pelton, in consultation with the Faculty Council, established a faculty academic advisory committee in the Spring Term 2012, whose purpose was to advise the College in the design and implementation of the Los Angeles Center’s academic program. The academic advisory committee, chaired by President Pelton, was comprised of faculty representatives from every department as well as the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the deans of the School of the Arts and Communication and other senior administrators. The advisory committee held six meetings from January to May 2012. (See Committee roster below)

Throughout the spring term, the advisory committee reviewed the academic programming previously contemplated in 2010-11 as well as considered new curricular and other academic programs to strengthen the educational experience of our students, add value to Emerson’s education purposes and provide opportunities for faculty development.

The academic advisory committee received and reviewed 60 proposals from each of Emerson’s seven departments. Departments submitted proposals designed to capitalize on Los Angeles’ physical location and its well-earned reputation as a vibrant metropolis for arts, culture, entertainment, and communication. Preference was given to proposals not easily duplicated in Boston. Several proposals were interdisciplinary, while others could be combined to create thematically related “pods” or “clusters.”

The Program

Based on the proposals received, advisory committee discussions and reports of department considerations, the advisory committee recommends that the Los Angeles Center be organized to include: an undergraduate program for Emerson students; the current (and possible expansion of) the internship program; and post-baccalaureate programs for graduate students and professionals. Additionally, it will serve as a magnificent gathering place for people and the ideas that will shape our future.


The undergraduate curriculum will be living-learning centered. Organized by semesters, Emerson students (mostly seniors) will live in the Los Angeles Center facility (215 beds) and enroll in courses specially designed to take advantage of the Los Angeles arts, culture and entertainment industries. Many of the courses will be interdisciplinary, while others might include a multi-course pod or cluster of courses focused on a particular subject or theme particularly suited for Los Angeles. Emerson’s commitment to innovation, excellence in teaching and experiential, project-based learning will be replicated in Los Angeles. These courses will be principally taught by part-time and adjunct faculty, though semester or year-long residencies will be filled by one or two Boston full-time faculty or high-profile leaders from Los Angeles arts, culture and entertainment industries.

Internship program and related courses

The residential internship program,with its internship opportunities and coursework during the fall, spring and summer semesters, will continue to operate within the Los Angeles Center under the leadership of its executive director and staff, taking advantage of the new facility and the expansion of new and innovative academic, industry based and cultural programs.

Currently, the internship program offers about 20 courses each semester in various disciplines, though Visual Media Arts ordinarily accounts for more than half of those offered. 


The post-baccalaureate program will include a M.A. and M.F.A. degree curriculum as well as specialized, industry-specific course offerings for early and mid-career students. The Center will also offer customized programs developed in partnerships with Los Angeles companies and businesses. The curriculum will be organized around cohort groups that may range, for instance, from two, four or six -week intensive certificate courses to one year or eighteen month M.A. and M.F.A. programs. Post-baccalaureate programs will be offered continuously throughout the calendar year.

Convening Center

The Los Angeles Center will serve as a public gathering place to convene national and international leaders in media, communication and the arts. Emerson College will host and sponsor cultural and arts events as evidence of civic leadership, while preserving its commitment to innovation and excellence in teaching and project-based, experiential learning.

Emerson College, in establishing a permanent home on Sunset Boulevard, is making three commitments: a commitment to bringing our rigorous, experiential academic experience to LA; a commitment to being civic and cultural leaders; and a commitment to partnering meaningfully with LA industries and businesses.

Emerson will bring the College’s culture of academic excellence to Los Angeles, amplifying and broadening those parts of the curriculum that cannot be easily duplicated in its main campus in Boston. The Los Angeles Center will provide a curriculum that seeks to take full advantage of what Los Angeles offers in performing arts, visual and media arts, writing and publishing, marketing, communication, journalism and the communication sciences.

To the industries represented in Emerson’s curriculum, the College’s Los Angeles program will provide them with access to professionally, ethically, and entrepreneurially trained leaders of the future, who understand their chosen fields, and the greater social context driving them.

Emerson pledges to Hollywood, to the neighborhood in which the Los Angeles Center will thrive and to the City of Los Angeles that the College will be a good neighbor and effective civic partner.

The Los Angeles Center will educate the next generation of leaders in arts and communication. It will be a beacon for excellence and add value to a world-class city.

Next Steps

The academic programming statement serves as a template for future planning. It is dynamic. No doubt, the current thinking about the courses as well as the organization of those courses will evolve over time as the administrative leadership of the Los Angeles Center is put into place and both time and experience provide a different perspective on our aspirations for the Center.

The senior leadership team will include a senior executive director and dean, the director of the current Los Angeles program, a director of the post-baccalaureate program and a director of industry outreach.

The search for the senior executive director and dean, who will work closely with the director of industry outreach in developing industry, culture and arts partnerships, will begin immediately. We have hired Korn/Ferry to serve as search consultants. The two lead consultants, William D. Simon, Global Managing Director and Senior Client Partner Media, Entertainment and Convergence, and Paul Chou, Senior Client Partner, have deep experience in international and Los Angeles higher education, arts, communication and entertainment. (Short bios are below.)

We expect to make an appointment of the executive director and dean in the early spring 2013, about a year in advance of the opening of the facility. He or she will have the responsibility of hiring the directors of industry outreach and post-baccalaureate programs.

LA Academic Advisory Group Members

  • Janis Andersen, Former Dean, School of the Arts
  • Amy Ansell, Dean, Liberal Arts
  • Kenneth Cheeseman, Artist-in-Residence, Performing Arts
  • MJ Knoll-Finn, Vice President, Enrollment
  • Hassan Ildari, Assistant Professor, Visual & Media Arts
  • Margaret Ings, Associate Vice President, Government & Community Relations
  • Roy Kamada, Assistant Professor, Writing, Literature & Publishing
  • Daniel Kempler, Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • James Lane, Executive Director, Los Angeles
  • Kristin Lieb, Assistant Professor, Marketing Communication
  • Ronald Ludman, Dean of Students
  • Linda Moore, Vice President, Academic Affairs
  • Maureen Murphy, Vice President, Administration & Finance
  • Gregory Payne, Associate Professor, Communication Studies
  • Lee Pelton, President (chair)
  • Carole Simpson, Leader-In-Residence, Journalism
  • Sandra Cohn Thau, Director, Clinical Education
  • Daniel Tobin, Former Interim Dean, School of the Arts
  • Andy Tiedemann, Vice President, Communications & Marketing

Consultant Bios

William D. Simon, Senior Client Partner Managing Director, Global Media and Entertainment Sector

Before joining Korn/Ferry, Mr. Simon established the entertainment division at the investment banking and brokerage firm, Communications Equity Associates. He was involved in transactions that included music, home video, theatrical exhibitions and television programming. Earlier in his career, Mr. Simon served as vice president at Heron Communications, Inc., where he was involved in the development of new business for its home video company, Media Home Entertainment, as well as general corporate management.

Mr. Simon served as the deputy staff secretary to President Jimmy Carter and has held other government and political jobs. Mr. Simon earned a bachelor’s in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Paul Hsun-Ling Chou, Senior Client Partner and Co-Managing Director of Korn/Ferry International’s Global Education Practice  

Leveraging over 25 years of professional experience as an academic, business professional, and search consultant at an international executive search firm, Mr. Chou brings a proven record of success and extensive knowledge about leadership to a broad range of not-for-profit clients regarding executive level placements, succession planning, and leadership assessment. His portfolio includes senior academic leadership placements for a variety of education clients, in addition to executive-level searches conducted for organizations with a significant educational component.

Mr. Chou is a professional violinist and conductor. While occupying the Ronald J. Ulrich Endowed Chair of Orchestral Studies in the department of music at Lehigh University, he also served as a development officer focusing on corporate/foundation relations and major donor cultivation. He received a master’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a bachelor’s degree in music with high distinction from Indiana University-Bloomington.