Heading West(ish) Again

It was this time last year when I announced that I was leaving L.A. to take a tenure track teaching position at SUNY Oswego in upstate New York.  I remember accepting the offer from the Dean while standing on the second floor balcony of the USC School of Cinematic Arts (Steven Spielberg wing), overlooking a gorgeous courtyard and the dramatic statue of Douglas Fairbanks with his riding crop. It was there, or the demolished building next door, really, where I got my start as a screenwriter, then later, as a professor. It was an emotional time as I thought of leaving paradise, and a difficult decision… plus, I had to get back to class. It was the last day of my Scene Writing class, and also the day we determined which MFA students would pass, need a rewrite, or earn distinction. When one of my friends and colleagues announced my departure and destination to all of the faculty at that meeting, one of them looked at me with confusion and said, “Why?” There were many reasons: family, career, environment, and the belief that it would not impact my writing. Turns out, all of those reasons were well founded and I’ve had an amazing year in every respect.

And yet, I’m moving again.

As the semester wound down at Oswego amidst senior capstones, Oswego Webisodes, advanced students finishing features and intro students completing first acts, I was offered a position at DePaul University’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media in Chicago.  My year at Oswego was fantastic. I made what I hope to be life-long friends and colleagues among the college’s exceptional faculty. I worked with talented and inspiring  students whose dreams are no smaller or less achievable than those of students I taught in L.A.  The Creative Writing and Cinema and Screen Studies programs are the most robust on campus, with amazing faculty and committed administration.  I’m going to miss it. The green, the quiet, the space, the air, and of course, the people.  Yesterday, I packed up my office then spent some time at the shore of Lake Ontario —  a lot has happened this year public and private, almost all within view of that lake, and I had to say goodbye even as I’m about to say dozens of first “hellos.”

DePaul’s CIM program is centered in the Loop campus and the heart of downtown Chicago. It’s a traditional film school, with writing, production and animation programs, offering MFA, BFA and BA degrees.  The faculty and the overall energy there, as well as the possibilities and future plans were impossible for me to ignore. We’ve bought a(nother) house, we plan on (finally) settling down in Chicagoland, and I’m excited to do all I can to help grow an already exceptional program, which has designs on becoming the premier film school in the Midwest, and a close competitor to those on the coasts — including my beloved USC.  Watch out Troy, here we come.

So, thank you again to everyone at SUNY Oswego, especially Amy Shore, Leigh Wilson, Bob O’Connor, Donna Steiner, Brad Korbesmeyer, Jacob Dodd, Josh and Jamie Adams, and department chair, Bennet Schaber.  I’m a Laker for life.

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