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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Journalism Professor Eileen McNamara to teach full-time next fall

Published: March 23, 2007
Section: News

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Professor Eileen McNamara (JOUR) will begin teaching at Brandeis full-time starting fall 2007 after accepting one of 24 buyouts from the Boston Globe, according to a piece written in the Globe Wednesday. McNamara, who has been an adjunct professor at Brandeis since 1995, won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1997 for her biweekly column.

Please dont use the R-wordIm too young for retirement, McNamara told the Hoot by e-mail. I like to think of this as my second act.

The buyout, according the Globe article, was an effort to cut costs but avoid layoffs in the face of some of the harshest conditions for newspapers and other mass media in years. In a memo to the newspapers staff, Globe editor Martin Baron wrote that it is always difficult to say goodbye to co-workers and friends. Wonderful people who have dedicated themselves so fully to the success of the Globe will no longer be working with us side by side. I know that all of us wish them well.

When asked what she planned to do as a full-time professor, McNamara said that I will teach two classes a semester, the ones I teach now and two others to be chosen in consultation with the Journalism Program head. Someday, I really want to teach editorial or opinion writing. It is not as easy as it looks!

What I love about the Journalism Program is that it is embedded in the American Studies Department, McNamara added. There is a recognition that journalism has an impact on American society in a profound way. It might be a craft and not quite a profession but whatever it is we ignore journalism at our peril.

She also praised the twin newspapers on the Brandeis campus: The Hoot is the best thing that ever happened to The Justice on the Brandeis campus and I say that with great respect to the editors of the Justice down the years Good journalism thrives on competition. We need more of it. We have less of it. We need to mount something like a revolution to reverse the trend of corporate consolidation of the media. Information is not only power, it is empowering and that is as important on a college campus as it is in Washington.

McNamara said that her attraction to Brandeis stemmed from reasons I cannot fully articulate but that I feel in my heart. Maybe it goes back to being an Irish Catholic who had never been out of her parish in North Cambridge and found herself a freshman at Bernard University. She added that, during her time at Bernard, she and her roommate experienced a profound cultural exchange when they became close friends with two Jewish room-mates across the hall I attribute the social conscience that informs everything I write to the nuns who taught me in high school and to the Jewish influence of my college years. It's a potent combo.

Meanwhile, student response to McNamaras decision was extremely positive. Prof. McNamara brought a tremendous amount of personal experience to teaching, said Brendan Doris-Pierce 07, who attended McNamaras Media and Public Policy class. She was open to other students ideas and was, as is expected from a reporter of her caliber, very fact-oriented. And for someone who worked another job outside of Brandeis she was very available to students. Brandeis is lucky to have her.

Professor Maura Farrelly, the Director of the Journalism program, agreed: Eileen McNamara's appointment as a Professor of Praxis in Journalism is a real coup for the program, she said. Her experience, her wisdom, her enthusiasm, and her connections with the Boston community are going to allow us to do some marvelous things with the program, and I suspect many students at Brandeis are going to benefit tremendously from her full-time presence here.