Building a digital media program from the ground up comes naturally to Matt Irvine, who joins the University of Cincinnati in fall 2015 as the inaugural director of the Digital Media Collaborative (DMC), a collective effort between the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning (DAAP), the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and UC Libraries.
Irvine, who joins UC with appointments across all of the related areas, comes to Cincinnati from DePaul University, where he was instrumental in founding DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts. The school, which is ranked in the top 20 film schools in the nation, includes bachelor’s degrees in animation and digital cinema, bachelor’s of fine arts in animation and graduate degrees in animation, cinema production, documentary, cinema and screenwriting. Irvine will be joined at UC by Kristyn Benedyk, an accomplished screenwriter and teacher who helped launch DePaul’s screenwriting program in 2011. Benedyk, who is also Irvine’s wife, will also be appointed across the same three colleges and UC Libraries.
“These dual-career cluster hires exemplify the power of aggressive recruitment and collaboration,” said Provost Beverly Davenport, whose office led the call for cluster hiring in summer 2014. “Together, these three colleges and our libraries were able to woo industry and educational leaders to build an exciting and forward-looking program in Cincinnati.”
The Digital Media Cluster includes multiple departments in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, CCM’s Division of Electronic Media, and Graphic Communication Design and Media Art out of DAAP, as well as technology and other resources from UC Libraries. “Speaking on behalf of my fellow deans who are involved in this collaborative, we are extremely enthusiastic about Matt and Kristyn’s hire,” said Peter Landgren, dean of CCM, the home college for both new faculty members.
“Their talents will enhance the existing strengths of our colleges, allowing us to provide our students with the creative, intellectual and interdisciplinary skills necessary to make an impact in the constantly changing digital media landscape.”
“There’s an excitement in Cincinnati,” Irvine said. “There has been so much support from everybody.”
Benedyk, who leaves her post as chair of the screenwriting program at DePaul, agreed. “There are already so many incredibly talented faculty at UC working in established, interesting and successful programs,” said Benedyk, who founded and produced a successful annual entertainment writers’ conference in Chicago. “I think it is great that the Digital Media Cluster is going to bring all of those people together working towards a shared objective that will result in UC becoming one of the top destinations for media education in the country.”
Both Benedyk and Irvine credited UC’s Cluster Hiring initiative and Dual Career Assistance program, both led by Provost Beverly Davenport, for sparking their interest in and eventually their commitments to Cincinnati.
“We’re better together than we are apart,” he said.
For Benedyk, whose background in Education fuels her passion for teaching, the move, in the end, was about quality of life.
“The dual career program was a huge draw for me,” said Benedyk, who was impressed by the reaction she got from faculty and administrators when she visited campus. “I immediately felt very welcomed as a potential faculty member.”
UC’s Cluster Hiring Initiative, launched by the Office of the Provost, supports existing and emerging partnerships within and between colleges, divisions and areas. Cluster hiring investments harness the power of faculty members focused on solving the world’s biggest challenges through leading-edge research and interdisciplinary collaborations that erase boundaries and embrace creative, bold ideas. Designed to attract top-quality faculty from around the world, UC’s Clusters represent the university’s commitment to investing in faculty and interdisciplinary problem-solving. The Provost’s Dual Career Assistance program dedicates funds and resources to accommodate job candidates and employees with opportunities to sustain healthy, connected families.