January 27, 2010

Dafna Lemish named chair of radio-TV department

by Pete Rosenbery

Dafna Lemish

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Dafna Lemish, an international scholar on the media’s role in children’s lives, will be the new chair and professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Radio-Television.

Lemish is a professor in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University.  Since 2008, she has served as a visiting professor at the Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard Medical School in Boston.  Lemish is also editor of the “Journal of Children and Media,” an international multi-disciplinary and multi-method academic journal she founded four years ago.

Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, announced Lemish’s appointment, which is subject to ratification by the SIU Board of Trustees.

Lemish “brings an international reputation as a scholar as well as substantial administrative experiences to the position and she will be a terrific asset for the department, college and University,” Kolb said.

Lemish will start at SIUC on July 1.  She will replace associate professor Lisa Brooten, who is currently serving as interim chair in the department.

Lemish is “extremely excited” about coming to SIUC.  She has drawn upon the work of several senior faculty members in her own research for years, she said.

“I was impressed by the excellence of the faculty, their dedication to their scholarship and students alike, and the sense of collegiality and the joint-vision they share,” she said. 

“I am impressed by MCMA’s commitment for combining scholarship with production, sensitivity to issues that matter most to me -- social justice and concern for gender, race, globalization, and cultural diversity, and to involving media in processes of social change,” Lemish said.

Lemish said she hopes to help “articulate and administer the department around a shared vision that incorporates all media platforms and innovations -- traditional, new and emerging -- in providing our students with the best training for the needs of the global market of media production, while at the same time building upon other strengths of the department and its well-deserved reputation.”

She also wants to ensure continued strengthening of students’ “social consciousness and desire to harness the media for social good, and to provide our students with an education that fosters responsibility, ethics, and the motivation to see media as agents of change.”  Lemish said she hopes to strengthen collaborations with other departments both within the college and across campus.

Lemish said she wants to build upon her “existing international professional networks to facilitate research and teaching collaborations and exchange, and to open our students’ horizons to global concerns and opportunities.”  She also plans to develop her own area of specialty in the department -- children and media -- and “contribute to the training of professionals with understandings and the skills necessary for producing quality media for this special audience.”

There were three finalists from among a strong pool of candidates, Kolb said. 

“Each of them had their strengths and I think the department made an excellent recommendation,” he said.  “I think Dr. Lemish will make a great chair.”

Media is a significant factor in children’s lives throughout the developed world, Kolb said.

“She’s at the forefront of studying media effects on children,” he said, adding that Lemish’s journal will also come to SIUC.

“She will bring with her the recognition that comes with being such an outstanding scholar, and will attract a lot of international attention to SIUC,” he said.

“She puts the icing on the cake in terms of our media studies faculty,” Kolb said.  “I would say that with the addition of Dr. Lemish, our media studies faculty is one of the finest media studies faculty in the United States, if not in the world.  We have several world-renowned scholars on the faculty now, and she just makes it that much stronger.”

Lemish brings numerous qualities to the department.  In addition to her administrative duties, Lemish will teach at the graduate and undergraduate levels, Kolb said. 

Lemish was chair in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University from 2001 to 2006, during a difficult budgetary time for the institution, Kolb said.

“She has experience dealing with the same kinds of budgetary challenges that we are dealing with,” he said.  “She is a very level-headed person, and I think she will approach problems calmly and methodically, and work cooperatively with people to get them solved.”

 Lemish is “immensely energetic” and takes on challenges, Kolb said.

 “I think she will do a great job for the department in terms of providing stable leadership, knowledgeable leadership, and visionary leadership,” Kolb said.  “I feel great about having her come on board.  She is the final link in that administrative team I have been trying to put together here for awhile.”

Lemish earned her doctorate in communication from Ohio State University, a master’s degree in communication from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a bachelor’s degree in geography from Tel Aviv University.

Lemish and her husband, Peter, have three grown children.