June 05, 2012

Dafna Lemish to serve as interim MCMA dean

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The chair of the Department of Radio-Television at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will become the interim dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

Chancellor Rita Cheng today (June 5) announced the appointment of Dafna Lemish.  The appointment, subject to ratification the SIU Board of Trustees, is effective July 1.

“Dr. Lemish will provide strong continuity of leadership as well as fresh perspectives,” Cheng said.  “She is recognized internationally for her scholarship and is committed to preparing our students for successful careers.”

Lemish will replace Dean Gary P. Kolb, who is retiring June 30 after five years at the helm -- beginning first as interim dean in May 2007 before becoming permanent dean in July 2008.  Kolb’s association with the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts (MCMA) dates to 1979 when he started as a term faculty member in the Department of Cinema and Photography.

“I am very moved by the support of my colleagues in MCMA and honored that they as well as the higher administration have selected me for this position,” Lemish said.  “This is a huge challenge and I am preparing myself to working very hard and doing my best to lead the college during this transition time.”

Lemish looks to build on the college’s many strengths.  They include a “vibrant community of talented and dedicated faculty and staff, enthusiastic and motivated students, and cutting edge disciplines -- media and human communication -- which are relevant to all realms of life,” Lemish said.

Lemish said she hopes to achieve “balance between continuity and change.”  She will build upon Kolb’s leadership and accomplishments, and wants to move forward in areas that include working with the college’s leadership, faculty and staff “to strengthen the existing collaborations among the three departments, WSIU, and the graduate programs.”  She said she also wants to move forward into more interdisciplinary studies, and pool together may of the college’s elective programs to offer “all our students in the college a richer and more diverse curriculum.”  Lemish also wants to strengthen the Global Media Research Center’s role as the college’s “intellectual and research space that fosters dialogue and attracts graduate students.”

Lemish earned her doctorate in communication in 1982 from The Ohio State University.  She earned a Master of Arts degree in 1977 in communication from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, and a bachelor’s degree in geography with a minor in education in 1974 from Tel Aviv University in Israel.

She came to SIU Carbondale in July 2010 to serve as department chair. Prior to that, she was a professor in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University, and from 2008 to 2010 was a visiting scholar at The Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) at Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.  She is now a CMCH Scholar at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

An expert on the media’s role in children’s lives, Lemish is editor of the “Journal of Children and Media,” a quarterly international multi-disciplinary and multi-method academic journal she founded in 2006.  She is also the author or co-author of several books, including “Screening Gender in Children’s TV:  The Views of Producers Around the World.”

Included in her academic background, Lemish was chair in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University from 2001 to 2006, where she began as a visiting senior lecturer in 1995 before becoming a senior lecturer in 1996, associate professor in 2002, and full professor in 2008.

Lemish’s husband, Peter, is a faculty member in the School of Journalism and was coordinator of the interdisciplinary “Antarctica: Imagined Geographies” project.  The couple has three children, two sons and daughter.  Leeshai works in a non-governmental organization that focuses on human rights and freedom of expression; Noam is a pianist-composer studying for his doctorate in music at the University of Toronto; and Erga is entering her junior year at SIU Carbondale majoring in psychology.