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Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023


By DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter Recognizing that their campus is mere miles from the heart of the entertainment business the biggest employer in the San Fernando Valley Cal State Northridge officials are looking to retool their curriculum to make it more geared to the industry. Deans in the colleges of the arts, business and computer science as well as professors from those schools are meeting with alumni and others in the industry to decide how to change their classes and internship programs. Among the future possibilities for the program dubbed the “Entertainment Industry Institute” are new classes, certificate programs and new bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. “From an academic perspective, there are some unique aspects of the industry that don’t exist in other industries,” said William Hosek, dean of CSUN’s College of Business, Administration and Economics. Hosek said show business is set apart because it combines artistic, technical and organizational skills, and it involves short-term projects. A group of eight faculty members from the three colleges are meeting on a weekly basis and are scheduled to issue recommendations to the university at the end of the spring semester in May. The university has allocated $200,000 to developing the program. Philip Handler, dean of the College of Arts, Media and Communication, said development of the program is unusual in that it combines the three disciplines of arts, business and computer science. “In academic life, it’s very easy to get locked into your own discipline,” Handler said. Bill Allen, president and chief executive of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and a former MTM Entertainment and CBS network executive, said that Cal State Northridge’s program is “long overdue,” since USC and Santa Monica College already have similar programs up and running. “I really applaud what they are doing at CSUN because they are our Valley university and entertainment has become our No. 1 industry in terms of jobs,” he said. Many entertainment industry companies, particularly in the fast-growing multimedia and software fields, have had to recruit outside the area and often outside the country for their workers, Allen said. “If you can get more people trained, and trained in our region, that lowers the cost of doing business in our region,” Allen said. Shinny Anderson, 25, a CSUN senior who has done work for Walt Disney Co.’s Imagineering unit and completed an internship at DreamWorks SKG, said it is important to have numerous skills. “The more you know, the more money you can command, and the more patches you can wear,” said Anderson. “When you’re creating something, you can understand the dynamics of the other disciplines.” Anderson created his own major at the university combining classes in animation, civil engineering and interior, industrial and structural design. The skills those classes offer, he said, are what he needs in order to succeed at a company like Disney or DreamWorks. “What I did was create something that allows me to express and display any idea within any platform in any medium,” he said. Anderson said it was necessary to create his own major because CSUN, unlike Santa Monica College or CalArts, does not yet offer what is needed to be successful in the entertainment industry. “Our school isn’t there yet,” he said. “We’re kind of lagging behind.” Handler hopes to start implementing the simplest changes suggested by the faculty group such as better internships next year, but said a new major is at least two years away. But William Toutant, associate dean in the College of Arts, Media and Communication and a member of the faculty group, said much of the curriculum CSUN already offers may be molded to serve students hoping to work in the entertainment industry. “I think we want to examine our own curriculum as it stands now to see where it fits in to what the industry seems to need,” he said.

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