News Column

Susan Ruskin named dean of film school at UNCSA

May 28, 2013

YellowBrix

May 28--Susan Ruskin has been named the dean of the School of Filmmaking at UNC School of the Arts.

Ruskin has been serving as interim dean since former dean Jordan Kerner stepped down last June. Her appointment will take effect July 1.

Robert L. King III, the chairman of the UNCSA board of trustees, said that Ruskin's work as interim dean made her the natural choice.

"We applaud the direction she is taking our School of Filmmaking, which will help position UNCSA Film nationally and internationally in the future," he said.

Provost David Nelson said that Ruskin was chosen from a field of highly qualified candidates after a national search. "She is an accomplished filmmaker, a gifted educator and a dedicated administrator," he said.

Nelson said that Ruskin excels at creating real-world experiences for film students.

"She was instrumental in sealing a deal last year with 'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner to shoot parts of his feature film 'You Are Here' on campus," he said. "Our students got to work on that film, putting their training to work."

Weiner and other industry professionals praised Ruskin's appointment in a news release.

"Under Susan's leadership, UNCSA has become not only a state-of-the-art facility, but Susan's real strength is preparing the students realistically for their future while filling them with inspiration," Weiner said.

Doug Belgrad, the president of Columbia Pictures, said that Ruskin has "a great passion for film and for filmmakers. And her combination of experience as a producer and more recently as an educator makes her a great choice to serve in this role."

Ruskin, a film producer and executive, could not be immediately reached for comment. She has taught producing at UNCSA since 2009, and served as head of the producing faculty.

Ruskin, a graduate of New York University, began her film career in development for George Lucas' LucasFilm and later worked as head of development for Robert Stigwood at RSO. She was the associate producer of "The Woman in Red" before becoming president of production for Pal-Mel Productions. She produced "Haunted Honeymoon" and other films before becoming president of production for Middle Fork, where she produced "Anaconda" for Columbia Pictures. She also oversaw production of the documentary "Good Rockin' Tonight."

Andy Fickman, a director, producer and writer whose credits include "Parental Guidance," "You Again" and "Race to Witch Mountain," worked with Ruskin on "Anaconda" at Middle Fork. "It was a major learning experience for me to see how Susan navigated the jungle of Hollywood as well as the actual jungle of the Amazon."

He said UNCSA is lucky to have her. "She's truly not just an academic talking about a field they have studied ... she is an accomplished Hollywood producer talking about a field she has mastered," he said.

"Any success I have had in the business as a director, writer and producer can directly be attributed to everything I learned from Susan Ruskin," he said. "She has been my boss, my mentor and friend for almost as long as I have been in Hollywood."

sgilmor@wsjournal.com

(336) 727-7298

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