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By Ripley Pierotti, Community Manager for Communication, Media & Cinema Program at Southern Oregon University.
Pictured above: Vaun Monroe
Marking a transformative addition to Southern Oregon University’s major in Digital Cinema, the Communication, Media & Cinema program is thrilled to announce the arrival of Vaun Monroe on campus. Newly hired as an assistant professor, Monroe begins in the Fall of 2022 as the program’s third full-time faculty member in Digital Cinema.
Monroe arrives in Southern Oregon from his prior position with Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and adds to the Digital Cinema faculty’s depth in directing and screenwriting.
In addition to his teaching and directing credentials, Monroe is one of the founding members of EDIT Media (www.editmedia.org), an initiative that focuses on inclusive teaching in college-level digital media and film production.
Monroe’s classes put these values into practice by creating and analyzing film from a variety of diverse perspectives.
“One of the goals of a liberal arts education is to teach you to think and write critically,” said Monroe. “But there’s another vital component, which is empathy. We are called, as is demonstrated in To Kill a Mockingbird, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. And film has an unbelievable ability to do that.”
Among the techniques by which Monroe promotes inclusive learning, he brings into the classroom cinematic work from diverse filmmakers, and from many different eras in film history.
“The diversity we encounter in the classroom is not a chore, but a bonus,” Monroe said. “Students are coming into these courses, and they’re getting to experience a slice of the world.”
Monroe has also committed to helping students find their own creative voice, and responding to historic industry demand for fresh ideas in film and television. Monroe is eager to get back to teaching film students, as well as his creative work, both of which were on hold during the pandemic.
“Filmmaking is a craft that has historically privileged white male perspectives, and the entire entertainment industry has long been structurally hostile to most other identities and communities,” said CMC Program Chair Andrew Gay. “Fortunately, that is beginning to change, and I see the Digital Cinema program as a key player in hastening that change. Professor Monroe not only shares these commitments, he brings to our campus his own lived experience as a Black film artist, and I am thrilled our students will now benefit from his talent, wisdom, and expertise.”
In addition to film, Monroe directs theatrical productions, and he is working with SOU’s Theatre Arts program to stage Everybody, a campus production set for Spring 2023.
Everybody began as a 15th-century Catholic morality play titled Every Man. The play was then adapted and modernized by Branden Jacob-Jenkins in 2017. The main character, motivated by a fear of death and solitude, tries to find someone to die with them, so they won’t be lonely in the afterlife. According to Monroe, this production will tackle the idea of what it means to be alive and the value of one’s contributions to the world in the face of mortal terror.