“We all tell a story,” says Dr. Richard Medoff, the chair of the newly created Department of Communications and Arts in the School of Liberal Arts.
He is also the fun loving professor who is best known for bringing a bag of milk chocolate treats for his students.
“I was ready for a change in position. I was ready to take a leadership role and there was the opening to do it. It just was the right time,” Medoff said after discussing his new position.
The new department features programs such as communication studies, computer arts and design, media studies, and music industry and technology.
Medoff has been involved in the theater his entire life, from starring in plays at a very young age to being an actor as an adult. Unsatisfied with the roles he was cast in, he decided to take matters into his own hands and become a play writer. This decision caused him to realize that despite of his shyness, he actually liked being in school and teaching. He decided to teach by day and write by night.
Now today, he is chair of the department, and not only teaches his students, but also inspires them to pursue their dreams and goals.
“I discovered that I liked being in school and I earned my Ph.D, and then I started teaching, and then I never had to act again because I found the authentic me. In front of a classroom I am more who I am than any other time in my life,” Medoff said happily.
The new position as chair of the department was not something Medoff aspired for, but something that was a matter of perfect timing. Ready for a new position and ready for the leadership role, Medoff saw the opportunity as a new way to “tell a story,” which Medoff says is also the goal of the new department.
“One of the things about all of our media is the fact that we all tell a story. That is the primary purpose of why we exist,” Medoff said.
With media advancing, Medoff wanted to investigate a new forum for writing and expression. Instead of using traditional forums of assessment, such as tests and numbers, he wanted to use newfound methods and create a new forum of assessment for Mercy College students. Medoff believes that humanity isn’t about numbers – it is about human beings and stories.
“If you were only your CWID rather than a name and identity, it would make it easier to classify you. Colleges have been trying to put down everything into numbers because numbers are easy to analyze. We in the humanities say that’s not what’s important. It is our stories that are important,” he preaches.
He is also in his second semester of teaching has class that fused art and the written word. The graphic novel class was inspired by his dissertation he wrote for his Ph.D, which was the dramatization of paintings, and found himself interested in how art and the written word come together.
“It’s like taking a painting and dramatizing it, and making it into a play,” explained Medoff.
He is currently applying for a new grant project, in which he wanted to document first year students and see if their stories change radically by realizing the opportunities college offers them. The grant is under the designation of Hispanics serving colleges, a designation Mercy has been assigned for years due to enrollment. Being that New York has large amount of Hispanic serving communities, and the government wants to make sure that colleges are focusing on Hispanics and have the money to do so, especially in the humanities, which is often a forgotten discipline for first generation college students, he says. By having this grant available, it gives schools the opportunity to expand their programs. He created and opportunity for the department to work together for the first time and to see what they can create as a whole of the different disciplines.
He said, “The grant is giving us the opportunity to work together as a department for the first time and to see what we can create as a whole of our different disciplines.”