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Wake Forest University lands 'Top Ten Documentary Program'


September 17, 2009

The Documentary Institute at the University of Florida, one of the top 10 documentary film programs in the country, is moving to a new home at Wake Forest University.

Sandra Dickson, a nationally-known documentary filmmaker and educator who has co-directed The Documentary Institute for 12 years, will co-direct Wake Forest’s new undergraduate and graduate Documentary Film Program.  Dickson joined the Wake Forest faculty this summer.

She has served as writer and co-director on eight television documentaries, five of which aired nationally on PBS.  She and her co-directors won the 2006 Erik Barnouw Award for her film “Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power.”  Past winners of the award have included Ken Burns and Bill Moyers.

Under the direction of Dickson and her colleagues at the Documentary Film Institute, students produced films that have aired on PBS stations and cable networks and earned student Emmys. Graduates of the program are working for National Geographic, PBS and prestigious documentary production houses such as Cabin Creek Films and Big Mouth Productions.

“We are excited to move this top-level program to Wake Forest,” Dickson says. “We will be part of a top-ranked national university with a strong intellectual tradition and a keen sense of social responsibility—the perfect environment for creative and responsible storytelling.”

Dickson will co-direct the Documentary Film Program with Mary Dalton, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest.  Dalton, who teaches courses on film and television, has produced a number of documentaries including the award-winning “Martha in Lattimore.”

“We want students who have diverse points of view and are passionate about telling stories that matter,” Dalton says.  “Involving such students in documentary filmmaking will fulfill Wake Forest’s responsibility to educate the whole person, mind, body and spirit.”

The Documentary Film Program will be part of Wake Forest’s larger effort to link the liberal arts and professions and to engage local as well as national and international communities.

“The program will put Wake Forest’s motto, Pro Humanitate, into practice by developing faculty and student-produced films on key historical and societal issues,” says Jacquelyn Fetrow, dean of the College. 

Lorna Moore, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, points out the interdisciplinary aspects of the program, saying it “will emphasize important connections between programs in the humanities, and social, natural and physical sciences.”

The new Documentary Film Program is slated to begin in fall 2010 with undergraduate classes, a two-year Master of Arts degree and a three-year Master of Fine Arts degree.  Dickson will bring two of her colleagues from the University of Florida, Cindy Hill and Cara Pilson, to Wake Forest.

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


Mary Dalton
Mary Dalton
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Sandra Dickson
Sandra Dickson
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