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President’s column, by Greg Luft

With July just a blink and a nod away, many of us are finding once again that summer is a great time to recuperate from a busy academic year. It’s true that we are most likely involved in summer coursework, creative scholarship, research, service, or committee work that didn’t get done in the spring. Or, we may just be trying to figure out what to do with the hundreds of pieces of paper stacked on our desks for the past three years or more.  Nevertheless, summers “off” have been part of our schedule DNA since first grade or earlier. Whether we work every day of the year or not, it always feels good to believe that we aren’t locked into a 50-week schedule with only two weeks of vacation.

In my case, summer teaching provides a great diversion from my norm as a department chair and faculty member at Colorado State University. More to the point, they have a distinct BEA flavor. I spend part of every summer teaching multimedia journalism in Urbino Italy. I have the opportunity because of BEA colleagues, and I work hand in hand with BEA colleagues, who bring students from their universities in a partnership with the Institute for Education in International Media (ieiMedia).

Former BEA president, and James Madison University Professor Steve Anderson got me involved in the program in 2012. Although both of us have a history of working in Denver television, we didn’t meet until both of us moved to academia, and joined BEA. We worked together on committees, and both chaired the Production, Aesthetics and Criticism Division in the late 1990s. Steve moved on to serve as BEA president, and I followed him onto the board as representative for the divisions. Along the way, we decided we could tolerate working together, so for seven summers we have begged students to use charge their video camera batteries, use tripods, shoot sequences, and write scripts for their video projects – all while they struggle to balance their nightlife with daytime study abroad expectations.

Another long time BEA member, Rusty Green of James Madison University, also served on the board of directors with me. As I write this column, he’s down the street in Urbino, pushing and prodding a group of six students to finish a 30-minute magazine-style television program on Italian cuisine.

My Colorado State University and BEA colleague Steve Weiss arrived today to start a two-week reporting and photojournalism program focused on travel media. Yet another BEA colleague, Rider University Professor Barry Janes, taught with us the past few years, and this year is working on our program video from his home in New Jersey.

Anthony Adnorato of Ithaca College, also a BEA member left today for a wedding in Florence, Italy after spending four weeks helping our students work with Italian interpreters to develop and report unique stories on Italian life and culture.

And then there are the 24 students who are producing work that can be entered in the Festival of Media Arts in the fall. All of them will be encouraged to join BEA as student members.

All of us have watched from afar as the BEA staff and board members put together a unique Studio Showcase and Training workshop at Elon University, and worked tirelessly on details for BEA On-location this fall in Houston. We also talked about potential panel ideas for next spring’s convention, and I mercilessly demanded that each of my BEA colleagues here in Italy  “Get Two for their Free Renew”.  This membership mantra sprung from the brain of Vic Costello at our BEA strategic planning meeting in February, and you will continue to hear about it in the coming months. Also keep your eyes peeled for the official “Get Two Free Renew” video. It’s currently in post-production while I update my Adobe Premiere Pro skills.

So while it may seem that I should be tortured with guilt because I couldn’t attend Vic’s workshop at Elon, submit panel proposals for the On-location event in Houston, or call Heather, Traci and JD with daily presidential ideas, demands and requests, I simply do not feel guilty. I do feel somewhat tortured, though, because I know that just down the street,  there is a Pizza Diavola, and a gelato al fondente that I have not been able to attack until I type the final punctuation mark that signals the end of this sentence.