WIRE, News from the Columbia Community

Miriam Smith is Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving

Miriam Smith.

Miriam Smith.

In August 2015, Miriam Smith joined Columbia College Chicago as executive director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. In this role, Smith will increase alumni engagement 
with the college, including managing communications and working with offices across the college to increase student and parent connectivity. On top of that, she will spearhead the college’s annual giving program.

Smith comes to Columbia from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where she implemented the first-ever FIT Class Gift Campaign. She also has alumni and giving campaign experience from Manhattanville College and Sarah Lawrence College.


Stay Connected through the News & Events Site

Now you can keep up on all things Columbia from one convenient spot. The recently launched News & Events site serves as a central hub for news and info from Columbia, Chicago and beyond, including alumni in the news. From press releases to highlighted events, it’s the perfect place to see all the latest Columbia stories. Visit colum.edu/news-and-events to see what’s up on campus.

Stay on Track with Events App

Planning your social life just got a little bit easier. In addition to checking campus events at events.colum.edu, you can now download the Columbia College Chicago Events iPhone app to stay in touch with campus all the time. The app lets you see daily trending events, add events to your iOS calendar and even check which of your Facebook friends have RSVP’d. To download the app, search “Columbia College Chicago Events” in the app store or visit colum.edu/eventsapp.

Professors Awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

Two Columbia College Chicago professors received prestigious Guggenheim fellowships in 2015. Art & Art History professor Sabina Ott and Creative Writing professor David Lazar joined the list of 175 winners from a pool of more than 3,000 applicants. Ott received a fellowship in Fine Art, allowing her to expand her career as a multimedia artist, educator and founder of exhibition space Terrain (located at her Oak Park home). A prolific author, Lazar received a General Nonfiction fellowship.

Wabash Arts Corridor Welcomes New Murals

The WAC is considered Chicago’s “living urban canvas,” bringing vibrant street art to the South Loop. Murals added within the last year include Ben Eine’s circus-inspired Harmony, Italian artist Never 2501’s self-titled piece and Hebru Brantley’s Chi Boy.

Deb Maue Joins Columbia as VP of Strategic Marketing and Communications

In April, Deborah Maue joined Columbia College Chicago as vice president of Strategic Marketing and Communications. At Columbia, Maue works closely with President Kwang-Wu Kim to provide leadership and strategic vision to the college’s marketing, branding and communications divisions.

Hollywood Reporter Names Columbia a Top Film School

Aspiring filmmakers, take note: Columbia College Chicago once again made Hollywood Reporter’s annual list of the Top 25 American Film Schools, ranked at No. 16. The magazine specifically called out Columbia’s addition of eight new BFA degrees, including screenwriting, directing and cinematography.

Commencement Recognizes Honorary Degree Recipients

Five Columbia College Chicago alumni received honorary degrees in May at Commencement 2015: HBO Films President Len Amato (BA ’75); Steppenwolf Theatre artistic director Anna Shapiro (BA ’90); Bloodshot Records co-founder Nan Warshaw (MA ’93); actor and singer Chester Gregory (BA ’95); and playwright, screenwriter and theatre producer Josefina Lopez (BA ’93). “These five Columbia College Chicago alumni have had tremendous impact in their respective fields and truly embody the mission of the college by ‘authoring the culture of their times,’” said President Kwang-Wu Kim.


Give & Take: Ron Norinsky

Growing up in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, Ron Norinsky (BA ’70) obsessed over the radio. At just 11 or 12 years old, he and buddy Bob Sirott (BA ’71) hung out at the local radio station petitioning DJs to emcee neighborhood dances. When Sirott headed to Columbia College Chicago, Norinsky followed—but his focus shifted to television. After graduating, he founded video equipment rental and post/duplication company Video Replay, which he ran for 36 years. Today, he gives back to his alma mater through the Norinsky Family Production Grant, which offers financial assistance to freshmen and sophomores in entry-level classes to help fund Television projects.

How did you get interested in television?

I went down to enroll [at Columbia], and unfortunately all the radio courses were filled. This was when Columbia was 300 students on Lake Shore Drive. So I wound up taking some TV courses, and I got hooked. I never did take a radio class at Columbia.

What was the most rewarding part of owning Video Replay?

One of the things I helped introduce to Chicago was something called video walls, which are now the LED giant screens we have in all the stadiums. Back then, it was basically just a bunch of monitors stacked in a matrix with a processor. It added movement and energy to a presentation. Video Replay was one of the first companies to have that technology available.

What motivated you to start the Norinsky Family Production Grant?

I gained a lot of success, way more than I ever dreamed of. It wasn’t because I did it on my own. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, and Columbia was instrumental in getting me there. I always felt like I wanted to give something back. The students have to write a grant [proposal] for the money. In real life, a lot of these kids will be going to work for independent features and not-for-profit agencies. They’ll have to write proposals to get money. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience for them. That’s why I structured it the way I did.

What’s been one of the most exciting student projects you’ve seen as a result of the fund?

A girl by the name of Kayla Rosenberg [BA ’14] did a production [called The “Z” Word], and I was pretty impressed with her talent. It’s about zombies. I wasn’t her target audience—I’m generally not into those kinds of things—but I just saw in the cinematography, the lighting, the direction, that she has a lot of potential. That was pretty gratifying to see. —Megan Kirby