Getting to know AEMM: Dawn Larsen, Director of Graduate Studies

Getting to know AEMM: Dawn Larsen, Director of Graduate Studies

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Over the next few months, I will be interviewing faculty and staff in the Arts, Entertainment & Media Management department at Columbia College Chicago in order to offer Marginalia readers some extra insight into the program. This interview with Dawn Larsen, Director of Graduate Studies, is the first in the series. Given her role, it could not be a more appropriate way to kick things off! She has some fantastic information to share, and you will never guess what her favorite album is…

Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am the Director of the MAM program and teach Arts, Media and the Law, which is a graduate core course.  I have a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law and practiced intellectual property and entertainment law prior to coming to Columbia.  After several years, I realized that I just wasn’t happy practicing at a large law firm. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do instead, so I took some time off to figure it out.  I spent close to a year living with my family in California and basically lying on the beach and writing poetry. I call this my “corporate detox” period.  Afterwards, I returned to Chicago and started working at the Art Institute and teaching part-time at Columbia. It was then that I found my true calling.  A year or so later, I was hired as a tenure-track professor in the AEMM department and have been here ever since.  Two years ago, I was appointed the Director of Graduate Studies for the MAM program, which was an exciting new challenge for me.  I love my job, and I’m fortunate to work with the best students and colleagues anyone could ever ask for.

What can graduate students expect from the AEMM graduate program?

This is funny, because I was just talking to my Arts, Media and the Law class about this the other day.  I think the main thing students can expect from the MAM program is that they will become excellent managers, leaders, and decision makers.  As an arts manager or entrepreneur, you will be making decisions everyday that will impact the success of your business.  The MAM program, with its strong grounding in management theory and strategy, will equip you with the tools you need to be successful.

What do you think makes the AEMM graduate program at Columbia unique?

I think what makes the MAM program unique is our location in the thriving arts scene of downtown Chicago, faculty who are actively engaged in their disciplines and bring real world experience to the classroom, and being part of the creative environment of one of the largest arts and media colleges in the world.

Finally, what is your favorite album/artist/show/production/etc.?

My favorite artist of all time is Johnny Cash.  My mom played his music a lot when I was growing up, so it was one of my earliest influences.  I have the utmost respect for him, because of his personal struggles and personal beliefs.  Although Johnny Cash is my favorite artist, my favorite album is Journey’s ” Infinity.”  I know I will lose a lot of street cred for this, but this album was the sound-track for my high school years.  Journey’s big hair, hard-driving, arena rock ballads were a strong formative influence for me.  Which explains a lot!

Dawn Larsen is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Arts, Entertainment & Media Management Department at Columbia College Chicago. She supervises and teaches the Entertainment Law & Oral Communication and Public Speaking for Managers courses. You can contact her here.