Category: Academics

TMU Cinema & Digital Arts to premiere its most ambitious student film – By Caleb Lacefield

The Master’s University (TMU) has produced its first-ever musical film, “The Lunch Rush.” The plot is about a young widower reuniting with his late wife who mysteriously appears every day for an hour at a diner where they had their first date.

This is the university’s fourth short film, all of them student-led. Roughly 30-40 students were involved, most of them majoring in communication with an emphasis in Cinema and Digital Arts (CDA). They also were joined by about 20 industry professionals.

“It’s a big combination,” said professor Matt Green, who supervises the CDA emphasis. “These professionals have worked on big, $10-15 million feature films. That raises [the students’] game because they don’t want to be looked at as a student. They want to be looked at as a peer.”

Green and professor Bob Dickson, the department chair, created the concept. They handed it to students Ali Rae and Kyle Shannon to write, both of whom are enrolled in the university’s screenwriting course.

Continue reading “TMU Cinema & Digital Arts to premiere its most ambitious student film – By Caleb Lacefield”

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The Master’s University reaches maximum View Weekend attendance – By Caleb Lacefield

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The Master’s University admissions staff closed registration early for their Fall semester View Weekend—a chance for prospective students to experience life at Master’s—as all available room was filled to capacity.

  About 120 students and 65 parents signed up, maxing out the available Student Leadership Staff (SLS) that prospects stay with, before the Admissions office closed registration. Master’s experienced a significant jump from last year’s numbers when only 78 people attended.

   “Our counselors have worked really hard to convince these students why it’s worthwhile,” said Madison Currie, the Director of Admissions. “If they’re looking for a Christian education and a place where they can grow in community, we know that they’ll be sold on a weekend here. We thought it was really important to push that hard this year, and we’re seeing the benefits.” Continue reading “The Master’s University reaches maximum View Weekend attendance – By Caleb Lacefield”

Comm Dept., students aim high with “DRIFT” – By Caleb Chandler

Drift
Photo credit: Jonni Lundy

On April 29 at the final chapel of the school year at The Master’s College, a scientist will wake to find himself alone in space.

The science fiction short film, “DRIFT” was created by students of the college from multiple classes in the film branch of the school’s Communication Department. Scripted by a team taking professor Matt Green’s screenwriting course, the film is the largest and most ambitious production to come from the department since it began offering courses in film more than 15 years ago.

Continue reading “Comm Dept., students aim high with “DRIFT” – By Caleb Chandler”

So what happens to all those CAFE reports? – By Kinley Kane

Paper pileIt’s that time of the semester again; finals are taking place and any scraps of extra credit for class can come in handy. For some professors at The Master’s College, the annual Course and Faculty Evaluation’s (CAFE) have their reputations to do the job.

If a student were to take five minutes to complete a CAFE report, they can gain two points for their World History class. Those two points can determine one percent of a students overall grade. While students rely on the grade difference, other students, faculty, and staff attach personal value to the CAFE reports.

CAFE reports started in the early 80’s at The Master’s College. The primary purpose was to allow students input for faculty members regarding the quality of the teaching and the course.

“No prof likes to get criticism, but a student taking any time to write something in the comment box means a lot to me. The best thing, if they are used correctly, is that they can make you a better teacher. The worst thing it can be is to penalize tough, good teaching” said Dr. John Stead, Vice President of Academic Affairs and current U.S. history professor.

CAFE reports are industry-wide. Every college has some sort of evaluating system; this is standard practice today throughout the United States.

“From my understanding we have a very sophisticated system. It is computerized and data based. I think we have an enviable system compared to a lot of other schools” history professor Jeffery Jensen said.

Not only do evaluations serve the students, but also individual faculty members for self-improvement. For the faculty as a whole, the CAFE reports are primarily used to assess areas of concern.

“My ultimate goal for all my faculty would be to help our staff to grow, mature, and be better at what they do,” Stead said.

The rating scale for a professor is between one and five. From the responses students have provided, most professors are at a four.

“It’s kind of crazy to think that the faculty is really doing that great of a job or the reality that the students really do like us,” Stead said.

However, there have been some problems within the evaluating process. Many times, great professors who are hard graders but demand a heavy work load will tend to have low CAFE rating results. On the other hand, faculty that do not require much work receive higher ratings. As the ratings can reveal more about the professors individually, the staff has had to be careful not to take the numbers and relate them personally to the professor and his/her character.

At the same time, some of the toughest TMC professors will get very high numbers because the students are respectful in knowing that their teachers and their major require hard work.

Every year, people overwhelmingly respond in ways that let professors know what to change and what not to change. The system is designed to record students’ answers and comments anonymously when the professors review them.

“To me, CAFE reports are 99% positive and 1% on the negative. The best part about them is how students will tell you what they think and I like to know what people think,” Jensen said, “In a negative sense, there is a small portion of students that may not value them and therefore don’t provide mature answers. I mean there isn’t a literal rule saying they cannot so there is an exception for the students.”

From students to the faculty, there is a variety of opinions and reliance on CAFE reports.

“They are here to stay because it gives students ability to input, and it’s very important to have student input,” Stead said.

By Kinley Kane

A future driven by a passion for the past — By Katelyn Walter

GreerFor many people, history is just an academic subject with heavy, boring textbooks and long strings of dates to memorize. The chunk of concrete sitting on the bookshelf in Dr. Clyde Greer’s office represents a side of history that is radically different.

A metal rod sticks through the concrete, part of a wall that enslaved a generation of Germans. When the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989 amid gleeful cries of Berliners, Greer traveled halfway around the world to become a part of history. With a hacksaw, he broke away a chunk of the wall alongside the people who had lived as prisoners in their own land for decades. For Dr. Greer, history is not a collection of facts recorded in dusty textbooks; it’s alive and happening every day.

The passion that drove him around the world to pursue history started on a school field trip as a young boy.

Continue reading “A future driven by a passion for the past — By Katelyn Walter”

Beyond SciFi: Master’s students building robots on campus — By Emily Rader

By 9:30 p.m., the end of class had come on the first night of professor Eric Mack’s Introduction to Robotics course with hardly any notice from the students. The 17 computer science majors were so engaged in the course that to stay late to work on test robots in the lab was a no-brainer.

The opportunity to learn about robot application programming, make functioning robots and battle in robot competitions might intrigue anyone. However, a robotics class that simultaneously trains students in problem-solving and life skills from a biblical perspective makes this class unique to The Master’s College.

“My motivation for this course really is to teach students critical thinking and problem solving while preparing them for practical life skills,” Mack said. “The robotics is a fantastic way to get all of them to put that into action.”

Mack does this by helping students build their own robots, create a flowchart of how it was done, test their creations in an autonomous competition and then analyze and communicate what happened.

“In this day an age, its often not what you know that makes the difference, its your ability to communicate what you know” Mack said. “That’s a big part of the class.”

The course began after Mack’s two daughters presented their robotics interests to a computer science class taught by CIS professor John Eikemeyer in 2010. Inspired by their father, the girls had a keen interest in robotics and were experienced tournament competitors. Their passion was contagious, sparking the interest of the computer science department, and eventually leading to the first Introduction to Robotics course in 2012.

Since then, the course has drawn the interest of many students. It is not uncommon for students to come to class and stay late to work on their projects. In fact, this has become the routine.

Others have also noticed the tact of these TMC students. For the last eight years, the FIRST Robotics Championship help at Legoland has requested TMC student adjudicators almost exclusively, giving students the opportunity to reinvest the skills they have learned in those younger than themselves.

The course aids the future with competent people who are able to create, analyze and communicate with others in the workforce, regardless of what field students go into. Teaching robotics is a great help to developing skills relevant to all facets of life.

Mack hopes to continue teaching the class on a more regular basis to a broader audience of majors.

For more information on the robotics course visit: www.masters.edu/robotics

By Emily Rader

Skipping class: The good, the bad and the policy — By Jen Gibb

Empty chair“Skipping class,” as commonly called, is a favorite activity for many students at The Master’s College. They do this sometimes for invalid reasons, maybe for a beach trip or just to sleep in. Another invalid reason, although justified by some, is to finish more urgent work that is due in another class. Other reasons for skipping would be a concert with the music department or a game with the athletic department. These, along with family emergencies and serious illnesses fall under another category entitled “excused absences.”

According to The Master’s College Academic Catalogue 2014-2015, faculty are required to give students five excused absences for three-session/week classes, four for 2-session/week classes, and 2 for one-session/week classes. Unexcused absences, also known as “skips” aren’t even mentioned. Some teachers go the extra mile and extend their grace. Professor Bob Dickson of the Communication Department allows for five excused or unexcused absences in Science Fiction Writing. Dr. Daniel Wong in Christian Theology I doesn’t have any attendance at all, but other teachers live by the book.

“My understanding is that we have a standard absence policy and it is as you would find it in my syllabus,” says Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, who teaches the Global Outreach course for students going on summer missions trips.

She continued to give her opinion on class attendance. “No class is a throwaway class,” she says. “For a student to miss that class it’s almost impossible to make up what you’ve missed, whether it be because of the content that is introduced during the class or the interaction between the professor and the other students in the class. The more that you’re gone, the harder it is for a professor to be able to assess whether or not you’ve gotten the content in the class.”

And yet, excused absences are still necessary. Dr. Paul Plew explains this, speaking from the perspective of both a classroom professor and a director of The Master’s Chorale and Collegiate Singers, both extra-curricular groups.

“It’s all part of the educational process,” he says. “[Extra-curricular activities] are also why they’re here.”

This view is not just unique to Plew. The Master’s College charges a Student Activity Fee of $210 if a student is taking six or more units to cover the cost of any activities they might be involved in. They expect students to be involved, and although most activities do not interfere with the classroom schedule, some, athletic and musical events especially, can fall at a bad time. However, there is still a way to make it work.

Dr. John Stead, TMC Vice President of Academic Affairs says, “If you come to [most faculty] prior to the event and say, ‘I’m going over here and I’m representing the college,’ and you have a quiz on Friday, most faculty would say, ‘Okay, but you need to take the quiz before you go.’ I’d say that’s pretty much the standard.”

In a perfect world, this standard would solve all of the problems. But if a student is involved in multiple groups, such as Chorale, Collegiate, and the theatre program, he may find himself skipping multiple sessions of the same night class. And since only two excused absences are allowed for a night class, the student may find himself crossing the limit without even being sick.

When asked about this issue, Stead says, “That is really tough. If you plan ahead, if you’re in this activity on a regular basis, just make sure that when you do your schedule, you do not schedule [that night class]. Basketball players do not schedule night classes on a Tuesday because they play every single Tuesday.”

Some teachers put a lot of time into note packets that explain all of their material, and a student could, if they were allowed to, probably just study the note packet and do fine on the tests. But a college education isn’t just about passing the exam. As mentioned by LaGeorge earlier, the education is also about interaction with the professor. Many students even change their majors due to professors in one department or another.

After paying $15,250 for tuition at The Master’s College, a student might think twice about spending that money on other activities during class time.

“You came to go to class, so go to class,” LaGeorge says.

A life that combines both class time and extra-curricular events is possible, but it requires serious planning.

“Your advisor should really help you work through that ahead of time,” Stead suggests.

Unfortunately, some students don’t know what activities they will be involved in when they sign up for classes. The semester will wear on and a student may realize that he can’t keep with a class’s attendance policy and still respect his extra-curricular commitments.

“At that point, you’re at the mercy of your faculty member,” Stead says.

For some students, this is just a case of bad planning where they didn’t let their professors know their commitments ahead of time. That situation is not the professor’s fault, but it is entirely on the student, especially if their extra-curricular activities made the dates clear right at the beginning of the semester.

“You’re going to have to make a choice,” Plew says.

By Jen Gibb

Communication majors to produce, direct, premier professional-level short films this spring – By Katie Barton

Master’s College Electronic Media majors enrolled in Directing II this semester will release two short films on April 19, with the help of a hired crew of film and television industry professionals.

Directing II is a capstone course that takes Electronic Media students through the entire process of producing a film, from pitching a storyboard to directing on set. At the end of the course, students possess material they can show perspective employers in the area of video production.

Matt Green, professor of Directing II, came to TMC in the fall of 2014 with a desire to give his students real-world experience.

“The whole idea is I want the students to be able to leave here with stuff they can immediately have on their resume,” Green said.

Bob Dickson, professor and Communications Department Chair, is always looking for ways to improve his students’ classroom experience with hands-on learning opportunities.

“That’s one of the things I love about Professor Green,” Dickson said. “His commitment to connecting students to the realities of what it means to be a professional in video production. He’s always thinking of how to bring that reality into the classroom.”

Eight teams of students from Directing II pitched storyboards to Green and Dickson in February.

“We had criteria,” Green explained. “We looked at how professional the presentation was, whether or not we wanted to embrace the subject matter and … whether or not we felt the students that presented it could pull it off.”

Green and Dickson selected two films to produce. Cammy Ylo, a communication major, was among the four directors chosen.

“My co-director is Kelli Clark,” she explained. “We spent about 20 hours preparing our pitch. We had five minutes to go to Professor Dickson and Professor Green and just tell them, ‘This is our story and this is why you should pick us to direct.’”

Ylo and Clark received the scripts for “Murder of Crowe,” their short film, on Feb. 17. Green worked alongside another screenwriter to develop the story. The next steps include auditioning actors from the Screen Actors Guild and scouting locations.

Jeff Caparula and Kimberly Smither, co-directors of “Life of Death,” also received the green light from Green and Dickson. The rest of the class will take crew positions, helping the directors shoot the films over the course of two days with a hired crew. Because both projects involve professional cast and crew members, all students will receive IMBd recognition for their work, and the films will be officially registered in that database.

“Murder of Crowe,” and “Life of Death” are set to premiere in the dorms spring semester, 2015. More details to follow.

By Katie Barton 

Communication Department plans to roll out new emphases next year – By Caleb Chandler

The Communication Department of The Master’s College will be getting an upgrade next fall semester. Pending approval from the school’s Academic Affairs Council, students will be able to choose from a variety of new emphases within the program including creative writing and journalism, which will replace the broader print media emphasis.

While the spoken communication emphasis will remain untouched, this year’s reexamination of the major has led to specialization and updating of what is now the electronic media and print media branches of the major which will include altering old courses and the addition of new ones.

Starting next academic year, Department Chair and Professor Bob Dickson plans to offer creative writing students genre specific fiction workshops which would be able to be taken twice for credit. Rather than the traditional classroom format, these courses would be taken by students individually, creating a custom experience for each student. This will be replacing the more generic Novel Writing directed study as well as the Science Fiction Writing course.

Creative writing students will also learn the ropes of publishing in a market shifting away from print. Courses in graphic design and web publishing, formerly under the electronic media emphasis, will be available to this emphasis as the department evolves to match the increasing overlap of all media.

The journalism emphasis will also be overhauled to reflect advances in technology, with other electronic media courses finding a new home.

“The vision for the journalism [program]… and really the vision for the entire major is we want these emphases to be working together,” Dickson says. “They’re separate fields of study but there’s so much overlap… I want these things to be hand-in-hand.”

In addition to the journalism courses currently offered, such as Article Writing, the new emphasis will also feature classes that will teach students how to handle elements of broadcast journalism, including recording video interviews and reporting live in front of a camera.

Though many of its classes will be moved, the electronic media emphasis will not disappear. Video Production is the tentative new title for the largest portion of Electronic Media – film.

The scope of the video production emphasis will now expand beyond movies to encompass a variety of forms.

“I think electronic media should be more than just film,” Dickson says. “I think film is good… But I think electronic media can have a commercial video production component as well. Because someone may not want to be a film director. He or she may want to work for organizations that produce videos for their businesses – whether that’s marketing or it’s informative…”

In addition to these changes, the film courses will also be transformed. Students who take the directing classes in future will have a different experience than their predecessors. Starting next semester, those in Directing II will not all direct their own films as before. Rather than making a handful of amateur productions individually, students will work together to make a film worth showing employers. The best idea pitched will be chosen by the teacher and department chair.

“The thing I’m most excited about is the idea that they get to work with professionals,” says Matt Green, who started teaching within the department in the fall. “So it’s not that they’re just having to go and make their own stuff and hopefully it comes out okay… They get to be creative and, if you’re taking the directing class, you get to be creative and come up with a concept that then is not completely upon yourself to do everything.”

Students have already benefited as producer John Sullivan and writer/director Chris Dowling have been brought in on separate occasions to give seminars in the fall semester. Sullivan, who helped produce Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary “2016” as well as “Expelled,” gave insight into distribution and marketing while Dowling, creator of upcoming film “Produce: Where Hope Grows” spoke on directing and producing.

“That’s how you move in this industry is you network,” Green says.

Both Dickson and Green emphasize that these and the many other alterations are being made with the future careers of the Communication students in mind.

“…It’s not about the piece of paper,” Dickson says. “Can you do the job?”

By Caleb Chandler

Albania bound: Chorale charting course for 2015 summer missions trip — By Jennifer Gibb

As politicians and peacekeepers from around the world took their lunch break in the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland, they didn’t know what they were in for. Many were in mid-chew when sixty or so Americans stood up and began singing, “I will never be afraid. God is my rock.”

This is just a snapshot from one of the many international tours that The Master’s Chorale has taken over the years. They have also been to Israel (many times), Spain, and England to name a few. But this year they will do two big things they have never done before. For the first time they will be joining with Global Outreach under the label of a summer missions trip travelling for the first time to the Balkans, an area in southeast Europe, specifically Albania and Croatia.

Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, director of Global Outreach for The Master’s College, and Dr. Paul Plew, director of The Master’s Chorale, will be working together to make sure the students are fully equipped for this unique expedition. While Plew trains them to be the best musically that they can be, LaGeorge will be training them in other ways.

“Dr. Plew and I have been talking about this for a few years,” LaGeorge said. “We are becoming more and more convinced that we need to provide the students with additional tools both be more effective on the field when they get there and to utilize the experience for the benefit of the church and the students’ growth when they return.”

Chorale has always been taught that each music performance is a unique platform into people’s lives. The work doesn’t end when the students are done singing. As soon as Plew’s hand drops to begin the piano postlude, the singers step out into the audience to introduce themselves.

Then in each debrief, Plew asks the students about any significant conversations they had. For an international trip, it is even more crucial that the students be prepared to work with the cultural barriers and exhaustion they will face.

That’s where Global Outreach come in.

“We prepare students logistically, spiritually, mentally, and vocationally to travel,” LaGeorge said. “The goal behind our trips is the glorification of God in our vocations and in our interactions with people whether they be here in the states or overseas. So we’ve tried to produce trips that will be significant for the host’s ministry or for the individuals that the students meet. As a side benefit to the gospel going out our students grow in the process.”

This trip is an opportunity for the students that are unable to go on other ministry teams because of Chorale. Sara Owinyo, a senior vocal performance major, was never able to go on a foreign missions trip because of the commitments she had towards Chorale and Majesty, another singing group, in the summer.

But now that Chorale is a GO trip, she has a lot to look forward to. “It’s exciting to hear about all of the opportunities we’re going to have. I’m excited to see how many doors are opened because of music because music is such a relatable thing around the world,” she said.

For some people, this trip may sound like a vacation. After all, they are travelling to a little-known jewel of the earth, and their main line of work will be singing, not building houses, not teaching English to little Albanian children. But it’s much more than that.

“Much of what the chorale does is to sew seeds for the people who are there,” Plew said. “It’s going to be a mouth-dropping situation when we get off the bus and start singing Tap-Tap [a song in Haitian Creole]. They’ve never heard anything like it. Then we sing something they can understand or we sing something about God. If you’re really good, then people will say, ‘Wow, I really have to check that out.’ . . . We’re not building houses. We’re building into people’s lives.”

The music itself is critical, not just the ministry beyond the music.

“Music is a way that we can preach principles of Scripture. It’s a way that we can preach the Word. It’s a way that we can sing something that has beauty, many times way beyond what people have heard and there’s no question: God is a God of beauty. Just creating beauty through instruments—that represents a measure of who God is,” Plew said.

The concerts hosted by the churches are important—that’s where the church people have a chance to make contacts in the community. They are the ones who will continue to pour into the lives of the people of the country long after the chorale is gone.

But those aren’t the only concerts that happen. Chorale often holds spontaneous concerts in shopping malls or other random locations along their way as they did at the United Nations office in Geneva.

The Master’s College has poured a great deal into Albania previous to any plans for the chorale’s trip. The Academic Dean, Dr. John Stead wrote a book about education that is familiar to and read by the educators of Albania. Missions teams have been sent out by Global Outreach to Albania before, specifically sent to help graduates of The Master’s College who work there.

It was a graduate of TMC who invited chorale to come in the first place.

“He said that the time has come. This is the time for the chorale to come,” Plew recalled.

This is another chance for TMC to pour into Albania and into the people who live there. It’s a unique opportunity, a singing group sixty-five strong who can open doors that otherwise might remain untouched. This is why they must be properly prepared, a goal that both Plew and LaGeorge will help to fulfill.

By Jennifer Gibb