After an extensive career in the television industry spanning decades, Stuart MacLelland is joining the Red Hawk community as SCM’s new professor of television and digital media. This year, he’ll be teaching two courses: TVDM 357 Advanced Television Production, where students focus on producing quality content at the pre-professional level, and TVDM 255 Special Topics in Television and Digital Media, which is intended for freshman and sophomore students as a first foray into television and media production.
MacLelland began his teaching career as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College – his Master’s alma mater – in 1989, and ultimately took on full-time status by the fall of 1992. He taught mostly graduate classes within the Master of Fine Arts programs, but went on to serve in a number of capacities, like as the Graduate Deputy Chair, recruiting for the MFA programs, the Television and Radio Department Chair, and as the Associate Provost for Academic Programs.
These roles, along with continuing freelance work in the television industry, forced MacLelland to get his priorities in order. “For the longest time, I was trying to find a balance between teaching and having a professional career,” he says. “But it got to the point where I had done a lot of television production, and I just wanted to put my efforts into teaching and inspiring young people to deliver their best creative work.”
MacLelland has fond memories of his own days as a student; he attended Kutztown University in Pennsylvania for his undergraduate education, majoring in Theatre Directing. For one of his electives, MacLelland took a television production class, and it was from there that a new career blossomed.
His first entry-level job in the business was at the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting, known today as Maryland Public Television, as a production assistant, but after advice from one of its directors, and MacLelland’s own desire to forge more industry connections, he took to the city and started a graduate program at Brooklyn College in NYC.
These experiences propelled MacLelland into the world of TV. His credits include a plethora of freelance writing, directing, production jobs, as well as working on 255 episodes of a PBS talk show called WORLD:COMM, which featured a panel of experts conversing about the new media of the week.
Now, as a professor at Montclair State University, MacLelland tries to bring what he learned in the broadcast media back into the classroom as lessons for his students, relying on three major principles: theory, practice, and intuition. “I’m really here to teach as much as I’m here to provoke, and to inspire,” he says. “I just want students to be able to take chances, to become bigger risk-takers.”
And MacLelland hopes that philosophy will somehow translate into a revolving door of sorts, when his students go on to become working professionals. “As teachers, we never know where our work is going to end, because with a little bit of luck, we inspire someone to go out and do something, and that student is then taking a part of me, taking a part of what I taught them, and they’re going to teach somebody else.”
As media production, television, and film continue to expand as a dominant industry, and more and more prospective go-getters choose to follow on this path, MacLelland ends by imparting a little wisdom to the School of Communication and Media students. “This is a business that relies on creativity and inspiration. If you can deliver something new and different and innovative, there’s room for you in this business. Production communities are all over the globe now, and if you’re smart, talented, dedicated, hardworking – there’s room.”