Some things have to get worse before they get better.
While the Duke in Los Angeles program undergoes an expansion and transition from the Film/Video/Digital Program to the Office of Study Abroad, it will go on a temporary hiatus and will not be offered for Spring 2010.
"A decision was made earlier this Spring to transfer domestic off-campus programs to the Office of Study Abroad," Margaret Riley, associate dean and director of Study Abroad, wrote in an e-mail. "The rationale behind the decision was an effort to centralize off-campus academic efforts and have the domestic programs benefit from the substantial experience of the [Study Abroad] team."
Duke in LA, an annual Spring semester study abroad program which bases participants at the University of Southern California, offers students four Duke credits. The program includes an internship at the heart of their desired industry under the guidance of FVD Faculty Director Jim Thompson.
The Duke in New York Arts & Media fall and summer programs and the Duke in New York Finance & Institutions spring program are also being transferred to Study Abroad, and will continue without interruption during the 2009-2010 school year.
Students who had indicated interest in Duke in LA received an e-mail June 18 from Carolyn Leith, staff assistant for the Duke in LA program, informing them of the program's sponsorship change and cancellation for next Spring.
Duke in LA's original offerings will remain the same, and two new faculty advisers, Pedro Lasch, assistant professor of the practice of visual arts, and Esther Gabara, associate professor of romance studies, will join the program when it resumes in Spring 2011, Leith wrote in the e-mail. She noted that the shift will allow students with interests outside of entertainment such as journalism, cultural studies and public and visual art, to take part in the program.
The one-year break in the program will be used to expand the program to accommodate a wider range of interests, Riley said, adding that details of the transition are still being discussed.
"The program, in its current configuration, has had difficulty recruiting adequate numbers of students in the past couple of years," she said. "The intent is to revitalize the program through its reconfiguration so that it will be able to continue."
Junior Edie Wellman, who planned to participate in Duke in LA next Spring, said she does not think students would want to participate in the program unless they are interested in a career in the entertainment industry.
"The problem is LA is a one-career city, there's just no other way of looking at it," Wellman said. "You don't go to LA for anything other than [the film and production business]-it does one thing and does it well. That's why the program was originally [part of FVD]."
Wellman added that she felt the original program did not preclude students with different interests from participating.
Riley said given the small numbers of students who have participated in the program in the past, she thinks there are very few students who will be significantly impacted by the cancellation.
"Hopefully, the few students who may find themselves in this situation will be able to reconfigure their academic program to adjust to this change in the schedule," she said. "Alternatively, they might explore other programs that would offer something similar to what the Duke in LA program had to offer, if readjusting their schedule is not possible."
Although applications for the program are not due until early Fall, most students who would participate in Duke in LA this Spring were already well into planning for the experience, Wellman said.
"I'd already started looking at housing, my family had already made plans and I overloaded last semester because I knew I needed to get certain credits in," she said. "That's where I want to be and where I want to learn and study. I'm not going to miss my senior year-you learn from experience and the idea of graduating from the bubble that is Duke and wandering into LA is not really how that city works."
Senior Margaret Skoglund, a Duke in LA participant in Spring 2008, said the industry is all about who you know, and Duke in LA's cancellation will affect program alumni as well as potential participants.
"For me, that's a whole group of contacts I just lost," she said. "It's really unfair for them to cancel it this late."