June 20, 2012/For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 336-770-3337, carpem@uncsa.edu



WINSTON-SALEM – Jordan Kerner, dean of the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) since 2007, has announced that he will step down as dean on June 30, 2012.
“All institutions grow and develop different needs, and that time has now come for me in connection with our beloved UNCSA,” Kerner said. “So I bid you adieu, with love in my heart and a profound recognition that it has been my honor to be your dean.”

Kerner is currently in production on THE SMURFS 2. THE SMURFS was the top-grossing film in the world for two weeks running after it first opened across the United States on July 29, 2011. SMURFS 2 is highly anticipated to surpass that record when it is released next summer.  

Kerner said he is proud of his accomplishments as dean and is grateful to UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri for giving him the opportunity to achieve the creation of “a film school that I would want to attend.”

Recruited to “re-imagine” the manner in which film, television, animation, gaming and other new media are taught in the 21st century, Kerner has initiated a myriad of new educational systems as well as led a legislative effort to both increase film incentives and create a novel public/private means for studio construction across North Carolina. “Our school has shot up in the national and worldwide rankings precisely due to a highly focused renovation and re-imagination of the core curriculum, the hiring of much sought after faculty and staff, and the innovation of new programs far in excess of any competitive school of film,” Kerner said. “We have been skyrocketing in the eyes of the film industry.”

Chancellor Mauceri said: “I am extremely proud of all that Jordan has accomplished as dean of the School of Filmmaking. He has brought a new standard of professional ideals to the film school by revising the curriculum and the pitch process, by bringing in legendary new faculty members, by creating new student programs such as ‘Film Shadows’ and ‘American Immersion,’ and by remaining true to his edict of demanding films of value and worth from his students.

“But more than that, Chancellor Mauceri continued, “I am proud of the work Jordan has done to revive the film industry in North Carolina. He was instrumental in the recent adoption of the new film incentives program, and it’s no coincidence that this year is on track to be the biggest year in film for North Carolina – ever.”
UNCSA Provost David Nelson said that Susan Ruskin, who joined the UNCSA School of Filmmaking in 2009 and is head of the producing faculty, will serve as interim dean for 2012-13. He added that a search for a new dean of the School of Filmmaking will begin this summer.
“Susan has already demonstrated her skills as a leader as acting dean, and I have every confidence in her ability to guide the school during this time of transition,” Nelson said.
President of Kerner Entertainment and previously a founding partner in The Avnet/Kerner Company, Jordan Kerner has produced such films as THE SMURFS (2011), CHARLOTTE’S WEB (2008), SNOW DOGS (2002), INSPECTOR GADGET (1999), GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE (1997), UP CLOSE & PERSONAL (1996), WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (1994), THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1993), THE MIGHTY DUCKS TRILOGY (1992, 1994, 1996) FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991), and many others.
During Dean Kerner’s tenure as dean, he:
·         Created the Production Process, which is a professional model for the development, production and post-production of all third- and fourth-year student films.

·         Proposed and achieved underwriting for his novel approach to the enrichment of storytelling, entitled “American Immersion,” in which students gain a deeper understanding of character and story by spending several weeks at places like a Veterans Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia and Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans.

·         Brought in film legends such as Peter Bogdanovich, Michael Chapman and Thomas Ackerman to serve on the film faculty.

·         Put forward the concept of making the School of Filmmaking a “center of excellence” in the UNC system. Kerner was instrumental in the development of a new film production facility – for animation, gaming and digital design, which is currently starting construction on campus – that is central to that concept.

·         Has reached out to numerous UNCSA film alumni, bringing them to campus to work with current students and to screen their films.

·         Has been instrumental in increasing publicity about the School of Filmmaking in the United States and abroad. In August 2011, the UNCSA School of Filmmaking was ranked 12th on The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural list of the 25 best film schools in the world, eighth in the United States and second among the public schools on the list.

What The Hollywood Reported cited in its ranking was echoed in an article by Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times (“Smurfs’ producer’s other job? Film school dean, Aug. 5). The article lauded School of Filmmaking Dean Jordan Kerner’s leadership: “Thanks to Kerner’s innovative ideas, undergrads at UNCSA are getting an education not just in theory and production, but in the often less-than-glamorous aspects of life in the trenches of Hollywood,” Goldstein said. “Kerner has recruited a host of faculty members who still have their day jobs, which helps give students a grounding in the kind of pragmatic problem-solving necessary to survive on a film set. Through a shadowing program, students get to spend weeks at a time on movie sets, seeing their professor (or in the case of Kerner, their dean) in action,” Goldstein added.

“My biggest concern with today’s film schools is that they tend to offer students far more instruction in technique than actual ideas, which is perhaps one reason why we see a generation of filmmakers who seem to value box office success far more than artistic accomplishment. But the student films I watched from UNCSA were loaded with strong ideas, wit and imagination,” Goldstein concluded.

As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.