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Dr. Richard Smith Re-Appointed For Another 3 Years As Director at the Centre for Digital Media

May 21, 2013 By Crissy Campbell

Dr. Richard Smith has just been re-appointed for another 3-year term as Director of the Master of Digital Media (MDM) program. Smith was appointed as Director back in June 2011, having previously been a professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Communication for over 15 years and Director of SFU's Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST) for 10 of those years.

When asked how he felt when he was appointed two years ago, Smith says that he was "really excited. CDM is a place where ideas about digital media are implemented and made real." 

Prior to his appointment, Smith was actively engaged with local, national and international media on issues related to his research into technology, social media and public surveillance. His service to the university through public affairs and media relations earned Dr. Smith the 2009 SFU President’s Award.

For Smith, one of the biggest appeals of the Master of Digital Media program was the strong ties with industry. While he had always been interested in the business side of communication, he admits that he hadn't been as involved in "making things." The Master of Digital Media program’s strength is the way that it promotes industry and academic collaboration by having students work on real-life projects throughout the program. The Master of Digital Media program’s strong industry connections set it apart from other graduate programs.

Another unique feature of the MDM program is that it is jointly owned and accredited by 4 universities—UBC, SFU, BCIT and Emily Carr University.

When he was initially appointed, Smith says that he realized that running a program with 4 academic partners would be complicated but, while running a school in that space is challenging, it provides opportunities that far outweigh the difficulties. Smith states that,

As a longtime BC resident and lifetime member of the academic community, I realize the importance of schools and organizations working together. I've received a lot of support from the partners and presidents of the 4 institutions and we share a vision of how university-industry collaboration can flourish. 

Smith also says that this collaboration extends to the Centre for Digital Media's staff and faculty. "Working as part of a team where everybody is clear on the mission and common goals of the program is incredibly rewarding."

In terms of the students, Smith says, "It's been an such a satisfying experience to be part of the transformation that graduate students have during their time in the MDM program. It's also been satisfying watching as this transformation gives rise to careers, companies and creative undertakings."

Dr. Richard Smith presenting the new Centre for Digital Media building

Smith was appointed at a time of expansion for the Centre for Digital Media. He arrived just as construction began for the new Centre for Digital Media building that opened this past September and he also spearheaded some significant changes to the program, moving it from a 20-month program with an internship in the middle, to a 16-month program with an internship at the end. Since Smith was appointed MDM scholarships have increased over 500%. 

When asked how he feels about the next 3 years, Smith replies that he's "enormously proud to be able to recommit to a further 3 year term and being a part of this organization as it becomes a catalyst for change in the digital media industry in BC and a nexus for growth in networking and entrepreneurship among our students, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs." 

Cheryl Geisler, Professor and Dean at SFU's Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology says, "Dr. Smith has been a dynamic leader for the MDM program and I am delighted to see him continue for another term as Director. Richard has a strong vision for where the program should be headed, but he listens well and sets an enthusiastic tone. I look forward to working with him!" 

Rhodri Liscombe-Windsor, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at UBC, is also pleased, saying:

The re-appointment of Dr. Richard Smith as Director of the Centre is excellent news for the on-going consolidation of its fascinating interweaving of intellectually-driven research with practical applications, and the forging of invaluable alliances between the academy and the business sector in new media. Richard is a scholar equally distinguished as an administrator and facilitator of innovative programming, interdisciplinary enterprise and individual graduate education.

On thinking about the future of the MDM program, Smith states,

Our program is poised for growth both in its full-time masters program and in emerging complementary professional development certificates, diplomas and events that we have in the planning stages. One of the really exciting developments in the last year is the growing awareness of the MDM designation and value our students bring to teams, startup businesses and large companies who are looking to transform themselves through digital media.