Adjunct instructors provide students with a link to the industry in real time

Every semester, dozens of professionals bring their knowledge and expertise to Newhouse classrooms, on campus in Syracuse as well as off campus through the Syracuse University Los Angeles Semester and Newhouse NYC programs. Serving as adjunct instructors, these professionals provide students with a link to the industry in real time.

“One of the great strengths of the Newhouse School is its connectivity to the professions,” says Dean Mark J. Lodato. “Having such an amazing lineup of adjunct instructors in the classroom each semester ensures that our students engage not only with true scholars, but also pros who are taking on today’s communications challenges in their own jobs.”

This spring, 66 adjunct instructors are teaching residential classes. They come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, spanning all communications fields.

Elaine Aradillas is in her first semester at Newhouse, where she is teaching Narrative Storytelling. After meeting magazine, news and digital journalism chair Melissa Chessher at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists annual conference in 2019, Aradillas agreed to visit and speak at Newhouse, which eventually led to her adjunct position.

Elaine Aradillas
Elaine Aradillas

“Normally, you’re lucky to meet a handful of engaged students on any given campus. But at Newhouse, as I attended classes and lectures for two days, I had the chance to meet so many students who were enthusiastic and dedicated to the truth,” she says.

Aradillas has spent 13 years as a crime reporter at People magazine, where she has been on the front lines of major breaking news stories, including 14 mass shootings, the Ferguson Riots and the George Floyd protests. She has also held editorial positions with the Orlando Sentinel, the Austin American-Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News.

“Young journalists often tell me that the stories I share, or the work I’ve done, inspires them. But I must admit that each time I meet with a student journalist, I find their curiosity and enthusiasm for journalism equally inspiring, and it reminds me how lucky I am to be contributing to this profession.”

Bob Dotson ’69 is in his fifth year teaching Master Storytelling for TV. “Teaching my Master Storytelling class is like pulling up to a filling station,” he says. “We all leave energized. The students inspire me with their work. I learn something new every time.”

Bob Dotson with students
Bob Dotson with a group of students

Dotson spent 40 years at NBC, most notably as host of “The American Story with Bob Dotson,” a regular feature on the “Today” show. He is one of the industry’s most honored storytellers, having earned 120 national and international awards for producing and reporting, including six Edward R. Murrow Awards for Best Network News Writing (a record) and 12 more for reporting. He also received eight National Emmy Awards and 11 nominations.

Senior Ricky Sayer is in Dotson’s class this semester. Having grown up watching the “Today” show, he says it’s “surreal” to take a class from such an acclaimed journalist. “Professor Dotson is no doubt one of the best TV storytellers of the past half century. In many regards, he’s who we [broadcast and digital journalism] aspire to be just like.”

Dotson co-teaches the course with professor of practice Les Rose, who had a 38-year career as a photojournalist and field producer before joining Newhouse. “The knowledge of how to craft a feature story presented by them both almost surely outpaces any other TV journalism class anywhere in the world,” Sayer says.

Additional adjuncts this spring include Rich Cimini ’85, NFL Nation reporter covering the New York Jets at ESPN; Hal Silverman an international award-winning commercial photographer and president of Hal Silverman Studio Inc.; and Diane Mills the global lead for La Mer and Bobbi Brown consumer and digital insights at the Estée Lauder Companies—among many other impressive names.

Off-campus learning

Newhouse students who spend a semester studying in Los Angeles or New York City also reap the benefits of learning from leaders in the field. This semester, 21 professionals are teaching courses for Newhouse’s satellite programs.

Marquise Francis ’13 is teaching a new course, Reporting and Storytelling for Digital Brands, in New York City. Francis is national reporter/producer for Yahoo News, allowing for a partnership that will lead to some student work being published on Yahoo platforms.

“This course will… [combine] students’ knowledge of audio, video and editorial storytelling, and challenge them to create sound news, sports and entertainment content for a Gen Z audience in a transformative way,” Francis said when the course was launched.

Marquise Francis and his class
Student Irshaad Motiwala captured a “class selfie” for an Instagram takeover last month.

Student Irshaad Motiwala says Francis’ creativity and engaging teaching style add a lot of energy to the classroom experience. Right now, the class is working on a podcast project that he says brings out students’ creative side.

“I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the media industries and take on projects that can prepare me for the future as I look to be part of the media after I graduate,” Motiwala says. “So far, the class has definitely met expectations.”

Rob Edwards ’85 is in his third semester teaching The Writer’s Journey in Los Angeles. He is a writer for film and television whose Emmy-nominated work includes credits on “Full House,” “In Living Color,” “Roc” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” His work in animated feature writing includes Disney’s Oscar-nominated “The Princess and the Frog” and “Treasure Planet.”

Rob Edwards
Rob Edwards

“The students are super smart and extremely motivated. Most of them are hungry for knowledge and they’re able to absorb my lessons pretty quickly,” Edwards says. “I’m hoping that I can help to build Syracuse as one of the premier screenwriting programs in the country.”

Some of the other adjuncts teaching in Los Angeles and New York are Simone Oliver, editor-in-chief of Refinery29; Joanna Nikas, fashion and beauty staff editor at The New York Times and manager of the paper’s fashion and style Instagram account; and Karen McCullah, co-writer on the films “Legally Blonde,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Ella Enchanted,” “She’s the Man,” “The House Bunny” and “The Ugly Truth.”

Learn more about the Newhouse School’s impressive group of adjunct instructors.