T600, the Wright Way

By Edo Steinberg

When faculty members are tasked with coordinating the Media Arts and Sciences Speaker Series (a.k.a Telecom’s Brown Bag/Colloquium/T600), they each put their mark on it in their unique ways. Sometimes it comes in the form of the lectures’ subject matter. In Paul Wright’s case, it is the special atmosphere created by his often elaborate and humorous introductions and the refreshments brought by a different student each week, which makes them personalized and varied.   Paul also started coordinating with the School of Journalism, arranging mutual visits to each other’s colloquia.

“In late summer, Harmeet talked to me about what made people excited to come to T600,” Paul says. “He talked about atmosphere and food being important. I’m not much of a cook, unfortunately, so if it was left up to me, I would just go to the grocery store and get cookies and a vegetable platter, and coffee. I knew most people cook more than I do, and there were enough students in the class so it isn’t too much to ask – just one time during a semester. It worked out phenomenally.”

Paul didn’t have very high expectations of students. “It was above and beyond. I didn’t think anyone would make anything. I thought people would just buy different things, but at least each week would be a little bit different.”

The food wasn’t the only thing that took a life of its own. So did Paul’s elaborate introductions, which he hadn’t planned on making every time. “It was never really planned. I would think of the person speaking that week and then realize there was something funny,” Paul says.

Ted Castronova was the first speaker in the Paul Wright era of T600. “I knew both Ted and I went to Cal State, Fullerton, and we both came here.” Then, the next speaker was Jesse Fox of Ohio State, who had gone to graduate school in Arizona with Paul. “Everybody loves to hate Ohio State and we have a good rivalry going, and I knew she had a good sense of humor, so I felt comfortable doing this. Same with Ron Osgood. I knew his wife would be there. I met his son playing basketball, and I knew Ron had a sense of humor, too. The same is true about David Waterman.”

“Something didn’t come to me every week,” Paul says. “But when it did and I had a little time, I put something together.”

The introductions were well received by those they introduced. “I kept them G-rated and made them complimentary.”

In late summer, Sung-Un Yang, faculty member at the School of Journalism, contacted Paul to coordinate the Telecom and Journalism colloquia. They looked at the lectures each had scheduled and what would be interesting for faculty and students from both units. “I think it’s a great idea. I hope it continues next year.”

We hosted the Journalism colloquium twice last semester, and will do so again twice more this semester. The next T600, on February 21, will be hosted by our colleagues in Ernie Pyle Hall, our second visit there.

Below: Some of Paul’s Intros in one slideshow!

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