On September 13, after over 30 years of service to the journalism program at Brooklyn College, Professor and Kingsman advisor Anthony Mancini was stripped of his title as Deputy Chair of the Journalism Department by English Department Chairperson Ellen Tremper, according to faculty.
“I argued … this would be a blow to the program, it would demoralize people. It would demoralize me. And I don’t deserve to treated that way,” said Mancini.
The Journalism major is not its own department, but a program that falls under the Department of English. This hierarchy means that the journalism program and its professors abide by the rules and regulations of the English department. Though there was discussion of merging the journalism and TVRA programs or creating a new journalism department last year, the conversation has since been tabled and the program still sits under the English department umbrella.
Journalism isn’t the only program within the English department that has a deputy chair. The linguistics program also has a deputy chair that overlooks the program. But Mancini said that the journalism program is different.
“It is now an anomalous and antiquated situation for us to be in an English department, given the state of journalism in the early 21st century, it doesn’t make any sense anymore,” he said. “In fact, even though we are regarded as a very good journalism program, that aspect of us being in an English department almost makes us a laughingstock even though we are respected because of the journalists we produce and the work that we do.”
Mancini said it may not be important for the program to have a director, but that his position gives the program a sense of direction and a point person. “A ship has to have a rutter and somebody has to be responsible for being the … place where the last buck starts,” he said.
According to Mancini, without the director, there won’t be somebody to field queries from across the board throughout the year and to help with recruitment to which he said his time and experience here and in the field makes him best for this job.
Students, on the other hand, find the director’s position as crucial and Mancini as irreplaceable.
Former Kingsman editor and Journalism alumnus Paul Frangipane said professors like Mancini were the most influential part of his experience.
“When classes began and continued semester after semester, I was amazed by the skills I gathered by Paul Moses, Anthony Mancini, Ron Howell and an array of adjuncts who put their hearts and souls into their courses,” Frangipane said. “What was best about my experience in the journalism program was the immediate guidance I was able to get from these professors, whom I now consider friends and mentors.”
Frangipane said removing Mancini from this position is taking this support away from students.
“It is an absolute disgrace for the college to treat someone who has dedicated his life to helping students,” said 2001 alumnus Reuven Blau, 38 who is a reporter for the New York Daily News. “He never sought the spotlight or sought attention. He has always quietly gone about helping students and helping them find jobs. He is really one of the hidden gems of Brooklyn College and of the CUNY system, and of the community. There is not a single person I know that would say anything negative about him at all.”
“It’s rare in today’s day and age that students make a connection with a professor and have that continue for years [after graduation].” Blau continued. “I, and several other students [have this connection]. I have talked to him over the years repeatedly, seeking advice, and he just constantly goes above and beyond any traditional job title that is required of a professor. He has had some amazing students. It just goes to show you, it’s a testament to his teaching. He has incredible knowledge and incredible patience.”
Including Blau himself, when Blau mentions “amazing students” he is referring also to Jennifer Steinhauer, a congressional correspondent for the New York Times, and Glenn Thrush, a New York Times White House correspondent, both of whom have taken journalism classes with Mancini. On April 5th, 2017, Thrush was recorded saying on PublicNow.com saying that without Mancini, he wouldn’t be a White House Correspondent at the New York Times.
Mancini said that no matter the change, students can still come to him with questions or needed guidance.
“I am still going to be here. I have no intentions of retiring. I am not going to be frustrated to the extent that I give up my passion for teaching, and I still have a lot of juice left,” he said. “As long as the powers upstairs allow me to continue to get to work and do the job well, I’ll stick around.”
Ellen Tremper did not make comment before publication.
Reporting Assistance by Lisa Flaugh