Tomorrow would have been Norman Felton’s 104th birthday. Every year on this date, I post a remembrance of Norman because, I must confess, of all those connected with The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
that I met and interacted with, he’s the one that I miss most.
I have written many times about his kindness, his efforts for social justice, his views against the death penalty and against nuclear proliferation, and his highly principled politics. Even though The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
was a fun show for Norman [and later Sam and everyone else], his ideas and concerns are really embedded in the foundation of the series’ concept. Considering what is happening in American politics and indeed, around the world, it was prescient.
That said, I also must confess that this year especially, I miss Norman’s philanthropy. He was very interested in education and particularly, media literacy. After meeting Marshall McLuhan at a conference, Norman became very conversant with McLuhan’s ideas about media being the message and the global village. When I became assistant director of the Center for Media Studies at Rutgers University right after receiving my Ph.D., Norman supplied us with significant funding to develop media literacy curriculum and to network with other education professionals.
The university where I teach now is small, private, Jesuit and services students primarily from working and middle class backgrounds. We are almost completely supported by tuition with little outside funding. The STEM and diversity efforts occasionally attract grants, but it’s really difficult to get funding for the needs of our Communication students. Despite the fact that we have the fifth largest number of majors in the university, my annual department budget is equivalent to my Master Card bill for Christmas.
Next fall, I have scheduled Screenwriting, a course my students absolutely love. I haven’t taught it for a while because a couple of years ago, the university moved to cloud-based computing, making it impossible to use our professional software program, Movie Magic, It must now be replaced with a new, updated program called Final Draft 10. However, to buy it and renew it for future years will cost $5,000. This is a sum far beyond the department’s regular operating budget.
So I have created a crowdfunding project for alumni and interested donors. A friend recently donated $20 in honor of Norman’s birthday and I thought that was an interesting idea. So if you or someone you know is so inclined to make a gift in Norman’s honor, follow this link to our crowdfunding page: https://impact.saintpeters.edu/project/5789
You can also watch an amusing video my students shot for the occasion.
Thanks in advance. Happy Birthday, Norman!