After 36 years at Monmouth University, Donna Dolphin, Associate Professor for the Department of Communication and founding advisor of HawkTV, is retiring. Dolphin was hired into a brand-new faculty position with the task to create a curriculum in media studies and TV production.
“That didn’t exist at Monmouth. Over the years I created courses, helped hire additional faculty who all brought their expertise to the program, presented a rationale for a budget and purchased equipment and technology, and even had the privilege of being on the planning and design committee for the building of Plangere. I’ve helped recruit students. And importantly, I have been fortunate to teach many students across the decades,” began Dolphin.
In 1996, Dolphin held a meeting for students to see if anyone was interested in creating a student-run TV station, and she was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.
“The response was great, and HawkTV was born (actually, it was Monmouth Univision at first!) The students were so enthusiastic. We didn’t have much of a facility at the time, but they were very creative in finding ways to make the content they wanted,” she explained. Today, HawkTV is located in the first floor of the Plangere Center for Communication. The student-designated space offers experience in directing, audio engineering, lighting, set design, camera work, and more, according to their website.
“Prior to HawkTV, it was very difficult to exhibit student video work outside of the classroom, and there was no opportunity for students to make content on their own. Everything was graded coursework.”
Dolphin said that her original intention for HawkTV was to make a space for students to improve their skills and pursue their interests; she is very proud of how far it has come.
“I love the fact that HawkTV is a well-known and established organization on campus. I’m thrilled that it has become such an important social home for students over the years,” she continued.
Dolphin said that alumni are still connected in helping HawkTV students get internships, and even jobs, after graduation. “The experience and the resume reel content that HawkTV members gain is their leg up over the competition,” she continued. “We have dozens of successful HawkTV alumni working in the field.”
Jacob Rossino, a senior communication student and station manager at HawkTV, said, “Donna is HawkTV. Everything she has done has been for the betterment of our success. She truly cares and puts in the effort to make sure HawkTV is running. She keeps us honest and ensures we are all doing our job. I’ve been here for four years, on the e-board for two, and I can say that she truly cares about all of us.”
Luca Morello, a junior communication student and programming director, concurred, “Professor Dolphin has been a large component of HawkTV. During meetings, she always gives great advice to our e-board as to how we can improve the content and how to attract new members! Without Professor Dolphin, HawkTV wouldn’t be what it is today.”
Robert Coles, an enterprise application specialist at Monmouth University who was a part of HawkTV’s founding class of ‘95-’96, said he was taken aback by her retiring but is happy for her nonetheless. “My advice for students going into broadcasting would be the same advice we always received from Prof. Dolphin, which is to get involved. HawkTV allows you so many opportunities to expand your skills and creativity,” he said.
Robert Scott, Specialist Professor in the Department of Communication and co-advisor to HawkTV, said, “The organization’s different eras are characterized by evolving technologies, studio upgrades, an array of station logos and taglines, and various e-boards and faculty involvement. However, the one constant has been Professor Dolphin at the helm, steering committed students who have joined forces to produce quality television. It has taken passion and dedication on her part, in addition to wisdom, patience, and a curious, creative mind.”
Starting next semester, Scott will be the primary advisor overseeing HawkTV after serving the club for nearly two decades. “I will miss [Dolphin’s] sage advice, guidance, and kind spirit. And while we won’t have the benefit of her leadership on campus, HawkTV will remain her legacy. We will continue to experiment and learn and create quality TV, and we will do so because Donna Dolphin generously provided us with the right tools and encouragement,” Scott said.