Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

College removes long-time WEBN faculty advisor

Janet Kolodzy appointed two new faculty advisers for WEBN after removing Marsha Della-Giustina. Matt Barrett / Beacon Staff

The Journalism Department removed the faculty advisor for WEBN, Marsha Della-Giustina, after receiving student feedback from students in the program, according to a college official.

Chair of the Journalism Department, Janet Kolodzy, said this decision follows a survey that students participating in each of the journalism co-curriculars filled out last school year. The survey asked what students found beneficial about their programs and what they thought could be improved. 

In February, Kolodzy sent a report summarizing the feedback to the student leaders in these organizations and to their faculty advisors, to allow them to decide what changes to make in their programs. 

The department released the announcement of Della-Guistina’s removal soon before the beginning of the 2019 fall semester. Della-Giustina, 72, still maintains her position as a journalism professor at Emerson. 

“Concerns and issues had been raised over the past year [in the survey],” Kolodzy said. “The number one goal was to say, hey, I love these co-curriculars. I know the students and faculty do, too—how might we look at information where things might be able to move forward?”

Kolodzy said two journalism professors, Moses Shumow and Stephen Iandoli, filled the advisor position. Della-Guistina had held the faculty advisor position for over 20 years.

Kolodzy clarified that while the survey did spark discussions between student leaders and faculty advisors, the decision regarding Della-Giustina came down to Kolodzy herself. She declined to say specifically why she removed Della-Giustina. 

“We have in this department—as all departments—special contracts in relationships to curricular support activities,” she said, which she noted included who holds the faculty advisor position. “And the special contracts are something that are determined by the chair.”

Della-Giustina could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts over email and in person.

WEBN is one of the college’s journalism co-curriculars, meaning that students can receive school credit for their work at the organization. WEBN focuses on digital media, specifically broadcast journalism. The staff covers local events, as well as events like the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Presidential Inauguration.

During Della-Giustina’s career as a freelance television news producer, she earned a Gracie Award, two Emmys from the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, and a Society of Professional Journalists National Advisor Award.  

Junior Angel Salcedo, one of the student news directors for WEBN, said that while he and his coworkers value Della-Giustina’s contributions to the organization, they’re looking forward to continuing their work. 

“It’s going to be a transition period, because Marsha Della-Giustina was very important to the organization—she was the glue,” he said. “Everyone is going to miss her. But we hope that—we know that WEBN will continue to move forward.”

Salcedo said Della Giustina’s leadership was collaborative with the student leaders.

“She was a great advisor. She gave us what we wanted out of the organization,” he said. “To say that the organization was perfect is far from the truth. Every organization has its own quirks, its own flaws. But there was always a sense of, ‘We’re here to do journalism as not only an organization, but a family.’”

Salcedo said he believes the responsibilities of running the wide-scale operation of WEBN were difficult to handle. 

“There were many periods of time where WEBN was in a state of uncertainty, and she kept it together. I don’t think anyone can really understand what anyone could’ve done better to help run this organization,” he said. “The fact that she was running it alone shows how much she cared about it and how much it really was her baby.”

Moses Shumow, one of WEBN’s new faculty advisors who most recently taught journalism and digital media at Florida International University, said Kolodzy wanted to usher in new organization leadership. 

“Every organization, at a certain point, needs some refreshing,” he said in a phone interview.

Shumow, who received his master’s degree from Emerson, for journalism, in 2001, said the students have expressed interest in taking on more editorial responsibilities independently from the faculty advisor. 

“My impression of Marsha is that she was heavily involved,” he said. “But I have a very busy schedule and lots of other responsibilities. So I would like the students to take on some of those editorial positions.”

Shumow added that he hopes to implement some of these structural changes after getting his feet wet with the organization.

“For me, it is going to be just a matter of learning all the ropes,” he said. “From there, hopefully, you know, addressing some of the concerns that students have, or looking at some of the procedures and policies—and listening to them.”

Although the decision to remove Della-Giustina was out of the students’ hands, Salcedo said they are looking forward to continue with their new advisors. 

“What is done behind-the-scenes is above our control, and we’re going to do our job regardless. Whether it’s with Marsha Della-Giustina as our advisor, or with Moses Shumow and Stephen Iandoli as our advisors, we’re going to do our job as students,” he said. “We trust the Journalism Department to do their job, and we’ll do ours.” 

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About the Contributor
Dana Gerber
Dana Gerber, News Editor
Dana Gerber  graduated in 2022. She previously served as the News Editor at The Beacon, writing and overseeing coverage spanning all areas of interest on the Emerson Campus, including breaking news and long-form deep-dive articles. She hails from Rockville, Maryland, and is a contributing writer at Bethesda Magazine, a local publication. She has also written for Cosmopolitan Magazine, Mic.com, and Boston Magazine. When she is not busy burying herself in a Google Doc, Gerber can be found pursuing freelance writing opportunities, rock climbing, or finding the best Boston thrift stores.

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