Wednesday, February 23, 2011

'Rhode Island Stories' features film trilogy of JWU History

Jack Yena's Legacy: Finding a Sense of Place is the third of a trilogy of documentaries about the unique history of Johnson & Wales University by filmmaker Marian Gagnon. WSBE Rhode Island PBS is proud to present all three films in February. Jack Yena's Legacy: Finding a Sense of Place debuts on Sunday, February 20 at 9:30 p.m., and as part of the ongoing WSBE series, Rhode Island Stories, airs on Saturday, February 26 at 7:30 p.m. (re-broadcast Sunday, February 27 at 11:30 p.m.)

 Jack Yena's Legacy: Finding a Sense of Place explores John A. Yena's career at Johnson & Wales. Jack Yena was a member of the university administration since 1962, rising to university president in 1989. At that time, Yena was only the third president in the history of the institution. In 2004, Yena was named chairman of the Board, replacing Morris Gaebe, who became chairman emeritus and chancellor.

Under Dr. Yena's tenure, the university formally established the College of Business, the Hospitality College, the College of Culinary Arts and the School of Technology. A new emphasis on general studies was introduced in 1992 with the development of the School of Arts & Sciences. During the Yena years, Johnson & Wales expanded and realigned some its two-year programs of study, introducing new four-year degrees.

Johnson & Wales expanded geographically as well as academically. Yena took the institution's name recognition and its reputation as a career university to an international level. Yena also led the charge to establish campuses in North Miami, Denver, and Charlotte, giving Johnson and Wales University a "sense of place" for the first time since its founding.

The first documentary, HERstory: The Founding Mothers of Johnson & Wales University, describes the revolutionary spirit and devotion to women's business education of Gertrude Johnson and Mary Wales, founders of what later became Johnson & Wales University. The film was nominated for a New England Emmy in 2005. WSBE Rhode Island PBS airs the documentary during Rhode Island Stories on Saturday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The second documentary in the trilogy, Johnson & Wales University's Men of Vision, spans the years from 1947 (when Gertrude Johnson and Mary Wales retired) to the late 1980s, and focuses on the contributions made by Morris Gaebe and Edward Triangolo. These two men grew the small business school from 100 students and laid the foundation for what it is today – an internationally recognized university with more than 12,000 students from every state in the nation and in excess of 70 foreign countries. WSBE Rhode Island PBS airs the film during Rhode Island Stories on Saturday, February 26 at 7 p.m. (re-broadcast February 27 at 11:00 p.m.)

A former journalist, filmmaker Marian Gagnon is a Johnson & Wales University Arts and Sciences faculty member. She wrote, directed, and produced the documentaries, and established her own independent film company, Goodnight Irene Productions.