Boston University faculty members remembered
Age 80, College of Communication associate professor emeritus of film and television, on October 29, 2008.
The boy in the television commercial appears to be about eight or nine, and he sputters as he attempts several times to pronounce “Tsongas!”
The commercial, which ran endlessly on Massachusetts stations in 1978, was the creation of College of Communication Associate Professor Lewis Barlow, who taught television writing and production at BU for many years. And it worked. U.S. Representative Paul Tsongas defeated his four Democratic primary rivals and went on to win the seat of U.S. Republican Senator Ed Brooke (LAW’48,’49, Hon.’68).
Lew had convinced Tsongas that he needed some way to distinguish himself from the pack of Democratic candidates. “It put Tsongas on the map,” recalls veteran Boston political reporter Peter Lucas. Tsongas later defeated Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire. Tsongas retired in 1985 and was succeeded by John Kerry (HON.’05).
Barlow died on October 29, 2008, at age eighty, of pneumonia.
Lew was production supervisor for Sesame Street when it began, and he was executive producer of Boston’s Channel 5 for much of the seventies. There, he supervised all nonnews programming for one of the largest program departments in the nation. When ABC-TV decided to launch Good Morning America, it sent a crew to study the Channel 5 Good Day program when Lew was executive producer. He oversaw many of the Channel 5 Bicentennial programs.
“Channel 5 was chaos when Lew came in from New York,” recalls Steve Schlow, chairman of broadcasting at the University of Central Florida. “Lew was an adult and he was an intellectual, and the place really needed both. He trained a lot of young producers. And he was a fountain of information before Google. Lew read all the time, and he knew the history of everything. Lew had more good quotes than Bartlett’s. “He was the first guy I met who felt that television had a duty to educate and to inform. Lew was a born teacher.”
Barlow began his teaching career at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1983, he joined the faculty at COM, where he taught until his retirement in fall 2002.
Lew brought immense amounts of charm and dedication to his work, and he cared about his students.
Occasionally, I would visit his office and find him reading his lecture notes to a student. I once asked him — after a student had left — what he was doing. “He missed yesterday’s lecture,” explained Lew, “and I was giving it to him.”
Incredulous, I asked, “You mean you sat there and gave the kid your entire lecture from yesterday?”
“Yes,” Lew replied.
“Lew,” I said, “it is the kid’s responsibility to find out what you told the class. If he misses the class, he is supposed to catch up. You don’t need to sit here for an hour, reconstructing the class with him. He probably felt like sleeping in yesterday. Why should you have to rearrange your day for a lazy twenty-year-old boy?”
“I’ve always done it this way,” Lew replied.
He was a superb advisor, a task that many professors overlook. Claudia Taylor Nugent (CGS’96, COM’98), granddaughter of Lyndon B. Johnson, was one of Lew’s advisees. She was so impressed that she established the Lyndon Baines Johnson Faculty Advising Award at COM when she graduated with a B.S. in film and television.
In his television career in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, Lew worked with some of the twentieth century’s most interesting minds: Professors I. A. Richards, Edwin Boring, and Henry Kissinger (HON.’99) of Harvard University, Edward R. Murrow, Max Lerner, Alistair Cooke, Jim Henson, and, of course, Bert and Ernie and Big Bird.
In 1964, Lew had been assistant producer for the NBC News coverage of the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City. Soon after that, he won a national Emmy for a series of programs he did in South Carolina — on a Ford Foundation grant — preparing minorities for an integrated job market.
We do not know a lot about the men and women who produce television’s nonnews programs. We see news producers portrayed in films like Network and Broadcast News, and we see soap opera producers in Tootsie. But we get only small glimpses of the producers of the great mass of entertainment and public service programming that fills thousands of television hours. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin play producers on 30 Rock. We saw a few TV producers portrayed on Seinfeld, Buffalo Bill, and Bonnie Hunt’s sitcom. But we do not learn much about them from movies and their own medium. Many move from city to city, seeking better pay and working conditions and always hoping for creative credit and even equity in the product. It is a hard life with short contracts, though sometimes lucrative. Lew appreciated the stability of academia and sometimes discussed the difficult life of television producers.
He was an expert on World War II and was close to James P. O’Donnell, a BU journalism professor, who died in 1990. O’Donnell had known Hitler and Stalin and FDR.
I lunched with Lew at Cornwall’s pub in Kenmore Square on September 11, 2001, watching endless reruns of the planes hitting the World Trade Center towers. I recall two of his comments that day. “This is going to go on for a long time, Jimmy,” he said, referring to the conflict between America and the terrorists. And, “I wish Jim were here,” a reference to O’Donnell and his ability to place events in their appropriate position in history. He and I often wondered what O’Donnell would think of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.
In 1994, I decided that Channel 68, the BU-owned television station, should hire me as a commentator. Lew insisted on coaching me for my audition, and he was a superb teacher.
He told me to memorize my first three commentaries so that I would not appear to be reading from a teleprompter, and he told me how to sit and how to talk and where to look. For most of my rehearsals, in COM’s top floor studios, he operated the camera himself. On the evening of my audition, Lew insisted on going with me to the Channel 68 studios on Soldiers Field Road. As we walked in, everyone stopped work, coming out of offices and studios to greet Lew. It was like walking in with Mickey Mantle or David Ortiz. Many of the employees had worked with Lew at Channel 5 or Channel 2. I didn’t get hired as a commentator, but everyone at Channel 68 was grateful to me for bringing Lew over there that evening. – James W. Brann
James W. Brann is a College of Communication professor emeritus of journalism and was chairman of COM’s journalism department from 1973 to 1980. Below is his appreciation of Lewis Barlow, a COM associate professor emeritus of film and television, who died on October 29, 2008.
Age 72, retired College of Communication associate professor of advertising, on January 5, 2009.
Last Christmas, after designing a regifting Web site for United Parcel Service, Chris Wooster e-mailed a virtual tea cozy to his old friend and mentor Alan Holliday. Holliday responded with just one word: “Ha!”
“He’d often laugh aloud in class,” says Wooster (COM’91). “He had this incredible laugh – this sharp, infectious ‘ha!’” The e-mail exchange was the last contact Wooster had with his former professor.
John Verret, a COM associate professor of advertising, who met Holliday nearly forty years ago, says, “Alan was a throwback to another time – an absolute gentleman. I was immediately struck by his wit and charm. He was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known.”
Born and raised in Ohio, Holliday attended Kenyon College and served in the Army Reserve before beginning an advertising career in New York City. He later transferred to the Boston branch of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn. There he met the three men with whom he founded Hill, Holliday, Connors and Cosmopulos, a Boston advertising firm.
Holliday left his firm in 1968 and worked for several Boston ad agencies. In 1980, while working full-time, he attended Harvard Divinity School, where he earned a master’s degree in theology. At Boston University, he taught advertising and was the faculty advisor for AdLab, the University’s student-operated advertising agency.
“Alan helped mold my teenage curiosity about advertising into a successful career,” says Wooster, now a creative director at a digital marketing agency in Austin, Texas. “More than any other mentor, he instilled the idea of fun into the pursuit.” – Vicky Waltz
Robert E. Kilburn
Age 77, School of Education professor emeritus of education, on June 22, 2008.
A member of the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for science educators and coauthor of several science textbooks, Kilburn taught in the School of Education for ten years.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Grove City College in Pennsylvania, a Master of Science in biophysics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1955, and a doctorate in science education from Syracuse University in 1971.
Before coming to Boston University, Kilburn was a biophysics researcher at a General Electric research laboratory. He also spent time as a science teacher in upstate New York and as a science curriculum administrator for the public schools in Newton, Massachusetts.
“He was a pioneer in hands-on science,” his daughter, Kristina Naylor, also a science teacher, told the Boston Globe. “He believed in getting out and doing it, not just reading about it.” – Jessica Leving (COM'10)
Barry Winston Cameron
Age 68, College of Arts & Sciences professor of geology and department chair, on August 16, 2008.
Cameron joined the BU faculty after brief teaching engagements at Boston State College and Colgate University. He also worked as a consulting petroleum geologist for Shell Oil Company.
Over more than a decade at BU, he was known for engaging students in his research projects. In 1981, Cameron became a professor of geology at Acadia University, where he also was head of the geology department and developed courses in oceanography.
Cameron earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a master’s and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, all in geology. He was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Atlantic Geoscience Society, and the Geological Society of America. – JL