Professor Emeritus: David Linton
For nearly 30 years, students in what was then called the Communication Arts Department didn’t get far without running into Dr. David Linton. Smiley and outgoing, with a well-known mane of wild curls, Dr. Linton started teaching at MMC in 1987, after twenty years as a high school English teacher. Twenty-eight years later, in 2015, he retired from MMC with the rank of Full Professor, having served as Chair of the Department of Communication and Media Arts, Chair of the Humanities Division, and first President of the Faculty Council.
“At first I was not sure I would fit into a school that still had a strong religious identity with a number of nuns on the faculty, including Sr. Dymphna Leonard who was the Division Chair and my supervisor,” says Linton. “But as I discovered that those Sisters were among the most progressive members of the community, not to mention their sometimes outlandish sense of humor, I began to feel at home.”
Enrichment through Student Diversity
Dr. Linton was also struck by the variety of students in his classes. Although at that time there were very few men in attendance, he found the age range of the student population to be striking.
“In the early years of my employment, there was a large component of what we called ‘non-traditional age’ students or working women,” says Dr. Linton. “Many had begun college years earlier but had dropped out for marriage and family reasons but were now ‘returning women’ who wanted to complete their degrees, either for purposes of professional advancement or simply for the sense of satisfaction of being able to say, ‘I got it!’ They were commonly the most highly motivated students I’ve ever had, and the wealth of life experience they brought to the classroom enriched the experience for all of us.”
Dr. Linton saw the MMC population shift toward a more traditional age demographic, and noted that the increase in the number of students living in dormitories and from outside NYC has also marked a change in the student population.
“Many of this group were also attending on a part-time schedule due to having full-time jobs, so they took longer to complete their degrees,” Dr. Linton continues. “This also meant that a larger percentage of classes had to be offered on evening and weekend schedules to accommodate their needs.”
Scholar of Communication Arts
During his time at MMC, Communication and Media Arts grew to be the largest major at the College, with the number of full-time faculty in the department tripling in size. Dr. Linton was an especially impassioned teacher who regularly taught communication theory and history courses as well as public speaking and a number of “special topics” courses such as Disability and Media, Shakespeare on Film, Independent Film, and Social Construction and Images of Menstruation. Always looking for ways to involve students in NYC opportunities, he created a World Cinema course in which students attended screenings at the annual New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Together with colleague Prof. Alister Sanderson, he created the Center for Producing within the department which gave the program a distinctive identity.
“Perhaps the course that I taught that had the biggest impact on my students, as well as my own professional development, was the one about the social construction of menstruation,” says Dr. Linton. “The course gave me a foundation for developing my own insights and research as well as a sense of credibility in a field otherwise dominated by women scholars and activists.”
Focusing on Student Success
Along the way, Dr. Linton became a member of the Board of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) and in 2013 arranged for the organization to hold its conference at MMC. Students of Dr. Linton’s class were involved in managing the conference.
Saniya Ghanoui, is on the board as well. In fact, she recently completed her doctoral degree with research on a related topic and has been hired by the newly reactivated Our Bodies, Our Selves Today as Project Director.”“One student hosted the first-ever menstrual open mic poetry slam, The Red Moon Howl, another presented her first academic paper, another managed the registration, and many attended the full conference,” says Dr. Linton. “One of the highlights that I was responsible for putting together was when Gloria Steinem was awarded the first Making Menstruation Matter Award. I am still on the board of the SMCR and one of my students,
Dr. Linton is proud of the close personal relationships he developed with many of his students.
“I was honored to have attended some of their weddings, including one held on the beach at Atlantic City, New Jersey, another on the island of Maui, Hawaii, as well as several in New York or Long Island,” says Dr. Linton. “I continue to be in touch with many of them and sometimes we show up at one another’s performances and screenings.”
Present Day Projects
Since retiring in 2015, Dr. Linton has become a cast member of the podcast Fireside Mystery Theatre, a program given a top rating by The New York Times. He was recruited to join the cast by MMC alum Ali Silva ’99, and in addition to taking on character roles, as Resident Poet, he writes and performs original work for every episode. He has also completed a novel, and his screenplay is currently being considered for production.
Dr. Linton says, “For these accomplishments as well as a wealth of fond memories and good relationships, I thank Marymount Manhattan College for converting my one-year appointment into a lifetime pleasure.”