Polinsky takes over as new director of BCA department


Broadcast and Cinematic Arts Director Heather Polinsky poses for a photograph in the Moore Hall Radio Station on Sept. 20.

Associate professor Heather Polinsky has been named the new director of the School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts, replacing department founder Peter Orlik after his retirement last month.

Orlik founded the broadcasting department in 1979. He retired on Aug. 15 after 48 years at Central Michigan University. He held the position of broadcasting director from 1969-79 and returned to finish his career in 1996.

Polinsky was voted leader of the department by BCA faculty members. 

Being voted into the director’s chair requires a majority vote in a secret written ballot. Elections for BCA department chair take place every three years, with the next vote scheduled for 2020. 

Polinsky said she is happy about receiving the position and excited to get to work.

“I see this as a chance to put my mark on the school of BCA,” she said.

The responsibilities of the department chair include bringing in industry professionals for presentations and class appearances, implementing and upholding policy changes and being the face of the school in front of the university as a whole.

The director also promotes creative endeavors and research by staff and students. Most of those endeavors are done through co-curriculars like Moore Hall Television and WMHW-FM, both of which Orlik had a hand in creating. 

While making her own mark on the school, Polinsky also hopes to honor Orlik’s legacy. 

After being hired in 1999, executive secretary for BCA Joan McDonald worked closely with Orlik, and plans to work just as closely with Polinsky. McDonald fondly remembers Orlik as being a “kind and compassionate man.” 

“Orlik was a hard worker, but I think Heather will do a good job," she said. "She strives to be successful and she loves this place.”

McDonald said Polinsky has already started to make some changes in the school, like increasing activity on the Facebook page for BCA and creating a Yammer network – a private messaging service that aims to make communication easier between faculty and staff.

During her 20 years at CMU, Polinsky has taught audio production and quantitative reasoning courses. On the graduate level, she teaches telecom media policy, which covers FCC guidelines and legislation. 

She previously has won awards for her research papers on radio and media in 2007, 2012 and 2014. She has also produced “Michigan Soapbox,” a radio show for WCMU Public Radio, which also won a Communicator Award for Distinction in Audio in May 2013.

Janet Hethorn, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts praised the school's election of Polinsky and called her a “great leader.”