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February 13, 2007

E. Russell McGregor II

Production Professor Was School's First Interim Dean

By James Tella

Dr. E. Russell McGregor II, the first interim dean of the School of Cinematic Arts and former professor in the Division of Film & Television Production, passed away on February 7, 2007 in San Luis Obispo. He was 76.

“Russ McGregor helped shaped the school during a time when we were trying to establish ourselves as a freestanding unit within the university,” said Professor of Critical Studies and Hugh M. Hefner Chair in American Film Rick Jewell. “We were just part of a large arts consortium, and he felt passionately that cinema, music, and drama should be completely independent. I was privileged to have known him.”
     Professors E. Russell McGregor II (foreground) and 
     Herbert Farmer, circa 1980s.

Indeed, McGregor worked tirelessly to convince the administration that the school should become an independent academic unit. In 1976, after the passing of Cinema Department Chair Dr. Bernard Kantor, McGregor, along with Mort Zarcoff, assumed leadership of the film program. In 1983, McGregor’s passion was realized when the department broke away from the School of Performing Arts and was inaugurated as the School of Cinema-Television. McGregor assumed the role of interim dean until 1986.

McGregor organized the 3-person task force that raised the $14.6 million for the funding of the school’s current complex, including the George Lucas Instructional Building, Marcia Lucas Post Production Facility, the Johnny Carson and Harold Lloyd Sound Stages, and the Steven Spielberg Scoring Stage. He played a major role in the planning, development, and construction of buildings, which were briefly put on hold while the university was designated as an Olympic Village to house athletes from around the world during the 1984 Summer Games.

During his tenure with the school, McGregor’s ideas led to the origination and development of the Peter Stark Producing Program, the addition of filmic writing to critical studies and production, a B.A. program in still photography and a computer animation lab.

Born in Wheeling, WV, McGregor received his B.A. from Bethany College, Bethany, West Virginia (1952), his M.A. in Cinema (Production) from USC in 1959, and his Ph.D. in Communications (Cinema) from USC in 1971.

He is survived by his wife Sandra, son Russell McGregor III, daughters Lynne and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.

A need and merit based scholarship in Dr. McGregor’s name has been established for all incoming and continuing production students. Please contact the dean’s office at 213.740.2804 for more information.