Matthew McConaughey appointed to faculty at The University of Texas at Austin

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I’m betting that the number of people who apply to The University of Texas at Austin because they are interested in careers in radio, television, and film might go up just a tad now. One of UT Austin’s well-known alumni, Matthew McConaughey, is going to be an instructor of record soon, and so will be teaching a course!

Matthew McConaughey has been appointed a professor of practice at his alma mater, the University of Texas, according to the Austin school.

The Oscar winner — whose Hollywood career was launched with his role as Wooderson, the pot-smoking ladies’ man in “Dazed and Confused” — will teach at the Moody College of Communication starting this fall.

He has been teaching the Script to Screen film production class with faculty member and director Scott Rice since 2015 as a visiting instructor, shaping the course’s curriculum and giving students a behind-the-scenes look at film production.

“It’s the class I wish I would have had when I was in film school. Working in the classroom with these students gives me a chance to prepare them,” said McConaughey, who graduated from UT with a film degree in 1993.

[From Page Six]

This is neat! I admit that I was a tad skeptical when I saw this headline. (I wasn’t sure whether this was another James Franco situation.) But, Matthew has been a visiting instructor for 4 years (I didn’t know this) and has had a hand in designing the course while working with another faculty member, Scott Rice. He’s clearly serious about this work and is the real deal. Here’s his page on the department website. He lists his expertise as “Production” and “Narrative filmmaking.” It’s apparent that the department knows that Matthew would be a draw. At the bottom of his faculty webpage is the caveat, “Please note that the script-to-screen advanced producing course is only available to RTF [Radio-Televsion-Film] upper-division students who have completed specific prerequisites; non-majors will not be admitted to this course.”

Matthew said that he’s teaching the class that he wanted to take when he was a student. Since he’s someone who is “in the industry,” I’m sure that he’s been creating a class that students find both engaging and useful for their own development as filmmakers. Kudos to Matthew for wanting to give back to his alma mater and the students. There’s a world of difference between excelling at a particular collection of skills (e.g. those relating to filmmaking) and being able to teach others those skills. Teaching well is incredibly difficult. The fact that the university is allowing Matthew to teach on his own means that he has proven himself to be a decent instructor, and congratulations to him for that. (I’m choosing to be optimistic rather than cynical here. Obviously, the university knows that Matthew can bring in a lot of aspiring filmmakers, but since he’s been teaching there for a few years already, before being given his own course, I don’t think it’s completely naive to assume that he’s a good instructor.) I hope that he and his students enjoy the experience, and am curious to see what, if anything, we might learn about his course.

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19 Responses to “Matthew McConaughey appointed to faculty at The University of Texas at Austin”

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  1. Swack says:

    Hope he does well because I have had some really sh!tty teachers in college who were experts in their field but no teaching experience. It helps that he has been doing this for 4 years.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    Good for him. And for them.

  3. Kiki says:

    That’s great for Matthew McConaughey. Congratulations are in order. You know who I would like to see as professor and I am sure he will be great as well… Woody Harelson.

  4. Lucy2 says:

    I was skeptical at the headline too, but this seems fine. He’s well experienced in the field, and working with faculty to craft the course.

  5. Lana says:

    The “real deal” of being a non-celebrity in academia is getting through your PhD and then juggling a bunch of a adjunct appointments with zero-hour contracts!

    • OriginalLala says:

      yes!! Thank you for saying this. I recently completed my PhD and I have a great job in my field but I see so many of my colleagues struggling with adjunct appointments, it’s awful.

  6. StormsMama says:

    I went to to UT film school. I was in the RTF intensive production sequence. 😊 I was inspired to go to film school bc i loved Dazed and Confused so much. Seriously.
    I think this is incredible and awesome and love him for doing this. When I was there, Lee Daniel the DP of Dazed came and spoke to our class and it was a real highlight for me.
    Happy for all the Longhorns!

    • LaUnicaAngelina says:

      Dazed and Confused is a great movie! It was a favorite of mine for years. I can understand why it inspired you to got to film school.

  7. HK9 says:

    Somehow, I think he would make it a great experience for the students and it seems like a great match.

  8. Esmom says:

    I had no idea that he’s a UT grad. I’m guessing his appointment might elicit some resentment among faculty, but maybe not. Seems like a great fit.

    • Jen says:

      Obviously not the same thing, but he has been a staple at their football and basketball games for years and cohosts an annual charity benefit with Mack Brown, the former longtime football coach-I think he does have a real love for the university which hopefully translates well here!

  9. Frida_K says:

    On the one hand–it is a superb draw for potential students; he does have more than enough life experience to deliver excellent coursework; and yes, he has been an instructor for a substantive amount of time.

    So: alright, alright, alright as far as the above goes.

    And yet…he’s now listed as a professor. Not an assistant professor, and not an associate professor (assistant is an untenured, yet tenure-track, professor; associate is tenured; professor is the highest rank). He jumped over all the steps and landed at the highest pinnacle and I wonder how his colleagues feel about that. Also, will he be undertaking committee work? Will he be expected to do the no-fun kind of stuff that faculty must do, or is he going to simply teach one course when it’s convenient and bask in the perqs of being a full professor?

    I’m happy for him that he is permanent faculty but I am a little taken aback at his rank. This gets just one alright out of me, and a couple rotten tomatoes on behalf of all the faculty who probably take up a lot of slack on his behalf to keep the department running while he has a great time doing whatever he feels like doing whenever he feels like doing it.

    • El says:

      It looks like he is a “professor of practice” as opposed to a full professor. I believe those are typically non-tenured positions focusing on teaching with different expectations of tenured/tenure-track faculty.

      • Frida_K says:

        That’s what I had read in varying different articles on the subject (that he is a professor of practice). However, on the day the news broke, I looked on the department page and on that day he was listed as “professor.” Not capitalized, either. I was a little surprised at this, of course.

        Interestingly, I just checked it now and it is changed to “Professor of Practice.” Capitalized, and thus congruent with the rest of the faculty listings. Scroll down to the seventh row, and there is is:

        I doubt it’s some huge conspiracy. My guess is that the day the news broke, they just wanted to have something under his name and by now, they have the correct title.

        Yes, professor of practice is certainly correct for what he is doing there.

        Alright alright alright and no tomato to that!

    • lucy2 says:

      He’s not listed as a full professor though, but a professor of practice, which is different – lots of schools seem to be doing that, and it’s this – bringing in a professional in the field to teach a class.
      It’s the same title Angelina Jolie is listed under now for the LSE, I think they got some flack for calling her a visiting professor or something a while back, which wasn’t accurate.

    • El says:

      Thanks for the link to the department page. Interesting that they updated it. As a faculty member myself (very different institution) I do resent that he gets a casual headshot.

  10. Liz version 700 says:

    I had a lot of adjunct practicing attorneys teaching classes on law school. They were often included in my favorites as I liked the real world perspective. They were also adjunct professors (not on the tenure track). It will probably be a good thing overall. As long as he isn’t put in charge of things that actual PhD professors should be doing.

  11. Abby says:

    I am born and raised here and Texas, and I went to UT’s once-rival school Texas A&M. But I’m so pleased with this news! He’s been a staple at UT functions for a long time, and I’m sure it’ll be great publicity for the school. Wishing I was that major and taking his class!

  12. phlyfiremama says:

    Alright alright alright!! I would take his class~