Journalism professor awarded Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity

The award is given to professors who have made major accomplishments at MU but are still in their earlier stages within the university.
Robert Greene, an MU journalism professor who works with filmmaking and documentary journalism, was recently awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity. Courtesy of the Missouri School of Journalism

Shortly after Robert Greene was hired as a new MU professor in 2014, he founded the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism with Stacey Woelfel. Since then, Greene — the filmmaker-in-chief at the Murray Center — has had his work featured in The New York Times and the Independent, received various documentary awards and had a film premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Greene is also the 2019 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity. This year, the Chancellor’s Award was presented to one faculty member in performing arts and humanities and another in biological sciences. Greene is the first journalism professor to win the award since its conception 40 years ago.

The award includes a $1,000 stipend and another $2,000 to be used for research purposes.

Woelfel, the Murray Center’s director, has worked at MU for 33 years. Woelfel said that he knew from the start that he wanted to hire Greene as his partner.

“I’m the journalist and he’s the documentary filmmaker,” Woelfel said. “He had a lot of questions because I think rightfully so, he wanted to make sure that he wasn’t going to scuttle his filmmaking career — could he come here and continue to make films and frankly grow as a filmmaker?”

It seems that the answer was yes.

“It’s been a great pairing; we’re really kind of opposite people,” Woelfel said. “I like to also say that he’s the art and I’m the science in the program, [so] I think we’re very complementary.”

Greene feels that his position at the university has helped expand his work as a filmmaker.

“I’m making a film right now, and students are helping me make the film and have helped me make the past few films as well,” Greene said. “That’s an important part, an important integration between my university life and my creative life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

He said that the award will allow him to work on further projects and continue to succeed in his field.

“There’s a little bit of a grant that comes with it, so I’m going to use it [with] my wife, Deanna Davis,” Greene said. “She has an idea that she wants to co-direct with me, and we’re going to use this money to start the process of raising money to make that film.”

Greene did not expect to receive the award, but his colleagues feel there is no one more deserving of the honor.

Bradley Prager, professor of German and film studies, received the Chancellor’s Award for his work in German and Russian Studies in 2015. He has worked closely with Greene for years. Prager said he believes Greene presents a type of artistry and voice in his work that is typically hard to achieve.

“If you look from the very beginning of his filmmaking practice, you can see questions getting raised and revisited,” Prager said. “As much as each film is a new film, it’s still put forward with a particular voice. And that voice, that signature style, it’s your identifiable work, and I think that’s a real measure of competence.”

Greene emphasizes this concept in his work in the classroom.

“I feel like this award and what it stands for shows that what we’re doing is unique and that my process of making films is completely integrated with our classroom,” Greene said. “That’s what we said we were going to do, and the award is a validation of that in a lot of ways.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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