Tell Us Your Story: James Castonguay

Professor Castonguay and colleagues discuss important business concerning the Communications and Media department. Photo by Hannah O'Brien/Spectrum.
Professor Castonguay and colleagues discuss important business concerning the Communications and Media department. Photo by Hannah O’Brien/Spectrum.

By Christina Dimauro

Staff Reporter

Professor James Castonguay attended Clark University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies. During his sophomore year as an undergraduate student, Castonguay was inspired by his professors and realized that he wanted to study and make media.

It was only three months after he got his degree that he began teaching his first class, a freshman composition writing course, where he found his love for teaching.

“I was compelled to teach media, I found that contemporary media, television, radio, film and advertising, have become one of the most dominant influences in our
society,” said Castonguay, Director of the School of
Communications and Media Arts (SCMA).

From there he received his Masters and Ph.D at the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Castonguay went on to teach at the University of Michigan.

“It was a wonderful first job, it’s a great school, a big research school. I would teach these big lecture classes, like Introduction to Mass Communication, to hundreds of students, and then I would have teaching assistants who would do the discussion sections. There wasn’t a lot of interaction with students,” said Castonguay.

Castonguay joined the Sacred Heart community in 1999 and he has only grown to love and develop the Communications and Media Arts program from its small major in the English department to becoming its own school.

“One of the things that attracted me to Sacred Heart, and one of the reasons I applied, was because it is a teaching school,” said Castonguay.

The decision to come to Sacred Heart was easy for Castonguay. He wanted to go to a liberal arts institution that had smaller classes and focused on interaction with students and getting to know them before graduation.

The relationship built with those students has only proven to be worth it for Castonguay.

“What keeps me driven is the emails I get after students graduate telling me that they’re successful. Knowing that what I do, what the faculty does, matters. Knowing our students go out there and work in this industry. There is a return on the investment that we as professors put in,” said Castonguay.

Professors in SCMA agree that Castonguay is a one of a kind person who dedicates his time to the school by being involved with the students.

“I view him as a triple threat in that he combines the talents of being an amazing educator, administrator and colleague all at the same time,” said Professor Joe Alicastro, Coordinator of News & Broadcasting, MACOMM.

The entire faculty involved in SCMA likes to work towards a common goal and work together as a team, always looking to collaborate with each other.

“He seeks out faculty and staff that he feels belong as a part of our family and as a result that means he puts a tremendous amount of trust in those people that work for our school. This also means that he stands behind us and has confidence in us to make the right decisions,” said Keith Zdrojowy, Studio Manager, Martire Broadcast Center and Adjunct Instructor.

Colleagues of Castonguay have been affected by his leadership and teaching abilities.

“Working with Dr. Castonguay, I have learned that everything we do here is to serve our students and the university. It has taught me that we should embrace growth and opportunity as our school becomes a leader in the field of communications and media arts,” said Alicastro.

The recent growth of Sacred Heart is only the beginning.

“It’s exciting to be part of something that gets bigger and better every year. The new facilities were the culmination of a story that, for me, starts in 1999,” said Castonguay. “But the next chapter is the most exciting one and it always is what are we going to do next?”

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