sealPurdue News

September 25, 2002

Communication professor documents 'The Beering Years'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A video showcasing the 17 years of Purdue University history during the tenure of President Emeritus Steven C. Beering will debut Friday (9/27).

"A Vision for Tomorrow: The Beering Years," will be shown to the public for the first time at the Department of Communication's Behind the Scenes Symposium at 2:30 p.m. in Stewart Center, Room 306. Marvin Diskin, professor of communication, was the writer, producer and director of the 60-minute program.

"There are many members of the Purdue community, and this program is about the Purdue family," said Diskin, who has taught for more than 36 years in the communication department. "It is a story that starts with Beering as a young boy coming to America pursuing the American Dream, and how he follows that dream until it brings him here, to the Purdue family."

The legacy of the Beering years (1983-2000), was one of tremendous growth in scholarships, professorships and facilities. The number of Purdue buildings and facilities grew by 20, including the Bell Tower, Hillenbrand Residence Hall, Black Cultural Center, Materials and Electrical Engineering Building, Class of 1950 Lecture Hall and Liberal Arts and Education Building, which is now named in honor of Beering. Purdue also was transformed into a pedestrian friendly campus with fountains and park areas that include the Purdue Mall and fountain, Founders Park and Academy Park.

Before Beering was appointed in 1983 as Purdue's ninth president, he was dean of Indiana University's Medical School. Beering earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh, then joined the Air Force.

At the symposium, Diskin will share the artistic process that went into making the video.

"I want people to see how the creative process works," said Diskin, who has created award-winning documentaries and scripts that have sold to Hollywood. "You start with an idea, let it germinate, then help it grow. An artist helps the vision translate into reality. I want to see a Purdue series that identifies significant individuals who have made this university a world-class university. This program may focus on one person, but it is really about the entire Purdue family."

Three years ago, Diskin began interviewing more than 100 people about the Beering years, from astronaut Neil A. Armstrong to pro football player Drew Brees to Beering's grandchildren and custodial staff in Hovde Hall. Other participants include students, alumni, professors, astronauts, politicians, coaches, former administrators, members of the board of trustees and support staff.

In addition to interviews, Diskin shot footage of campus events, as well as images from the Purdue orchards and Beering's former campus home at Westwood, that complement the interviews. Diskin estimates 100 hours of footage was shot for this documentary over a two and a half year period.

In his presentation, Diskin will share the process of editing such a large amount of footage and ultimately crafting the final product. On one shoot, Diskin recalls waiting for a bird to land and take off from a parapet atop Hovde Hall to capture a perfect image that would only be on screen for three seconds in the final video. At other times, a four-hour interview was trimmed to a few sentences.

Diskin also followed Beering to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Indianapolis for events and meetings.

By the time production was wrapping up, Diskin still had seven different variations for the opening and went through countless revisions before the final cut took place. At one point the film was more than two hours long.

The final version begins with a reflection of Purdue's history. Purdue and local media archives provided photos, stories and footage of historical events and times at Purdue, such as visits from John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, as well as campus protests in the 1960s, the ever-changing campus scene, and other events during former presidents' years.

The video, which was funded by the Purdue Research Foundation, is narrated by Bob Kriebel, former editor of the Lafayette Journal and Courier from 1954 to 1993.

"When people see this video, I hope they sense the caring that is the essence of the Purdue family," Diskin said.

In 1993, Diskin received an Individual Master Fellowship from the Indiana Arts Commission. His works, such as the documentary, "Anna Sokolow: Her World of Dance," have received national and international recognition and are distributed in the United States, England and Israel. Diskin's other works include the feature film "Shark Island" and the made-for-television movie "The Hindenburg Files." He also appeared in the feature film "Reasonable Doubt" with Melanie Griffith and Tom Berenger.

Arrangements are under way to prepare the video for sale this holiday season.

"A Vision for Tomorrow: The Beering Years" also will be shown at 6 p.m. Friday (9/27) and at 8 p.m. on Oct. 1-3 on The Purdue Channel (Insight Communications) Channel 5.

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Source: Marvin Diskin, (765) 463-6804,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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