By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
Doug Darby, creative and media specialist, will leave the university Friday for Austin College, where he has accepted a position as the director of new media.
Darby’s work at ACU encompassed more than his job in the distance education division – he founded FilmFest and has worked on both iTunesU and recent iPhone initiatives. Darby is also working with Dr. Brian Burton to develop a digital entertainment technology program with iSchool. Burton was not available for comment.
“The decision to leave was a very difficult one,” Darby said. “It was a lot of prayer and wrestling with my heart, because I still love ACU dearly.”
But the move to Austin College, he said, appears to be an opportunity God placed in front of him, and though Darby said he will miss the ACU community, he is excited for the change.
“[At Austin College], I can focus on things I’ve been doing on the fringe anyway,” Darby said.
As he geared up for the move, Darby also scrambled to set up for the vacancy he will leave at the university.
With ACUOnline launching a partnership with Embanet, a full service online program provider, Darby said the transition will be smoother in his department as the company will perform some of his duties. He also lauded the students in his department for their talent, naming the workers as one reason he can confidently leave.
“Doug will be sorely missed,” said Dr. Gary Tucker, director of the distance education program. “He’s incredibly talented.”
Tucker said the department has hired Matthew Barnwell, who currently works at Focus on the Family in Colorado Spring, Colo., to fill Darby’s position. Barnwell will begin Feb. 4.
But Tucker said Darby’s skills, which range from designing graphics to video editing, will be difficult to replace.
“Doug has helped us integrate advanced technologies into our online courses in a meaningful way,” Tucker said. “He’s very talented and very knowledgeable about new kinds of media.”
Perhaps his greatest concern is FilmFest, which is now in its fourth year, with the mostrecent event presenting the greatest glitches, Darby said.
“I’m hoping that this will be something the students want enough,” Darby said. “Ultimately, this is a student driven initiative.”
However, a faculty sponsor is necessary to provide the push for the financial and logicistical support Darby said will be necessary for FilmFest.
Darby said he planned to meet with several faculty members to discuss taking over his project, and he has also been in conversations about partnering with Lectureship. And long-term, Darby said he hopes to see FilmFest become an intercollegiate event.
All his plans, however, depend on both student demand and some form of leadership, and Darby said it’s hard to let go.
“It’s an emotional attachment,” he said. “I’m sort of getting a preview of what it’s going to be like to let your children go off to school. I’ve been so intimately involved with it.it’s just really hard to let go and just sort of see it move on its own without my involvement.”
Darby also holds an emotional attachment to ACU, where he attended as an undergraduate and graduate student, and also where he met his wife.
And today, it is where he has worked with students teaching, managing and through FilmFest, the part of his job he says he most cherishes.
“Most of my memories arewith ACU,” he said. “It’s sad in a way. I love this university. But who knows what the future will hold.”
For now, Darby said he’s just stepping out in faith.
“God opens doors, and sometimes we don’t want to go through them, but you know, there are reasons he opens them. You just have to have faith and move in.”