Columbia College Hollywood would like to take a moment to introduce our new Dean, Peter Hawley.
Peter began his studies at Northwestern University and earned his master’s degree at the University of Chicago. While an undergraduate, he won many student film awards, including a student Emmy Award. Product and content-wise, Peter was at the top of his game by the time of his college graduation. However, there was just one very common road block that stood in his way: like most film students, he had a body of work and multiple achievements filling his portfolio, but he didn’t have the professional/commercial experience that many studios and companies require. Getting work in the “real world” was becoming more and more challenging, and without that commercial client base work, getting taken seriously was all the more difficult.
Like many people starting out in entertainment, Peter took a regular day job, but in his free time he focused on writing a script. Eventually he turned that script into the feature film, “Victimless Crimes”. Soon thereafter, TV commercials and music videos gave him the professional exposure he needed to push forward. One of his most cherished projects is “What’s 2 + 3?” a 2004 documentary that chronicles his journey attending the 2003 International Special Olympics in Ireland with his sister. This short but sweet documentary showcases the love and dedication of these brave athletes and their families as they face challenges while making new friends and celebrating their accomplishments. It was an experience that holds a great memory in his heart, and combines his love and pride for his sister with the love of the industry he is so involved in.
When it comes to his students, Peter takes his job seriously. “I don’t ever want my students to struggle to find work once they graduate,” he said. “It is my goal to ensure that they will have client-based projects in their portfolios before they graduate.” Having felt these graduate growing pains himself, Peter’s mission as Dean is to provide a curriculum and in-school opportunities that will not only help the students grow as filmmakers, but also become well rounded individuals. “We are a liberal arts college, so these students have an opportunity to engage in the humanities,” he said. “I want the students to expand and explore. I want them to dig deep into history and world cultures and apply it to their own film journey.They aren’t just learning about making films, they are learning how to be productive members of the global community.”
Using his vast experience in entertainment and in education allows Peter to connect to his students on a deeper level. Knowing the challenges that they face and concerns they often have is the reason he has had such great success in the educational world. Peter is constantly developing and implementing program activities, engaging with students through positive feedback and working closely with faculty to ensure they are presenting the practitioner/educator model in their course teachings. But Peter isn’t all about work. He is a big advocate of physical fitness and enjoys an active lifestyle. He loves to cook and tell stories. He often invites students to his office to not only talk about school work, but to discuss everything from life philosophy to sports scores. If you stop by, be sure to ask him about his Polar Bear, Special Olympics experience, or his Dave Brubeck album…he would LOVE to share the stories!
We encourage all of our students to set some time aside to connect with Dean Hawley. Besides the mountain of experience and knowledge he has to offer, he is really an easy person to talk to. His care and dedication is in every story and piece of information he relays, and Columbia College Hollywood could not be any more excited to have him onboard!
This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.