Comedian Will Ferrell will hold what undoubtedly will be a tongue-in-cheek press conference on the Emerson College campus Wednesday.
It’s all part of a 24-hour spoof the college has unofficially endorsed by temporarily renaming its School of Communication the Ron Burgundy School of Communication to celebrate Ferrell’s alter-ego, the lead character in his new movie, Anchorman 2.
But while some on the School of Communication faculty believe the day, complete with a screening of the film, will all be in good fun, others are not amused by the decision, saying it undercuts the college’s and department’s reputation.
“I was opposed to it from the start,” says Assistant Professor of Journalism Mark Leccese. “I don’t see what the college gets out of it, other than having its name in the media for a day. I don’t see this Hollywood publicity stunt [enhancing] the reputation of Emerson’s School of Communication.”
Leccese’s discomfort was echoed by Journalism Professor Emmanuel Paraschos.
“We get calls from colleagues around the country asking if us if we lost our minds,” he said. “My college roommate called me and said, ‘What are you people smoking?’”
Paraschos has taken to wearing a specially made nametag reading, “Ron Burgundy Professor of Journalism.” Only he has flipped the words “Emerson College” on the nametag upside down.
Associate Department Chair Doug Struck took a show-me stance. “My students tell me Will Ferrell is funny,” he said. “They also tell me they have done their course work. I am skeptical on both accounts.”
But others on the journalism faculty are more than happy to buy into the satire. One is Assistant Journalism Professor Tim Riley.
“It is a testament to Emerson’s creativity and innovation that we have the balls to name ourselves after one of the most honest journalists in the business,” Riley joked, referring to egocentric anchorman Ferrell plays. “I think the benefits of this far outweigh the pitfalls, and journalism is way too important to take too seriously.”
Another journalism professor of 30 years, who asked not to be identified, added, “The school being renamed is a terrific idea and a lot of fun. Life is too short to be taken so seriously. We cover so many serious events that it’s healthy to make fun of ourselves from time to time.”
Still other faculty seemed inclined to bridge the divide.
“I respect both sides, but it’s sort of silly,” said Journalist-in-Residence Marianna Edmunds. “ I would have picked someone more notable.”
Ultimately, suggested Journalist-in-Residence Cindy Rodriguez, it should be up to the students to decide.
“There’s a certain segment of society that may not get [Burgundy’s] jokes, but the people who like him tend to be younger,” she said. “We have to keep in mind his target audience.”
This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.