For the last fourteen years director Tom Rankin has been at the helm of the Center for Documentary Studies, founded at Duke in 1989 as the first institution in the country dedicated solely to the legacy and continuing practice of the documentary tradition. On June 30, 2013, he will step down after three five-year terms. “This is a natural transitional moment for any active, thriving institution like CDS,” Rankin says. “I look forward to continuing to help broaden and deepen our work involving the documentary arts.” Rankin will stay on at Duke, devoting himself to full-time teaching and to his directorship of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program.
During Rankin’s tenure as director, CDS has become an internationally recognized documentary arts institution annually offering thirty-five to forty undergraduate courses and more than seventy continuing education classes and workshops leading to certificates in both programs. Integral to these educational experiences are the center’s exhibitions, books, awards, radio programming, multimedia production, fieldwork projects, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, which started as the DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival in the basement of CDS the first year Rankin arrived at Duke.
“When we hired Tom, we wanted someone with a distinctive vision in the documentary field who could take a young university-based center and fulfill its mission of becoming a recognized leader in teaching, producing, and presenting documentary work,” said CDS cofounder and board chair William Chafe. “Tom has far exceeded our expectations. I can’t imagine anyone else who could have stepped in and accomplished what he has during this time.”
A national search for a new director is under way. Professor Chafe is chairing the board’s search committee, which will accept applications until the position is filled.