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A faculty development proposal submitted by an Austin Peay State University professor has been implemented by Disney.

In August, Disney held the conference, Faculty Industry Seminar and Diversity Initiative: Anatomy of an Idea at Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif.

The conference started with a question from Associate Professor of Communication Yvonne Prather to Robert Mendes, senior vice president of Diversity Disney.
A faculty development proposal submitted by an Austin Peay State University professor has been implemented by Disney.

In August, Disney held the conference, “Faculty Industry Seminar and Diversity Initiative: Anatomy of an Idea” at Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif.

The conference started with a question from Associate Professor of Communication Yvonne Prather to Robert Mendes, senior vice president of Diversity Disney.

Mendes invited Prather to write a proposal about her idea. “I was simply blown away by the fact that a media conglomerate like Disney was expecting me to propose a faculty program geared in creating a talent pool for students interested in becoming writers, actors, producers, as well as television production and management for their company,” Prather said.

Prather met with Mendes and other Disney executives in Spring 2006 to propose the faculty diversity initiative program.

The August conference lasted three days with diverse faculty members and coalition groups from across the nation. The conference days were filled with panel discussions ranging from ABC/Disney writers, producers, executives, casting directors, production and studio representatives, in addition to marketing, distribution and publicity.

Conference attendees also were treated to behind the scenes and sites not open to the public. “The conference received nothing but absolute praise from the network executives and attendees,” Prather said. “I recall a statement during one of the breaks that one of the executives said, ‘They too were enlightened by the information they heard discussed in some of the sessions ... especially being outside their box.'”

Prather said the conference highlight, for her, was seeing her vision come true. “I believed in it so much, that to actually see it come true was so spiritual,” she said. “As the Disney motto states, ‘Believe, Achieve, Succeed' -- I did!” (Submitted by Yvonne Prather, APSU, and published in The Leaf- Chronicle, Oct. 10, 2007)