When he first stepped on campus in 1979, Jim Alchediak had no idea that he’d spend the majority of his career in education. But after a few years at an independent TV station rubbing shoulders with music icons like BB King, he was ready to share that critical practical experience with his students.
“I always saw myself as a media producer first and foremost,” says the Department of Communication’s senior lecturer and undergraduate advisor who is retiring after the fall semester. “But I was able to branch out at NC State to teach courses in television, film/audio production, scripting and cinema history. One of the things I discovered early on is there’s also a lot to learn from colleagues and students, and that’s been a really important influence for me.”
His own draw to the communication field began while working for his high school newspaper. From there, he went to Loyola University in New Orleans, earning a Mass Communication degree and working as a production assistant at WGNO-TV. Alchediak continued to work there after graduating in roles including engineer and operations director. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in television production from Ohio University, where he got his first taste of teaching.
Over the 41 years at NC State, his favorite course to teach has been the TV studio course. Each student is expected to write, produce and direct their own work, rotating through all of the roles of TV production.
“There’s a really interesting camaraderie that develops and by the end of the semester they’re surrounded by the best friends they’ll ever have,” says Alchediak. “It breaks my heart but we had to cancel the class this fall because there’s no way to do social distancing in the rather confined space of the TV studio. However, a close second favorite course of mine is a cinema history one I taught years ago based on the career of Alfred Hitchcock and interviews with him on the art of storytelling. I’m excited that I’ll be revisiting this subject with a special topics course this fall that will be really useful for any aspiring filmmakers.”
As he looks back on his career and towards retirement, Alchediak can’t help but think how much the campus has changed. “What’s been great to see is how sophisticated the campus has become and how NC State’s culture has developed over the years,” he recalls. “I love that there’s such respect for ideas like diversity and inclusion.”
The department’s three-time Outstanding Teacher Award winner also feels humbled to be among those professors who’ve received this honor over the years. “This award is really special to me because that’s something the graduating students always vote for,” says Alchediak.
While he may be retiring, Alchediak’s time at NC State is far from over. He intends to stay tightly connected to the Wolfpack community and hopes to teach one course a year. And, of course, this long-time academic advisor will continue to share his words of wisdom.
“You can never stop learning. Every once in a while, usually around graduation time, I hear students say, ‘No more tests.’ I’ve heard some of my colleagues remark, ‘Guess what? You’re going to be tested every day.’ And that’s the way it really is in life. You’re not tested in the same way, but there are tests that you encounter nevertheless. My best advice is keep learning as you go.”
His Five Favorites
Favorite spot on campus
“That’s a hard call. I love being around Winston Hall with my colleagues and bumping into people in the hallway. Outside of Winston Hall, there are some beautiful green spaces. The entire campus is something of an arboretum, and I love to see the botany students touring around.”
Favorite Wolfpack sport to watch
Favorite restaurant in Raleigh
Udupi South Indian Cuisine
Favorite tradition on campus
Krispy Kreme Challenge
Favorite hobby on the weekends
Gardening with my wife and woodworking