Celebrating 40 years: Rick Dees Student Production Fund

Rick Dees '72 created the Rick Dees Student Production Fund.  Promotional photo courtesy rick.com.
Rick Dees ’72 created the Rick Dees Student Production Fund. Promotional photo courtesy rick.com.

In 1997, Rick Dees ’72, one of America’s leading radio entertainers and host of the longest continually running hit music countdown in the world, established an annual media production award in the department of communication.

The Rick Dees Student Production Fund provides awards to multiple students each year, paying for such production expenses as talent compensation, equipment rentals, props, location costs, transportation and insurance. Students compete for the award by presenting their ideas and budgets for films and videos to an award panel. To date, more than 50 students have received awards from the Rick Dees Production Fund.

Dees earned a degree in radio, television and motion pictures in what is now the department of communication. As a songwriter and recording artist, Dees won a People’s Choice Award and has a platinum record (more than $1 million in sales) for his 1976 comedy hit, “Disco Duck.” Dees also has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“The University of North Carolina provided me with every tool necessary to rise to the top of my profession,” Dees said in an interview for College Lights in summer 1998. “Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my toolbox.”

The department of communication – the most popular undergraduate major at the University with 10 percent of the 2014 graduating class receiving degrees in communication and media studies—has more than 800 undergraduate majors, 50 graduate students and 30 faculty members. Undergraduate programs include media studies, interpersonal communication, organizational communication, performance studies and speech and hearing science.

Students and faculty in media studies have received national recognition, including awards from the Sundance Film Festival, the American Film Institute and the National Educational Association for their work in film and video. Media studies students may participate in the UNC Hollywood Internship Program, a summer industry immersion experience offered each summer in Hollywood.

The department of communication is one of the more than 70 academic departments, interdisciplinary curricula, centers and programs that the Arts and Sciences Foundation supports.

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