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Gatepost Interview: Robert Alter, Associate Communication Arts Professor

By Shelby Wood

Please provide a brief summary of your resume and educational background.

I did my undergraduate degree at Georgia State University, in Atlanta. My degree is a bachelor of visual arts with a concentration in photography. Then, I got my master’s degree at MIT and that was in visual studies with a concentration in photography. I also have a degree in non-profit management from Lesley University. I have worked in part conservation doing restoration and conservation of historic photographic collections. Then, I worked at Polaroid Corporation, where I was a manager and curator of the corporate archives.

What was your favorite course in college and why?

My favorite course was photography, of course. I dropped out of college for a while and I traveled. When I was traveling, before I left, I borrowed a camera from a friend and I loved taking pictures so much that when I got back from the trip and went back to school, I decided to study photography.

What was your best undergraduate experience?

I didn’t have many good experiences as an undergraduate. I did love the art courses that I took. When I think back on those courses, they allowed me to tap into my creativity. A lot of courses are so structured and they draw on a more rational part of your brain. The art courses allowed me to use my creativity.

What classes do you teach here at Framingham?

This semester, I am teaching my favorite class, which is photography and architecture. I am teaching Basic Photography, and I’m teaching the senior seminar in communication arts this semester. Sometimes, I teach History of Photography, too.

What would students be surprised to know about you?

They would be surprised to know that I like sports, like the Red Sox and Celtics. I never liked sports until I moved to Boston. I’m a total Boston sports fan.

What class do you think every student should take before they graduate?

I think they should take an art class. They should take a class where they can really be creative -whether it’s writing, music, art, photography – courses where you really get to express yourself.

How would students describe you?

They would say that I’m awesome, in a word. In class, I’m silly. I try to balance silly, interesting and serious. There is stuff to learn in my class, too.

Are you currently working on any projects?

I have a series of photographs of skyscrapers and plants, so it’s kind of a juxtaposition of tall buildings with the plants that grow around them. I traveled around the world and photographed these kinds of buildings in different locales internationally.

What is the best part about your job?

Getting to interact with students is the best part.

Do you have any advice for students?

Get involved in activities. It benefits you on many levels. You make contacts that become friends – contacts for future jobs. It also gives you something to talk about in your resume when looking for jobs. It’s also fun, and gives you a different perspective on things.


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