Dear Emerson community members,
It is with heavy hearts that we write to inform you that Professor Emerita Marsha Della-Giustina, who established Emerson’s Broadcast Journalism program, trained the next generation of news reporters, anchors and producers, and who broke the glass ceiling for women in local television, has passed away after a brief illness. Our deepest condolences go out to her family, loved ones, friends, colleagues, and all those whose lives she touched.
Hired to launch the Broadcast Journalism program in 1977, Professor Della-Giustina spent more than four decades at Emerson, leading the program to one of the highest rankings in the country, and later helping to create the College’s Journalism master’s program in 1997. She led the College to make important connections between its students and professional organizations, including the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Society for Professional Journalists, and encouraged student coverage of high-profile events including the Iowa Caucuses, the Academy Awards, and the Super Bowl.
Well known for demanding professional standards from her students, she was a taskmaster who insisted on the highest quality work. As a result, her students were regularly nominated for, and won, such accolades as the Associated Press Award, National Society of Professional Journalist Mark of Excellence Award and National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Award, National Society of Professional Journalists Outstanding Chapter Award and the Associated Press Station of the Year Award six times. According to many former students, her mantra was, “Believe no one, assume nothing, and follow the money.”
Professor Della-Giustina dedicated herself to the success of her students in the field of Journalism, helped launch countless careers, and continued to mentor her former students long after they graduated.
In addition to teaching, Professor Della-Giustina also served the College in several ways: as department chair; as a member of the Faculty Status Committee (FSC) for eight years; by helping to negotiate two contracts as part of the ECCAAUP negotiation team; by chairing the Policy sub-committee of the Sexual Harassment Task Force; serving on many other groups and committees; and chairing several searches and other departmental committees. Professor Della-Giustina retired in 2021 and was given Emeritus status in 2022.
Over the course of her career, Professor Della-Giustina produced several documentaries covering different aspects of the women’s rights movement. Her film Women in Non-Traditional Occupations, High Wage, High Skill, High Achievement won a National Grace Allen “Gracie” Award from the American Women in Radio and Television, a Special Citation from the Education Writers Association, and a Golden Screen Award from the National Association of Government Communications. Her feature documentary Courage to Change: Male Batterers can be found in the curriculum of many institutions, and her film A Roundtable on Domestic Violence and Media garnered a Commendation Award from the American Women in Radio and Television.
Professor Della-Giustina was also an award-winning news producer for WCVB-TV in Boston, where she oversaw multiple daily broadcasts, and served as both an electronic news gathering producer and assignment editor, for which she earned two team Emmys. Additionally, she was a field producer for numerous special events, including the 1976 U.S. Presidential election. In the early 1970s, she produced and hosted I Am Woman—a critically acclaimed public affairs program dealing with women’s economic, media, political and cultural issues—that aired on WBZ-FM in Boston from 1973 until 1974.
She started her career as a junior high school English teacher in Westfield, Massachusetts, after serving as the education reporter for The Agawam (Mass.) Independent newspaper from 1962 until 1964.
Professor Della-Giustina won two Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a Society of Professional Journalists National Advisor Award, a Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Education Achievement Award, and a Curriculum Design Award from the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Russell Sage College in 1968, a Master of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University in 1974, and an Ed.D in Media and Technology in 1985 from Boston University.
She leaves her sister Jo-Ann Della-Giustina of Plymouth, Massachusetts, a brother Joseph Della-Giustina of Palm Beach, Florida, several nieces and cousins, and thousands of former students who continued to learn from her long after they left Emerson. The College will share additional information about plans to celebrate Marsha’s life at a future date.
Please join us in extending our deepest sympathies to Professor Della-Giustina’s friends and family during this difficult time.
Jay M. Bernhardt, President
Jan Roberts-Breslin, Interim Provost