Director and AFIConservatory alumnus Robert Mandel (pictured) has been named dean of the AFI Conservatoryin Los Angeles.

Mandel graduatedfrom AFI in 1979 and his subsequent credits include FX, The Substitute,School Ties and BigShots.

"Having analumnus at the helm of the AFI Conservatory for the first time in its 36-yearhistory is an exciting moment," Jon Avnet, AFI Conservatory alumnus and chairof AFI's board of directors, said.

"Robert Mandelbrings a dedication to filmmaking based on storytelling well told. He willcontinue the strong traditions of the AFI Conservatory together with respectfor the 21st century digital opportunities."

'There's an emotional component to accepting thehonour and responsibilities of Conservatory dean," Mandel added. "I'm a productof AFI. AFI changed my life and made my film career possible. And now I lookforward to helping shape and launch the careers of those just embarking ontheir AFI years."

As dean, Mandelwill oversee all activities at the AFI Conservatory, a two-year accredited MFAprogramme, which grants degrees in the filmmaking disciplines ofcinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design andscreenwriting.