2014 Communicator

Page 1


Communication Society Your membership in the Capstone Communication Society benefits current students through scholarships and travel support.

The Ambassadors are the student leaders for the College of Communication and Information Sciences. You can support their activities with your membership dues to the Capstone Communication Society.



A print copy of the annual Communicator alumni magazine Invitations to VIP events at the College Special events with C&IS Dean Mark Nelson and other college leaders in your area Networking opportunities with other C&IS alumni and students

Annual memberships begin at $50, and any donation is welcome. For information or to join online, visit http://cis.ua.edu/about/office-of-development/css/. You also can mail checks directly to: The Capstone Communication Society Box 870172 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0172 Call 205-348-4787 with any questions.




3 5 6 14


Dr. Mark Nelson returns to the College after serving as UA’s vice president for student affairs and vice provost for academic affairs for eight years.




Students made a zombie television pilot and participated in a regional film festival cohosted by the department of telecommunication and film.







The College’s new Digital Media Center will open up a world of opportunity for students, faculty and staff.





40 FOR 40





Dr. Loy Singleton, Mary Ann Bradley and Jim Oakley were among this year’s retirees from the College.


In honor of the 40th anniversary of the College in 2013-14, the Communicator features 40 fascinating alumni from a variety of careers. Look for our 2013 and 2014 Outstanding Alumni among the profiles.


A publication of the College of Communication and Information Sciences

COMMUNICATOR DEAN Mark Nelson (M.A., speech communication) INTERIM DEAN Dr. Jennifer Greer EDITOR Misty Mathews (B.A., ’05, communication studies and journalism) EDITORIAL INTERNS Taylor Armer (B.A., ’14, journalism) Tyra Jackson (senior, journalism) CONTRIBUTORS Madelyn Atherton (sophomore, public relations) Deanna Kaylin Bowen (senior, journalism) Trish Bradle (senior, journalism) Morgan Chandler (junior, public relations) Gabriel Dickson (junior, history) Krista James (sophomore, journalism) Leila Beem Nunez (junior, journalism) Cole Thompson (sophomore, journalism) Rachel Uniatowski (junior, public relations) Carleigh Watts (junior, journalism) Heather Whiteside (senior, public relations) PHOTOGRAPHY Jeff Hanson Bryan Hester Zachary Riggins (B.A., ’06, telecommunication and film) Matthew Wood DESIGN Janet Sudnik (M.A., ’08, journalism) *C&IS alumni and current students contributing to this magazine are noted with their major and degree.

The Communicator is published by the Capstone Communication Society and CIS. Its purpose is to keep friends and alumni informed about the programs, services and activities of the College and abreast of developments in the field of communication. For address changes, alumni notes or story ideas, email mmathews@ua.edu.



DEAN’S NOTE (A note from Interim Dean Jennifer Greer)


his year, I was honored to serve as interim dean of the College while a nationwide search was underway to replace Dean Loy Singleton. Academic Year 2013-2014 marked the 40th anniversary of the College. It was a year of looking back and celebrating how far we have come. It also was a year of new beginnings, as we welcomed Mark Nelson as dean, opened our state-of-the-art Digital Media Center in Bryant-Denny Stadium and started new JENNIFER GREER programs and traditions. For the 40th anniversary, faculty, staff and students prepared special materials and hosted celebrations. Alumni shared their favorite C&IS memories at our annual Homecoming Parade viewing event. We also reached out to our alumni in new ways. We started holding tailgates before each home game on the east lawn of Reese Phifer Hall. Turnout was strong, and we hope to see even more alumni in fall 2014 (see ad inside back cover). We started a graphics-rich monthly CI&S e-newsletter, gained even more followers on our social media accounts and saw an increase in online visitors. I hope many of you will follow us if you are not already (see back cover for ways to connect to the College). This 40th anniversary issue of the Communicator features 40 fascinating alumni to celebrate our 40 years (see page 14). As you can see from the contributors list and credits, our alumni are responsible for virtually every aspect of the magazine, from design and editing to photography and reporting. Our current students also assisted with this publication. We hope you enjoy their efforts. On Aug. 1, I began my new job as UA’s assistant provost for administration, leaving the College that has been my home for seven years. As interim dean, I was blessed to learn so much more about the operations and people of this wonderfully diverse college. I also met many alumni and friends, and I have come to appreciate even more what a truly special college C&IS is. We were already among the largest and most well-respected colleges of our type in the country. Our new Digital Media Center and other initiatives have us well positioned for even greater excellence in the next 40 years. Thank you all for your continued support of the College.



ne of my favorite parts of my job is the opportunity, as an alumna of C&IS, to work on the annual Communicator magazine. This year’s 40th anniversary edition was particularly special because I had the chance to interact with a variety of our alumni from the past several decades and learn more about what has made our college so special. I hope you enjoy reading about your fellow alumni, MISTY MATHEWS that you see some familiar names and faces and that you will continue to keep in touch with us via social media, our website and the special alumni events we have planned for this year. A great way to stay informed is by joining the Capstone Communication Society, our collegewide alumni organization. You can find more information on the inside front cover of this magazine. We are so proud of the diverse group of talented alumni our college has produced, in fields from law to higher education to print media to librarianship and many more. I look forward to connecting with even more alumni in the coming year. ON THE COVER: We asked our 40 featured alumni to provide a word that described their time in the college. Those words make up the 40th anniversary word cloud and are featured on page 15.



n what some might call a homecoming, Dr. Mark Nelson has returned to the College of Communication and Information Sciences, accepting the position as dean after a national search conducted by The University of Alabama’s administration and leaders within the College. Nelson served as UA’s vice president for student affairs and vice provost for academic affairs from 2008 to 2014 and has been a member of the C&IS faculty for more than 20 years. His appointment as dean became effective July 1. “I am thrilled to be returning to the College of Communication and Information Sciences,” Nelson said. “The role of dean aligns well with my strengths and my academic training. The outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni, combined with state-of-the-art resources and a prominent national reputation, make the dean’s position very appealing.” Nelson said he hopes to continue building the national prominence of the College, beginning with hearing from the College’s leaders about their goals. “The College is positioned as a national leader in the communication and information arena,” he said. “UA President Judy Bonner and Provost Joe Benson have been generous in their support of the new Digital Media Center, which I believe will be a magnet for our college and our university in terms of generating exciting and new collaborative projects, research opportunities and grants, and recruiting the nation’s top students in the field.” Nelson joined the University in 1991 as a faculty member in communication studies. He served as

assistant dean and then associate dean for undergraduate studies in C&IS from 1996 to 2006. He also served as director of basic courses/coordinator of academic advising in the College from 1991 to 1996. He was named assistant provost for academic affairs in 2006 and interim vice president for student affairs and vice provost for academic affairs in 2007. Because of his long tenure at UA, Nelson knows how to best position the College within the University, said Jennifer Greer, who served as interim dean prior to Nelson’s appointment. But he also brings a fresh perspective because he’s been out of the College for a decade. “I’m so impressed with the new vision Mark has for the College, but I’m equally impressed with the connections he has at UA,” Greer said. “In a sense he’s both an internal and external hire. It’s the best of both worlds.” Nelson’s area of expertise is in organizational communication and leadership development. He has co-authored two books and authored numerous research papers and articles. He has served on more than 50 University committees covering areas from academic performance to the honors curriculum. Recognized as an outstanding professor, Nelson received the National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award in 2006, the University’s highest honor for teaching excellence. Nelson earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from UA and his bachelor’s degree from UAB. Prior to joining UA, he was director of forensics at Murray State University in Kentucky.

Nelson (second from right), well known on campus for his rapport with students, said he is pleased to return as dean of the College.

Story by Misty Mathews. COMMUNICATOR | 3

leaving a LEGACY Mary Ann Bradley and Jim Oakley retired in 2014 but will long be remembered for their positive influence on students. JIM OAKLEY For the past three decades, few students have passed through Reese Phifer Hall without encountering the smiling face of Jim Oakley. That’s something the next generation of majors will miss after Oakley’s June retirement. Oakley, who grew up in a Centreville, Ala., newspaper family, came to the University to play football while studying journalism. “I had an offer to play for Georgia Tech, but they didn’t have a journalism program at the time,” Oakley said. “In fact, the only two schools that did have programs in the South were Alabama and Georgia. My father said he was going to send me to Alabama to save himself some money.” While studying at Alabama, Oakley became a writer and editor for The Crimson White. In 1958, Oakley earned his bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama in journalism and headed back home to work for The Centerville Press, where his father was the editor. After 27 years at The Press, Oakley decided to retire. That didn’t last long. Within a year, he returned to UA on a special assignment to teach journalism in 1985. What was supposed to be one-year temporary assignment lasted for 29 years. “I loved working for the university every day since I began there,” Oakley said. “It was truly a wonderful ride for me.” Over the years, he became a full-time adviser, recruiter, career counselor and internship coordinator. Oakley has helped thousands of students launch amazing careers. “I love the underdog story,” Oakley said. “In fact, some of my students that used to be the ones who almost flunked out now have some of the most successful jobs in the industry. I’ve always worked nonstop to make sure my students leave here with a degree.” Oakley also coordinated scholarships for several years, served as a sounding board for students who needed someone to listen and provided overall life advice. “Everybody loves them some Jim Oakley,” said Craig Williams, a 2013 graduate. “He helped me receive a scholarship here and has been extremely supportive to me and so many others. I can’t thank him enough for all he has done.” Story by Cole Thompson. 4|


MARY ANN BRADLEY Mary Ann Bradley’s desk was cluttered with knick-knacks, pictures and small tokens of gratitude. Her bookshelves sagged under neatly organized files, vases from flowers given years before and a bobble-head of a former dean. Sitting at her desk in March 2014, Bradley catalogued just a few of the many reminders of people who have passed through her office during her 30 years at UA. Bradley, who retired in June, began work as a program assistant in the College in 1984. Seven years later, she became the College’s registrar. Over the years, she processed graduation applications for more than 8,000 majors. During that time, Bradley witnessed many changes, including the transition from paper to digital records. While the changes have made things more efficient, Bradley sees downsides. “I feel like I lost that one-onone interaction with the student,” Bradley said. “That was really special to me.” One special connection was with Lewis, a student who pulled a machine to help him breathe. Bradley remembers encouraging him to not quit working toward his degree despite his medical issues. “He was a joy to be around,” said Bradley, tears collecting in her eyes. After Lewis died, Bradley was determined to get him the degree he came just short of earning. She remembers watching with pride as

Lewis’ parents received his posthumous diploma. Bradley says that act wasn’t selfless; it was something she had to do. Over the years, she helped a student who was being abused, stayed with a student in the hospital until her parents arrived, and provided food and rides to students without resources. Bradley said she treated her students like they were her children. “You just do what you have to do in the moment,” she said. Those who worked with Bradley said she stops at nothing to help everyone who walks through her door. “You will not find a stronger advocate than Mary Ann,” said Joe Phelps, chair of the advertising and public relations department. “She’s not shy about advocating within the College, not shy about expressing her opinion about curriculum, not shy about expressing concerns at a University level. This is a person who works every day for the students.” Bradley plans to split her time between homes in Ohio and Alabama after retirement. She wants to garden and spend time with her family. But she hopes students will continue to call on her for help, even after she leaves the University. The calls likely will also come from faculty and administrators, said Jennifer Greer, interim dean of CIS. “I feel like I’ve learned from the master, so that when she goes I feel positive that she taught us all well,” Greer said. “But I’m glad we have her cellphone number if we get in a bind.” Story by Deanna Kaylin Bowen.



r. Loy Singleton stepped down as dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences in October after seven years serving in the position. During his tenure, the College saw student growth and began construction on the new, state-of-the-art Digital Media Center, a project more than a decade in the making. “One of the most meaningful parts of my time with the College was playing the dean’s role in helping to provide our students and staff with the Digital Media Center, the best production center of its kind in the country,” Singleton said. Digital Media Center Director Elizabeth Brock, who worked closely with Singleton on the project, said his leadership helped immensely in preparing the new home for the College’s professional media entities. “Loy was a tireless advocate for the College’s professional media assets,” Brock said. “He had big dreams for a state-of-the-art multimedia center that would inspire the words, ‘Live, from Bryant-Denny Stadium.’ Many people contributed creativity, perseverance and goodwill to the design and building of the Digital Media Center, but Loy gave the project real soul.” Singleton said he will miss the people he worked with but said the College is in great shape going forward. One exciting new project, he said, is the renovation of the first level of Phifer Hall, as the College fills space vacated by the operations that moved to the stadium. “The renovation will accommodate continued student and faculty growth when completed,” he said. “I look forward to seeing it used to its full potential.” Singleton served as chair of the telecommunication and film department between 1989 and 2006. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin, spent five years as a U.S. Air Force pilot, then returned to UT-Austin and earned a master’s degree in journalism and a doctorate in mass communication research. He taught for 10 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was director of graduate studies and admissions in the department of radio/television/motion pictures. Dr. Jeremy Butler, professor of telecommunication and film at UA, was a longtime colleague of Singleton’s. He said Singleton’s lasting legacy could be seen in the care he showed for his em-

Singleton and his wife, Sandy

ployees and the College. “As both department chair and dean, Loy was the ideal boss,” Butler said. “He kept the department and the College running smoothly and always made us feel our contributions were valued. He genuinely cared about each of us—doing all that he could to help us excel in all our varied ways. He is a man of integrity and vision and left the department and College in better shape than he found them.” Dr. Jennifer Greer was named interim dean Sept. 1, 2013. Greer had served as department chair and professor of journalism in the College since 2007. Under her leadership, the Digital Media Center held a successful grand opening in March 2014, with more than 400 in attendance. Greer was appointed as the University’s associate provost for administration in July, shortly after Dr. Mark Nelson was announced as the permanent dean. Dr. Wilson Lowrey, a journalism professor, succeeded Greer as journalism department chair. Story by Misty Mathews. COMMUNICATOR | 5







he College of Communication and Information Sciences in 2014 opened one of the most progressive, state-of-the-art media centers found anywhere on a college campus. The icing on the cake? It’s in the heart of Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Digital Media Center, which held its grand opening in March and is located on the third and fourth floors of Bryant-Denny’s north end zone, houses Alabama Public Radio, The Center for Public Television and Radio, Crimson Tide Productions and WVUA-TV. It is also a high-tech teaching laboratory for students, giving them more opportunities to gain real-world, hands-on experience and an edge in a competitive job market upon graduation. “The Digital Media Center is designed to be a laboratory for students, just like a teaching hospital,” said Elizabeth Brock, who oversees all of the College’s professional media outlets in the center. The center also is a collaboration with UA athletics, as Crimson Tide Productions, the production and marketing arm of UA’s sports teams, is located on the third floor. Students help produce UA sports broadcasts and deliver programming for ESPN and the new SEC Network. A project nearly a decade in the making, the DMC contributes to the teaching, research and service missions of the University. For example, instruction for


The DMC was originally envisioned more than 10 years ago. Two deans (Dr. Cully Clark and Dr. Loy Singleton) and an interim dean (Dr. Jennifer Greer) have oversaw planning and construction.

journalism majors in their required editing and online production class will be moved to the center in fall 2014. Faculty and professional supervisors will oversee students producing content for the WVUA-TV website. “It’s just impossible to recreate in a classroom the pace, teamwork and sense of responsibility that a real newsroom environment gives you,” said Dr. Wilson Lowrey, journalism department chair. “These kinds of classes are going to make our students so much better prepared for their first media jobs.” Tyra Jackson, a senior journalism major from Selma, Ala., was one of the first interns in the new venue for 8|


The DMC is 50,000+ square feet and The DMC is 50,000+ square feet three and contains three television studios, containscontrol three television studios, television rooms, four radio three stutelevision rooms, four radio dios and 10 control television edit suites. studios and 10 television edit suites.

Each TV control room can control any of the TV studios, and each radio studio can go to air on demand. This allows staff members maximum flexibility.

Crimson Tide Productions was the first entity to be fully moved into the DMC, beginning regular operations prior to the fall 2013 football season. Alabama Public Radio, the Center for Public Television and Radio and WVUA-TV all moved in during the first half of 2014.

Alabama Public Radio. She said working in the center made her realize how much more she could do with her journalism degree than simply write. “I’m more than a print journalist,” Jackson said. “This is helping to open me up to different job opportunities.” Those who work in the center said it opens a new world of opportunities for the College’s professionals as well. “The most exciting thing about moving into the Digital Media Center is the collaboration, the fact that all these different entities are working together as a group,” said Amy Martin, executive producer for CPT&R. “Here it feels like we’re one big family.” Martin said one project she has enjoyed working on since moving to the new space is a rebranding effort for WVUA. Steve Diorio, director of news and sports for WVUA, said he sees a spirit of teamwork. Staff members from CPT&R helped WVUA with lighting for its news set, while WVUA has been able to share video with CPT&R, he said. “Everybody’s really worked together to make this transition as smooth as possible,” Diorio said. “Everyone involved is excited to be here. We have a common goal to get away from being separate groups and come COMMUNICATOR | 9

THE DIGITAL MEDIA CENTER’S OFFICIAL GRAND OPENING was marked on March 13, 2014, with a keynote, a panel discussion, a reception and tours of the new facility. C&IS alumnus John Cochran, retired correspondent for ABC News, provided the keynote, and also served on a panel discussing the past, present and future of digital media. Other panelists included C&IS alumni Lee Boulie (Country Music Hall of Fame), Kathy Nontasak (Google) and Victor Luckerson (Time.com). UA President Dr. Judy Bonner, pictured at right with the panelists and C&IS Interim Dean Dr. Jennifer Greer, also addressed the crowd. More than 400 people attended the event, which was held in the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

10 |


together as more of a unified unit — and that includes academics. Students are going to have unbelievable opportunities, and it’s only going to get better.” Construction on the Digital Media Center began in 2011, and the first tenants moved in during fall 2013. About 90 employees will work in the center. Additionally, more than 100 students each semester will work in student jobs, internships and classes in the center. The center includes four full broadcast studios that serve viewers and listeners in Tuscaloosa and statewide. “This center is one of the top facilities in the country, and it is the

result of the vision and support of UA’s academic and athletic leadership over the past decade,” said Dr. Jennifer Greer, who served as interim dean during the center’s opening. “These facilities allow us to fulfill our mission of serving the community and the state with quality news and information content and also our mission of educating future communication leaders in real-world settings.” Justin Brant, director of Crimson Tide Productions, said he looked forward to the collaborative nature of the new space. “The Digital Media Center is a production hub for athletics and academics to collaborate in sharing content, creative ideas and relevant training for students to pursue their future careers, all of which will enhance the brand of The University of Alabama,” Brant said. For more information on the DMC, visit http://cis.ua.edu/about/digital-mediacenter/.

The DMC is 50,000+ square feet and It took nearly 40 miles of digital three video and audio contains three television studios, cable tocontrol fully prepare studios television rooms,the fourDMC radioproduction studios and 10 for operation. television edit suites.

The DMC will have more than 90 full-time staff members, and more than 100 students are expected to work there each semester. COMMUNICATOR | 11

Three Distinguished Alumni Inducted Into

Hall Of Fame


ach year the College of Communication and Information Sciences recognizes the accomplishments of those who bring prominence to the state of Alabama through application of disciplines taught, researched and practiced in our College through induction to the Communication Hall of Fame. The Communication Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1998 and has since grown to a total of 88 members. Inductees are recognized at an annual Hall of Fame dinner and banquet. Inductees for 2013, recognized at a dinner Oct. 12 at the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium, were Wayne Greenhaw, Billy Harvill and Jim Oakley.

Wayne Greenhaw


reenhaw was one of Alabama’s most beloved figures and a historian to Montgomery. His series of books on Montgomery and the civil rights movement serve as historic references for many scholars around the world. Greenhaw’s writings won him the UA journalism department’s Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing in 2005 and the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer in 2006.

Above: Sally Greenhaw accepted the award for her husband, the late Wayne Greenhaw, from then Dean Loy Singleton. 12 |


The 2014 Hall of Fame event

Above: Longtime newspaper editor and C&IS staff member Jim Oakley, fourth from right, was inducted with many members of his family in attendance. Below right: Billy Harvill, a respected advertising professional from Birmingham, gives his acceptance speech.

Jim Oakley O

akley took his 27 years of running the Centreville Press and his lifetime experience as a journalist and delivered it to students at The University of Alabama. Before his June 2014 retirement, he advised C&IS students throughout their careers and helped them seek internships and jobs. He is a past president of the Alabama Press Association, and former chairman of the Alabama Commission of Higher Education, helped establish the Troy University Hall School of Journalism, and serves on its Board of Visitors.

is scheduled for Oct. 9, and tickets are $125. Inductees for 2014 will be William Ossian “Bill” Bolen, Gilbert E. “Gibby” Johnston Jr., H. Shelton Prince Jr. (posthumous), Stanley T. “Stan” Siegal (posthumous) and Sela Ward, award-winning actress. For more information call 205-348-7229.

billy harvill H

arvill served as CEO of the Intermark Group, which has become the largest advertising agency in Alabama and one of the largest in the Southeast. His work in advertising earned him the 2005 CEO of the Year and Ad Man of the year and the Silver Medal Award from the Birmingham Advertising Federation. Harvill serves on the President’s Cabinet at The University of Alabama and is the chairman of UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.


40 years

of excellence “


ife begins at 40. “Forty is the old age of youth; 50 is the youth of old age. “The first 40 years of life give us the text; the next 30 supply the commentary.” No matter the cliché, everyone agrees that turning 40 is a time of transition. Though the roots of the College of Communication and Information Sciences stretch back nearly 90 years, the college officially was formed in the 1973-74 academic year. That’s when the department of journalism, founded in 1926, and the department of radio and television arts (now telecommunication and film), founded in 1949, left the College of Arts and Sciences and merged into the School of Public Communication. Shortly after, in 1974, the department of advertising and public relations was formed from courses originally in journalism. In 1981, the department of speech communication (founded in 1932 and now communication studies) joined the College. The interdisciplinary doctoral program started in 1990. In 1997, the School of Library and Information Studies, founded in 1971, was brought into the college, and a year later, the College’s name was officially changed to the one we have today. Before 1974, thousands of degrees were awarded in all disciplines that are now part of the College, meaning many of the alumni active in the life of the College and holding leadership roles in our professions officially are alumni of Arts and Scienc-


es. Of course, many align more with C&IS because of their strong connection with their home departments while at UA. C&IS has awarded 16,650 degrees since the first nine undergraduate diplomas were handed out in May 1974. That number includes 13,643 undergraduate degrees, 2,818 master’s degrees and 189 doctoral degrees. Because some alumni hold two or three degrees from the College, our alumni since 1974 now number about 16,000. This academic year, we saw a record 779 degrees granted, thanks largely to the record 623 bachelor’s degrees awarded between August 2013 and May 2014. As C&IS reaches milestones in size (a record 3,075 students enrolled in fall 2013), in degrees awarded, in faculty and staff numbers and in physical space, turning 40 allows us to pause and reflect on what we’ve accomplished. What better way to show that accomplishment than to highlight the wonderfully diverse alumni of our college? On the next 40 pages, you’ll find 40 profiles of alumni from all of our academic programs. We looked for people in all types of careers, in all stages of their professional lives and with a variety of backgrounds. In short, these 40 exceptional alumni provide just a glimpse of the thousands holding C&IS degrees. Look for tabs highlighting those named outstanding alumni in either 2013 or 2014. Story by Jennifer Greer.

hen we interviewed our alumni, we asked each to provide one or two words that came to mind when they thought about their time in C&IS. You see those words making up the ‘40’ on the cover and on this adjoining page. These words, and the accomplishments of our alumni, give us confidence that as C&IS eases into middle age, its youth clearly was well spent.

14 |


unforgettable valuable

unique experiences RESOURCE Ready^ always be learning PRESTIGIOUS empowerment Foundation^ Rewarding inspiration CONFIDENCE vintage Excellence Opportunity^ MISSION STORYTELLING gratif ication Pride

life-changing Self-confidence^

FRIENDS knowledge ready for liftoff preparation determination Connection^ Employment

family tradition DISTINCTION rigorous

CHARACTER Inspiring^ skills networking innovative competition

community Fulfillment^ Achievement Comaraderie POTENTIAL COMMUNICATOR | 15



AMICK Class of: 2008 Major: M.A., Journalism Career: Criminal Attorney

16 |


ommunity journalism alumna Emily Amick has a personal motto, a quote from Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” She has taken this quote to heart. As a criminal attorney and organizer-member of New York’s New Abolitionists, Amick fights to stop human trafficking with a coalition of legislators, attorneys, judges and others. She works for Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit that provides legal, ethical and outreach programs for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, along with offering resources for victims’ families. So how does Amick’s work now tie into her master’s degree in journalism? “At first glance, people might think ‘Oh, she’s a practicing attorney; she doesn’t really use that journalism training,’ but it’s something I look to every day,” she said. Amick’s interest in human trafficking cases started in 2009, after she entered Columbia School of Law. She clerked in the Rwanda Supreme Court for a fellowship that focused on human rights; part of her work involved researching sexual violence during the 1994 genocides. “Women were brought to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they were trafficked, and that really stuck with me when I got back to the states,” Amick said. Amick’s journalistic fire was stoked. By telling the stories of survivors, she could advocate for systematic change through legislatures and the courts. “What I found was I could do so much more as a storyteller and narrative builder to work with the community to really effect public change,” she said. Back in New York, Amick’s work has helped spur change. Eleven statewide human trafficking intervention courts, to be established this year, will allow judges to refer clients to Sanctuary and other providers to receive proper legal representation and clinical care. This change may help lawmakers, attorneys and the public recognize that the majority of people arrested for prostitution charges are sex-trafficking victims, Amick said. Work still needs to be done in the areas of survivor assistance and changes in the institution, she said. She does that work daily, as legislative head of the New York Anti Trafficking Coalition joining with 110 organizations to develop policy, advocate for change and manage everything from planning lobby days to organizing meetings and talking to the media. Reporting by Gabriel Dickson.


BATISTE Class of: 1998 Major: B.A., Communication Studies Career: Unit Manager, Altria Group Inc.


hen Tiffany Batiste changed her major at The University of Alabama to communication studies, she found the perfect match for her skill set. Batiste, a Daphne, Ala., native, floated from major to major until she took a class from communication studies professor Dr. Mark Nelson, now dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. She “fell in love” with the curriculum. “The major combined public speaking and elements of rhetorical studies that I found interesting,” she said. “I was interested in every class, so it didn’t seem like work.” After her first job as television producer and mid-day disc jockey in Baton Rouge, her next job had to combine those same elements, and, luckily for Batiste, she found Altria Group Inc. As the tobacco company’s unit manager, she has used her amiable personality, communication skills and knack for sales to lead her group of 10 to 15 co-workers on various projects. Over the course of 12 years at Altria, Batiste said she has enjoyed teaching those under her and using her ability to influence people through sales. “Seeing those who are struggling learn how to become better at their job is rewarding,” she said. “And the science of selling and influencing people is fascinating. “There are times when I look back while I’m working, and I can see firsthand some of the things I’ve learned while I was at the University.” Among the many things she’s learned, Batiste said the importance of paying attention to nonverbal cues has been the most beneficial. “You learn fairly quickly working in groups that people give off cues,” she said. “From their nonverbal cues, I can see if they’re open or closed to my pitch. From there, I gauge if I need to soften my approach or continue as planned.”

Such everyday instances have been a reminder of her overall learning experience in C&IS — from her freshman days as a member of the speech team to her lasting friendships with classmates and faculty. Nelson, who was also her adviser, even performed her wedding ceremony to her husband, Jeff Batiste, in 2010. Her family also includes her two daughters, Jaiden and Ava. “I don’t think people give enough credit to C&IS,” Batiste said. “It was a great college to be a part of. The professors made it a great experience. It wasn’t just a job for them; they were really invested in us. You felt like they cared.” Story by Taylor Armer. COMMUNICATOR | 17







llen Benson may have just done it all. Perhaps that’s not entirely accurate, but he certainly had an interesting path to his chosen career as library director and professor at the U.S. Naval War College. After earning his degree in music performance from the University of Minnesota in 1974, Benson was a professional percussionist for 10 years, including a stint with the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point. “After 10 years, I decided I basically understood music composition and theory and wasn’t challenged any more,” Benson said. “What challenged me was the learning process.” That love of learning seems to have dictated much of Benson’s adult life. After a seven-year stint as a real-estate agent and broker in Minneapolis, he and his wife sold everything they owned and moved to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, where they “built cabins, raised chickens and started an organic garden.” While he was living in rural Arkansas, Benson scored his first library job, with the Searcy County library system. “I was a director and ran the summer reading program,” Benson said. “I did it for two years and loved it so much I decided to attend library school at The University of Alabama.” Benson said his time at UA’s School of Library and Information Studies helped prepare him “for what it meant to be a pro in librarianship. When

18 |


Class of: 1993 Major: Master of Library and Information Studies Career: Library Director and Professor, U.S. Naval War College I was a student there, we weren’t only concerned with developing tool sets and skills; we were learning about how to work through and analyze all sorts of problems related to libraries.” Benson landed at the Naval War College after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (’11). He is responsible for daily operations and planning for the Henry E. Eccles Library, the Classified Library and the Naval Historical Collection, and he also remains active with his research related to helping machines “think” more like humans. After years of learning and trying new things, Benson has settled into his career as a librarian and said he enjoys the multidisciplinary, historical and creative aspects of it. “In many ways I think we can compare directing libraries to directing orchestras,” Benson said. “The maestro knows a little something about all the orchestral instruments and their players, acoustics, music theory and so on, but also quite a lot about reading scores, conducting, getting everyone together to perform as an ensemble—to think as a whole to perform great music. “That pretty much describes what I do on a daily basis: I bring together a diverse group of people, events, facilities and technology, and synchronize it all so everyone and everything are working effectively toward a common goal.” Story by Misty Mathews.


BLALOCK Class of: 1981 Major: Master of Library and Information Studies Career: Director, Birmingham Public Library


rene S. “Renee” Blalock lives by the motto that “there’s absolutely no better public service than library service.” Blalock, a 30-year veteran of library service, became director of the Birmingham Public Library in 2009. Before that, she worked in several capacities, including including manager of the Parke Memorial (now Southside), Eastwood and Avondale branches and associate director for community and systemwide services. “I cannot imagine a more rewarding and fun career than being a public librarian,” Blalock said. “It has been an amazing experience to earn a living doing what I love to do.” As director, she said she loves watching her staff accomplish and bring to life “the wonderful things they do.” One of these “wonderful things” was a worldwide reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” an event Blalock helped organize to mark the letter’s 50th anniversary. Hundreds of readers from around the world, including in Antarctica, read the text aloud. She said it was one of her favorite library events. The library has received the prestigious 2014 John Cotton Dana Award from the American Library Association for this project. Blalock also has enjoyed propelling the library into the digital age.

The reading of King’s letter was broadcast on its Pinterest page. Blalock said she has a hand in every aspect of the library system, which has a $15 million budget, 304 employees and 19 locations. She has supervised the reorganization of the library’s management team and the creation of an administrative services division. She also has overseen numerous enhancements to branch libraries and was the project manager for the construction of two buildings for the Five Points West and the West End branches. When she isn’t improving the Birmingham Public Library or helping her staff, Blalock said she loves to read and watch movies. Even as a library superstar, she finds time to enjoy her grandchildren and her dog. “Renee is a whirlwind of ideas, experiences and incredibly broad knowledge,” said Pat Ryan, executive director of public libraries in Jefferson County. “I’ve worked with her on a multitude of projects over a 30-year period, and it has always been a rewarding and fun experience.” Reporting by Madelyn Atherton. COMMUNICATOR | 19


BOULIE Class of: 2007 Major: Master of Library and Information Studies Career: Director of Library and Digital Services, Country Music Hall of Fame


fter one visit to The University of Alabama’s campus, School of Library and Information Science graduate Lee Boulie knew it was the right fit. Boulie, who graduated in 2007, initially considered SLIS because of its fully accredited program, proximity to her hometown of Nashville, Tenn., and a recommendation from a co-worker. However, Boulie said what “sealed the deal” was her meeting with former SLIS Director Dr. Elizabeth Aversa, a tour of the school and a graduate teaching assistantship. “I can’t explain it, but I just knew life would 20 |


be good if I went to UA,” she said. “So I packed up my things and didn’t know anyone there other than the people I had met during my one visit to campus.” Boulie said she enjoyed being part of the SLIS community. She said she treasures memories of working in the computer lab with colleagues and engaging in discussion outside of class with professors and administrators. “I love thinking about my time there — and as a whole, SLIS makes my life’s highlights reel,” she said. “Something so wonderful about SLIS is the community — we really got to know each other, and the fifth floor [of Amelia Gorgas Library] was planned as a home of sorts for us.” Boulie returned home to Nashville in 2010, becoming director of library and digital services for the Country Music Hall of Fame. So far, she has raised $430,000 in grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the Hall of Fame’s digitization initiative. The initiative is digitizing rare analog items to ensure they remain accessible and preserved. “These funds will allow me to add four staff [members], giving me a team of nine to work on digitizing, cataloging and preserving film, audio and photo collections,” she said. “I’m currently installing storage, switches, server and digital asset management software.” Although Boulie’s position requires an affinity with technology, she said nothing compares to interacting with “invigorating people” throughout her day. “Each day’s challenges keep things interesting, and my mind sharp,” she said. “[I have the] opportunities to use the skills and knowledge gained through academics and experience [from SLIS].” “And I have to say, the challenges along the way, having managed successfully, gives me confidence in knowing, surely I can overcome future obstacles, as well.” Story by Taylor Armer.





BURNS Class of: 1978 Major: B.A., Broadcast and Film Communication Career: Chief Operating Officer, Alan Burns and Associates


niversity of Alabama graduate Donna Burns went from footin-the-door jobs to working atop the broadcast radio industry. Her first broadcast job was answering the request line at WRQX (Q107) in Washington, D.C., for a popular nighttime DJ called Uncle Johnny. She worked her way up through the programming department to become the operations manager of the radio station. She later worked at the ABC News Bureau in Washington, D.C., on the ENG desk where she organized the technical staff for the nightly news broadcasts as well as several other shows such as Barbara Walters’ “Close-Up,” “20/20,” and Ted Koppel’s “Nightline. “ While in the nation’s capitol, she met her now-husband, Alan Burns, (an Alabama alumnus and 2005 recipient of the Outstanding Alumni award) and in 1985 co-founded their consulting company, Alan Burns and Associates. For almost 30 years, Donna Burns has been the company’s chief operating officer, helping it achieve the highest level of recognition within the broadcast industry. The Orange Beach, Ala.-based company has provided consulting and training primarily to radio stations but also TV and record companies in areas such as marketing, business development, programming, operations, personnel, public relations, press management and digital platforms. “When the radio station is not performing as well as it could, not making money or not getting good ratings, we help it to achieve these goals,” she said. “Basically we do whatever it takes to improve the investment and help it perform better.” Select clients include Clear Channel, ABC, CBS, Hubbard/Bonnevile, NBC-TV, Sony Records, Columbia Records and RCA. Despite her profitable gains, Burns said her passion for her work lies in building relationships with the radio stations and “feeling a part of the team.” The University cemented this drive in her through various classes and practical experience. “What I appreciate most about my degree is the experience it gave me and the foundation it provided to be successful in my field,” she said. That “foundation” was set in junior year when Burns took 21 hours of

mass communication classes in one semester. It was the most fun she’d had at the University, because she was immersed in her major and absorbing a lot of information about film, TV and radio, while simultaneously co-hosting the “Capstone Week” TV show with Matt Scalici, recent chair of the College’s board of visitors and current BOV member along with Donna and Alan Burns. “Every day (of that semester) I was totally immersed in the communications field,” she said. “It was terrific. It was the most amazing part of my time at the University.” Burns has been similarly absorbed in her love of dogs, almost to the point of returning to college for veterinary science training. Her newest pup, Diesel, is an 8-month-old German shepherd—the breed of choice for the Burns family. The Orange Beach resident said the University’s message of hard work remains the most valuable lesson of her academic career. “You’ve got to work, especially in this industry,” she said. “You’ve got to start from the bottom and put in the work.” Story by Taylor Armer. COMMUNICATOR | 21





BURNUM Class of: 1992 Major: B.A., Advertising and Public Relations Career: Media Director, LMO Advertising

22 |



rom “Cajun country” to the nation’s capitol, Christi Burnum has carved a niche for herself in the ad world. Burnum, media director at LMO Advertising in Arlington, Va., outside Washington, D.C., grew up in Louisiana, but her passion for media led her to the nation’s capital via The University of Alabama, with time spent in North Carolina, Indiana and Germany along the way. “I can’t say that there’s a typical day in my job,” said Burnum, the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Alumna in Advertising award from C&IS. Indeed, on a given day, Burnum might immerse herself in research, collaborate with other departments within her agency, or brainstorm on media strategy and tactics with her team. “I’m passionate about media,” Burnum said. “If I had to pick one ‘favorite’ project I’ve worked on, it would be the Soldier of Steel campaign my team here at LMO executed this summer for our client Army National Guard in partnership with the Warner Brothers movie ‘Man of Steel.’” Burnum said the Soldier of Steel project involved working with partners like Warner Brothers, DC Comics, Twitter, Men’s Fitness and several other national brands. “We were able to get really strategically creative with the media,” Burnum said. “Most importantly is that the results far exceeded the media goals. “Strong results and happy clients: That’s my favorite any day.” In addition to her work at LMO, Burnum is a member of the 4A’s Mid-Sized Agency Media Directors Committee and the DC Ad Club, through which she works to help the next generation of communication professionals pursue careers in media and advertising. Burnum lives in Ashburn, Va., with her husband and two children. Story by Misty Mathews.


CALLISON Class of: 1998, 2000 Major: M.A., Public Relations; Ph.D., Communication and Information Sciences Career: Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Media and Communication, Texas Tech University


or out-of-state students, their college or university often becomes a second home — a place to find comfort and family. When Coy Callison moved from Rockspring, Texas, to Tuscaloosa, he found this at the University of Alabama. “There was a nice cohort of people I went to school with,” he said. “I made friendships that have lasted a lifetime. The people in the public relations and graduate studies department treated me like a part of the family, like I was one of their own.” Since 2009, Callison has fostered the same sense of community in his role as associate dean for graduate studies in the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University. Specifically, he has opened his home to graduate students for a yearly Thanksgiving dinner. “You put your life on hold to go off to graduate school,” he said. “Although it’s temporary, it means a lot to students to feel some level of comfort while there away from they’re families. We all become a family.” Callison wants to create the same atmosphere of family at Texas Tech that he found years ago at UA. He found an intellectual home in CIS through his interest in experimental during through his work with former associate dean for graduate studies and research Dr. Dolf Zillmann. “I’ve always liked to find out why things happen,” he said. “Why [do] things happen through communication messages? [I] try to answer these questions through hands-on work.” At UA, Callison received the College’s Outstanding Ph.D. Research Assistant and Award for Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student. Among his fellow graduate students was Meg Lamme, associate professor in the University’s advertising and public relations department. Lamme began the program in January 1999, as Callison was taking his last classes. They never collaborated on research, but they read each other’s work and shared many conversations about teaching. “I never saw him teach, but we would talk about teaching a lot,” she said. “He set a high bar and was very creative in getting ideas across.” “I was enrolled with some fantastic fellow students,” he said. “Earning those awards meant a lot to me because I knew the competition was so strong. Tracy Lauder, Hong-sik Yu and Lamme were great scholars, teachers and researchers when we were all in grad school together. I was fortunate to be able to study alongside them and others.” His dissertation examined the effect attribution has on the credibility of information companies put out during “corrective” public relations efforts —information designed to correct negative publicity during a crisis. As a former public relations practitioner for a Fortune 500 company, Callison said that this research answered some questions about whether

people in his position should serve as mouthpieces of the organization. “What I found was that sources who are paid by a company are consistently seen as untrustworthy,” he said. “I never felt like I was expected to stretch the truth for the organizations for whom I worked, but this data suggested that no matter what my intentions were, I was going to be seen as having dubious intent.” Although more than a decade removed from his dissertation days at the University, Callison has continued researching this topic by running a physiology experiment looking at how quickly these assessments of spokespersons are made. “Early data seem to suggest that those negative evaluations are made almost instantly on revelation of company affiliation,” he said. His “blue-collar” teaching style has mirrored his approach to research, and in his Experimental Research class he has challenged students to “roll up their sleeves and do the actual work.” “I’m a very applied teacher,” he said. “I don’t use PowerPoint lectures to explain concepts. I give students real projects, and I like to see them carry that out in class.” Although Lamme and Callison worked alongside each other for only a year, her respect for his scholarship, mentoring and teaching has extended beyond graduate school. “He’s one of those people that actually cares,” she said. “It’s been exciting to see his career grow.” Story by Taylor Armer. COMMUNICATOR | 23




Class of: 2004 Major: B.A., Advertising Career: Creative Director for Verizon Wireless at mcgarrybowen




are going to go find someone who is — that’s very motivating but also very scary every day of my life.” While that pressure might be too much for even the most experienced professionals, Cannova said he thrives on it. “I’m excited about it,” he said. “I love challenges. If my job were easy, I would have probably quit a long time ago.” Cannova said his time at Alabama pushed him to be “the best,” particularly through work he completed with faculty members Marilyn Mancini and Mike Little. He said both faculty members pushed him to not just complete assignments but “do it differently” and offer something unexpected. He said his advice to up-andcoming creative professionals is “don’t do it the way someone else would do it, and you may end up somewhere no one has ever been before.” As far as his journey in the professional world, Cannova said he feels he has much more opportunity ahead of him. “I still have a long way to go, and I hope I never get to the top,” he said. “I love the constant journey and the climb. If I get to the top of the hill, there’s nothing else to look forward to, and I’m one of those hungry creatives who’s always looking to the next challenge.”

n just eight years, Michael Cannova has climbed the advertising ladder from intern to creative director for Verizon Wireless at mcgarrybowen in New York City. The talented advertising professional was part of the team that initiated Verizon’s huge ‘Droid push a few years ago, launching the Google product (originally dubbed “Android”) into competition with best-selling brands like Apple’s iPhone. Cannova said the growth Verizon has seen the past few years has made his job challenging but incredibly rewarding. Each quarter, he is seeing record-breaking numbers and the entire Verizon brand resting in his team’s hands. “They were very candid from day one that they only wanted the best, and ‘when you’re no longer the best, we are going to go find the best,’” Cannova said. “Having that thought every morning when I wake up, that if I’m not the best, they Story by Misty Mathews. 24 |






CARTER Class of: 2006 Major: B.A., Journalism Career: Photographer, The Tuscaloosa News The journalism department’s 2013 outstanding alumni were part of The Tuscaloosa News’ Pulitzer Prize-winning staff in 2012. Honorees included Lydia Seabol Avant (B.A., ’03; M.A., ’04), Andrew Carroll (B.A., ’78), Michelle Carter (B.A., ’06, visual journalism; featured alumna), Dustin Compton (B.A., ’07, visual journalism), Corey A. Craft, Tommy Deas (B.A., ’86), Chase Goodbread (B.A., ’93), Keli Goodson (B.A., ’09), Wayne Grayson (B.A., ’09), Cecil Hurt (B.A., ’83, English), Jason Morton (B.A., ’99), Brian Reynolds (B.A., ’08), Ken Roberts (B.A., ’85, broadcast and film), Amy Robinson (B.A., ’95; M.A., ’01), Edwin Stanton (B.A., ’96), Janet Sudnik (M.A., ’08), Aaron Suttles (B.A., ’09), Robert Sutton (B.A., ’95), Stephanie Taylor (B.A., ’99) and John Wallace (B.A., ’95).


pril 27, 2011, is a day Tuscaloosa won’t forget. Tuscaloosa News staff photographer Michelle Lepianka Carter saw the devastating day through a different lens than most. Carter, who began working for the News in 2009, said her love of photography came from when she studied studio photography in high school, when she used her mother’s fully manual Canon camera. She chose to pursue photojournalism at UA after she had difficulty getting into studio art classes. “At first I hated it, because I had to talk to people and I was an introvert,” Carter said. “I just kept taking the classes, and eventually I liked it.”

The day of the tornado, Carter, fellow staff photographer Dusty Compton and Web reporter Corey Pennington had been sent to Woods & Water, located on a hilltop in south Tuscaloosa, by their editor to shoot photos and video before the storm. When they realized their position might be dangerous, they moved to McFarland Mall and took cover in Shoe Station. “Somebody said you could see it out the back delivery door,” Carter said. The first glimpse of the tornado was when Carter realized how devastating the weather event could be for her town. After the tornado, Carter said she first took photos at the intersection of 15th Street and McFarland Boulevard, where the storm leveled neighborhoods and businesses. She said she and Compton arrived before any first responders. “It looked like a bomb went off,” Carter said. Her younger brother had worked at Hokkaido, a Japanese restaurant on 15th Street, so she was familiar with the area. To see the building no longer standing there was “shocking,” she said. She said she and Compton pushed through the difficulty and devastation to do their jobs. One year later, the hard work was rewarded. Carter was working on a feature story when she kept feeling her phone vibrating. Finally, she stopped shooting and listened to the voice mail message. “If you would call me back, you would know you’re a Pulitzer Prize winner,” she recalled it saying. Carter, Compton and other members of The Tuscaloosa News had won journalism’s most prestigious award. The newsroom went out and celebrated. “It was really exciting,” Carter said. “It doesn’t even hit you.” While Carter said it is “a really big honor,” she said she doesn’t let it go to her head. “If you’re doing this job for the awards, you’re in it for the wrong reasons,” she said. She said she does not want it to overshadow the tragic events of that day, but it is nice to be recognized for her work. Robert Sutton, director of photography at The Tuscaloosa News, first met Carter when she was a student in one of his advanced photojournalism classes. “She was one of the better students in the class,” Sutton said. “She was a quick learner and did a great job on her assignments.” Sutton said he offered her an internship, which later resulted in the job she has today. “Her work ethic is incredible, she’s very talented with the camera, and she’s been a treat to work with. I’m glad I hired her,” he said. Carter said she hopes to remain in Tuscaloosa and continue doing the job she loves, despite days when she has to cover something as tragic as the 2011 tornadoes. “I love shooting and my family. My mom is here so that helps,” Carter said. “It’s a good fit.” Reporting by Trish Bradle. COMMUNICATOR | 25


COVAN Class of: 1993 Major: B.A., Communication Studies Career: Founder, Bon Secour Capital Holdings LLC


espite having graduated more than 20 years ago, University of Alabama alumnus Lance Covan can pinpoint a defining moment in his academic career that he’s carried with him into the business world. Dr. Thomas Harris, then an organizational communication professor in the department of communication studies, whom Covan said he enjoyed because of his “very unique style of teaching,” spoke with a visitor during class one day. The visitor left, and Harris told the class to stop working and describe what they saw happen. “It was one incident that many people witnessed but came away with different accounts of the event,” Covan said. “And that was the point: It taught me that perception is reality.” Covan said his time at UA gave him a background in public relations, mass communication and speech communication, which has helped him to read and assess situations interpersonally in his professional career. “You learn most of business requires negotiating, motivating and filtering,” he said. “All of these things rely on interpersonal competence. In life, you’re judged on how articulate you are, and it’s been helpful especially in interpersonal dealings and compromising.” In 2003, Covan became the director of the Crimson Tradition Fund, a UA athletic department initiative that raised money for the renovations of the University’s athletic facilities. He worked with such notable alumni as Mal Moore, Paul Bryant Jr., Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome, John McMahon and Angus Cooper. He described it as a “fabulous, tremendous opportunity.” 26 |


“My job was to put the important people in front of other important people,” Covan said. “All of the people I worked with genuinely loved The University of Alabama and were crazy successful. It was one of the best things I could ever participate in.” Putting his skills in the area of nonprofit fundraising to work, he moved to Manhattan in 2005 and oversaw the New York Foundation for Leadership’s endowment. Covan said living in New York was never an aspiration, but the experience was a welcomed challenge. “Living in New York was a time when I experienced personal growth,” he said. “It helped me grow and mature. It sparked my competitiveness and commitment to excellence. You get to see if you can compete with the best in the business.” After five years and the birth of his son, Pryor, he moved back to Mobile, where he founded Bon Secour Capital Holdings LLC in 2010. The company buys, manages and sells companies. Bon Secour, which is French for “good hold,” has been the holding company for Covan’s operating companies. One of these companies, Mitternight Boiler Works, recently was awarded the Governors Trade Excellence Award for 2013. Mitternight also won the White House Excellence in Rural Manufacturing award in 2012 for its job creation in rural areas surrounding Mobile. “We have 100 employees, which means we support 100 families,” Covan said. “So it’s bigger than just profits. Yes, you’re measured by profits financially, but the aspect I focus mostly on is wealth creation. Are people given an opportunity and an advantage to create wealth?” For Covan, the motivation for business can be summarized in two words: “human flourishing.” Driven by a deep personal faith in God, Covan’s approach is to enhance human flourishing by relentlessly striving for excellence in the execution of an fruitful, booming enterprise for the sake of all parties involved, from the chairman to the janitor. He measures his success by how much he and his business contribute to human flourishing. “There are three things people should know about our business approach,” Covan said. “Highlight the people who are actually doing the work and thereby creating wealth; maintain a posture of humility and gratitude among the ownership and management; and compete flat out within the bounds of the rules.” Despite Covan’s personal measurable success, he emphasized that he cares more about human flourishing than wealth creation. “If you focus on the first one, the second one will take care of itself,” he said. “I don’t want my life to just be about all of the things I’ve done or accumulated. There’s a higher calling, a purpose of business, than profit gaining. The object is to take as many people with you as possible.” Covan, husband and father of two, recalled a Chinese proverb that summed up why he felt this strongly about what he strove to accomplish in business. “It says, ‘The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends,’” he said. “That means to me that the great people are humble people.” Story by Taylor Armer.


DAVIS Class of: 1988 Major: B.A., Broadcast and Film Communication Career: SportsCenter Host and ESPN Commentator


f there’s one thing Rece Davis took away from his time at The University of Alabama, it was the value of ambition. “I always equated it to what I tell my son. I can’t guarantee you that you’re going to play in the big leagues, but one way I can guarantee you that you won’t, is if you don’t believe you will,” Davis said. Davis works in the big leagues of sports journalism, living the dream of many broadcast students as a SportsCenter host and commentator for ESPN. He’s an inspiration for many Alabama students wishing to follow in his footsteps. “I never have to go to work because I love what I do,” Davis said. “It is just something I try to excel at.” Each day, Davis pores over research and watches hours of film in preparation for the interviews, discussions and analyses his career demands. It’s a drive that Jim Oakley, a C&IS faculty and staff member for 28 years, saw when Davis was in his classroom.

“From the get-go, he wanted to work for ESPN,” Oakley said. “And by-golly, he did it. When I think of Rece, I think of a person that is determined. Nothing ever knocked him back.” Davis has a professional life many strive to achieve. However, his main struggle comes in managing the time it takes to balance career and family. Davis is a husband and a father to two children. On his days off, he spends the majority of his time with them. In order to balance his hectic career and his family life, he said that everyone in the family has to be part of the team. Sacrifices have to be made, but he still finds a way to rarely miss either of his children’s sporting events or any special occasions with his wife. “The thing is, when you’re home you have to be home,” Davis said. “When you’re with your kids you have to be with your kids. It’s quality over quantity.” Even with a time-consuming job and the inevitable struggle to maintain a somewhat normal family life, Davis said he has no regrets with the career path he has chosen. “Overall, generally speaking, I would say that I wouldn’t change anything,” Davis said. “I am very happy, grateful and blessed with where my career has taken me up to this point.” Story by Carleigh Watts COMMUNICATOR | 27

Class of: 1981 Major: B.A., Public Relations Career: Co-founder, Arts ’N Autism




fter starting a nonprofit organization for children with autism, Suzanne Dowling observed how frequently parents of recently diagnosed children expressed fear for their future. But when Dowling’s son, Sam, was diagnosed she did not show fear. Instead, she thought about what could she do about autism and what to do to make her son better, which eventually led to her co-founding the nonprofit organization Arts ’n Autism in Tuscaloosa. Dowling and her business partner, Janet Sikes, started Arts ’n Autism in March 2004. A small program with eight children attending one afternoon each week soon blossomed into an operation hosting 53 children for five afternoons a week, along with two weeks of summer camp. Though she is no longer directly involved with the day-to-day business of the program after stepping down at the end of 2013, Dowling continues to support the organization. Dowling said the knowledge she gained from her studies at UA, as well as her 25-year career as a communications specialist in UA’s Media Relations department, contributed to her work with Arts ’n Autism. “The driving force behind all of this was from the University training me, giving me the skills to do what I wanted to do in whatever venue I needed to do it in,” she said. “The knowledge that I have, whether it be in PR or whatever, gives me an opportunity to use that to be a force for bettering our community.” Dowling’s husband, Rick Dowling (B.A., broadcast and film communication, ’85), also works at UA as coordinator of faculty development. 28 |


Suzanne Dowling said Arts ’n Autism, hosted by Covenant Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, was created to provide parents of autistic children a safe place to bring their kids and help develop social and verbal skills. Because of the overwhelming success of the program, the organizers are now renovating a building in downtown Tuscaloosa with hopes that the doors will open in 2014. “The possibilities the new building gives us, drive you to want to succeed even more,” Dowling said. “This will be our identity; this is ours.” Dowling and Sikes began working together almost nine years ago with the goal of providing an outlet for autistic children and their parents to feel included in their community. “At the end of the day we’re super excited when things go well,” Sikes said. “It’s great to have someone to share that with; every victory is shared. We’ve always been able to motivate each other. On days when I want to quit, Suzanne keeps me going.” Dowling said Sam, now 22, attended Arts ’n Autism. He is the reason she stayed involved with it even after retiring from her fulltime job in 2012. “The greatest title I have received, even though they don’t know my name, they just say ‘Oh, you’re Sam’s mom,’ knowing I am associated with him,” Dowling said. “He inspires others without even doing anything. He’s had this amazing life. We’ve just ridden along for the ride.” Reporting by Rachel Uniatowski.





ELROD Class of: 1992 Major: M.A., Advertising Career: Executive Vice President, Head of Marketing at Regions Financial Corporation


ichele Elrod set her sights on her current job and didn’t relent until she got there. When she joined Regions Bank in 1984, she knew she wanted to manage marketing. “I wanted to run all of marketing at Regions, because doing that means you make the decisions on how to integrate the departments and build teams, where to focus in terms of future growth, how to evolve the brand, and the development of measurements of marketing’s contribution to the company,” said Elrod, executive vice president and head of marketing at Regions.

Elrod, C&IS Outstanding Public Relations Alumna for 2014, had the opportunity to work on the rebranding of Regions and AmSouth when the two banks merged. “That really included a lot of internal culture work, values work, as well as the tone and direction of the marketing, the colors, the signage, the logos, the meaning of the logos, everything,” Elrod said. “It was a comprehensive rebranding exercise. Not many marketers have the opportunity to do that.” One of her most recent projects has involved using available data to create more personalized offers and communication for Regions customers. This includes considering changes in internal infrastructures to ensure Regions’ marketing is always moving forward. In addition to her work at Regions, Elrod remains active in the UA community as a mentor in the UA College of Business Mentor Program and a member of the Culverhouse Board of Visitors. She also has served in board positions on the Mental Health Association of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, The Tuscaloosa Spouse Abuse Network and the Tuscaloosa Ad Club, in addition to multiple volunteer leadership roles in different areas of Regions. Story by Misty Mathews.



ESTES Class of: 1986 Major: M.A., Public Relations Career: President, Estes Public Relations


amie Estes likes to put all of her business on the table — the dinner table, that is. After finishing her master’s degree in communication at the University of Kentucky in 1988, Estes, of Tuscumbia, Ala., combined her love of food and education to become a wellknown figure in Louisville, Ky., and nationally in the culinary world as the president of Estes Public Relations. The firm focuses on developing relationships with distinguished chefs and restaurants. Estes has worked with such culinary stars as Rick Tramonto, Anthony Lamas and Julia Child. Her first encounter with Child, 30 |


with whom she worked for more than a decade, was memorably intimidating. “I was scared to death when I knocked on her hotel door the first time I met her,” Estes said. While at UA, Estes got her first PR experience as an intern with UA’s men’s athletics. She said it was a great opportunity to write for the program and gain hands-on experience, but she was more interested in food. “The more I got into sports, I realized it wasn’t my passion,” Estes said. “I’ve always been a foodie. I found my passion, and I was in the right place at the right time.” Estes has received the “40 Under 40 Award” by Business First newspaper, of Louisville. In addition, the National Association of Women Business Owners honored her as a Woman Business Owner of Distinction. Estes said it was a great honor to be recognized by the Louisville community. “Giving back to the community and getting involved in charities afforded me the opportunity to be recognized,” Estes said. As a female business owner, Estes strives to connect with women and to help them find their own path. She advises women who would like to have a successful business career to have a passion for whatever they do and to not get locked into something they don’t love. “Try different things,” Estes said. “Intern for many organizations while you are young.” As for her future in business, Estes hopes there’s a lot more to come. “I’d like to be in a few more markets in the South,” Estes said. “I would jump at the opportunity to start a business in Alabama.” Story by Tyra Jackson.


GALUSHA Class of: 1981 Major: B.A., Advertising Career: Digital Marketing


hen University graduate Curtis Galusha started college at the mid-sized, private Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., he hoped to be an electrical engineer. Soon, he realized the curriculum wasn’t the best fit for him. At the end of his sophomore year he decided to transfer to Tuscaloosa for the advertising program. “Engineering just wasn’t for me. It was so far removed from the social culture of college,” he said. “The people were happy being away from other people working through their lab projects. It was great for them, but I knew it wouldn’t work for me.” The door at Alabama opened and he raced through. After exploring some options, he decided he would be happier as a copywriter, but transitioning from electrical engineering technology to advertising and marketing in his junior year at the Capstone presented a few challenges. “I didn’t have all of the prerequisites,” he said. “So I eventually snuck my way in; Professor Bruce Roach caught me but realized I was one of the best in the class. He and Dean Melson bent the rules a bit and let me stay. I’m glad that they did.” Though he changed his major, Galusha still combined his engineering background with his advertising and marketing knowledge in his career. He has been credited, along with Ambrosi-Taproot Interactive Development, with the first- and second-generation creation of Sears.com, the website for national department store chain Sears. “I was very proud of having the vision and surrounding myself with people who had the same appreciation for the same type work,” he said. He’s since done other very visible e-commerce, social and mobile marketing work in retail, CPG, healthcare and financial services. His work continues to take him to Europe, the UK, Asia-Pacific and South America. He’s worked with digital start-ups, too. Before his successful career in digital marketing, Galusha worked as a student at WVUA, UA’s commercial television station, in all production facets and traveled across Alabama to cover stories like Mardi Gras and Huntsville’s ski resort. That position led to work with NBC Broadcast Sports during bas-

ketball season. “I was working 40 to 50 hours a week,” he said. “I was all in. It was a great college experience because while I did work hard, I also had a lot of fun.” Galusha’s college experience also involved adjusting to life in the South, which started with a race-fueled standoff in the city of Tuscaloosa. In August 1979, a white student shot a black student from Tuscaloosa High School. As a result, the Ku Klux Klan marched near campus. “The fact that it was right in the open took me aback,” he said. “I was stunned and sickened. But it helped cement my position against racism and those types of acts.” Galusha, who was 19 when he transferred to UA, said it was an “eye-opening experience” that led to his maturity and growth. His proudest accomplishments, he said, have been his two children, Gabrielle, 17, and Noah, 14, who are both “fantastically awesome” and into sports that keep his “weekends always booked.” Whenever there’s free time for Galusha, he drums and golfs. When he came to the University, he tried out for the UA men’s golf team but didn’t make it. “It crushed my career dreams for pro golf,” he said, with a smile. “But the University more than compensated with my degree and the opportunities it has afforded me.” Story by Taylor Armer. COMMUNICATOR | 31


GIBSON Class of: 1993 Major: Ph.D., Communication and Information Sciences Career: Associate Professor and Director of the M.A. in Technology and Communication program, University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication


niversity of Alabama graduate Rhonda Gibson gained more than the average student during her time in the College of Communication and Information Sciences Ph.D. program. She met her husband, Joe Bob Hester, while they were both enrolled in the Ph.D. program. They eloped and have been married for 18 years. “I expected to get a Ph.D., not an Mrs.,” she said. “That just goes to show you that you never know what will happen.” While Gibson earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee, she said she “learned to love” Crimson Tide football — except when they played the Vols.

32 |


Gibson said the pursuit of her doctorate, which she earned in 1993, changed the way she conducted research on her many topics of interest. “It was a transformational experience,” she said. “I had great professors, and in particular, a great mentor in Dr. Zillmann.” Dr. Dolf Zillmann, a professor and senior associate dean of graduate studies and research, served as a “tough mentor with high standards” for Gibson during her time in the program. “He helped me see that I could do things that I never thought I could,” she said. “I cannot imagine a better teacher or mentor, and the rigorous methodology training I received from him benefits me still.” Zillmann’s methodology training helped Gibson in composing her dissertation, which examined how people responded to exemplars versus statistical input in stories. “For example, if there was story about a carjacking, people wouldn’t pay attention to the statistics; they would pay attention to exemplars or anecdotes,” she said. “I’ve used this information in the classes that I teach and in further research.” Gibson joined the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty in 2001. She serves as an associate professor and director of the M.A. in Technology and Communication program. She described the opportunity to be a mentor to her doctoral students as the “perfect job.” “It’s always changing,” she said. “I get paid to work with a lot of really smart people. It is especially gratifying to work with Ph.D. students, and when one of my doctoral students recently took an assistant professor position at Alabama, I was ecstatic.” Gibson remains interested in how the media portrays issues and its coverage of sexual orientation. “I am currently working on a book on how reporting has been changing,” she said. “I have a real interest in this subject. I am 49 years old now, and I’ve even seen the change in minority coverage. Not too long ago, ‘pervert’ was the synonym for ‘gay.’ Now, you wouldn’t quote people who talked like that. You don’t quote those who are offensive. The standards of reporting are changing, and it’s interesting to me. The older you become, you begin to put into perspective the changes you see.” Story by Taylor Armer.


GILCHRISTPETTY Class of: 1999, 2001 Major: B.A. and M.A., Communication Studies Career: Associate Professor, The University of Alabama in Huntsville


ailure has never been an option for University of Alabama graduate Dr. Eletra Gilchrist-Petty, even while balancing being mother, wife and professor. Gilchrist-Petty, born and raised in the small town of Hillsboro, Ala., earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communication Studies from the University. As an undergraduate, she developed a working relationship with Dr. Mark Nelson, the dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences, when she shadowed him as an intern. She learned how to do lesson plans and teach course material during one of his summer Introduction to Public Speaking classes as a senior. “I found him so knowledgeable and interesting,” she said. “After being in his class, I decided that I really wanted to (teach). Working with him gave me a jumpstart on my career now.” Gilchrist-Petty, an associate professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville since 2008, has taught essentially everything in the communication arts department except rhetoric and has enjoyed it all. She said the most rewarding part of being a communication professor has been watching her students grow, especially her freshman Introduction to Public Speaking students. “I get to witness their transformations from their very first class to their upper-level classes,” she said. “They come in nervous and not really confident in themselves. By the end of the semester, you see them come leaps and bounds from where they started.” One of her favorite classes has been The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication because it has taught students to “mitigate through the troublesome parts of life.” “I tell my students not everything is going to be popcorn and peanut butter,” Gilchrist-Petty said. “So it’s important to learn about the other not-so-happy side of communication.” Gilchrist-Petty, former vice president of UA’s chapter of Capstone Association of Black Journalists, was also concerned with the other side of race relations and human relationships. In October 2011, she authored, edited, compiled and

published “Experiences of Single African-American Women Professors: I Thee Wed” published by Lexington Books. “I was inspired by what popular literature and media were saying about the dating rituals of professional women,” she said. “We found ourselves belittling ourselves and our accomplishments in order to appear more appealing to the dating population.” Her book, created after she participated in two consecutive panels at the National Communication Association (NCA) conference, shared stories that documented African-American women professors and the challenges they faced mating and dating. To submit entries, the women had to have a terminal degree, never been married and be the person who went through the experience in the story. “The pool of stories came from several professors, spanned across the country and fields of study,” she said. “The book was written in a year, and it became very cathartic.” As she was writing the book’s epilogue, she met her husband, Norris Petty, but maintained that the book and its message were still relevant. “That was the basis of the book; it’s all about being a balancing act,” she said. “We want to be married, but we also want to be married professionals.” Although Gilchrist-Petty described herself as a “type A” personality, she admitted that balancing her new life as mother to her infant daughter London Alia Petty has been challenging. “I have a really good partner in my husband,” she said. “ He’s supportive and helpful with my daughter. Also, my parents are retired so they provide excellent child care when we both have to work.” Gilchrist-Petty has been working on her second edited volume of “Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication: A Reader” with co-author, Dr. Shawn Long. The text will be published by Peter Lang and should be available in 2015-2016. Story by Taylor Armer. COMMUNICATOR | 33


GRAHAM Class of: 1994, 1998 Major: Master of Library and Information Studies; Ph.D., Communication and Information Sciences Career: University Librarian and Associate Provost, University of Georgia


or most students, college is a four-year journey that leads to an undergraduate degree and hopefully a beloved career. Although it took 10 years and three degrees for University of Alabama alum P. Toby Graham to solidify his career aspirations, he found his niche in library and information sciences. Of course, this wasn’t the path he knew to take immediately. Graham’s professor, friends and a student job at the W.S. Hoole Library swayed him to choose the School of Library and Information Studies for both of his degrees. “I called college my ‘decade of contemplation,’” he said jokingly. “My time at the University set me on a course for a career that I’ve enjoyed very much.” That course led the Tuscaloosa native to the University of Georgia in 2003 to direct the Digital Library of Georgia. In 2010 he became deputy university librarian and director of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and in June of this year Graham was selected to head UGA’s libraries with the title of university 34 |


librarian and associate provost. “In particular, I value the opportunity to acquire and share special collections,” he said. “There is great instructional power in this and exciting roles for librarians and archivists who share the historical record in physical and virtual environments.” Graham’s opportunities during his time at UGA included participating in the planning, construction and implementation of the Russell Special Collections building, a $46 million project on the northwest side of campus. The 115,000-square-foot building contains integrated security, climate control, exhibit galleries, classrooms and enough space for 40 years of growth, according to UGA. “I appreciate contributing to the ongoing transformation of research libraries as the nature of our collections, spaces and services changes to meet the needs of the people we serve,” he said. Another career opportunity for Graham has been co-directing the Civil Rights Digital Library, a portal connecting users to educational content from hundreds of repositories across the nation. The portal also connected Graham and Andrew Young, a human rights activist and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, when Young approached the library about creating a documentary titled “How We Got Over” that captured African-American civil rights history. Graham helped select clips, develop themes and was interviewed for the documentary that later won a southeastern Emmy. “The documentary first aired the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and (President Barack) Obama’s first inauguration,” he said. “It was an historic moment and a milestone for our digital library.” Story by Taylor Armer.


GUNNELS Class of: 2007 Major: B.A., Public Relations Career: Senior Strategist, TVP Communications


ou might say Kyle Gunnels thrives on unique challenges. Gunnels joined TVP Communications — a boutique public relations agency focused on higher education — as its first employee in 2012 after finishing his graduate studies at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. In his role as a senior strategist, Gunnels works with colleges, universities, educational associations, foundations and education-focused companies to provide media outreach, thought leadership development, crisis communications counsel, media training, event planning and more. “I love being able to dive into complex projects and find ways to communicate the issues on which I work to a wide array of audiences,” Gunnels said. “Working at an agency is never boring, since each client brings the opportunity to use different skills and implement varied communication strategies.”

Gunnels said his time at UA and in Australia helped prepare him for his position with TVP Communications. “My degree from UA gave me the base of knowledge that allowed me to really understand the nuances of communications and public relations,” Gunnels said. “If you view establishing your career in the same manner as building a house, the foundation must be a strong education — and The University of Alabama certainly gave me that.” Gunnels’ time in Australia, where he earned a graduate diploma in communication for social change as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship recipient, allowed him to learn from classmates from around the world and led to the realization that “the underlying tenets of communication for social change are key in all aspects of how we interact and develop relationships with others,” he said. Since Gunnels joined TVP Communications, the company has grown to six full-time employees and has worked with nearly 50 clients in the education arena. Gunnels said he looks forward to continuing to be part of the agency’s success. Story by Misty Mathews. COMMUNICATOR | 35




Class of: 1979, 1981 Major: B.A. and M.A., Journalism Career: Vice President of Communications for IBM Global Business Services 36 |


niversity of Alabama alumnus Mark Harris has found the value in a journalism degree’s flexibility for a career that spanned both new reporting and corporate public relations. Harris’s major in journalism at the University might have been somehat predestined by bloodlines, since he has number of family members who have been journalists and public relations professionals. One might say it runs in the family. “My grandfather, father, uncle, multiple first cousins and my daughter were or are in the business,” he said. “I dipped a toe in the waters of the business school, but what I do now was in my blood, even if I didn’t fully recognize that at 18. Once I got my thinking straightened out, the quality of faculty and the caliber of my classmates sealed the major for me.” After graduation, he worked as a reporter for United Press International (UPI) in Birmingham and then as bureau chief in Columbia, S.C., where he amassed experience and skills that would eventually translate into public relations, speechwriting and corporate communications at IBM, where he’s now vice president of communications for IBM’s consulting business, IBM Global Business Services. “Everything I’ve learned at UPI — understudying the best deadline reporters and writers in the world — I’ve used now,” he said. “Clear thinking, great word craft, thinking on your feet, news judgment, all that crosses over quite naturally.” A large part of his work at IBM has been instituting ethical responsibility; he led the development of IBM’s first integrated position on corporate social responsibility, and handled issues including IBM’s expansion into global growth markets. “I’ve been at IBM for 30 years because it’s a value-based organization,” he said. “There are things that are eternal that will always be eternal, regardless of economic cycles, technology cycles, or shifts in the business or political landscape. Judgment, ethics and values are the things you would never compromise at a personal level.” As board member of the University’s Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, Harris has furthered his commitment to the profession by leading and mentoring many who will form the next generation of public relations professionals. During his service, Harris has experienced his own “enriching personal development” by working alongside his fellow board members. “The board represents an elite set of professionals dedicated to the future of public relations,” he said. “It is the best opportunity I’ve found to give back to the profession, and combined with the affiliation of my alma mater, well, for me it makes it the perfect fit.” Story by Taylor Armer.



Class of: 2010 Major: Ph.D., Communication and Information Sciences Career: Senior Consultant, Extreme Arts and Sciences


ackson Hataway may say he “fell into” the opportunities he has received, but hard work certainly played a role, too. Hataway, a senior consultant for Extreme Arts and Sciences, met his boss — the company’s owner — when he was an assistant coach for The University of Alabama Forensic Council. Extreme Arts and Sciences is a boutique consulting firm that emphasizes communication. “It was a result of all the things I’d done at Alabama that got me where I am,” said Hataway, who also competed on the forensics team as an undergraduate. He has had a chance to work with a variety of clients in a variety of locations as part of the Extreme Arts and Sciences team. He said one of his most exciting clients has been Adobe. “We’ve done a good bit of executive communication work with Adobe’s Digital Marketing Unit,” Hataway said. “They’re at the forefront of digital marketing — kind of at the heart of this somewhat turbulent but really exciting growth industry.”

While Extreme Arts and Sciences is based in Seattle, Wash., Hataway makes his home in Kansas City, Kansas, where he has assisted in creating a new office for the business, which has around 15 to 20 employees. “It’s exciting thinking about what it looks like to have a new team that can help grow the company and its mission and the direction it wants to go,” Hataway said. “The ultimate goal is to build something bigger that’s centrally located.” Hataway said the next two years will be all about building the Kansas City office and region. “As we continue to grow, I think we’re going to see a lot of incredible opportunities, especially on the digital marketing side of things,” Hataway said. “I think those opportunities are only going to become more interesting, dynamic and critical as we see this wave of innovation pick up speed. “That’s a really exciting part of the next few years that makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work.” Story by Misty Mathews. COMMUNICATOR | 37


son said. “Many stories go from the Web to the magazine, and some of the magazine stories end up online.” Luckerson said the transition from Alabama to New York City has been a big leap. He interned at Sports Illustrated while in college, but that was more like a two-month vacation to the city. “Before this, I lived in Alabama my whole life,” said Luckerson, who graduated from Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) in Montgomery before coming to UA. “It was a big adjustment living like a New Yorker. I have an apartment in West Harlem, which gives me a real taste of the city.” Moving to New York meant giving up personal space. He shares an apartment with two roommates, and his desk at Time is in the open, which can make it hard to conduct depth interviews by phone. Perhaps the biggest adjustment was going from being the editor of The Crimson White for two years at the University to being an entry-level staffer at an international media company. “I was really in charge at The Crimson White,” he said. “Coming and being on the bottom of the totem pole was new for me.” When he was hired, Time had only a few people under 25 working in New York. In May 2013, the company hired a new Web editor, shifted its focus to breaking news and has hired more recent graduates. “When I started, it was pretty unusual to be hired right out of college,” he said. “In the last year, they hired more people my age.” With that shift, Luckerson’s New York experience is more like his time at The Crimson White, when he worked with young reporters eager for breaking news. His leadership during April 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado has been praised by C&IS faculty members and campus leaders. Working with no electricity and spotty phone and Internet service, Luckerson led the staff to award-winning coverage. “When the tornado came, it was very chaotic,” he said. “It was a challenging situation, and I was proud of everyone.” Luckerson says that if students are involved in campus publications, learn to network and keep professional relationships strong, they can follow a path similar to his. “People are pretty willing to help you out if they know you’re passionate about what you do and you’re talented.”

LUCKERSON Class of: 2012 Major: B.A., Journalism Career: Reporter, Time magazine


n just a New York minute, Victor Luckerson went from recent college graduate to a reporter for Time magazine. Within a month of graduation in May 2012, Luckerson was hired as a business reporter for Time.com. Luckerson now mainly writes for Time’s website, covering technology giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, as well as enterprise stories about technology start-ups and analysis of industry trends. Some of his stories have appeared in Time magazine.“There is much more overlap than in the past,” Lucker-

38 |


Story by Jennifer Greer; additional reporting by Tyra Jackson.




or Rebecca Mitchell, being a librarian runs in the family. Like her mother before her, Mitchell has a passion for books, learning and service. This has been passed down to Mitchell’s daughter Amanda Jackson, the current director of the Gadsden Public Library. Mitchell, from DeKalb, Miss., served as director of the Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) from 2002 until her retirement in 2014 and said that she loved every minute of her time there. Previously, she was director of the Gadsden Public Library from 1989 until 2001. She earned her bachelor’s degree in library science from the University of Mississippi with a minor in English before attending graduate school at The University of Alabama, where she said the master’s degree in library and information studies was new at the time. Mitchell loved the librarian life because she enjoys learning. “It pays you to be curious,” Mitchell said. Mitchell has worked as a public, state, college and medical librarian. She said that if she could, she would love to go back into the medical field. At APLS, Mitchell held an administrative

Class of: 1976 Major: Master of Library and Information Studies Career: (Ret.) Director of the Alabama Public Library Service position. “A love for reading is important, but you rarely get to read on the job,” Mitchell said. Mitchell is passionate in talking about her profession and what the library does. The Alabama Public Service Library distributes state funds to more than 250 public libraries in Alabama. It also serves as the blind and physically handicapped library for the state. “APLS works closely with local public libraries to serve the community,” Mitchell said. Mitchell said she loves to travel, especially in Alabama. Even though her home is Mississippi, she said she was proud to have Alabama as her adopted home state. “I’ve yet to find a place in Alabama that’s not beautiful,” Mitchell said. Mitchell said she plans to make her retirement home in Gadsden to be closer to her granddaughters. She is excited to have more free time to spend with them, she said. Story by Morgan Chandler. COMMUNICATOR | 39


KATHY NONTASAK Class of: 2005 Major: B.A., Advertising Career: Account Executive, Google 40 |


athy Nontasak has learned that working for Google has its perks. “Today is actually my third-year anniversary,” Nontasak said during an interview in March. “They gave me a free massage.” Nontasak has been an account executive, working on consumer packaged goods brands, for her three years at Google, but she said it is really more of a digital consulting job. “My clients come to me and ask what they should be doing to reach their consumers online, what their market looks like, what are the latest trends and where they should be investing,” Nontasak said. “It’s my job to understand their business challenges and work with our teams to find solutions to help meet their goals.” Nontasak worked at two different advertising agencies, Y&R and BBDO, out of college before moving into sales with National Geographic. She said she was uncertain at first that she would be good at it, but she caught on quickly thanks to her passion for what the company stands for: inspiring people to care about the planet. Though she loved her time at National Geographic, when she realized advertisers were moving out of print and into online, she decided to move to Google. But getting hired was an odyssey. “My interview stage to get into Google was six months long,” Nontasak said. “I had 12 interviews, and they made me jump through a lot of hoops. After being there for just a day, I realized why. The culture there is extremely unique, and the large majority of it is that everyone truly believes in the mission, which is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible to everyone. “Google’s extremely selective about the people they bring into the company. They want people who are extremely ambitious and passionate about what they do in and outside of work — this is what Google calls ‘Googliness.’ But it pays off. It’s the most rewarding work environment I’ve ever been in.” Google has also provided Nontasak an opportunity to engage in her other passion: travel. She was selected to be part of a program called a global rotation, which will allow her to spend three months at the Google headquarters in Copenhagen as an industry manager working with Nordic CPG clients. She will also have a chance to travel to Stockholm, Amsterdam, Oslo and Berlin during her time there. “I think my time in Denmark is going to be revealing in that it’s going to be my very first breakaway from New York in 10 years,” Nontasak said. “I’m looking forward to having my time there guide me to what my next step will be. I would not be opposed to spending more time abroad.” Story by Misty Mathews.


NOTO Class of: 2009 Major: B.A., Telecommunication and Film Career: Host, ESPNU’s “Road Trip”


hrowing passes with Kevin Durant in Texas and doing the “Heisman” with Archie Griffin are part of a regular workday for Niki Noto. Noto hosts and reports for ESPNU’s “Road Trip,” where she gets the chance to be a part of college football game days across the country. She also hosts “Weekly Golf Buzz” on PGA.com. While Noto was at UA, she worked closely with the sports information department. “Alabama was doing great in athletics across the board when I was in school, so attending games and being a personal assistant for the networks was a great place to start,” Noto said. Noto has always had a love for sports, but the popularity and excellence of UA athletics also had an influence on her career goals. “Sports was a culture in our family growing up,” Noto said. “I’m proud to be an Alabama alumna and love being able to talk about my experience.” In 2010, as Alabama was coming off the 2010 National Championship, Noto was sideline reporting for Comcast Sports Southeast and had the opportunity to conduct a one-on-one interview with Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban. In addition to typical football questions, she asked Saban who he would want to play him and his wife in a movie based on his success. “He laughed and said, ‘Well, no one can replace my wife,’” Noto said. “It’s no secret that what that man has done for The University of Alabama is straight-up amazing.” She said she’s interviewed many other interesting people, including actors, musicians and

athletes. Noto has traveled to college campuses across the United States and said every place is unique. “Each town, stadium, program may be different, but they all have a passion and love for the game,” Noto said. “And that doesn’t change, no matter what city I’m in.” Her work with ESPNU’s “Road Trip” has also led other adventures, like dancing with the University of Michigan dance team at halftime, “woo-ing” with WWE star Ric Flair at South Carolina and riding in the Goodyear blimp over the Rose Bowl. “I mean, it isn’t normal, the things I get to experience,” Noto said. She said being in the right place at the right time, along with hard work and passion for the game, helped her career. “Someone saw my work ethic, acknowledged my knowledge of the game and my desire to learn more,” Noto said. “They believed in me, and my phone rang, right when I needed it to.” Story by Heather Whiteside. COMMUNICATOR | 41

In his current position as an associate, he hasn’t seen a typical workday. “I think one of the things I love most about the job is every day is a challenge and every day is interesting,” he said. “There’s always a different situation; even with clients I have worked with for years, there’s always something different going on.” O’Donnell said his master’s degree was “incredibly helpful” in his work in communications at the Brunswick Group. “It gave me a background in research tools that can be used in the communications field,” he said. “It showed me the value of research and how that forms and shapes messaging and communication and (what) makes it more effective.” O’Donnell’s writing skills also proved useful when he was an intern and entry-level researcher: He was able to proofread others’ work. “People really appreciate that,” he said. “One of the ways I got to meet many people in the office, partners included, was by offering proofs when they came up. It was a great opportunity to get more understanding about our work, but it was also a way to get to know people.” Beyond the skills, O’Donnell regarded the University’s extensive network as a helpful resource in his career path. “The extraordinary network this school has through the professors and their relationships through the Plank Center and the relationships with its board were able to introduce me to people in New York, which was where I was to end up,” O’Donnell said. O’Donnell saw firsthand the depth of the University’s network as a graduate assistant when he was asked to drive Betsy Plank, the “first lady of public relations,” to the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International airport. The hour he shared with her in the car changed how he viewed problems that would arise in his career. “I don’t think I appreciated it then how much wisdom she had shared,” he said. “Over the past five-anda-half years working in the real world, there have been countless times something happened or I was stuck in a situation that was difficult, and something she had said would come to mind and it was like, ‘That’s right.’ “Her perspective from her years on the agency side and tremendous insight on what it took to be successful in the field will always be looked back on as one of the more memorable experiences (at the University).”

DANIEL O’DONNELL Class of: 2008 Major: M.A., Public Relations Career: Associate, Brunswick Group LLP


aniel O’Donnell credits The University of Alabama’s advertising and public relations master’s program with preparing him for his career. O’Donnell, born and raised in Huntsville, Ala., has been in New York for five and half years. He says he was able to make it in the Big Apple because UA’s program gave him the necessary skills and networking opportunities. Though O’Donnell gained an understanding of business from the financial perspective from his B.A. in accounting (also from UA), he knew it wasn’t exactly right for his career aspirations. “I ended up in the communications program here and realized there was an opportunity to do corporate financial communications full time,” he said. “That was a perfect fit.” O’Donnell’s “perfect fit” has been the Brunswick Group LLP, a global communications company he has worked for since he was an intern.

42 |


Story by Taylor Armer.


HALL-O’NEIL Class of: 1977 Major: B.A., Broadcast and Film Communication Career: News Anchor, WBRC 6


ith more than 30 years of broadcast experience, Janet Hall-O’Neil has used her career as an opportunity to draw attention to worthy causes. Hall-O’Neil is careful to maintain journalistic objectivity in her reporting while raising awareness of such causes as AIDS, breast cancer and poverty. “I choose to say that yes, I am a journalist, but I am also a human being,” she said. “But I am aware that I have to be careful in how I do that.” In the late 1980s, when HIV/AIDS became more prevalent and the struggle to treat patients medically and socially was at the forefront of news, Hall-O’Neil helped start a series of stories called “The AIDS Diary,” which followed an AIDS Alabama board member who had the disease and chronicled the trials he faced in raising awareness about the condition. Hall-O’Neil has also been a part of campaigns to raise breast cancer awareness with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation through its yearly Komen Race for the Cure. She also serves on the board of Urban Ministry, an agency in Birmingham’s West End neighborhood that works to combat poverty in one of the poorest areas of the state by providing food, education programs and after-school programs for kids of the area and assistance for the elderly who live alone. Hall-O’Neil has been indispensible to the organization’s efforts and successes, helping make programs and strategies envisioned for the community into realities, said the Rev. Melissa Self Patrick, executive director of the board of Urban Ministry. “Janet is an invaluable leader in our community,” Patrick said. “She understands really well what we do. She has a wonderful way of relating to a great variety of people.” A devout Christian, Hall-O’Neil also helped found the Asbury Methodist Church in North Shelby County, along with her husband, Frank O’Neil. Hall-O’Neil says that her spiritual values coincide with her journalistic principles and her desire to help in her community. “As a Christian, I feel that I should be involved in helping the poor and giving what I can to help other people in any way I can,” Hall-

O’Neil said. “As a journalist, I believe in fair play and honesty and ethical decisions, and all of those are things that I think are founded in my Christianity as well.” Despite the time consumed with her career and volunteerism, Hall-O’Neil has also maintained a great family life. Mother to Allie, a recent Vanderbilt University graduate, and Jack, a junior at Auburn University, Hall-O’Neil stressed the importance of striking a balance between one’s career and personal life in order for both to work. Having met her husband while he was a producer at WBRC, Hall-O’Neil also emphasizes the importance of finding a spouse who understands the demands of a particular career. “Yes, you can be married,” she said. “Yes, you can raise a family. Be sure you choose your spouse wisely because they need to be very supportive. You need to have a very supportive family structure, I think, to be successful — not only in this business but in your personal life.” A seasoned reporter and broadcaster, Hall-O’Neil has advice for young writers aspiring to excel in the field of journalism. “I think the thing is to always be open to whatever position crosses your path because this is a business of opportunity,” Hall-O’Neil said. “Work on your writing, no matter what your position — if you are a producer, reporter, or anchor. Learning to write in your voice and your personality is the one thing that I believe will make you stand out from others.” Reporting by Leila Beem Núñez. COMMUNICATOR | 43


PARSONS Class of: 1989 Major: B.A., Journalism and English Career: Reporter, Chicago Tribune


ack in 1997, the only people who knew much about Barack Obama were his friends and family, his fellow representatives in the Illinois State Legislature, his constituents in Illinois’ second congressional district—and University of Alabama graduate Christi Parsons. Parsons, now a 24-year veteran reporter for the Chicago Tribune, covered Obama from his Senate campaign through his time in the Illinois Legislature. Fast-forward to 2013, and Parsons is reporting from the White House instead of Springfield, Ill. “Everything that happens in the White House, I cover,” Parsons said. “Every week is typical and atypical.” During her career at the Tribune, Parsons has covered a variety of issues ranging from local and state to national politics. She covered the Legislature in Springfield and wrote news stories that helped change the way death 44 |


penalty cases were prosecuted in Illinois. In 2000, then-Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on imposing the death penalty. Illinois completely abolished the death penalty in 2011. “We found flaws in prosecution of death penalty cases, and the governor decided to clear death row,” Parsons said. “All inmates on death row at the time were moved to the general population.” Parsons’ career at the Tribune started with an internship soon after her graduation in 1989 and continued with her hire as a political reporter. In 2006, Parsons moved to the Tribune’s Washington, D.C., bureau, where she covered Congress for a year before going on the road to report on Obama’s first presidential campaign. “Everywhere he went, I went,” Parsons said. “I had covered presidential campaigns before but not as a reporter devoted to one campaign for the entire campaign cycle.” When Parsons was stationed in Illinois, she was writing for a specific group of people with a strong regional interest. Now that she is in D.C., she has to write more general news for a diverse group of people. “I have to always be thinking about what my readers are interested in, but I’m also trying to break news,” Parsons said. “Whatever is interesting to me and my family, those are the things I try to write about. I always listen closely to the people I trust, and my mom is one of those people.” Parson’s mother, Marie Parsons, is a former UA journalism instructor and founder of UA’s Multicultural Journalism Workshop. Marie said from the time Christi was a toddler, she engaged people in conversation and taught her sisters to read when they were 4 or 5. “Christi inherited her dad’s talent for telling stories and my curiosity about the world,” Marie said. “Each step in her professional career — from dailies in Tuscaloosa to Atlanta to Chicago to Springfield to Washington — taught her more about government and politicians.” With the hustle and bustle of her job, Christi Parsons has to be mindful to set aside time for husband Cody Moser and children Paul, 14, and Mandy, 10. “My job keeps me on my toes, and some days I come home and I’m completely wiped out, but I try to keep balance in my life,” Parsons said. “You have to have plenty of relaxed time with your family. It’s also really important to stay in good physical and spiritual shape. Otherwise, you just can’t excel in a competitive environment. Also, life just wouldn’t be any fun.” Reporting by Krista James.


RAWLINS Class of: 1992, 1995 Major: M.A., Advertising and Public Relations; Ph.D., Communication and Information Sciences Career: Dean of the College of Media & Communication at Arkansas State University


niversity of Alabama M.A. and Ph.D. graduate Brad Rawlins found deep satisfaction in teaching and research and later stumbled into administration by chance and predisposition. Scholarship didn’t fall too far from the family tree; Rawlins’ father was a fellow academic, university professor and administrator who served as a university president at the University of Memphis, Washington State University and the University of North Texas. The Washington-state native originally studied for his master’s in public relations to work in university relations, but after years of research and teaching, he chose to pursue academics. In 2004, he began his career in administration. Since 2012, he has been dean of the College of Media & Communication at Arkansas State University, where he has worked with the faculty to revamp the curriculum and develop new programs. Although he admitted that most of his job was answering swells of email, he said what he enjoys about his job is “seting a vision” for a thriving college. “I get to be creative while having a positive impact on things,” he said. “I don’t think I have a typical day. But mostly, it’s a lot of meetings and managing issues while moving the college forward.” While enrolled in the College of Communication and Information Sciences Ph.D. program, Rawlins worked closely with the college’s former dean, William Melson, to build the graduate program he wanted.

Rawlins referred to himself as the “lab rat” for the then-budding program, which he said was a little more flexible than it was after his time there. “I probably abused that flexibility the most,” he said. “I tested the boundaries. They created a set of rules collected over my time in the program and called it the ‘Rawlins Rules.’” His dissertation combined communication studies and public relations, using the qualitative method, and analyzed organizational factors that contribute to using interactive public relations models that was the “first of its kind.” The hybrid study explained how public relations practice in organizations can be described by theories in organizational communication, such as leadership, culture, structure, politics, etc. “I was interested in figuring out how these things work together,” he said. “I knew there was a lot more involved in public relations firms than just using the models.” After conducting research in the Ph.D. program, Rawlins said he was “bitten by the academic bug.” He has published several articles since graduation, primarily in the areas of ethics and transparency. “The University has had a superb reputation for employing outstanding faculty and recruiting outstanding scholars,” he said. “I have very fond memories of the faculty and colleagues. When I was going through the program, it was like a magical moment where all of these scholars came together earlier their careers.” Rawlins was especially grateful to his wife, Trish, who doubled as his editor while being mother to the three children they had while he was studying for his Ph.D. (they currently have five children). “I owe completing my degree mostly to her,” he said. “She handled a lot of our family affairs and was a tremendous help while I was studying. I feel half of this degree belongs to her.” Story by Taylor Armer.






RODGERS Class of: 1984 Major: B.A., Communication Studies Career: Associate Professor of Sport Management, George Mason University 46 |



hat can you do with a communication degree?” The phrase, found on a poster for the National Communication Association, is one Dr. R.V. Pierre Rodgers frequently repeats to his students. But it’s also a question he has asked himself in recent years. “I started off as I thought I would,” said Rodgers, the 2014 C&IS Outstanding Alumnus in Communication Studies. “I finished at Bama and went directly to a master’s at Memphis State in communication arts. When I finished up there, I went to Penn State to work on the Ph.D. in speech communication. Everything else has been communication studies-related.” After receiving his Ph.D., Rodgers accepted a tenure-track position at Kent State University, got married and accepted a new tenure-track position at Morgan State University. But in 2003, an opportunity arose at George Mason University, where his wife was a faculty member in the College of Education and Human Development. “That academic unit, what’s now the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism, needed a person to do a communication approach to issues related to sport,” Rodgers said. “During my last few years at Morgan and at Kent, I had started doing a lot of studies that had to do with communication and sport and race. It was an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and do something that was much more sport-oriented.” Rodgers now teaches a number of courses related to sport management and gender and sport, as well as special topics such as sport and film and sport scandals. “I still am firmly connected to my communication roots,” Rodgers said. “The sort of things I espouse to do center around helping students see how central sport is in all our lives. It’s in our language. I try to impart in my students that they just need to be critical about what they watch, read and see.” Rodgers said this is a large part of his teaching philosophy. He said he hopes students leave his class as critical consumers of sport, more conscious of what they say and think about what they see and hear. Story by Misty Mathews.


RUFFIN Class of: 1996 Major: M.F.A., Book Arts Career: Book Arts Program Director, Wellesley College


atherine Ruffin found the opportunity to study the book arts and earn her master of fine arts in her home state at The University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies “irresistible and incredibly rewarding.” The UA book arts community included Steve Miller, M.F.A. book arts coordinator and a professor who ignited Ruffin’s passion in printing and papermaking. Now more than 1,000 miles from her hometown of Huntsville and 18 years departed from the program, Ruffin has remembered Miller’s lasting career advice. “To be successful in the book arts, we had to embrace the world,” she said. “I still think about that frequently.” Since 2002, Ruffin embraced the spontaneity of her position as book arts program director at Wellesley College, a private liberal arts college in Massachusetts. “I never have a dull moment,” she said. “I enjoy the variety of my work, and I appreciate all the opportunities the context gives me to share the art and history of the book with people.” This variety includes guest-teaching the book arts across the arts and sciences, work she considers both collaborative and hands-on. Similar to her mentor Miller, Ruffin has also teaches letterpress printing and papermaking in the main college library and studio art complex, respectively. Ruffin also returned to the other side of the desk as a graduate student, pursuing her Ph.D.

at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston, Mass. “I have been able to focus my studies on the art and history of the book,” she said. “It has been very rewarding to focus on my research, which all pertains to the book in one way or another.” As Ruffin adds to her knowledge of book arts, she has kept her memories of SLIS close. “I draw upon the things I learned in Tuscaloosa in my everyday professional and personal life,” she said. “I also remember the many small pleasures of spending long days making paper, printing and binding with like-minded folks. It was a privilege to have that be my highest priority for two years of my life.” Story by Taylor Armer. COMMUNICATOR | 47


SIMPSON Class of: 1994 Major: B.A., Communication Studies Career: College Minister, First Baptist Church


im Simpson didn’t so much have a major as a calling. “One of the main reasons I chose communication studies was for the speaking element,” said Simpson, now minister to college for First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa. After graduating from UA, Simpson moved on to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where one of his professors joked that he was “almost too comfortable in front of people.” Simpson’s road back to Tuscaloosa involved a few other stops, including moving to Laurel, Mont., to become a youth minister, and to Denton, Texas, for a post-college discipleship program. But when his home church, First Baptist in Tuscaloosa, called, Simpson was ready. When the staff members asked if he would be interested in returning to be the college minister, he “prayed about it” and came back to minister to the Capstone. Now Simpson has been in the position for 14 years, and he still pushes forward with new ideas to reach students on the campus he grew to love. He also wants the students in his ministry to gain a broader worldview. “A new mission we are working on is ‘For the campus; for the city; for the nations,’” Simpson said. “We are the church, and we want people to know we 48 |


want to serve them.” Simpson said some examples of the new mission being carried out include creating small-group Bible studies on campus, collecting toiletries for needy students at UA and handing out Valentine’s Day gifts to female students in Tutwiler Hall, with permission from resident assistants. Simpson is also working to involve his students in service projects around Tuscaloosa and other nearby cities, as well as leading trips to other states and foreign countries to do mission work. Simpson said courses in small-group communication and leadership taken at UA have played a big part in his career. During his college years, he learned how to create small groups and develop leaders. “Some of the system we utilize was formed in my mind in communication studies classes,” Simpson said. Simpson and his wife, Shelley, whom he met when she was minister to women students at First Baptist, have three children: Ethan, 7; Gideon, 4; and Corban, 6 months. Story by Misty Mathews.


SINIARD Class of: 1976, 1978 Major: B.A., Advertising; M.A., Communication Studies Career: Managing Partner and Account Executive of TotalCom Marketing, Huntsville branch


niversity of Alabama alumna Nancy Richeson Siniard gravitated to advertising because of her natural ability to interact with others and her interest in identifying what appeals to different markets. As an undergraduate she minored in marketing and took several psychology courses. She also had the honor to become a Crimson Girl, renamed Capstone Men and Women in 1991, which gave her the opportunity to represent the University at official functions and board of trustee events. “I learned so much from that experience,” she said. “It was true public relations work. I put a lot of time into it, but I loved it.” Siniard has applied the same hard work to her 30+ year career in advertising, serving more than 25 years at TotalCom Marketing Communications Inc. “I am doing what I love to do every day,” she said. “Advertising allows you to craft the message and express creativity. But I have the most fun interacting with people.” As managing partner and account executive of TotalCom’s Huntsville branch, she

has worked with clients such as Terry Spitzer of Benchmark Chrysler-JeepDodge and CB&S Bank, a regional community bank based in her hometown of Russellville, Ala., and provided print, design, TV and the ever-evolving Web services. “We’re constantly trying to educate ourselves on changes in the media world and especially social media,” she said. “Social media gives the consumer an opportunity to have a voice in the message of advertisers.” Siniard has also seen how technological advances have changed ad package delivery to customers. “Everything used to be designed by hand and delivered in person to clients for approval,” she said. “Now it’s all done by computer and email so we enjoy the conveniences of technology but we’ve lost some of that personal contact in exchange for speed.” Regardless of the changes in technology, Siniard said the best parts of her career in advertising and marketing have stayed the same. “The most rewarding part of my work is getting to interact with people on a daily basis and seeing their businesses succeed,” she said. “I’ve learned it is my job to guide and advise clients but in the end, it is their decision on how to proceed with their marketing campaigns.” Story by Taylor Armer. COMMUNICATOR | 49





SITZER Class of: 1986 Major: M.A., Communication Studies Career: Founder, Look.Listen.Be. consulting company

ments.” “It was a lot of work balancing several things at one time,” she said. “But I knew I was making a difference. Working with students in a persuasion class, for example, who began unsure of themselves but creatniversity of Alabama alumna Wanda Sitzer has used her ed a message and pulled through made the balance graduate concentration in organizational communication worthwhile.” throughout her career as a consultant to several companies’ The communication studies faculty in the College of call centers. Communication and Information Sciences was anothAs the sole proprietor of consulting company Look.Listen. er of the many selling points that led Sitzer to further Be., founded in 2002, she has continued to work with clients on her education and debate career at the University. strengthening their communication among management, custom“Annabel Hagood (former communication studies er service representatives and their customers. department chair) was a revered and strong woman “I believe there’s more to an interaction than telling or selling, who made you work hard,” she said. “Beth Bennett was quantity or quality,” she said. “There are promises to keep in every a mentor that helped me apply the degree in a busiconnection.” ness setting. Both of these women made sure other During her transition from co-founder of Initiatives Three Inc. women could pursue their interests professionally.” to sole founder of Look. Listen. Be., she has found this philosophy Her career has been proof positive of Hagood’s and valuable in her own interactions with clients, since most of her busi- Bennett’s mission. ness reputation has been word of mouth. Sitzer’s “tight-knit, yet healthily sarcastic” family “I don’t have to manage other people’s work,” she said. “You know includes her daughter, Molly, a rising junior at Colgate when it works, and you experience the pain when it doesn’t. University, her son, Benjamin, a rising senior in high Coaching the No. 20 debate team in the country during her school and her supportive husband, David. graduate studies at UA brought about similar feelings, but Sitzer, the team’s assistant coach, said it was one of her “proudest accomplish- Story by Taylor Armer.


50 |






STEWART Class of: 2007 Major: M.A., Journalism Career: Assistant Professor, Troy University’s Hall School of Journalism


or a guy with a pretty traditional background in newspapers, Steve Stewart took a pretty nontraditional route to get where he is today. Stewart, the 2014 Alumnus of the Year for the journalism department, is an assistant professor for Troy University’s Hall School of Journalism, where he advises the student newspaper and yearbook. But he got there after receiving his master’s degree at the age of 57. “I grew up around the Monroe Journal (in Monroeville, Ala.). That was my father’s newspaper and was owned by my family,” Stewart said. “I went to the University of Georgia and worked for the Atlanta Constitution, then came back to work for Daddy, and with my wife, Patrice, too. I met her working for the student newspaper at Georgia. It’s just been kind of a family thing all the way through.” After Stewart’s father, Bill Stewart, died, the family sold the newspaper, and he began working for the Decatur Daily, where he helped start the newspaper’s first website.

While he was there, he started graduate school at UA, and Professor Bill Keller invited him to instruct a lab. After he graduated, he began teaching full classes at UA and the University of North Alabama, and he never looked back. “I’m interested in the way the field of journalism is changing, so working for a university gives me a chance to observe things that are happening that I can understand because I’ve done the work,” Stewart said. “In the time since I’ve left full-time newspaper work, technology has changed the field so much.” Stewart teaches reporting, editing, advanced reporting, advanced editing, mass media writing style, interviewing and opinion writing. “The students bring a lot of know-how about the digital world, but they need to know how to apply that and practice good journalism,” Stewart said. “The core mission hasn’t changed.” Story by Misty Mathews. COMMUNICATOR | 51


UPSHAW Class of: 1978 Major: B.A., Advertising Career: Founder, J Upshaw Consulting Co.


or University of Alabama graduate Jeff Upshaw, creativity and simplicity are synonymous with great advertising. Upshaw has used his degree to stay relevant in the field and keep his place firmly in the business of advertising. After working with “some of the most creative minds in the business,” Upshaw retired in March 2013 and has spent his time between his family, his new consulting company and giving back to UA students. “This retirement business is getting better all the time,” Upshaw said. “I have started to spend more time with my wife, Ann, and our kids. I am a grandfather now, and I get to spend time with my new grandson.” Upshaw said his daily work routine was hard to break, so he founded J Upshaw Consulting Co. as a way to stay embedded in the advertising industry. 52 |


“I decided to name it something simple, and what’s simpler than that?” he said. “Some people name their firms the ‘Sunshine Group,’ and you don’t know what kind of company it really is. It’s confusing. Like good advertising, simple is better.” Upshaw found another simple way of staying connected to the industry by reaching out to Dr. Joseph Phelps, chair of the UA advertising and public relations department, so he could give back to the major’s students. “I came back in September and October to speak with students,” Upshaw said. “I had a great time. I want to come back again to help more.” Upshaw said his advertising degree offered him entry into his lifelong career. He also credited his adviser, Bruce Roche, who, among other things, helped him land his first job in the mailroom at John Malmo Advertising in Memphis. “Without the major in advertising, I wouldn’t have considered the field,” he said. “I learned a lot about the advertising world in that mailroom at Malmo.” Upshaw was born in Baltimore and raised in Memphis, Tenn., before coming to UA in 1974. Prior to choosing advertising as his career, he took the “eye-opener” Introduction to Mass Communication, a freshman-level prerequisite that introduces students to the world of communication. “It was my first exposure to advertising, PR and communications,” he said. “I got hooked. The class opened my head to an avenue that was creative. The possibility that I could make a living by working with creative people was exciting.” Upshaw worked at BBDO Atlanta Advertising Agency, a part of New York-based BBDO Worldwide, for 25 years, serving 13 years as an executive vice president and the chief strategy officer. “My job was to be the primary focal point on what was said; the creative teams then focused on how it was said,” he said. While working at BBDO, Upshaw’s Atlanta teams, alongside the New York offices, came up with AT&T’s recent campaign message: “It’s Not Complicated. Faster Is Better.” “It was a genius concept, and I am proud to have been part of the agency that created it,” Upshaw said. “Faster is better, simple is better. It was such a simple message, and it was done in a charming way.” Charming, but effective. Story by Taylor Armer.



Class of: 2011 Major: B.A., Telecommunication and Film Career: Producer, “Marble Hornets” Web series, now picked up for a film deal


fter he graduated in 2011, telecommunication and film alumnus Troy Wagner pulled down a Hollywood movie deal. No big deal. Wagner, along with current TCF student Joseph DeLage and fellow alumnus Tim Sutton, has been producing a YouTube series called “Marble Hornets,” which amassed more than 70 million hits and 375,000 channel subscribers. Now, thanks to the series, the three 20-somethings received a film deal with Mosaic, the film company that produced “Talladega Nights” and “Semi-Pro.” Mosaic, which purchased the rights to the series, is producing the movie. “I’m pretty much still in a shocked state of, ‘What is my life now? What have we done?’ — but in a good way,” Wagner said. “I can’t even tell you a point where I realized this could be a big thing. I think it was probably about the time I got an email from YouTube asking if I wanted to do ads and make money from our videos. “That’s the point where I thought if we could get more people to watch this it could basically be our job. And it is now.” Wagner came up with the concept for “Marble Hornets” after a member of a popular Internet message board he frequented posted a challenge to create media concepts centered on a character called “The Slenderman.” The protagonist of “Marble Hornets,” based on the Internet character, is called “The Operator.” “We thought if our first two videos got 5,000 views we would be ecstatic,” Wagner said. “Now those are probably pushing 8 million views.” Wagner has his office at his apartment in Northport, Ala. He, DeLage and Sutton write, film and act in all the YouTube videos in the series. “With the exception of editing, we’ve all shared different jobs constantly,” Wagner said. “Whoever’s not in front of the camera will be holding the camera. We’ve all taken the directorial role at some point, all taken the camera role at some point, all taken the sitting-backnot-doing-any thing role at some point. It’s all unprofessional but in the best possible way. There’s no rigid structure since it’s just us doing it, and we are able to approach it the way we want to.”

As for the movie deal, Wagner said it was a combination of hard work and luck. An agent approached the trio and offered to shop the series around, but the breakthrough happened when the head of Mosaic noticed an assistant on a flight watching the series and asked what it was. “We thought it probably wasn’t going to happen,” Wagner said. “Hollywood is a very hard place to break into.” Wagner has taken a backseat role with the production of the feature film but said he has had a chance to review the script, visit the set, and meet the actors, and director. He said the movie makers also are taking a hands-off approach with the YouTube series, viewing the two things as separate entities. The YouTube series is now in its final season. The movie is expected to have a 2014 national release date. Story by Misty Mathews. COMMUNICATOR | 53






WEAVER Class of: 1991 Major: B.A., Telecommunication and Film Career: Producer, Writer and Director

effrey L. Weaver hit the ground running upon graduation and never looked back. The 2014 Alumnus of the Year for the telecommunication and film department has an impressive résumé ranging from producing and directing in the Birmingham market at the age of 22 to shooting a successful syndicated series across the world. “My career really began at UA,” Weaver said, noting that he was hired on as a freshman by a UA alumnus in Birmingham to provide support on a documentary. “My time in college formed the base of my understanding of production and my basic understanding of the crew side of the business.” After producing nearly 1,000 regional commercials, music videos and television shows, Weaver struck out for Los Angeles, where he got his first break directing and shooting for the Warner Bros. internationally syndicated series “The New Adventures of Robin Hood,” filmed on location in Lithuania. Since then, Weaver has worked as a producer, writer and director for some of the biggest names in the business — Nat Geo, TLC, A&E, HGTV, Discovery, Disney/ABC and Food Network, to name a few. Weaver said every turn has been an adventure. “I think you’ll find when you talk to a lot of industry folks that most of us consider ourselves very lucky to have careers in this business,” Weaver said. “It can be very difficult to survive in this industry. Sometimes I like to look back over the past 26 years and recall a few of my most enjoyable shows, but it’s dangerous to spend too much time in the rearview mirror, and I tend to look at my current job as the most important.” “I put everything I have into every show I do.” Weaver’s hard work has paid off and continues to do so. He recently concluded a 209-episode run with TLC’s “Little People, Big World,” followed by a 60-episode run with Discovery’s “Auction Kings,” and has several projects in the works. He and his wife live in Los Angeles with their three children. Story by Misty Mathews.

54 |



WHITLEY Class of: 2004 Major: M.A., Journalism Career: Managing Editor, Birmingham magazine


usic and beer — they typically go well together, but especially for Carla Jean Whitley. Whitley has spent recent months working on her first book, a history of the Muscle Shoals, Ala., sound studio, which has been the site of recordings of such musicians as the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Now she is working on her second, on the history of beer in Birmingham. The long-form writing has been a test for the Birmingham magazine managing editor. “It’s been challenging in a different way, including the mental block of, ‘I can’t write a book,’” Whitley said. “Of course I can write a book. I edit 35,000 words every month. It’s just quite a different headspace to operate in.” Whitley’s full-time job at Birmingham magazine would be enough to keep most people busy, and she said it’s certainly her full-time passion. “What I really love about it is being able, every month, to tell the stories of my city,” Whitley said. “I really love Birmingham, and city publications are a great way to share information in a very broad way that has appeal to a lot of different people.” One of Whitley’s favorite stories she wrote involves artwork at the Birmingham Museum of Art that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and other Civil

Rights-era events. The opportunity to write books came from Whitley’s work at the magazine. An editor with The History Press, based in Charleston, S.C., was familiar with her work and contacted her “out of the blue,” Whitley said. “That’s sort of the email you dream about getting but never expect,” she said. Whitley said she loves the work she does and appreciates being at a place in life where she can balance her full-time job, writing books, freelance work and her other part-time job as an adjunct instructor in UA’s journalism department. “It is a juggling act, and I will not always be able to do quite this combination in this specific way,” Whitley said. “It’s fun to be able to dabble in so many things and explore the ways my career has opened up over the past decade.” Now it’s only a question of where her career will take her next. Story by Misty Mathews. COMMUNICATOR | 55




elecommunication and film professors Dr. Matt Payne and Adam Schwartz have had one thing on their brains the past few semesters: BRAINS. Actually, that’s not entirely true, but Payne and Schwartz each taught a fall 2013 course on zombies, cashing in on the monsters’ popularity to provide students with culturally relevant instruction while teaching them the skills they need to succeed in the television and film industries. “What’s going to catch the students’ attention is the subject matter,” said Payne, who taught TCF 444: Zombies in Culture. “At the same time, pedagogical utility is vital. It’s very important to us to underscore what the learning objectives are.”

appeared in season four of HBO’s “The Wire,” in addition to several local actors and a number of local extras in non-speaking roles. Students had a chance to use their audio-visual skills and learned about special-effects makeup and social media campaigns for promotion. “This is not just about studying bogey men,” said Payne, who has previously published research on zombies in pop culture and film. “There’s real work going on here.” ayne’s class examined a variety of genres and time periods, from the origin of the monster as a Caribbean voodoo monster to George A. Romero’s work (whom Payne calls “the father of the modern zombie”) to more current depictions of the zombie in the post-9/11 world. The “Zom-Com” pilot was screened at the Black Warrior Film Festival in Tuscaloosa and has been selected for screening at the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham. The Black Warrior Film Festival, co-hosted in April by the telecommunication and film department, officially opened to submissions from student filmmakers around the Southeast during its second year. “I am proud of the efforts of TCF students and Creative Campus interns, who worked together to organize and host this year’s Black Warrior Film Festival,” said Dr. Rachel Raimist, TCF professor and assistant director of Creative Campus, the on-campus organization that co-sponsored the event. “The festival screened 85 films made by students from across the Southeast region. It was also wonderful to see that students from The University of Alabama are making some of the best films in the South.” he festival also featured award-winning filmmaker Ava Duvernay, whose work includes directing an episode of the ABC hit series “Scandal.” Duvernay screened her award-winning film “Middle of Nowhere” and held a Q&A session. Another of the festival’s speakers, Glenn Wilder, taught a master class on stunts. Wilder was one of the primary stuntmen on the film “Hooper,” which was partially shot in Tuscaloosa and was screened at the festival, with a Q&A session with Wilder afterward.


(above) Filmmaker Ava DuVernay conducted a master class at the Black Warrior Film Festival. Dr. Rachel Raimist organized the session. (right) Adam Schwarts discusses the ZomCom piliot at the Bama Theater alongside Dr. Matthew Payne.

Schwartz taught TCF 451: Advanced Television Production, in which students produced a television pilot episode titled “Zom-Com.” He said the class provides students an experience that closely mirrors real-world production work. “From the beginning we stressed, ‘This isn’t a class project,’” Schwartz said. “I mean, it was, but it was also for distribution in festivals. I tell my students that if they’re worried about the grade, they’re worried about the wrong thing. You have a job in this class, and there are very specific expectations for the job you are supposed to do. If you do your job, the grade will come.” The pilot tells the story of a group of zombie chasers (think storm chasers, but with zombies) who are working with various corporations to tag and study zombies. It features Screen Actors Guild members Erica Schroeder, a voice actress best known for her work on “YuGi-Oh” and “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and Dan DeLuca, who



RESEARCHROUNDUP BACK TO HER ROOTS Robin Boylorn’s research often unearths stories that have been buried for generations. Boylorn, an assistant professor of communication studies, is an autoethnographer, a researcher of herself, her own culture and her own identity — a black woman, raised in the South. Her research carried her from the life of a big-city, independent, college-educated woman back to her roots in small-town North Carolina. “I wanted to find out about black women’s lives, the stories that we tell, the stories that we don’t tell and why,” Boylorn said. “As an insider and outsider in the community, I had the benefit of knowing some cultural and family stories before ever interviewing anyone. I had an opportunity to pay attention to things people didn’t talk about. “Intentionally or not, they chose to not share part of their story. These things were interesting to look at whenever I was trying to figure out how we see ourselves and how other people see us and to put the stories out there in the world.” Boylorn’s interest in the lives of these women sprung from a realization when she entered college that black women, particularly those in the rural South, were underrepresented in the research she was using in her class projects. “It was almost like I didn’t exist, that people like me didn’t exist,” Boylorn said. “If and when we did, it was in a time period of slavery, or it was in some kind of quantitative form, statistics about or around black women. I found myself in the fiction writing of black women writers, but I didn’t find myself in the scholarship I was expected to do in the classroom. That’s a problem.” The research she started in college has spanned her professional career, leading to publication of her first book, “Sweetwater: Black Women and Narratives of Resilience,” in 2012. 58 |


The book is a history of the town where she grew up and includes interactive interviews, ethnographic field research, participant observations and Boylorn’s own observations and experiences. She investigated the ways race and racism, sex and sexism, and class and classism have changed, or not, over several generations. Boylorn’s research was recently featured in UA’s Research magazine. It also led, in part, to her winning UA’s prestigious Last Lecture award for 2014. Boylorn blends her teaching and research, and her students nominated her for the honor. As the winner, she gave a campuswide talk in April titled “Overcoming (In)Difference: Reflections on Empathy, Apathy and Diversity.”

COMMUNICATION + SPORT Dr. Andrew Billings, Ronald Reagan Endowed Chair of Broadcasting in the department of telecommunication and film, is considered a premier Olympic researcher. During the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Billings and a group of researchers examined the gender gap in Olympic coverage. While network primetime coverage typically focuses on male events, the team found that the disparity was significantly less during the U.S. Sochi broadcasts, with men’s events receiving about 4 percent more coverage than women’s events. In primetime Olympic coverage between 1994 and 2010, the average gap was about 20 percent. Billings also recently co-authored a book he said is likely the “first true survey” of U.S. fantasy sport leagues. “The Fantasy Sport Industry: Games within Games” includes data from surveys of more than 1,000 fantasy players, interviews with industry leaders and a history of fantasy sports.

RETIRED PR PROFESSOR CONDUCTS GLOBAL STUDY Dr. Bruce Berger, a recently retired advertising and public relations professor and a member of the board of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, lead a team of 28 researchers undertaking a crosscultural study of leadership in public relations and communication management. The largest-ever global study of its type, the study included surveys from nearly 4,500 professionals in 23 countries. Depth interviews also were conducted in nine languages with 130 senior executives. In addition to information gathered from the Americas, Europe and Asia, a second phase included leaders in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean. The collective findings were published in a book by Routledge in summer 2014. The C&IS-based Plank Center, IBM and Heyman Associates sponsored the study. Research allies for the project included ABERJE in Brazil, the Hong Kong PR Professional Association and the University of Leipzig, Germany.

MAPPING FOOD INSECURITY Journalism faculty members Dr. Scott Parrott, assistant professor, and Prof. Chip Brantley, lecturer, were awarded $8,000 from the Knight Foundation and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication to study food insecurity in West Alabama. Brantley and Parrott will teach classes in 2014-15 that allow undergraduate students to help with the project. Students will use the “Ushahidi” app, which was developed with funding from the Knight Foundation, to map grocery-store locations in rural West Alabama and to track less traditional food sources, like gas stations, convenience stores, farmers’ markets and roadside food stands. Using traditional journalism skills, students will

then put human faces to the data by telling the stories of consumers in these communities, along with the challenges they face because of the dearth of healthy food options. Parrott and Brantley also will seek help from community members to complete the project, including assistance with mapping “off-the-grid” food resources like roadside stands and small farmers’ markets. They hope the project will shed light on health issues in West Alabama and help find solutions for these problems.

FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS Dr. Kim Bissell, associate dean for research and director of the Institute for Communication and Information Research, was awarded a Senior Scholar Grant for 2014-15 from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Bissell was one of three recipients of a $4,000 award, with an additional $750 in travel assistance for the AEJMC 2014 Conference. She presented her initial results in a special session at the conference in Montreal, Canada. Bissell’s project, titled “My Plate, Your Plate and a New Me,” uses new media technologies to gauge children’s food intake and help them become more health literate. She is developing a smart-device app that will give children visual and verbal prompts for the types and amounts of food they select. COMMUNICATOR | 59


honors three with

2014 Knox Hagood Awards E

ach year, the C&IS awards committee selects deserving recipients for the Knox Hagood Awards, named for a former chair of the department of telecommunication and film. W. Knox Hagood, during his 36 years of service to the University, touched the lives of countless students and colleagues with grace, humor and deep insight into broadcasting. In 1986, Hagood endowed the awards to promote quality of the College’s faculty, staff and graduate students and recognize the sustained outstanding performance of individual members.

The 2014 Outstanding Faculty Member award was presented to Dr. Kim Bissell, Southern Progress professor of journalism, associate dean for research and director of the Institute for Communication and Information Research and UA Health C&IS awards committee member Bill Gonzenbach, a Communication Lab. In professor in the department 2013, she was one of three of advertising and public relations, presents Kim Bissell principal investigators with her award. on a three-year, $800,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop and support collaborative research designed to help residents of Alabama communities disproportionately impacted by poor health. She also received a $4,000 Senior Scholar Grant for 2014-15 from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication to develop a mobile app to refine the measurement of children’s daily food intake. The Outstanding Staff Member was presented to John Chisholm, coordinator of digital broadcast media in the department of 60 |


Jeremy Butler, a professor in the department of telecommunication and film and a member of the awards committee, presents John Chisholm with his award.

telecommunication and film. He is responsible for ensuring the most up-to-date equipment is in place in two non-linear computer labs and 20 faculty computer stations. He recently oversaw the addition of 10 stations in a new homework lab and a gaming lab, which is funded through a new research grant from Warner Brothers. He also supervises the College’s equipment room, which houses production equipment for TCF majors and faculty members. The Outstanding Doctoral Student was presented to Richard Mocarski, a May 2014 Ph.D. graduate whose research focuses on critical/cultural studies, rhetoric and popular culture. Mocarski taught several courses in the department of Jason Black, a member of communication studies. Richard Mocarski’s dissertaHe helped originate and tion committee, presents him with the award for outstandteach an undergraduate ing doctoral student. course on communication and social identity, created a course titled “Current Trends in Health Communication” and regularly served as an instructor for the department’s critical decision-making course. As a researcher, he published half articles in Communication and Sport, Journal of Radio and Audio Media, Journal of Communication Inquiry and Journal of Gender Studies. Upon graduation, Mocarski was hired as the director of Sponsored Programs at University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Alabama writer Frank Sikora awarded 2014 Clarence Cason Award for Nonfiction Writing


he department of journalism and the College named Alabama writer Frank Sikora as the recipient of the 2014 Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing. Sikora was selected for his long-form nonfiction work, much of which dealt with civil rights era issues in Alabama. Sikora was honored at a luncheon Feb. 7, 2014, in Tuscaloosa. The event was attended by a number of his former colleagues from The Birmingham News. “It’s fitting that Sikora be honored this year as we look back on the historic events in Alabama that set the stage for change in the South,” said Wilson Lowrey, chair of the journalism department. “The award is named for a man whose writings did just that, and Frank follows in the footsteps of Clarence Cason.” Sikora, from Byesville, Ohio, began his writing career at The Gadsden Times in 1964 before moving to The Birmingham News in 1967. He worked at the News for 32 years and also freelanced for Time magazine from 2001 to 2007. While working at the Times and the News, Sikora saw firsthand many of Alabama’s historic civil rights era moments. His first book, “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1980, reprinted 1997), is an account of two young girls in 1965 Selma, in the days leading up to the Selma-to-Montgomery March, known as Bloody Sunday. This book was made into a television movie. Sikora’s other civil rights-related books include “Until Justice Rolls Down: The Birmingham Church Bombing Case” (1991, reprinted 2005), “The Judge: The Life and Opinions of Alabama’s Frank M. Johnson Jr.” (1992, reprinted 2006) and “Let Us Now Praise Famous Women: A Memoir” (2005). He also co-wrote the novel “The Visitor at Winter Chapel” (2006) and the biography “Hear the Bugles Calling: My Three Wars as a Combat

Above: Alabama writer and former newspaper reporter Frank Sikora was the 2014 Clarence Cason Award for Nonfiction Writing recipient. Left: A number of Frank Sikora’s former colleagues from The Birmingham News attended the Clarence Cason Award luncheon in his honor.

Infantryman” (2007). The Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing is named for Clarence Cason, the founding chair of UA’s department of journalism in 1928. Each year, the department bestows the honor on behalf of the College and the University to a recipient with a strong connection to Alabama and whose writings have made a critical contribution to the journalism and literature of the South. The 2015 luncheon is scheduled for March 6. COMMUNICATOR | 61


ach year, the College of Communication and Information Sciences honors alumni, faculty and students during UA’s Honors Day festivities. In addition to departmental Outstanding Alumni, which can be found throughout this magazine and are denoted by the “Outstanding Alumni” crimson flag, four UA alumni were given collegewide awards for their outstanding leadership and service in April 2013 and April 2014. The Bert Bank Distinguished Service Award is presented to an Alabama native who has shown exemplary and extraordinary service to the College or the University, the state of Alabama or the United States. The Betsy Plank Outstanding Leadership Award is given to a UA graduate with a longtime or lifetime distinguished career in any of the communication disciplines represented within the College. Faculty members who were honored with teaching awards can be found in the faculty briefs beginning on page 64.

2013 Bert Bank Distinguished Service Award Rick Looser is president and COO of The Cirlot Agency, a Mississippi-based, full-service, marketing, public relations and corporate communications firm, representing accounts on a national and international basis ranging from Fortune 100 companies to some of the world’s largest privately held corporations. Looser’s mettle was tested early in his career when working his first-ever PR job. While serving as the public relations director of the Alabama Poison Control Center, he successfully overcame every PR practitioner’s worst nightmare: the aftermath of a “60 Minutes” investigative report. Recognized as one of the top PR professionals in the country, Looser has worked for a virtual Who’s Who of business and industry, including Northrop Grumman, ATK, Raytheon, Sherwin

62 |


Williams, Boeing, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Sanderson Farms, among others. He was also the lead communications strategist for a group winning one of the largest defense contracts ever awarded by the U.S. Navy, the DD(X) program, estimated at more than $60 billion. Looser serves on the board of advisors for The University of Alabama’s Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. He has served on the national Advertising Advisory Board of Directors for Congressional Quarterly magazine in Washington, D.C. A recipient of numerous regional and national PR awards, Looser was awarded the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) top award, The Gold Quill Award, considered the Oscar of the PR industry. Looser was named the Outstanding Alumnus in Public Relations for C&IS in 2003.

2013 Betsy Plank Outstanding Leadership Award Ellen East is executive vice president and chief communications officer for Time Warner Cable, Inc., where she provides strategic counsel on companywide public relations, corporate

communications and industry affairs. She joined Time Warner Cable in October 2007 from Cox Communications Inc., where she served as vice president for communications and public affairs. She had been assistant city editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a reporter and editor at a number of daily newspapers. She serves as co-chair of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s Public Affairs committee and is a member of the boards of the T. Howard Foundation and the Families and Work Institute. She has served as chair of the national board of directors for Women in Cable Telecommunications and as president of the Cable Television Public Affairs Association (now the Association of Cable Communicators). She was a fellow in the 2001 class of WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute and subsequently served as chair of that program. East has been the recipient of numerous industry awards, including the 2002 NCTA Vanguard Award for Young Leadership. She has been honored as a “Woman to Watch” and a “Wonder Woman” by Women in Cable Telecommunications and received a “Rainmaker” award from CTAM. She has received two Silver Anvil Awards for issues management and integrated communications from the Public Relations Society of America. She graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

2014 Bert Bank Distinguished Service Award Everett Holle is an investor and businessman living in Birmingham. He is best known for his 40-year history in television, having served as an announcer, director, writer and producer at NBC 13. His later years were marked by a long term as program director and ultimately assistant general manager. He was involved in the station’s considerable original programming, some of which he wrote and produced. Holle is a board member of the Salvation Army,

where he was honored with a lifetime membership. A long-term scouting enthusiast, he has been awarded the Silver Beaver, the Heart of the Eagle recognition and was the Eagle Scout Class of 2010 honoree. He serves on the Council board and was the Television Media Relations representative for the 1998 and 1993 National Jamborees. Holle was president of the United Way Food Bank and spearheaded that organization’s acquisition of its new warehouse and office complex. As chairman of the Better Business Bureau, he oversaw its move into the computer era. He has been elected into the Bureau’s Hall of Fame and, in 2012, was inducted into the Alabama Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. Holle also served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 35 years, retiring as a brigadier general. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in broadcast and film communication.

2014 Betsy Plank Outstanding Leadership Award Ben Shurett has a long history with The University of Alabama and the newspaper industry. The Tuscaloosa native worked his way through the University as a manager for the Crimson Tide basketball team for four years and then served as a student assistant coach for Coach C.M. Newton in the 1973-74 SEC championship season. After coaching basketball for four years in Alabama high schools, he entered the newspaper business in 1978 as a management trainee for Tuscaloosa-based Boone Newspapers Inc. Since that time he has been publisher at three Boone-owned newspapers, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Demopolis and Troy, and for two newspapers owned by Southern Newspapers Inc., from Houston, Texas, and Fort Payne, and since 2006 at the Sand Mountain Reporter in Albertville. Shurett announced in July that he plans to retire by the end of the calendar year. Shurett has served as the president of The University of Alabama’s National Alumni Association, chair of the board of visitors of the College of Communication & Information Sciences and president of the Alabama Press Association. He has received numerous statewide awards for writing, photography and advertising. Shurett graduated in 1974 with a degree in education. He says his greatest accomplishment is his marriage to UA graduate Mary Shurett. They are parents of two married sons, Brad Shurett and Will Shurett, and grandparents of 2-year-old Jay Shurett. COMMUNICATOR | 63

FACULTY/STAFF BRIEFS Advertising and Public Relations TERI K. HENLEY (pictured) received The University of Alabama’s highest honor in teaching, the 2013 National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. She also was a 2013 C&IS Board of Visitors Teaching Excellence Award recipient. For the sixth consecutive year the DEPARTMENT OF ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS is among the finalists for PRWeek’s PR Education Program of the Year. To be consistently among the top five programs in the country is a testament to the quality of current and past students as well as the program’s dedicated faculty. Three new staff members joined the A+PR team. DARLENE SMITH and LISA MYRICK handle the day-to-day operational duties in the departmental office following the retirements of longtime A+PR office staff Jade Abernathy and Cheryl Parker. ANITA KIMBRELL HAMLETT, a native of Tuscaloosa and UA alumna, was named director of academic and professional advancement, a new position designed to assist students with internship and job placement. Hamlett previously served as an associate dean at Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery. TIM BEST, instructor, published a novel titled “Substitute Angel.” KENON BROWN was recognized for authoring the top paper in the sports division at the Broadcast Education Association’s annual conference. GARY CREEK, instructor, won Best of Show in the American Advertising Awards from the Greater Tuscaloosa Chapter of the American Advertising Federation. GLENN GRIFFIN presented “Pivot: Creativity’s Transformational Moment” at SXSW Edu Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. WILLIAM J. GONZENBACH coauthored with UA alumnus Dr. Elmie Nekmat “Multiple Opinion Climates in Online Forums: Role of Website Source Reference and Within-Forum Opinion Congruency” in the Winter issue of Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. EYUN-JUNG KI’S and HYOUNGKOO KHANG’S research article, “Social Media Research in Advertising, Communication, Marketing and Public Relations Research 1997 to 2010” is the most read article in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly in the past year. Ki also received the 64 |


second-place paper award from the Korean Academic Society for Public Relations. MEG LAMME co-authored three refereed articles, the latter two with UA alumna LISA PARCELL: “Business Responses to the Civil Rights Movement: A Public Relations” in Public Relations Review; “Promoting Hershey: The Chocolate Bar, The Chocolate Town, The Chocolate King” in Journalism History; and “Not ‘Merely an Advertisement’: Purity, Trust, and Flour, 1880-1930” in American Journalism. Lamme wrote the entry on public relations history for the 2013 edition of the Encyclopedia of Public Relations and was invited to publish a piece in Helios Media’s (Berlin) Communication Director: “Bernays and Fleischman: Partners in Marriage and Public Relations.” In addition to serving on the editorial boards of four international journals, Lamme was invited to join the Academic Committee of the International Public Relations History Conference. She also currently has two books in press. REGINA LEWIS is the founding faculty adviser for the new student organization Professional Women in Communication and Business. Lewis is also mentoring three UA Emerging Scholars (Tatum Roessler, Candice Ji and Kaitlyn Herbert) who will present their work at the annual Emerging Scholar research presentation. Lewis coauthored a book chapter with UA alumna and visiting A+PR faculty member Dr. Brandi Watkins titled “Twitter as Gateway to Relationship Building,” in Hana S. Noor Al-Deen and John Allen Hendricks (Eds.) Social Media and Strategic Communication. Lewis and Watkins also coauthored research with Dr. Kenon Brown examining “Gratifications Sought that Drive Attitudes Toward Mobile Apps and Intent to Download: The Moderating Effect of Gender,” and they will present this work at the annual conference of the American Academy of Advertising. JOSEPH E. PHELPS coauthored research with UA alumnus Hyuksoo Kim and former UA colleague Doohwang Lee titled, “The Social Cognitive Approach to Consumers’ Engagement Behavior in Online Brand Community.” The article was published in the International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, 5(2), 7-22. Phelps also coauthored with UA alumnus Fei Xue research titled “Self-Concept, Product Involvement and Responses to Self-Congruent Advertising,” which was published in the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 34(1), 1-20. TRACY SIMS received the Accreditation in Public Relations certification. The accreditation program aims to improve the practice of public relations by assessing competence in 60 areas of knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the professions. Candidates who successfully complete the rigorous process, which includes a portfolio presentation to

FACULTY/STAFF BRIEFS a readiness review panel of three peers and sitting for a computer-based examination, are granted the APR professional designation.

Communication Studies CAROL BISHOP MILLS (pictured) received the Excellence in Teaching Award by the board of visitors of the College of Communication and Information Sciences MEREDITH BAGLEY received the Sam S. May Commitment to Service Award, UA’s highest award for service, as part of Safe Zone Program Ally Training team. She also was recognized for outstanding faculty research on diversity by the college for her conference paper “What’s Love Got to Do With It: Pentadic Cartography of Contemporary Marriage Equality Rhetoric.” ANGELA BILLINGS received the Honorable Mention Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by The University of Alabama’s Office of Research on Teaching in the Disciplines. JASON EDWARD BLACK received the Top Paper in American Studies distinction at the 2013 National Communication Association convention. He also was named a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award, for his anthology, “An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings.” ROBIN M. BOYLORN received 2013 Best Book Award by the Ethnography Division of the National Communication Association as well as the first H.L. Goodall Jr. and Nicholas Lee Trujillo ‘It’s A Way of Life’ Award in Narrative Ethnography from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry and the Ethnography Division of the NCA. She received a 2013 Reese Phifer Scholarship grant, $4,165, for her research proposal, “From The Country to the City (& Back): Understanding the Relevance of Space and Place in Black Women’s Life Stories.” Boylorn also was named the 2014 Last Lecture Recipient by UA’s Graduate School. JANIS EDWARDS received a 2013 Reese Phifer Scholarship grant, $4,165, for her research proposal, “Visual Politics: A Transforming Platform.” CAROLINE PARSONS was inducted to Alpha Epsilon Lambda Graduate Honor Society. LU TANG received the Top Faculty Paper Award, Mass Communication Division, Southern State Communication

Association, for “Be Aware of Superbugs: Risk Communication in Newspaper Coverage of the NDM-1 in India, United Kingdom, and the United States.” Tang also received a 2013 Reese Phifer Scholarship grant, $4,165, for her research proposal, “Effects of Message Congruity and Readers’ Ego Involvement on The Processing of Online Health Information”

Journalism CHRIS ROBERTS (pictured) was selected as a recipient of the C&IS Board of Visitors Teaching Excellence Award for 2014. KIM BISSELL, Southern Progress Endowed Professor and associate dean for research, was awarded a Senior Scholar research grant from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She will use the funds to develop an iPad app to help children track their food intake with greater accuracy. She and Assistant Professor SCOTT PARROTT recently published an article in Journalism & Communication Monographs that examines factors related to the development of stigma and bias. DIANNE BRAGG, assistant professor, completed her dissertation, “The Causes of the Civil War: A Newspaper Analysis,” and was awarded her doctorate in communication in 2013. She is participating in the 2014 Faculty Fellows in Service Learning Program and is a member of the University Advisor’s Council. She contributed chapters for the recently published book “Sensationalism: Murder, Mayhem, Mudslinging, Scandals, and Disasters in 19th-Century Reporting” and for the latest edition of “Media in America.” RICK BRAGG, Cason Professor of Writing, has completed a biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, to be published by Harper Collins. In 2013 Bragg received the Distinguished Artist Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and he was named the Druid City Arts Literary Educator of the Year by the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa. He writes regularly for a number of national magazines, and he continues to be a contributing editor to Southern Living. CHIP BRANTLEY, lecturer in emerging media, completed a Faculty Fellowship in Service Learning with the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility during the 2012-2013 academic year. Through the fellowship, Brantley co-created “Anatomy of a Trial,” a new yearlong interdisciplinary course examining the death penalty in Alabama. The course is being offered during the 2013-2014 academic year. COMMUNICATOR | 65


MATTHEW D. BUNKER, Reese Phifer Professor of Journalism, co-authored the Law Division’s Top Faculty Paper, Second Place, award at the 2013 AEJMC annual convention in Washington, D.C. The paper, “An ‘Actual Problem’ in First Amendment Jurisprudence? Examining the Immediate Impact of Brown’s Proof-of-Causation Doctrine on Free Speech and its Compatibility with the Marketplace Theory” was later revised and published in the Hastings Communication and Entertainment Law Journal. Bunker also published, with UA journalism professor Kim Bissell, an article on trademark dilution law in the journal Communication Law & Policy. MEREDITH CUMMINGS, instructor and director of scholastic media, was recently awarded the James Frederick Paschal Award by the Columbia Scholastic Press Advisers Association, which honors state or regional school press association officials who have distinguished themselves in the field. GEORGE L. DANIELS, associate professor and assistant dean for administration, curated a photo exhibition “Oakdale Images OUTFRONT” at the Tuscaloosa City Schools, featuring the photojournalism of Oakdale Elementary School student reporters on the Oakdale Eagle newsletter. He also recently published an article on the Oakdale Elementary School partnership, “A Five Step Model for Unconventional Engagement” in The Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

WILSON LOWREY, professor and department chair, was named Outstanding Educator of the Year by AEJMC’s Newspaper and Online News Division. He was also appointed as an associate editor for the scholarly journal Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. Lowrey published several research studies on the political and economic challenges facing local Russian journalism, as well as a study of the development of emerging news media forms. DAN MEISSNER, instructor, completed 12 years of service as a member of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, eight of those as chairman. Since he was first elected to the board in 2001, the school system has completed more than $100 million in capital projects for new facilities and equipment, has greatly increased academic achievement and has received national honors for programs that address discipline issues and reduce dropouts. SCOTT PARROTT became an assistant professor for the department in the fall. Along with fellow faculty member CHIP BRANTLEY, he received a Knight Foundation/ AEJMC grant to fund a project that will map problems related to food insecurity and weight-related illness in the area, providing information for students to report on the Department’s community news website. CHRIS ROBERTS, assistant professor, was elected vice 66 |


chairman of the Council of Divisions for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. He also was chosen the fall 2013 “Professor of the Semester” in a student vote sponsored by the College’s student ambassadors.

School of Library and Information Studies ANN E. PRENTICE (pictured) was appointed professor and interim director in January 2014. Dr. Prentice brings a wealth of experience from previous administrative posts at the University of Maryland, the University of South Florida, and the University of Tennessee. Associate professor LAURIE BONNICI was named the recipient of the 2014 Association for Library and Information Science Education Research Grant Award for her project, “Non-Verbal Communication in Information Behavior: Ischemic Stroke and Partial Facial Paralysis.” SLIS assistant professor MELISSA JOHNSTON was awarded the Ken Haycock Leadership Development Grant from the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL). The grant is awarded to first time attendees of the IASL annual conference, which was held in Bali in August 2013. In February 2014, professor STEVE MILLER and associate professor ANNA EMBREE led a group of third-year M.F.A. in the Book Arts students (CRANE GIAMO, MO FIORELLO, KATE BARBER, ASHLEY GORHAM, LAURA ROWLEY) to Havana, Cuba, for a collaborative book project with poet Reina Maria Rodriguez and artist Alejandro Sainz. MIRIAM SWEENEY, assistant professor, joined the faculty in August 2013. Dr. Sweeney’s research interests focus on social aspects of information, particularly the intersections of gender, race and information and communication technologies. Instructor and communications coordinator STEVEN YATES joined the faculty in August 2013. He teaches primarily in the core curriculum and provides support to SLIS on grants, accreditation and Web presence and also serves as distance education coordinator.

Telecommunication and Film RACHEL RAIMIST (pictured) was awarded the Board of Visitors Teaching Excellence Award for 2013. ANDREW BILLINGS won the Top Paper

FACULTY/STAFF BRIEFS Award in the BEA Sports division with co-authors Natalie Brown (Ph.D. student) and Kenon Brown (APR). Billings, a noted authority on sports media, had fifteen journal publications and two books: “The Fantasy Sport Industry: Games within Games” and the “Routledge Handbook of Sport and New Media.” Additionally, Dr. Billings (along with grad student co-author Richard Mocarski) won the College’s Diversity Award with his paper “Manufacturing a Messiah: How Nike and LeBron James Co-constructed the Legend of King James,” which was also published in Communication & Sport.

ANDY GRACE’S film, The Durrs of Montgomery, won three regional Emmy Awards: Best Historical Documentary, Best Audio Post and Best Editing. The Durrs of Montgomery aired on Alabama Public Television. Grace also won a James Beard Foundation Award for his documentary “Eating Alabama.”

MICHAEL BRUCE won a $10,000 production grant from the Hyundai corporation to create “Houndstooth: Tradition. Community. Loyalty.” Houndstooth also won Best of the Festival at BEA in the Sports Division. Bruce was selected to present at the World Journalism Education Council in Belgium and at the Arab-U.S. Association of Communication Educators in Tangiers, Morocco. He is an elected member of the Broadcast Education Association board of directors and won two paper awards at the annual conference.

MATT PAYNE continued his research on video gaming with four peer-reviewed journal articles published this year. Three of these papers were published in Well Played: A Journal on Video Games, Value, and Meaning. Dr. Payne is a featured scholar in the DVD “Joystick Warriors: Video Games, Violence & the Culture of Militarism.”

JEREMY BUTLER contributed a chapter to a new book, “How to Watch Television.” His chapter is “Mad Men: Visual Style.” DWIGHT CAMMERON’S documentary, April’s Hero, (co-produced with student SHELBY HADDEN) received top honors at the BEA International Festival of Media Arts. April’s Hero won Best of the Festival as well as the BEA Chair’s Award, the highest honor bestowed by BEA. MAYA CHAMPION joined the department as faculty and adviser for undergraduates. Champion has an M.F.A. from Columbia, and will be teaching scriptwriting and producing. CHANDRA CLARK was awarded the John L. Blackburn Advisor Award from the UA Council on Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP); the organization she chairs won outstanding religious/spiritual organization of the year. Additionally, Clark won a BEA Award of Excellence for her video project, “Communicating Superstorm Sandy,” which she also was invited to present to the NAB in Washington, D.C.; portions of her video were also screened for Congress. NICK CORRAO’S class on television production produced “Alabama Art Seen,” an original program that aired on WVUA this year. One episode won Honorable Mention at the BEA Festival. WILLIAM EVANS was invited to present his research at the Iowa State University Summer Symposium on Science Communication. This conference is aligned with the Journal of Science Communication.

YONGHWAN KIM won the Top Paper Award in the BEA Research Division. He also published four journal articles and one book chapter, and made several conference presentations.

RACHEL RAIMIST’S video “Art to Life,” co-produced by students BRANNA BURNS and GREG KUBIK, received an Award of Excellence at the BEA International Festival of Media Arts. She offered TCF students the opportunity to network in Los Angeles during UA’s first “Winterim” term, and took another group to the Sundance Film Festival. Raimist also serves as the A/V manager at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, supervising TCF student crews as the only college-level in-house video crew in the nation. She is the co-director of UA’s Creative Campus. ADAM SCHWARTZ won 2 nd Place in the UFVA Juried Film Competition with his short film, “Barney and the Martians.” “Barney” was also selected to screen at the Sidewalk Film Festival and at the George Lindsey Film Festival. His web series, “Alabama Ghostbusters,” won first place in a reader poll on welovesoaps.net. PAM TRAN was competitively selected to present a teaching panel at the BEA national convention. Dr. Tran was also selected to present at the World Journalism Education Council, summer 2013, in Belgium as part of the BEA Ignite panel. KRISTEN WARNER attended the Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. She also published in Camera Obscura. GLENDA CANTRELL WILLIAMS won Second Place, Best Paper in the Management, Programming, and Sales Division of BEA. She also won Second Place, Best Paper in the Radio & Audio Media Division, and was invited to present at the BEA Symposium on Assessment. Williams also published in Psychological Reports and was an invited guest to the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. COMMUNICATOR | 67


MACK D. (DON) SECORD (B.A., broadcast and film communication) was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame on April 26, 2014, in a ceremony at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga. Secord, an Atlanta resident, was cited for his rescue of missionary families held as hostages in the Congo in 1964. Secord was also cited for his 30 years of service to Angel Flight, providing free air transportation to medical patients for treatment at distant facilities. Secord is a member of the Georgia Public Relations Hall of Fame, an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America and a Fellow of the Society.


ED MULLINS (B.A., journalism), professor, journalism chair or dean of the college for 30 years, celebrated his 78th birthday Feb. 26 at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, where he is director of research and communication. While heating his daily bowl of soup, the staff and students surprised him with a great spread and birthday cake.


JIM STOVALL (B.S., journalism) teaches journalism at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He is the author of “Writing for the Mass Media,” soon to see its ninth edition, and he recently authored “Seeing Suffrage: The 1913 Washington Suffrage Parade, Its Pictures and Its Effect on the American Political Landscape,” published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2013.


SKIP HINTON (B.A., broadcast and film communication) has worked with the National Educational Telecommunications Association since 1989, serving public television licensees nationwide. He formerly worked with Alabama Public Television and the Center for Public Television (then University Television Services).


DON KEITH’S (B.A., broadcast and film communication) 27th book, “The Ship That Wouldn’t Die,” will be published by Penguin/NAL in April 2015. It is the true story of a little-known incident that occurred during the Battle of the Cor68 |


al Sea in May 1942. Also the motion picture based on his novel “Firing Point” is in pre-production by Relativity Media, under the title “Hunter Killer,” with release planned in late 2015.


BRAD FISHER (B.A., journalism and advertising and public relations), APR, has been named corporate director of marketing and communication for the DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa. Fisher is responsible for advertising and public relations for the three-hospital system. Fisher worked for two newspapers before joining DCH.


DAVE BALIUS (B.A., Broadcast and Film Communication) had an exciting 30-year career in broadcast advertising, working for Birmingham and Atlanta based companies. Starting with Luckie & Forney Advertising, he worked with such well-known individuals as Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, Michael Dorn (before he was “Star Trek’s” Worf), Kate Mulgrew (before she was “Star Trek’s” Kathryn Janeway), John Madden, Dick Clark and many accomplished directors and cinematographers. He has been honored with a Cannes Lion, two Clios and numerous Addy awards. In 2008, Balius left advertising and became communications director of a Birmingham megachurch. BILL KELLER (M.A., journalism) has retired and enjoys spending time traveling, reading and playing golf badly around Birmingham after spending most of his career as head of the Alabama Press Association, with six years in newspapers and seven in media/public relations — and, at the end, five years of teaching in the UA journalism department.


JOHNNIE ENGLE BLACKBURN (B.A., broadcast and film communication) received her master of science in human environmental sciences in May 2011. For the past nine years, she has worked as a marketing manager for the College of Continuing Studies at UA.


WILLIE RAY HORN (B.A., advertising)

has worked in investment management since 1985.


VANESSA ECHOLS (B.A., broadcast and film communication) is a morning and noon news anchor for WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando, Fla., and founder of Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach.


THOMAS POUND (B.A., speech communication) is an investment advisor representative with Safe Harbour Financial.


JANE SIMONS (B.A., editorial news) is a fourth-grade teacher at Oak Mountain Intermediate School, Birmingham, Ala.


DAVID TINSLEY (B.A., broadcast and film communication) was recently awarded a master of communication management degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The degree was conferred in August 2013. He was a member of the Spring 2012 cohort whose members were from across the U.S. and overseas, working in professional and military communication roles.


KEITH DUNNAVANT (B.A., journalism) wrote, produced, directed and narrated “Three Days at Foster,” a documentary about integration of football and basketball at UA. It was presented at Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival and won second place for best documentary at the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival. TIM W. JACKSON (B.A., editorial news) is now the senior acquisitions editor for Keen Communications, which is based in Birmingham. Tim, however, telecommutes from his home in Weaverville, N.C.


ERIN DACY (B.A., broadcast and film communication) is celebrating 20 years as a news anchor at WAAY-31, the ABC affilliate in Huntsville, Ala. She also was featured in the famous “Roll Tide” commercial, which aired on ESPN.


BILL BRADSHAW JR. (B.A., broadcast and film communication) is a supervising producer for television at The Country Music Association including CMA Awards, CMA Country Christmas and CMA Music Festival.


JONATHAN KILLIAN (B.A., telecommunication and film) was recently promoted to senior director, creative and brand development, CNN International Networks. Killian earned a master of business administration at the University of Georgia in May 2012.


WILLIE MAE WORTHEY (B.A., broadcast and film communication) has accumulated nearly 20 years of experience in communications spanning healthcare, education, government and law since graduating in 1995. She serves as spokesperson for the state of Nevada’s federally mandated/funded employment program, the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), part of the governor’s cabinet. She also is responsible for media relations and marketing efforts for the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, the Rehabilitation Division and the Employment Security Division. She acts as a liaison to the governor’s press office, collaborating on messages related to Nevada’s labor market.


STEPHANIE HAVRON ROLLINS (M.L.I.S.) is the library and instruction coordinator and reference librarian at Samford University. She currently serves as president-elect of the SLIS Library School Association.


BRYAN LONG (B.A, journalism), founding executive director of progressive advocacy organization Better Georgia, was quoted in a Sunday New York Times feature on political spending and state-focused politics. The article, “A National Strategy Funds State Political Monopolies” was published Jan. 12, 2014. ELISE ROSHAU LUQUETTE has accepted a position as assistant production manager for Live Nation at the House of Blues Las Vegas. She also is founder of the High Rolling Tide in Vegas, the Alabama Fan Club in Las Vegas.



JOHN BOWLES (B.A., communication studies) is an attorney and assistant vice president, compliance and regulatory risk management, Regions Financial Corp. COREY EALONS (B.A., public relations) is senior vice president, VOX Global. DAN MANGIS (B.A., journalism, ’96; M.A., communication, ’98) has served as a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department since 2005. After overseas assignments in Mexico, Sweden, Iraq and Spain, he will begin a two-year assignment as the senior France desk officer at the State Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., in August 2014. Dan and his wife, Susan Szmania, welcomed a baby girl into their family in 2013. DEIDRA K. PERRY (B.A., communication studies) is a sales manager, Alabama Media Group. JOHN STONE (B.A., journalism) is the director of development for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham, Ala.


STACI BROOKS BROWN (B.A., journalism) became manager of special projects for Alabama Media Group after earning her M.B.A. from Alabama in 2013. She had been director of community news in Birmingham. JOHNNY KAMPIS (B.A., journalism) is content editor for Watchdog.org, a journalism project of the Arlington, Va.-based Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Watchdog.org investigates waste, fraud and abuse in government at the local, state and federal levels across the United States. ED LEE (B.A., ’97, M.A., ’99, communication studies) is director of debate, Emory University.


W. H. (LEE) AMMONS III (M.A., communication studies) is department chair, language arts, at Southern Union State Community College.


ANDY BEVILLE (M.A., communication studies) is director, facilities planning and operations, housing and dining, at Duke University.

TAWNYA TADDIKEN JOHNSON (M.A., communication studies) is a staff attorney for the Kansas Judicial Council.


AARON LATHAM (B.A., ’02, M.A., ’04, communication studies) works in public affairs and communications for Alabama Power Company. TRACY LAUDER (Ph.D., communication) is an associate professor of mass communication at Emory & Henry College. JOSHUA SILBERBERG (B.A., journalism) joined the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a foreign policy and national security think tank, as its director of communications in November 2013. He was previously a senior associate at 30 Point Strategies in Bethesda, Md., and director of communications for the Embassy of Israel. CARLA JEAN WHITLEY (M.A., journalism) is writing “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music,” which The History Press will publish in 2014, and a second book, on the history of beer in Birmingham, is scheduled for 2015 release. Whitley is serving as an adjunct instructor for the department of journalism.


PATRICK BEESON (M.A., journalism) is director of digital strategy at The Variable, a creative agency in Winston-Salem, N.C., where he serves as thought-leader for digital initiatives. Most recently, he was director of digital communications at Wake Forest University. BRIAN C. BRANTLEY (Ph.D., mass communication) was promoted to associate professor and awarded tenure at Texas A&M San Antonio on May 1, 2014. MATTHEW HOOPER (B.A., journalism) was promoted to director of workplace giving for the American Heart Association’s southeastern district. He previously served as the senior director of communications for the AHA’s Birmingham market since 2011. JESSICA MAXWELL (B.A., journalism) recently completed her master of arts degree in government from Johns Hopkins University. She works as a public affairs specialist for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs. COMMUNICATOR | 69

ALUMNI BRIEFS DAN WHISENHUNT (B.A., journalism) launched decaturish.com, a community news website for Atlanta-area residents that promotes the idea of journalism as a public service, and journalists as, in his words, “warrior monks.” Whisenhunt previously worked at the Anniston Star and the Chattanooga Times Free Press.


CHAD HULLETT (B.A., journalism) is currently a senior project manager for Genpact LLC working at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, N.C.


KRISTEN TROTTER CHICK (B.A., journalism) has moved to Pristina, Kosovo, to cover the Balkans for The Christian Science Monitor. The move will put her closer to her husband. The previous four years she worked for the Monitor covering the war in Syria and reporting in Libya, Gaza, Bahrain, Tunisia and Western Sahara.

mingham, Ala. She provides customized support for potential and new customers, engages in some product development and enjoys lots of travel.


ASHLEY BOYD (B.A., journalism) is the marketing manager for SBR Health, a health technology startup based in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., focused on improving people’s health through better communication. CASSANDRA MICKENS (B.A., ’05, M.A., ’08, journalism) was recently named editor of Hoover’s Magazine in Hoover, Ala., her hometown. She previously worked as a reporter at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. WANDA MADISON MINOR (Ph.D., communication) is an independent professional training and coaching professional for Madison Minor Group LLC.


JAMIE MCNAMARA (B.A., journalism) is working as Southern Living account manager at Time Inc. covering the New York and Boston sales territories.

BRIDGET BUSBY (B.A., communication studies) is an academic adviser for UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences.

GINA BECKER SHERIDAN (M.L.I.S.) has been collecting stories on her blog, “I Work at a Public Library,” for several years and was recently approached by a literary agent interested in publishing it as a book. Adams Media will publish it in 2014. Sheridan currently works as a branch manager for the St. Louis County Library in Missouri.

CARLA PENNINGTON (B.A., ’08, M.A., ’09, communication studies) is community relations director at SouthernCare Inc.

RACHAEL CRAWLEY SIGSBEE (B.A., journalism) launched a digital women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine in January 2014. Sigsbee is the editor-in-chief of Dottie Magazine, found at dottiemag.com or on Apple’s app store as “Dottie.” SARAH KATE SULLIVAN (B.A., journalism) is a doctoral student at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international political economy and Latin America. Her dissertation is titled “Political determinants of Chinese investment in Latin America.” MARLIESE THOMAS (M.L.I.S.) is a solutions architect for Ex Libris in Bir70 |


LENA POWE (M.A., communication studies) is a committee assistant for the Birmingham City Council. REBECCA WALKER (M.A., journalism) is coordinator of student media at the University of North Alabama, and she is also freelancing feature articles for Calhoun County Healthy Living Magazine.


AMANDA BEADLE (B.A., journalism) works as a research and communications associate at the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C., keeping the Council up to date on immigration legislation, livetweeting congressional hearings and blogging. DENNIS A. BORDEN (M.L.I.S.) has been employed with Strayer University in Huntsville, Ala., since September 2012 as the learning resource center manager. During his time as a co-contributor to the Student Voice newsletter, the campus

received national recognition as the best newsletter among one hundred campuses during the spring quarter of 2013. He published his first book in August 2013, titled “Vivid Brushstrokes: The Overlooked Reality of God in Our Everyday Lives,” and he is working on a second book to be published before the end of 2014. TIFFANY BRONSON (M.L.I.S.) is the head librarian/media specialist at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. RICHARD BROPHY (M.A., communication studies) is a project controller at TNS, London. ANGELA (ROBINSON) GOINS (M.A., communication studies) is a graduate student at The University of Alabama Birmingham. MICHELLE HATAWAY (B.A., ‘08, M.A., ’10, communication studies) is a customer service supervisor for Netflix. LINDSEY HOLLAND (B.A., journalism) now works full time at inRegister, a Baton Rouge glossy lifestyle magazine, while she pursues a Master of Mass Communication degree at Louisiana State University. She and her fiancé are planning their wedding for spring 2015 and will live in Madisonville, La. ALISHA LINAM (M.L.I.S.) graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in May 2012 with a master of arts in history and is now employed as reference and instruction librarian at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. CHRISTINA MALTESE (M.A., communication studies) is a marketing and communications manager for the Mobile Sports Authority. NICHOLAS J. MEADE (M.A., communication studies) is president and co-founder at Innovative Global Communications LLC. CANDACE MEDLOCK (B.A., communication studies) represented Tuscaloosa County in the annual Mrs. Alabama America pageant in March 2014. SHARDÉ OLIVER (B.A., ‘09, M.A., ‘10, communication studies) is a public speech professor, Palm Beach State College.

SAMUEL A. RUMORE JR.’s (M.L.I.S.) article titled “The Last Bombing, The Story of Nina Miglionico” was published in the spring 2014 issue of Alabama Heritage magazine. GAIL A. SHELDON (M.L.I.S.) recently accepted a position as director of Somerset County Library System in Maryland. Sheldon also serves on the board of the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) and represents it on the Pew Internet and American Life Study Advisory Committee.

ALUMNI BRIEFS with “Alabama All–Access SEC Preview Special.” CLIFF LORICK (B.A., ’09, M.A., ’11, communication studies) is a graduate teaching assistant at Georgia State University. ANGELA YARNISH (B.A., ’09, M.A., ’11, communication studies) is a marketing communications specialist at Shepherd Center, Atlanta, Ga.


STACEY (OGLE) TURNER (B.A., ’09, M.A., ’10, communication studies) is a development and administrative officer at Alabama Ballet, Birmingham, Ala.

ALDO AMATO (B.A., journalism) joined The Laredo (Texas) Morning Times as a reporter. He previously reported for The Madison Record.

JENNIFER WELLS (B.A., ’09, M.A., ’10, communication studies) is the producing director at Phoenix Theatre Inc. of Bowling Green Kentucky.

BOBBY ATKINSON (B.A., journalism) joined The Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa, Idaho, as a reporter and editor. He previously reported for the Shoshone (Idaho) News Press.


MIA (LONG) ANDERSON (Ph.D., communication) is an assistant professor at the University of South Alabama.

DANA BLACKBURN (M.L.I.S.) teaches at Autrey Mill Middle School in Atlanta, Ga., and tutors French at the local public library every other Sunday.

ALLYSON ANGLE (M.A., journalism) is working as the marketing coordinator for Cooking Light and MyRecipes.com at Time Inc.

MATTHEW BROWN (B.A., ’11, M.A., ’12, communication studies) is an associate at HCM Strategists, Washington, D.C., metro area.

MELANIE ARMISTEAD (B.A., ’09, M.A., ’11; communication studies) is a University of Alabama regional recruiter (Georgia).

ANGELES BURKE (B.A., ’10, M.A., ’12, communication studies) is director of fitness and wellness, Celsius Inc.

ASHLEY ATWELL (B.A., telecommunication and film) started a new job with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in New York as a senior coordinator in the digital media department. She received a master of arts in sport management from the University of San Francisco in 2013. ALAN BLINDER (B.A., journalism) is working in the Atlanta Bureau of The New York Times. JOHNNY HANNA (B.A., telecommunication and film) and ALEX SEIVER (B.A., 2010, M.A., 2011, telecommunication and film) won a regional Emmy for Television News and Program Specialty Excellence for Sports-One Time Special

MARION WALDING DURING (B.A. ’10, M.A. ’12, journalism) is a marketing specialist at the Missouri Partnership, the state’s marketing and business recruitment organization. She writes, takes photos, produces marketing content and maintains its social media, traveling between her base in Kansas City and the Partnership’s St. Louis office. ERIKA DUNNING (B.A., communication studies) is a sales representative for Altria Group Distribution Company. MEAGAN FULLER (B.A., communication studies) is pursuing her master’s in health communication at Emerson College. She also works as a relationship manager for Student Health 101, an

online health and wellness magazine for college students, based out of Boston, Mass. She was selected as Miss Boston 2014. TAYLOR HOLLAND (B.A., journalism) is now the chief of staff for Supervisor Jeff McKay in Fairfax County, Va. Previously he worked at The Washington Examiner and The Selma Times-Journal newspapers. AMETHYST HOLMES (B.A., journalism) is K-12 education reporter for al.com and The Huntsville Times. Previously, she served as a general assignment reporter. MALLORY KNIGHT (B.A., communication studies) is an athletic communications assistant for The University of Alabama Athletics Communications. BRITTANY KNOX (B.A., journalism) received the $10,000 Duke Energy Leadership Award as a master of arts in management student at Wake Forest University. VICTOR LUCKERSON (B.A., journalism) has served as homepage editor for Time.com since May 2013. He coordinates story placement, works with section editors to ensure fresh content and writes breaking news stories. He also writes feature stories for the Time business section. JOHN MCWILLIAMS (B.A., journalism) is a sports writer for the TimesDaily in Florence, Ala. CARLY PALMOUR (B.A., New College/ telecommunication and film) was the associate producer on “Fed Up,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The executive producer was Katie Couric. CHRISTEN ROBICHAUD (M.L.I.S.) is the evening and weekend supervisor at the Chattanooga State Community College Library in Chattanooga, Tenn. RON SCHWERTFEGER (M.L.I.S.) is the new instruction, outreach and COMMUNICATOR | 71

ALUMNI BRIEFS assessment librarian at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) following 16 years at SirsiDynix.

students from the advertising and public relations and telecommunication and film departments.

TAMICA SHAMBLY (B.A., ’10, public relations; M.A., ’12, communication studies) is assistant for the First Scholars Program, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

CHRISTI COWAN (B.A., ’11 M.A., ’13, journalism) is employed at Diversified Label Images in Birmingham, where she works in graphic design and pre-press.

KRISTIN (BROWN) THOMPSON (M.A., communication studies) is an account executive at Strong LLC, New York.

MADASYN CZEBINIAK (M.A., journalism) covers crime and public safety for The Anniston Star. She was a community journalism master’s student in 2012-13.

VIRGINIA WEATHERLY (B.A., communication studies) is an administrative assistant at Hannah Solar LLC, Atlanta. SHENIKA WILLIAMS (B.A., communication studies) is a graduate student at Troy University.


DANILO M. BAYLEN (M.L.I.S.) has been elected as the 2013-14 International Division’s president-elect of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Baylen is currently professor of instructional technology and school library media in the Department of Educational Technology and Foundations, College of Education, at the University of West Georgia. While at SLIS he was a member of the seventh national online cohort and the first Project ALFA cohort. JOHN BURGESS (M.L.I.S., ’06; Ph.D. in communication, ’13) is virtual reference librarian at Troy University. MEREDITH CAMPBELL (M.A., communication studies) is a community outreach manager at Woodmen of the World. AMANDA CLARK (M.L.I.S., ’07; Ph.D., ’13,) has accepted a position as interim director of the Harriet Cheney Cowles Memorial Library at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. ERIC COOKS (M.A., journalism) joined journalism department professor George Daniels in presenting a “Salt Monster” anti-sodium campaign to a statewide audience at a daylong gathering sponsored by the Alabama Obesity Task Force and Alabama Action for Healthy Kids. The campaign was developed by Cooks and a team of 72 |


CHRIS DANIELS (M.L.I.S.) accepted a position as reference and adult services assistant manager at the main library of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library in Huntsville, Ala. EMILY DIAB (B.A., ’12, public relations; M.A., ’13, advertising and public relations) is an executive team leader at Target. AMBER DORSETT (M.A., communication studies) is domestic education assistant for Lifeline Children’s Services. Her role is to market, coordinate and facilitate the DCO (Decisions, Choices and Options) curriculum in middle/high schools both in Birmingham and beyond. She coordinates all trainings pertaining to domestic adoption and foster care, including Infant Adoption Awareness Training Programs in hospitals and medical care facilities, crisis pregnancy centers and group preparation and selection courses. She will also coordinate and plan events such as facilitator trainings, speaking engagements and foster care family retreats. BRITTANY FINLEY (M.A., communication studies) is a marketing coordinator at BPS Birmingham. LAUREN FLOYD (M.L.I.S.) is employed at the Birmingham Public Library in Birmingham, Ala., working in outreach services. SCHERNAVIA HALL (M.A., communication studies) is assistant director, admissions operations, and adjunct instructor at The University of Alabama. MALLORY MARSH (M.A., communication studies) is director of forensics at

Bethel College, Newton, Kansas. KELSEY MELITO (B.A, journalism) has accepted a position as an independent distributor for ItWorks! Global, a direct-selling company that offers professional quality beauty and wellness products. TAYLOR MONTGOMERY (B.A., telecommunication and film) is the morning anchor on KXXV – TV in Waco, Texas. MEREDITH QUALLS (M.A., journalism) and LEAH CAYSON (M.A., journalism) are both working as staff reporters for The Decatur Daily. JEREMY REID (M.A., communication studies) is a coordinator of special projects, The University of Alabama. MIKE SELBY (M.L.I.S.) is the information services librarian at the Cranbrook Public Library, Cranbrook, British Columbia. JESSICA SHARP (M.A., communication studies) has been hired by Humana, in Knoxville, Tenn., as engagement advisor to focus on well-being, manage education and engagement in vitality, and support the account manager and total health consultant in customer relations management. She will work directly with its members to drive engagement, data mine, create and deliver presentations, and execute strategic account plans. KATIE TURPEN (M.A., journalism) is a staff writer for The Hoover Sun. She was a community journalism master’s student in 2012-13. MATT VAN ESS (M.L.I.S.) is director of Volunteer Wisconsin at the Center for Community Outreach at the Marshfield Clinic. JEFF WALKER (M.A., ’10, communication studies; Ph.D., ’13, communication) accepted a teaching position at Southern Miss, where he has taught public speaking, public advocacy and a seminar on rhetoric. MARYANN (STARK) WHITAKER (Ph.D., communication) is an adjunct assistant professor at John Tyler Community College.

STUDENT BRIEFS to a student who is a PRSSA member, displays leadership and who has public relations-related achievements and activities, a digital presence and recommendations from public relations faculty and/or industry professionals. Colburn received $2,500 and a threemonth paid internship in Edelman’s offices in Austin, Texas. Students in UA’s PRSSA chapter earned back-to-back national titles in the College Duck Tape PRSSA Challenge. Duck brand, which markets College Duck Tape, a line of Duck Tape prints featuring logos and mascots from more than 40 college teams, challenged PRSSA chapters across the country to develop and execute a well-organized public relations plan to generate awareness of College Duck Tape on campus.

Advertising and Public Relations The A+PR Department and the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) Ad Team are celebrating their 40th anniversary (pictured above). To celebrate, the 2014 Ad Team, The Clarence Group, hosted the 40th Year Anniversary celebration of Ad Team at UA. Past and current members came together to celebrate achievements at the NSAC District 7 competition on Friday, April 11, in Birmingham at the Ross Bridge Resort & Golf Course. A+PR students won 13 awards at the American Advertising Awards in Tuscaloosa. The awards included six Gold (won by Marcella Davis, Brenna Horrocks, Lauren Powell and Lauren Greene), five Silver (won by Lauren Greene, Wujie Li, Jane Dill, Corinne Mizzell and AdTeam), the Special Judges’ Award for Copywriting (Marcella Davis) and the Student Best of Show (Brenna Horrocks).

Advertising students were invited to exhibit their work at The One Club for Art & Copy’s Annual One Show Student Exhibition, part of the Creative Week events in New York City. This invitation goes out to only 20-30 schools from around the world so it is a very special accomplishment and opportunity for A+PR students. Adrienne Gates (left), a senior, was chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants as one of American Advertising Federation’s Top 50 Most Promising Minority Students. Jessica Colburn (left) won the Public Relations Student Society of America’s prestigious Daniel J. Edelman/ PRSSA Award for the nation’s Outstanding Public Relations Student. The national award is given annually

Angela Veloza and Benjamin T. Ladrillono were selected from a national pool of applicants to receive a $5,000 scholarship from The LAGRANT Foundation. Scholarship recipients also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to participate in career development workshops with industry professionals. Students in Dr. Suzanne Horsley’s PR Campaigns class have been working with the United Way of West Alabama on projects that have an impact on the entire West Alabama region. During the three-semester relationship with the agency, students have developed campaigns to train all 27 UWWA-affiliated nonprofit agencies in crisis communication planning and media relations. The students are currently working to promote the Individual Development Account (IDA) program for UWWA, which helps qualified individuals in our state save for education, start a small business or buy a home. The results of the campaigns will improve nonprofit agencies’ effectiveness in providing human services in our region, as well as help individuals contribute to the economy through advanced education, entrepreneurship and home ownership. COMMUNICATOR | 73

STUDENT BRIEFS go-Bryant, a double major in COM and TCF. Her research proposal, “Power of Comics—Comic-Con International Research Program: The Rhetoric of Alternative Geek Fandom—A Field Study Opportunity,” was competitively selected to participate in a program in San Diego to learn how to do ethnographic research.

Communication Studies Catie Malone, M.A. graduate and adjunct instructor, received the Top Faculty Paper Award at the Southern States Communication Association Convention for her essay “Going Down to New Orleans: How Class and Race Work Together in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.” Three additional students or groups presented papers at the conference: Bailey Oliver — “Reality or Fiction?: The Reinforcement of White Hegemonic Masculinity in King of the Hill”; Thomas Duke — “Devillish Suasion: Problematic Propaganda, Paradise Lost, and Plain Style”; Andy Kwon, Terrence Merkenson, Levi Pressnell, Daniel Turner and Timothy Martin — “Moving Forward in Combating Racial Stereotypes: An Examination of Strategies Advanced by A Day Without a Mexican.” M.A. student Adam Sharples was a finalist in UA’s 2013 Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Levi Pressnell was recognized as having the outstanding M.A. thesis for the College of Communication and Information Sciences. Bailey Oliver received the Outstanding M.A. Teaching Award from the College of Communication and Information Sciences. Brandon McCasland received the Frank M. Thompson Jr. Award for Excellence in Forensics from the communication studies department. Colin Whitworth was awarded the Marsha Houston Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Work in Social Justice and Diversity from the communication studies department. The Alabama Forensic Council won the team sweepstakes both days and were named Team Quality Award winners at the Western Kentucky/Miami University Fiesta Swing tournament. Individual winners were as follows: Collin Metcalf (pictured above with Al74 |


abama Forensic Council coach Bobby Imbody), individual sweeps champion both days, extemporaneous speaking champion, persuasive speaking champion both days, communication analysis champion; Madison Darling, top novice for extemporaneous speaking and persuasive speaking; Andrew Edwards, top novice for poetry interpretation; Mia McClintoc, top novice for informative speaking and communication analysis; Kevin Pabst, impromptu speaking champion; Clifton Baker, program oral interpretation champion. At the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament for 2014, the Alabama Forensic Council took 9th Place Team Sweepstakes, Collin Metcalf was 10th Place Overall Speaker and national champion in extemporaneous speaking, and Hannah Fowler was named to the 2014 AFA-NIET All-American Team.

Arielle Latiolais was competitively selected to participate in the Undergraduate Research Workshop, sponsored by Brigham Young University, at the biennial conference for the Rhetoric Society of America, San Antonio, Texas, May 23, 2014.

Journalism Reginald Allen, Judah Martin and Brittany Galloway, a master’s student in advertising/public relations, represented the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the “Standing on Their Shoulders” civil rights and journalism conference, sponsored by the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists. All three students are members of the Capstone Association of Black Journalists. Justin Barnett worked as an intern with WSIX-FM 97.9 in Nashville for summer 2014.

The following students won oral presentation awards at UA’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference: First place, John Brinkerhoff; second place, Victoria Griffiths; third place, Kathryn Taylor. At the 2014 C&IS Honors Day ceremony, Hannah Fowler was named communication studies outstanding graduating senior, Blake Schneider received the Thomas E. Harris Award for Excellence in Organization Communication, and Collin Metcalf was named the Alabama Forensic Council Outstanding Individual Events Team Member. The Mark Nelson Leadership Support Fund recipient was Rahni Ar-

Mazie Bryant (pictured above with Dr. Wilson Lowery) served as the 2013-2014 editor-in-chief of The Crimson White, which finished second in the Best College Newspaper category at the Southeast Journalism Conference convention in Lafayette, La.

STUDENT BRIEFS articles, including the “The Final Barrier,” a story about allegations of racism within the sorority recruitment process at UA. Alexandra Ellsworth received fourth place in the Best Arts and Entertainment Reporter competition at the 2014 Southeast Journalism Conference in Lafayette, La.

Crimson White editor-in-chief Mazie Bryant, culture editor Abbey Crain and magazine editor Matt Ford (pictured above, far left, with other members of the newspaper staff) were awarded the 2013 College Press Freedom Award by the Student Press Law Center for the Sept. 11, 2013, article “The Final Barrier.” The article, which received national attention, focused on allegations of racial discrimination in The University of Alabama sorority recruitment process. Bryant served as editor-in-chief, and the article was co-written by Crain and Ford. The award is given annually by the Student Press Law Center and the Associated Collegiate Press to recognize student journalists who have pursued difficult stories in the face of adversity.

Matt Ford worked internships in 2013 at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, and for GQ magazine at Conde Nast Publications in New York. He is currently magazine editor for The Crimson White.

Tori Martinez worked an internship with the Florida Panthers hockey team over the winter break. She had several articles published on the team’s website. Sara Milledge and Leah Cayson, both master’s students in the Community Journalism program, completed individual multimedia projects that received honorable mention honors at the national 25th Annual College News Design Contest through the Society for News Design. Molly Olmsted is studying abroad at the University of Leicester in England. Molly will complete a work-study with the city’s newspaper, the Leicester Mercury.

Haley Grogan is a communications specialist for the UA National Alumni Association, and she is the managing editor for Darling, an online magazine for 20-something women. Grogan will present the paper “Frontier Theory and Technology as ‘Empire’ in Star Trek: The Original Series” at the 2014 International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts conference in Orlando. Ryan Phillips won first place at the 2014 American Journalism History Association Southeast Symposium for his research paper, “A Newspaper Experiment: The Alabama Insane Hospital’s Patient-run Publication, The Meteor, and its Editor.” Phillips wrote his paper in Dianne Bragg’s JN 563 History of Journalism class.

Adrienne Burch served as assistant news editor for The Crimson White in the spring of 2013, and currently she is the media intern for the youth and college ministries at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa. She traveled to El Salvador in January to partner with a Latin American Christian camping ministry, and she served as a director of programming at Pine Cove Christian Camps in Texas during the summer of 2014.

Master’s students Wade Leonard, Columbus, Miss., Elizabeth Manning, Fort Payne, Laura Monroe, Muscle Shoals, and Becky Robinson, Huntsville, all had their research papers selected for presentation to the 2014 AJHA Southeast Symposium.

Daniel Byars worked as an intern in fall 2013 with Scott River Lodge in Fort Jones, Calif. Byars wrote articles for the website and kept the site updated.

Sarah Mahan interned for the Selma Times-Journal, where she covered community events and public health and safety.

Abbey Crain was named the 2013 College Journalist of the Year at the Southeast Journalism Conference convention in Lafayette, La. Crain won the award for her work on a series of

Judah Martin represented the college at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 Conference on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.

Anna Price Olson (pictured above) interned for Brides magazine from May to August 2013. Olson, who is planning to return to New York after graduating in May 2014, worked on the features desk and also served as an intern for the editor-in-chief of Brides. Katherine Owen serves as the production editor for The Crimson White. In recent semesters at the CW, she has been recognized for breaking news coverage of the 2012 Copper Top shooting and the 2013 local election controversy. Nick Sellers received fourth place in the Best Magazine Writer competition at the Southeast Journalism Conference in Lafayette, La. Timothy Steere won second place at the 2014 AJHA Southeast Symposium for his research paper, “Covering Coal: Newspaper Coverage of Three West Virginia Mining Disasters.” Steere wrote his paper in Dianne Bragg’s JN 563 History of Journalism class. COMMUNICATOR | 75

STUDENT BRIEFS 2013 BEA Student Interactive Multimedia competition with “Forest Lake Tuscaloosa Multimedia Project.” Miller Coop and Anne Tyler Bushman won first place in the 2014 BEA Student Interactive Multimedia competition with “Miracle League.” Taylor Crosby won first place, Radio Sports Reporting, in the Society for Professional Journalists’ 2013 regional Mark of Excellence contest. Taylor also won third place in the BEA 2013 Radio Feature Reporting competition with “Dorm Cooking Using a Microwave.” ABOVE: The 2013-2014 Student Executive Council stands with its advisers Dr. Carol Mills and Bridget Busby.

Marc Torrence served as sports editor for The Crimson White in 2013-14. He received second place in the Best Sports Writer competition at the 2014 Southeast Journalism Conference. In 2013 Torrence interned at The Tuscaloosa News and at The (Nashville) Tennessean, and he freelanced for a number of publications, including The Baltimore Sun, The Salt Lake Tribune and the Associated Press. Anna Waters is the visuals editor for The Crimson White and the chief editor for Dateline Alabama, the department’s online news publication. She worked at The Tuscaloosa News as a copy editor/ designer in the fall of 2013.

School of Library and Information Studies Becky Beamer was appointed a Graduate Council Research/Creative Activity Fellow for 2014-2015. This prestigious award provides tuition, health insurance and a monthly stipend to support her work as a visiting media scholar at the Polytechnic of Namibia. David Blum, the first SLIS student to complete a thesis under the new thesis option, successfully defended his work on June 12, 2013. Titled “Management of Intelligence Archives of Fallen Authoritarian Regimes,” his thesis explores the 76 |


management of intelligence archives in Germany, Russia and South Africa. Committee members were Elizabeth Aversa (chair), Bob Riter and John Beeler (History).


and Film Shelby Hadden won the 2013 BEA Best of the Festival Award and the Festival Chair’s Award for “April’s Hero.” She won the BEA AOX Research & Producing Award for “Never Got a Dime,” and third place in the 2014 BEA Student Long Form Documentary competition for “Not a Statistic.” Branna Burns and Greg Kubik won a BEA Award of Excellence for “Art to Life.” Greg also won an Honorable Mention in the BEA Student Long Form Documentary competition for “Alabama Art Seen.”

Tommy Townsend won first place, Television General News Reporting, in the Society for Professional Journalists’ 2013 regional Mark of Excellence contest and third place in its Television Breaking News Reporting category. Tommy also won Honorable Mention in the 2014 BEA Student Television Hard News Reporting competition for “Drownings on the River.” Rebecca Farmer won second place, Radio News Reporting, in the Society for Professional Journalists’ 2013 regional Mark of Excellence contest. Mary Beth Harrison won third place, Television Breaking News, in the Society for Professional Journalists’ 2013 regional Mark of Excellence contest. Connor Simpson won Best Picture and Best Director at the 2013 National Campus Moviefest Competition in Los Angeles. His film, “Manta,” was also selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival.

Branna Burns was also competitively selected as a student intern at the Cannes Film Festival along with fellow TCF majors Kat Delay, Brandon Sparks and Amy Tippit. Micah Russell won first place in the 2013 BEA Music Video competition with “Gifted’s Superstar.” After graduation, Micah was hired as an assistant editor at Industrial Light & Magic. Jasmine Cannon, Ka’Leah Rodgers and Zack Guiterrez won first place in the

Alex Beatty (pictured above) won Best Editor for his film “Rise” at the 2013 National Campus Moviefest Competition in Los Angeles.


INFORMATION SCIENCES for our fall alumni events •The 2014 Communication Hall of Fame ceremony and dinner, 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9, in the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium For more information about the 2014 Hall of Fame event, call 205-348-4787.

Inductees for 2014 are: o William Ossian “Bill” Bolan, TV anchor o Gilbert E. “Gibby” Johnston Jr., attorney o H. Shelton Prince Jr. (posthumous), newspaper publisher* o Stanley T. “Stan” Siegal (posthumous), broadcast executive* o Sela Ward, award-winning actress** *Posthumous **Will be unable to attend

• Homecoming parade viewing and reception, Nov. 22, prior to the Western Carolina game, time TBA Come join us to watch The University of Alabama’s annual Homecoming parade from the steps of Reese Phifer. Refreshments will be served in the Rotunda beginning one hour prior to the start of the parade.


the university of alabama

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Tuscaloosa, AL Permit 16

Capstone Foundation Capstone Communication Society Box 870172 Tuscaloosa, Al 35487-0172

our students. our future.

connect with the college facebook.com/uaccis





The University of Alabama Box 870172 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.