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Transforming the Future Alumnus and TV legend Donald P. Bellisario helps the College take a “Quantum Leap� forward

Dean’s Message


s I looked at the cover for this edition of The Communicator, I couldn’t help but think about the magnitude of this moment. It’s one that comes just once in the life of a college – if it comes at all – and one that comes rarely to even a large and great University like Penn State. It came for us this spring, through the generosity of 1961 alumnus Donald P. Bellisario. His name has long been a source of pride for the College and Penn State, and now it is a part of our identity forever. (For our cover story, please see Page 12.) Don is the perfect namesake for us. His education and career speak, in some way, to the aspirations of almost all our students. He majored in journalism, worked at a newspaper, and built a career in advertising – all before gaining phenomenal success in film and television. It’s not hyperbole to say Don is one of the greatest storytellers of his generation, a storyteller who has entertained and inspired multiple generations. It’s fun to talk with alumni and students about him because all of us know of at least one of his shows, whether it’s “Magnum P.I.,” produced in the 1980s, or “NCIS,” a top-rated program today. Don also shares the same humble Pennsylvania roots as many who have come through the College. Don has never forgotten those roots or the lessons he learned in his service as a Marine during the 1950s and at Penn State, where professors like Roland Hicks challenged Don and helped him grow as a writer. From there, he achieved the kind of

success few others can claim. And even fewer have his philanthropic vision. One of my favorite examples of that is what he said in 2008 during a video interview with the Archive of American Television. (You can find the three-hour interview at interviews/people/donald-bellisario.) The interviewer asked Don to share his proudest professional moment. He certainly had a lot of choices to sift through: his awards, his hit TV series, his induction on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He didn’t mention any of those. Instead, he talked about his Trustee Scholarship Fund at Penn State. Don established the scholarship fund in 2006 with a million-dollar gift, one of the largest of its kind in the University’s history – a gift that has made a college education affordable for 350 students, and counting. In the video, Don talked about the letters he and his wife, Vivienne, receive annually from those students. He told the interviewer, “To give back to the young kids like that really gives me a great feeling.” And then he added, “I don’t think I’ve hit my proudest professional moment yet. I think it’s still out there somewhere, and it’s going to come.” I’d like to think that this transformative gift – which will change not hundreds but thousands of lives over many generations – might now be his proudest professional moment. It is certainly the greatest moment in our history. And, thanks to Don, I can add this: As we cement our place as the leading college of its kind in the country, we can be assured that even greater moments lie in front of us. I thank all of you for your support as we forge our new path as the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

Dean Marie Hardin

The Communicator magazine is published twice a year for alumni, students, faculty and friends of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

DEAN Marie Hardin EDITOR Steve Sampsell (’90) ASSISTANT EDITORS Trey Miller (’12), Jonathan McVerry (’05) CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Gene Foreman All items relating to the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and its faculty, staff, students and alumni will be considered for publication. Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by the University, College or editorial staff.

CORRESPONDENCE The Communicator Penn State Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications 302 James Building University Park, PA 16801-3867 Email: Twitter: @PSUBellisario Web:


Assistant Dean Joseph Selden prepares to take a photo with graduates following May’s commencement ceremony. Selden is set to retire June 30. Read more on Page 24. (Photo by Curt Chandler)

12 A Storyteller’s Touch

Donald P. Bellisario’s gift adds another chapter to a compelling story

18 New York State of Mind

Alumni presence, success make bond with New York City important

24 ‘Bittersweet’ Departure

College bids farewell to beloved mentor, champion for diversity

30 Shocking the World

Mastering the language and culture in the quest for great storytelling

40 A Man of Many Firsts This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected groups. Nondiscrimination: policies/AD85.html U.Ed. COM 17-122

Alvin Goodman has a knack for being in the right place at the right time

DEPARTMENTS ON THE COVER Dean Marie Hardin and Donald P. Bellisario get a greeting from the Nittany Lion on the day Bellisario and his wife Vivienne visited campus and their gift was announced. (Photo by John Beale)

2 Dean’s Message 4 Starting Shots 42 Alumni Notes

The Communicator | Spring 2017



Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

Mykale Trotter (left) and Tommy Brewton, members of the Silent Praise Mime Ministry at Penn State, perform during an event on campus. (Photo by Anthony Amato)

The Communicator | Spring 2017




Donald P. Bellisario College of of Communications Donald P. Bellisario College Communications

Dean Keppler (left) and Mark Koons, of Muncie, Indiana, use binoculars to get a better view of the U.S. Capitol as Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president. (Photo by Antonella Crescimbeni)

The Communicator | Spring 2017



Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

Sean Brame, the first swimmer in the Penn State Ability Athletics program, has his eye on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. And Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications student Jingling Zhang had her eye on Brame for a photo story, a portion of which may be found on Page 33.

The Communicator | Spring 2017 The Communicator | Spring 2017

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Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

10 The Communicator | Fall 2015

News and Notes Brenda Johnson, a staff assistant in the advising office, earned the 2017 Support Staff Award from the University. It recognizes the overall high-quality performance of a full-time member of the support staff with at least five years of active service in fulfilling the mission of the University and of his or her college or administrative unit. It also recognizes dedicated focus to customer service, commitment to quality improvement, outstanding skills and abilities, teamwork and professionalism. Senior lecturer Boaz Dvir’s latest film, “Cojot: A Holocaust Survivor Takes History Into His Own Hands,” tells the story of Michel Cojot, a French business consultant who sets out to kill his father’s Nazi executioner, Klaus Barbie, and ends up playing a pivotal role in the 20th century’s most daring hostage-rescue operation. The film is slated to air on PBS in 2018. Associate professor Russell Frank, who writes a weekly column for, was honored by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). He earned first place in the Commentary-Non Daily category of the SPJ Keystone Chapter Spotlight contest. In October, Penn State University Press will publish “Among the Woo People: A Survival Guide for Living in a College Town,” a collection of Frank’s columns and essays. Students Michelle Wolf and Kayla Fish hosted Penn State President Eric Barron’s regular TV program, “Digging Deeper” during the 201617 academic year. The show airs on WPSU-TV and is available online.






Lives in: New York City Job: Features writer, Refinery29 In this issue: Profiles retiring Assistant Dean Joseph Selden (Page 24) Now reading: “Swing Time” by Zadie Smith Big break: Working at Oprah Magazine, first as an intern after graduation, and eventually as a writer and editor My go-to cure for writer’s block: A long shower Three things always in my fridge: Avocado, coconut water, salsa Top three artists on your playlist: Drake, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars Favorite kind of cookie: Chocolate chip Favorite campus spot: Redifer Commons, because of those chicken cheesesteaks!

IT’S A GOOD DAY WHEN: I’ve laughed so hard I cry!

Penn State College of Communications






Lives in: State College Job: Sports editor, Centre Daily Times In this issue: He writes about the abundance of alumni in and the Bellisario College’s relationship with New York City (Page 18) Big break: Getting hired at Now reading: “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clarke Best advice you ever received: You should get a dog My advice to Penn State students: Figure out what your priorities are in life. Build your life around what comes first. My go-to cure for writer’s block: Writing in the shower (waterproof notepads are the best notepads) Top three artists on your playlist: Vampire Weekend, Weezer and ... actually, that’s all I really need

FAVORITE KIND OF COOKIE: Peanut butter (Tagalongs)

Lives in: State College Job: Graphic designer In this issue: Partnered with Cassidy Walter and Alice Yoo to create the art for New York City alumni story (Pages 18-22) Big break: Still waiting on that one First Penn State memory: Ice cream at the Berkey Creamery Three things always in my fridge: Ranch dressing, milk and broccoli Favorite kind of cookie: Snickerdoodle Favorite campus spot: Arboretum Top three artists on my playlist: The Killers, Frank Ocean, Maggie Rogers It’s a good day when: It’s sunny and warm and there’s ice cream involved

GO-TO CURE FOR CREATIVE DRY SPELLS: Nature cures everything

The Communicator | Spring 2017


A Storytelle

Donald P. Bellisario’s $30 mill

another chapter to his compellin

opportunities for his alma m 12

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

ler’s Touch

million gift to Penn State adds

lling life story, and opens many mater to grow and flourish. The Communicator | Spring 2017



hen Donald P. Bellisario tells a story — allowing his body language to add subtle details and pacing his delivery to engage and entertain — his blue eyes sparkle. He builds to a climax or evokes reaction, and enjoys every part of the process.

So, after a special meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees on April 21, 2017, the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications was born. Bellisario’s gift will lead to additional scholarships for students, more opportunities and support for students and faculty, and significant facility upgrades to enhance the storytelling tools students utilize on a daily basis. Dean Marie Hardin was clear about the importance of the support. There’s no doubt “This is the greatest those who consume day in our history,” she said. “The success Don his stories enjoy them Bellisario has achieved as well. makes all of us aspire to Despite his comparatively be greater ourselves. And late arrival in Hollywood (at the investment that he has Scholarships and awards for undergraduate the age of 42), Bellisario’s already made in our College stories have entertained students — need-based, military preference. and our students has generations of television helped inspire a vision that viewers and influenced this unprecedented gift will popular culture in ways empower us to fulfill.” that he could only imagine With the $30 million Creation of the Donald P. Bellisario Media Center four decades ago. commitment — one of His most notable TV in Willard Building. The state-of-the-art facility on the five largest gifts ever creations — “Magnum, P.I.,” the ground and first floors of the building will bring received by the University — “Quantum Leap,” “JAG” and communications endeavors currently housed at Don and Vivienne Bellisario “NCIS” — have combined built on the tradition of Innovation Park to the core of campus. to give him a prime-time support they established presence on a national more than a decade ago. network almost every year Their transformational since 1980. It’s an amazing support will allow the run. Endowment for programs and facilities. Those Donald P. Bellisario College “To have created the of Communications to career he has for himself, include undergraduate programs and support for enhance its reputation as especially coming into faculty chairs and professorships. one of the best programs of the business so late, is its kind in the nation. remarkable and, really, At the heart of the unprecedented,” said The University will contribute $20 million — with $5 gift is a scholarship fund award-winning author Paul million for needs-based scholarships and $15 million for students, with first Levine, who served as a preference given to for the facility renovation. writer on “JAG” from 1997 undergraduates who are to 2005. U.S. military veterans, Bellisario, a 1961 Penn State graduate with a degree in journalism, boasts a active-duty service members, reservists and members of personal story that seems chock full of the unexpected the National Guard. The Bellisarios’ gift will also create an endowment to and unprecedented. The most recent addition was a $30 million gift to his be directed toward the innovative programs and faculty alma mater — the largest single gift for an academic unit in leadership that will, according to Hardin, “cement the Penn State history. Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications as the

The Bellisario Gift $5 million

$5 million

$20 million

“This is the greatest day in our history. The succes aspire to be greater ourselves. And the investmen our students has helped inspire a vision that this u


Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

The Communicator | Fall 2015


national leader.” The funds will help support programs to offer undergraduates “real-world” work experience, along with internships and residential programs in media markets elsewhere in the country. “In the fastmoving fields of media and journalism, the greatest advantage we can give our students is handson experience, as they learn from faculty who are themselves leaders and game- For Donald and Vivienne Bellisario, the opportunity to support Penn State was a proud moment. changers,” Hardin (Photo by John Beale) said. “Thanks to ever made through the Trustee Matching Scholarship the Bellisarios’ unsurpassed generosity, we will be able to Program. They endowed the Donald P. Bellisario Trustee create more opportunities on campus and in places such Scholarship with a $1 million commitment and have as Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, for our students to continued to support the fund over the years. About 350 interact with top professionals.” past and current students have been supported by the With the Bellisario gift, plans are also underway to fund. Many recipients have been, like Bellisario, veterans create the Donald P. Bellisario Media Center in Willard or active-duty service members. Bellisario has also Building. The cutting-edge facility will house state-of-the- donated important materials from his career, including art television studios, the growing digital media agencies, scripts and video, for use in classes. student-media operations, and space for film and video Still, there’s more to the story of that initial gift and creation. Bellisario shared it when he talked about the scholarship Existing spaces for those uses, including the production fund at an on-campus donor dinner shortly after making of the award-winning “Centre County Report” newscast, all the gift. He recalled nearing his graduation as an undergrad, currently located at Innovation Park, will move to Willard needing some financial assistance and securing a $600 Building. As a result, almost everyone and everything loan to make it through as he tried to make ends meet associated with the Bellisario College will be relocated with his young family. geographically closer together, housed in either Carnegie He then paused, expressed his appreciation for the Building or Willard Building in the core of the University University’s support and shared what he did to repay the Park campus. loan. … Nothing. The University will also invest in the renovation, which “I stiffed ’em,” he said as the audience laughed. “Hopefully is expected to begin in 2018 and be completed by 2020. this will get us even.” The Bellisarios established their tradition of visionary Douglas Anderson, dean emeritus, pitched that $1 support at Penn State in 2006 with one of the largest gifts million gift to Bellisario on the spur of the moment

cess Don Bellisario has achieved makes all of us ment that he has already made in our College and his unprecedented gift will empower us to fulfill.” — Dean Marie Hardin The Communicator | Spring 2017


The Bellisario File Born: Aug. 8, 1935 l Served in Marines (1955-59), discharged as a sergeant and awarded the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. l Earned journalism degree from Penn State in 1961, completing a college career that had started before he entered the service. l First job with the Centre Daily Times. l Fifteen-year career in advertising (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Dallas). l Moved to Hollywood in 1977, working as a writer and story editor for “Black Sheep Squadron.” l Creator of “Magnum, P.I” (1980), “Quantum Leap” (1989), “JAG” (1995) and “NCIS” (2003). l Married to Vivienne Bellisario. l Made $1 million gift to Penn State through the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program in 2006.

Donald Bellisario relaxes outside Carnegie Building. A dedication of the renamed Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications will be conducted Oct. 22. (Photo by John Beale) during a bumpy shuttle bus ride to Beaver Stadium for a football game. Typically a button-down, by-the-books administrator, Anderson just felt it was the right time to ask. “I didn’t endear myself to people in our central development office, because there was no written proposal. We were just bouncing along in the bus and the timing seemed right,” Anderson said. “When Don said he would fund the scholarship, that made some people feel a little bit better about the process.” Bellisario often seems to benefit from gut instincts or just-right timing. He first enrolled at Penn State in 1953 but left to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served from January 1955 to January 1959, was discharged as a sergeant and earned the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. He returned to the University with his young family, earned his degree and secured his first job with the Centre Daily Times. After that, Bellisario built a reputation as an innovator

and leader in advertising. He worked for a firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and later rose to the rank of senior vice president of the famous Bloom Agency. He moved to Hollywood in 1977, becoming a writer and story editor on “Black Sheep Squadron.” His career progressed quickly thereafter — with the popularity of “Magnum, P.I.” providing unimagined success. “When I was 45, the year ‘Magnum’ really hit, I made more money in that year alone than I had in the previous 44 years of my life,” Bellisario said during a news conference announcing the $30 million gift, inevitably telling his story in a way that made an impact and was easy to understand. Bellisario’s work has been honored with the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe writing award (for a 1980 “Magnum, P.I.” episode titled China Doll) and has earned a half dozen Primetime Emmy Award nominations. He was named 2001 Producer of the Year by the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. Bellisario was named a Distinguished Alumnus, the

A key component of the $30 million gift is the creation of the Donald P. Bellisari The project would update the building’s footprint (original blueprint, left) and bring communications end SUMMER 2017 University groundwork and approvals.


Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

AUGUST 2017 Benchmarking, facility tours.

FALL 2017 Architect approval by Board of Trustees.

highest honor offered by Penn State, in 2001. He has also been honored with the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund Globe and Anchor Award in 2002 and the Red Cross Spirit Award. Bellisario’s success and talent go far beyond good timing and a list of honors. For Levine (’69 Journ), who did not meet Bellisario until 1994 when the two were on campus for an alumni event, watching Bellisario’s creative approach and determination from a front row seat was instructive. During that first fortuitous meeting, they started talking about their work. They quickly decided to trade drafts of their projects — Levine’s book “Mortal Sin” and Bellisario’s two-hour pilot for “JAG.” “I’m reading this TV show and it feels like a feature film. That’s just how Don thinks,” Levine said. “In his brain I picture a big canvas. He can bring to television big colorful scenes, and at the same time create wonderful characters. If you look at the run of shows he’s done, there’s always a big picture, good characters, snappy dialogue and some humor. That’s not easy to do. You need a uniquely multitalented person for that to happen.” You also need someone detail-oriented and driven to keep TV shows — especially an ongoing string of TV hits — on track in Hollywood. While some creators and executive producers might delegate, Bellisario digs into the details to ensure that his big-canvas vision becomes a reality. He has high standards, and expects those who work for him to meet those standards. From location choices to the time of day, type of shots, music and so much more, Bellisario’s genius rests in his ability to craft a story and remain focused as it comes to fruition. “It’s really soup to nuts with Don,” Levine said. “He’s very active in the process. That’s not necessarily unusual, but his success certainly makes him special.” Bellisario’s career and his personal story are irrevocably intertwined. His experiences and observations have provided fertile territory for his storytelling success. His life influences and his life itself have been referenced with some regularity on his shows. Bellisario was born Aug. 8, 1935, in Cokeburg, Pennsylvania. His father owned a tavern in the western Pennsylvania mining town — a place Bellisario consistently describes as “hard scrabble” — that was the gathering spot for local coal miners and veterans returning from World

“In his brain I picture a big canvas. He can bring to television big colorful scenes, and at the same time create wonderful characters. ... That’s not easy to do. You need a uniquely multitalented person for that to happen.” — Paul Levine (’69 Journ) War II. Bellisario was often there to take in the flavor of the place, as well as those who frequented it. The final episode of “Quantum Leap” was set in that tavern, with Bellisario making an uncredited appearance as one of the miners. The series had a consistent military presence (and reverence) with actor Dean Stockwell playing Admiral Al Calavicci, who guided Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) as he “leaped” through time, consistently working to “put right what once went wrong.” Bellisario’s TV creations were popular because he had an appreciation for authenticity — something that resonated with viewers no matter the premise or setting of his shows. In that way, the shows clearly were a reflection of Bellisario and his beliefs. “Don is a very real and authentic person. Anyone who meets with him is overwhelmed with the resume and success he’s had but he’s just one of those people you instantly like. You could be intimidated by his accomplishments but he very quickly puts you at ease,” Anderson said. “In many respects he embodies the kind of students that the land-grand institution founders must’ve had in mind. From a hard-scrabble beginning in a small coal mining western Pennsylvania town to the heights he has ascended to clearly makes him an individual who has profited and leveraged his education. “This is a brilliant guy, a risk taker, a great writer who possesses expertise that spans the College — journalism, advertising, film, telecommunications. He’s also one of those people who has never forgotten his roots. Obviously his legacy will extend in perpetuity in Hollywood, just as it will at Penn State.” l

lisario Media Center, a state-of-the-art facility to be located in Willard Building. ns endeavors housed at Innovation Park to the core of campus across the street from Carnegie Building. DECEMBER 2018 Construction begins.

MAY 2020 Donald P. Bellisario Media Center opens.

The Communicator | Spring 2017



Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND With more than 3,200 alumni living within 30 miles, sometimes the Big Apple feels more like Happy Valley BY JOSH MOYER (’08)


nside a control room at the Comcast Building, a skyscraper taller than all but 16 New York City buildings, Don Roy King gazes at dozens of TV screens. He barks orders like a quarterback (“Ready One; Take One!”) and anticipates movement like a symphony conductor. To this day, the director and Penn State alum (’69 Speech) feels butterflies fluttering around his stomach when he hears the trademark shout: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” For the last 11 years, the 69-year-old Emmy winner – who spent his college days eating hamburgers at The Corner Room and nights drinking beers at the Phyrst – has directed a cultural cornerstone in NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” He’s watched Alec Baldwin perform Donald Trump impressions, and he’s worked with Trump himself. His path to “Saturday Night Live” took shape at Penn State.


“My last course senior year was a production course where we were assigned different roles to put on a real show,” King said. “And that’s when I said, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ That’s what led me to today.” King hasn’t forgotten his Happy Valley roots; two Nittany Lion statues are on display in his home, just above his six primetime Emmy awards. He’s a high-profile alum to be sure. But he’s hardly the only one in New York City. In fact, he’s not even the only one inside his own building. Linda Yaccarino (’85 Telecomm) is NBCUniversal’s chairwoman of advertising sales and client partnerships, while Shoshannah Cutler (’08 Ad/PR, Bus) is an account director at 30 Rock. Just an eightminute walk away, the NFL’s vice president of football communications, Michael Signora (’96 Journ), is usually fielding calls from reporters. Then it is a seven-minute bicycle ride to the office of Jayne Jamison (’78 Adv), a publisher at Hearst Magazines. The Communicator | Spring 2017



ew York City has become a magnet for talented communications graduates, and, according to Penn State’s Alumni Association database, more than 3,200 Bellisario College of Communications alumni work and live within 30 miles of New York City. That means about one of every eight communications alumni head to the Big Apple after graduation. The city is bursting with executives wearing blueand-white socks and professionals displaying Penn State knick-knacks in their high-rise offices. Rick Matthews (’75 Journ), managing director at the prestigious media relations/public relations firm Rubenstein, takes pride in having found a few Joe Paterno/Coca-Cola trays at a flea market for $1 apiece. The trays now are staples at his Beaver Stadium tailgate, where he consistently hosts family, friends and clients who are Penn State alumni. Matthews works with some of the biggest names in real estate. He has helped market leaders such as SL Green and Tishman Speyer, which was responsible for the biggest single-building deal in U.S. history (666 Fifth Avenue, for $1.8 billion). He has also worked with a realty partner trying to build affordable housing in Latin America, and he contacted clients shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to gather food, water and blankets for the survivors. That’s a big leap for someone whose childhood was spent outside Doylestown, Pennsylvania, off a dirt road surrounded by dairy farms. “I came to Penn State as a very raw person,” Matthews acknowledged. “But I’ve lived in the dorms with guys from all over the place and I learned a lot about the world, learned a lot at Penn State.” Across the bridge, in Brooklyn, Rodnell Workman (’95 Telecomm) has made an impact on any sports fan who’s watched the Brooklyn Nets or New York Islanders. As the vice president of team marketing 20

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Workman thinks up ideas to attract new fans. Earlier, his innovations addressed the culture of horse racing. As the chief marketing officer of the New York Racing Association from 2012 to 2014, he sought to make the old gambling pastime more of an event, and even family friendly. One of his ideas was to hold concerts at the tracks; this year, for example, the Belmont Stakes hosted a Billy Joel tribute band. The NFL’s Signora likewise is an influential sports figure. As a spokesman for the league, Signora has had an impact on every NFL city and most of its beat writers. After speaking with journalists four years ago, for example, he helped persuade the NFL to post daily trades and free-agent signings on its media website, along with snap counts for all players. That, in part, helped him win the 2013 Jack Horrigan Award, an honor bestowed on an official for helping football writers do their jobs. Signora keeps a statue of the Nittany Lion on a bookshelf behind his desk. “I had such a positive experience at Penn State that I want every student who goes there to have a positive experience,” he said. “Not a month goes by where I’m not in contact with a Penn State student or alum who has a question of some kind.”


Guests inside the office of Meredith Topalanchik (’99 Ad/PR) don’t have to wonder about her alma mater. Right behind her standing desk, just over her shoulder, is a stained-glass Penn State lamp. And Topalanchik, an executive vice president at the public relations firm CooperKatz & Company, will start a conversation with anyone she catches wearing a Penn State sweatshirt. “From a professional side of things, it’s something I seek out,” said Topalanchik, who was honored earlier this year by PRNews as one of the top women in the profession. “And I say that proudly: I’m a graduate of Penn State. And that automatically makes connections.” Topalanchik is in the process of bringing another Penn State grad into her company, and she has just passed along another potential Penn State intern to a fellow alum, Ellyn Fisher (’99 Journ), who works for AdCouncil. When she serves up a Penn Stater as a potential hire, Topalanchik said, “I’ve already vetted them.” Her staff’s usual response: Yeah, they’re great. To which Topalanchik replies: “I know, I know.”


Workman said seven or eight fellow alumni work in his Brooklyn headquarters. Signora rattled the names of a half-dozen Penn State sportswriters off the top of his head – and Matthews takes pride in the number of blue-

and-white alumni at his office, too. “Here at Rubenstein, I think Penn State has the single largest concentration of any of the colleges,” Matthews said. “And part of that is because of my recruiting effort. But we have five of us who are Penn Staters.” Networking events for alumni in New York City are plentiful. The inaugural Larry Foster Awards for Integrity in Public Communication – an initiative of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, housed in the Bellisario College of Communications – were presented in February at a dinner across the street from the Chrysler Building. Also in February, the Bellisario College’s Ad/PR Alumni Board hosted a networking event that drew about 70. A monthly coffee get-together geared toward alumni in their 20s and 30s started in March. Richard Rapp (’79 Adv), who now works from Connecticut but spent more than 15 years in New York City, helped to organize the Ad/PR Alumni Board event. “There’s almost no job I’ve had where there hasn’t been a Penn Stater somewhere,” said Rapp, the president of marketing consultancy Altamira. “My wife, who isn’t a Penn Stater, is always saying to me, ‘You guys are everywhere.’ ”


Bob Martin remembers the homemade chocolate chip cookies and the brownies. Penn State’s assistant dean for internships and career placement in the Bellisario College of Communications was overwhelmed with those thank-you gestures from students when he conducted his first on-campus job fair in 2000. Within three years, though, he wasn’t getting many cookies. A job fair inside the HUB-Robeson Center yielded few nibbles from the Big Apple, and students were clamoring for internships in big cities. So, in 2003, Martin persuaded ABC to stop by from New York City. That idea went over pretty well. Too well, in fact. “There was a line out the door of our students wanting to see ABC,” Martin recalled. It was embarrassing, he said, because “right next to ABC, they had a local radio station and they had maybe one student in their line.” But Martin got the message. “We needed to meet the students’ demand,” he said. “We needed New York City.” The next year, in 2004, Martin helped organize the University’s first-ever “Success in the City” job fair. The plan was for Penn State to take busloads of students to Manhattan to meet company representatives in person. That would be far more efficient than trying to persuade dozens of busy recruiters to drive the four hours to Happy Valley. That idea hit a snag, too. A snowstorm blanketed

central Pennsylvania and, when Martin called the state police to ask whether the buses should continue past the Lamar exit on I-80, he was met with a memorable response: “Are you nuts? Get them off the road, man!” The job fair had to be delayed two months. Only 23 companies showed up for the first-ever (but delayed) fair. Since then, “Success in the City” has grown nearly every year. This spring, more than 75 companies showed up to recruit Penn State students. Six buses departed Rec Hall at 6:30 a.m., transporting about 420 students in business attire. Communications alumni point to two main factors in students’ and graduates’ attraction to New York City – proximity and opportunity. They’ve witnessed first-hand just what New York City can offer. And, for many, their goal is to recruit – or at least help – as many graduates of the Blue & White they can. One executive who recruits every year at the New York City job fair is Meredith Topalanchik, who says, “I’m proud to be a Penn Stater, so I try to infuse that into everything I do.”


Richard Rapp noted that when high school students tour the Penn State campus, their tour guide at some point usually mentions how large the alumni base is. “And it probably doesn’t mean anything to you or your parents. It’s just a big number. “But you find out a few years later, it means opportunity. It means a lot of people are out there to help you – and New York happens to have a very, very big pool of those people.” l The Communicator | Spring 2017


Don Roy King’s early direction With one daytime Emmy, six primetime Emmys and eight more nominations, Don Roy King (’69 Speech) is one of Penn State’s most distinguished alumni. He has directed “Saturday Night Live” for 11 years and, for 21 years before that, worked on both “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning.” He has directed several Broadway shows for theatrical release, including the Tony Award-winning musical “Memphis” and “Romeo and Juliet.” But King still can’t forget the very first time he directed – back at Penn State, when it was an accident of sorts. That episode set his entire career in motion. King loved theater back in college, but he didn’t feel good enough – or bold enough – to try to be an actor in Manhattan. But, during the last course of his senior year, it all clicked, thanks to a classmate who couldn’t handle the pressure of directing. King and his classmates were assigned to put on a live talk show while interspersing clips and footage they had filmed the week earlier. Problems arose almost instantly when the director shouted: “We’re going to start – and Take Two! I mean One – wait, no. Camera One. I mean ... .” “He completely choked,” King remembered. “And I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s stop the tape. Let me try this.’ And that’s when I put the headset on, and I just started to follow the


Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

action, and I realized I was barking orders like a quarterback. “This whole team, they were listening to me and we were moving along. And that’s when I was looking at the clock and anticipating what was coming next. … And I thought at that moment, ‘I can do this.’ ” It wouldn’t be the last time fate intervened in his career. King’s first job after graduation was at WPSX in State College – now WPSU, a PBS/ NPR member station. Two weeks after he started, the director abruptly quit and moved to a new job in Philadelphia. King’s bosses didn’t have time to find a replacement right away. So they asked King to tie up the loose ends for the next two shows. “I said, ‘I think this is an opportunity’ ” King said. “So I learned everything I had to know about 30 seconds before I had to know it. I got those shows done; they were acceptable enough that the guy who was running the station said, ‘All right, we’re going to give you a shot.’ “So, I was a full-fledged director two weeks into my career. And I’ve been one ever since.” Later at WPSX, King worked as an assistant director on two award-winning education series about music and art. Thanks to his work there, he moved on to KDKA in Pittsburgh, where he spent two years as the producer/director for a variety of shows featuring Pirates baseball, news, specials and telethons. In 1975, just six years after graduation, he earned his first big break when he was tapped as the director for daytime TV’s “The Mike Douglas Show.” King continues to give back to the University whenever he can. When the theater and telecommunications departments livestreamed the play “Julius Caesar” in the spring of 2015 from the steps of Old Main, King eagerly consulted on the project. He has also done some teaching and lecturing when time has allowed. And that was all set in motion thanks to one classmate’s stumbling and another director’s decision to head elsewhere. “I could not be more fortunate to have gotten a chance to do something that triggers all of my interests and passions,” King said. “I feel blessed.” In June, he was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the University’s highest award for graduates. He visited campus for a public Q&A presentation and the formal award presentation. l

Closing Chapters A handful of longtime members of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications will retire at the end of June.

Jane Agnelly Financial Officer A Deans’ Excellence Award honoree for customer service. ... Provided guidance on all budgetary matters. ... Concurrently filled similar role for Schreyer Honors College.

Maria CabreraBaukus

Bob Baukus

Associate Professor

Joined the Bellisario College in 1988. ... Respected researcher, especially on ethical issues in advertising, and teacher. ... Longtime head of the Department of Advertising/ Public Relations.

John Dillon

Senior Lecturer

Professor of Practice

Commitment to practical projects and helping students led to launch of webcasts of the Homecoming Parade and THON. ... A driving force behind Veterans History Project, oral histories with military veterans.

Easily moved from newsroom to classroom. ... Became first Eberly Professor of Practice in the Bellisario College. ... Leader in helping students gain practical experience through media parternships.

Susan Strohm

Bill Mahon

Senior Lecturer

Creative, committed teacher in classroom and with World Campus courses. ... Strategic communications consultant. ... Spent 28 years with Penn State’s Office of University Relations.

An award-winning teacher (honored by both the Alumni Society Board and the Panhellenic Council) in the Department of Advertising/ Public Relations. ... Longtime coordinator of honors program in the Bellisario College.

Senior Lecturer

The Communicator | Spring 2017



Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

‘Bittersweet’ Departure Over 23 years, Joseph Selden has made an impact on the lives and careers of students By Arianna Davis (’09)

Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs Joseph Selden (left) talks with a student during the post-commencement reception at Pegula Ice Arena in May. (Photo by Curt Chandler)


hen you climb the stairs of Carnegie Building, it can feel cold — intimidating, almost — especially if you’re an 18-yearold freshman unsure of what’s beyond the stone walls of the home of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. It’s even more daunting if you are a minority student, new not just to Penn State but also to the outside-the-comfort-zone experiences that come with college life. And then you meet Joseph Selden, the College’s assistant dean for multicultural affairs. For 23 years, Dean Selden has welcomed ethnically diverse students with open arms and a signature chuckle that comes straight from his belly — and his heart. He has mentored wide-eyed Penn Staters through any conundrum they could face: difficulties fitting into a mostly white university, disagreements with faculty members, decisions about Greek life, even relationship breakups and family issues back home. Since the 1990s, Selden has single-handedly helped thousands of communications majors make the transition to true adults ready to leave the bubble of Carnegie Building with exactly the tools they need. On June 30, Selden is leaving that bubble himself. Selden, 66, is retiring. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “Bitter, because I will miss my students. But sweet, because the way it worked out, all the planets have aligned.” Here’s how they’ve aligned: “Penn State offered me the right benefits package, and I’m at the right age and point in my life. I have mixed emotions, but I’m trying to stay excited. It’s time to plan out my future.” Not to worry. Selden and his wife, Shenetta, will remain in Happy Valley for at least a year, while their daughter, Camille, completes her master’s degree in education. The Communicator | Spring 2017


After that, they’re considering a move south, “somewhere where I can take lots of saltwater fishing trips, get back to my oil-and-acrylic on canvas work, and play tennis,” said the native of Bedford, Virginia. And that love of tennis has deep roots: As a life member of the United States Tennis Association, he’s been passionate about tennis since he played in a physical education course at Oklahoma State University. He was inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe, whom Selden calls one of his role models. At the end of every summer, he takes time off to attend the U.S. Open. Of course, the assistant dean was serving others long before he arrived to Penn State. As an undergraduate at Oklahoma State, he was in Air Force ROTC and was commissioned at graduation in 1973 as a second lieutenant. He initially trained to be an air weapons controller, but it wasn’t long before he realized he wanted a sociocultural career path. That led him to become a social actions officer, conducting race relations seminars for military personnel and civilian employees of the federal government. Simultaneously, he earned his master’s degree in guidance counseling from Syracuse University. After 11 years of active duty in the Air Force, he began his career in academia in 1985 as assistant director of student services/registrar at Cornell University. At the same time, he transferred to the Air Force Reserve. For the next 19 years, he was assigned to the Pentagon as a communications/computer systems officer for active-duty time each year, helping to update the Air Force’s logistics policies. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2004 with decorations that included the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. In the fall of 1994, Selden moved from Cornell to Penn State, quickly becoming a staple in the community. He began as the director of multicultural relations before being promoted in 2001 to assistant dean. He was the first-ever dean of multicultural affairs at any Penn State campus, a role that has helped the Bellisario College become one of the most diverse colleges on the campus with the number of students of color averaging 11.8 percent. Along the way, he has earned accolades. He received a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship from the National Conference of Editorial Writers in 2001, an award recognizing “an educator’s outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism.” He was named the “most devoted senior faculty member” at Penn State by Delta Gamma chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in 2009 and, in 2011, he earned national accolades — the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award, for his outstanding efforts in recruiting and retaining minority communications students. Earlier this year, he received a Way Paver Award from the Council of College Multicultural Leadership at Penn State. The award honors “those who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to diversity and the creation of an inclusive community; positively enhanced student life and the climate throughout the University and local community; and motivated others through their leadership 26

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

In a group setting or individually, Selden was effective because of his obvious concern f and impeccable character.” When a minority student arrives at Penn State with dreams of a job in journalism, advertising or public relations, someone will probably direct him or her to Selden’s office. People at Penn State know about his years of going above and beyond office hours, whether that means Saturday visits with prospective student-athletes, hosting weekend brunches for graduate students, or meeting with tearful undergrads during his lunch break. “There are many nights when I walk out of the building to head home around 7 in the evening, and Dean Selden’s day is still going,” said Dean Marie Hardin. “What I’m going to miss most is seeing him share his wisdom with his students. He has a way of being very direct and honest with our students, but in such an endearing way. He cares about the kids that he works with, not just while they’re at Penn State, but long after they’ve left.” Selden was a “mentor” long before that designation became vogue, said Douglas Anderson, who was the college’s dean when Selden was promoted to assistant dean. Anderson, now retired and living in Phoenix, said: “He cares deeply about students — and has a great feel for that which each individual needs most, from simple guidance or a pep talk to a scolding … Joe has the just-right touch.” Years after they leave Penn State, communications alumni who meet each other across the country often bond over a shared realization that they were “Dean Selden kids.” The relationship with his students sometimes brings

Facebook in February, the “Dean Selden kids” were saddened — but also excited for him. “I met Dean Selden during my visit before freshman year, and he was the person who welcomed me with a hug,” said Brittany Marshall, a reporter at WHAG-TV in Washington, D.C., who earned her journalism degree in 2011. “He helped me meet my best friends, prepare my schedule for my first year, and get scholarships. His office was my second home.” Tierra Jones, the founder of Attract Philly, a nonprofit educational organization in Philadelphia, said Selden helped to make sure she graduated. She earned her telecommunications degree in 2010. “I had to take 21.5 credits in the final semester of my senior year in order to graduate on time, and Dean Selden not only checked in with me, but my professors. And at graduation, he waited until long after the ceremony to meet my parents.” Sarim Ngo, a senior account manager in advertising in Los Angeles, who earned her journalism degree in 2009, fondly remembers outings with Selden. “He had a smile so bright it could brighten any room,” she said. “He would take me to a nearby Indian restaurant for lunch and tell me not to tell anyone or they would get jealous – even though I knew he was just as nice and thoughtful to all of his students. Peers from other universities knew of him and always told me they wished they could have him as their mentor.”

cern for the success of Penn State students. them back to the University. The College of Education’s current multicultural coordinator, Gary Abdullah, was a “Dean Selden kid” as an undergraduate back in 1999, and then again as a graduate student before he returned to Penn State in 2007 to work full time. “I will never forget one weekend when he invited me and other graduate students to his home for a pancake breakfast,” Abdullah said. He had never seen a mentor go so far above and beyond to help students process not just school, but life. “Now as an administrator myself, I have the greatest appreciation for the way he makes each person feel dedicated to him, no matter how many responsibilities he’s juggling at once.” Abdullah was selected to succeed Selden, effective July 24. (See Page 28.) Selden’s influence on academia goes beyond students. Linda Shockley, managing director at the Dow Jones News Fund in Philadelphia — which has partnered with Penn State on workshops to help multicultural students sharpen their journalism skills — said working with Selden for nearly 25 years has left a lasting impression. “He works for his students in a way that modeled the best commitment to them, with the ultimate goal of promoting careers in media,” she said. She has always looked forward to seeing the Penn State entourage he leads to the job fair at Howard University in Washington each year, “their resumes compiled and collected by a forward-thinking professional.” When the news of his retirement was delivered via


Dean Selden certainly influenced the writer of this very profile. Since graduating from Penn State in 2009, I’ve managed to build a career in journalism, I’ve written hundreds of stories, worked for Oprah Winfrey, and landed a features-writer gig at Refinery29, one the most innovative feminist women’s lifestyle destinations on the web. I have never taken any of these accomplishments for granted, and I know that not a single one would have been possible without Dean Selden. It was Dean Selden who persuaded me to attend Penn State upon a high school visit, Dean Selden who encouraged me to apply for scholarships and fellowships, Dean Selden who hooked me up with the right professors. And during my senior year, it was Dean Selden who managed my meltdowns about career decisions. In that office brimming with papers and binders and the scent of coffee, I truly began to grow up, to become an ambitious woman who was ready to take on the world. Dean Selden’s impact on thousands of students just like me is now a part of the blue-and-white thread of Penn State history. He will be missed, and the biggest regret that I and other alums have about his retirement is that future students won’t have the privilege of receiving his hugs, his encouragement, his wisdom. But those tennis breaks and fishing trips? Well earned, Dean Selden. And wherever you go, be sure to keep that belly-laugh! The Communicator | Spring 2017


Faculty/Staff News

Oliver, Sundar earn ICA awards

John Beale was a recipient of the University-wide Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Beale earns teaching award A senior lecturer from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications was one of six Penn State faculty members who received the 2017 George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching. John Beale, senior lecturer of journalism, became the most recent communications faculty member to earn the award, which is named after Penn State’s seventh president and honors excellence in teaching at the undergraduate level. Because many of Beale’s students will go on to work in the 24-hour news cycle, he knows many academic exercises are fruitless. That’s why instead he teaches his students to think quickly on their feet, and helps them adapt to an environment that’s in constant change. “To be competitive in the job market, students must be able to adapt by being competent with multiple skills while

maintaining rock-solid ethics,” said Beale. “My teaching philosophy is focused on training students to embrace constant change, become proficient in their journalistic skills and adopt good ethical standards they will rely on throughout their careers.” Beale works closely with local and national media, completing projects that frequently appear in University and regional publications. Among the assignments covered by his students include Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C., the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the historic baseball game when Penn State traveled to Cuba. Throwing students into a variety of assignments, he says, helps them understand the “real-world problems” that occur during assignments including inclement weather, equipment problems and uncooperative subjects. l

Abdullah returns to the College Alumnus Gary Abdullah (’03 Telecomm, ’07 MA Telecomm) was selected as Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs, replacing the retiring Joseph Selden. Abdullah will officially return to the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications on July 24.


Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

He was the multicultural coordinator in the College of Education at Penn State. Along with his time as a student, he served as an adviser in the Bellisario College for two years. He was selected after a thorough search of a strong pool of candidates. l

Two faculty members in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications earned some of the highest recognition possible from the International Communication Association (ICA). Distinguished Professors Mary Beth Oliver and S. Shyam Sundar were honored with ICA’s B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award and as an ICA Fellow, respectively. The B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award, established in 1988 following the death of its namesake, is the most competitive award presented by ICA. It honors outstanding scholars, teachers and advisers who serve as role models in those capacities and who have had a major impact on the field of communication. Most importantly, recipients of the award have influenced the discipline through their former students, who themselves are important figures in the communication discipline. For Sundar, status as an ICA Fellow provides additional confirmation of his impact and research. Fellow status is primarily a recognition of distinguished scholarly contributions to the broad field of communication. The primary consideration for nomination to Fellow status is a documented record of scholarly achievement. Sundar is the founder of the Media Effects Research Laboratory housed in the Bellisario College. He teaches courses in the psychology of communication technology, media theory, and research methodology. l

Faculty/Staff News

IIP examines social effects of ‘big data’


ith rapid changes on the political and technological landscape as the “new normal,” Penn State’s Institute for Information Policy (IIP) is as important today as it has ever been in its 20-year history. The IIP conducts innovative research and promotes programs that examine the social effects of information technology. It is housed in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and the College of Information Sciences and Technology, and its affiliated faculty members study what information technology can do to improve “democratic discourse, social responsibility and quality of life.” The key tasks of the Institute include publishing the Journal of Information Policy, an open access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on issues of technology and communication policy, and hosting two national workshops every year. The most recent workshop was held in late May prior to the International Communication Association convention in San Diego, California, in collaboration with the Pacific Information and Communication Technology for Development Collaborative of the University of Hawaii. The event focused on digital inequalities and discrimination related to big data and big data analytics. “There is plenty of data on how consumers behave, but we often don’t use that information when making decisions on privacy and data security,” said Krishna Jayakar, co-director of the Institute and professor of telecommunications. Data can be gathered on how people surf the internet or use their smart

phones. Workshop topics included social and economic consequences from big data analytics, which can help clarify how immigrants receive information, what internet access in low-income areas is like and how education level affects access. Experts also discussed transparency in information gathering and government surveillance. Jayakar, who co-directs the IIP with telecommunications visiting professor Amit Schejter and IST associate professor Carleen Maitland, said when it comes to researchers, information policy is not a huge field. Events are kept small (60 to 80 people) to encourage intense conversation among experts in the field. Previous spring workshops have been held in London, Philadelphia and New York. Fall workshops are held annually in Washington, D.C. “D.C. is where our main publics are … the regulatory community, the FCC, NSF, Congress,” Jayakar said. “That is where we want to take our research, and we have

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had success there.” Last year, a key report from the National Science Foundation and the National Telecommunications and Information Association about a national broadband research agenda heavily referenced and cited the Institute’s report from the workshop in the nation’s capital — something that made Jayakar especially proud. He said he hopes the Institute continues its successes and uses the momentum to branch into new areas of impact and research. The Institute’s collaboration and reach stretch across the University. It has collaborated with Penn State Law and other institutes and centers on campus such as the Center for Global Studies as researchers continually strive to address timely topics. Jayakar said information policy is a vast subject that affects billions of people, so naturally it involves many disciplines. “There are plenty of places for connections to be made,” Jayakar said. “We want to build bridges and strengthen collaborations across campus” and beyond. “Penn State was one of the first universities to create an institute like ours … it was one of the reasons I came here in 1999,” Jayakar added. “With greater support and interest, I hope we can continue to make an impact.” l The Communicator | Spring 2017



Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications


W By Jonathan McVerry (’05)

Min Xian and senior lecturer Curt Chandler review a multimedia project. (Photo by Will Yurman)

hen Min Xian came to Penn State four years ago from China, she had to learn how to order a burrito at Chipotle. In May she graduated as one of the most gifted storytellers in her class. Xian describes her path to Penn State as the “ultimate underdog story.” She was a top student in high school and had her eyes set on a prestigious college in her home city of Guangzhou, China. However, there was a problem with her college entrance exam, a one-time test that decides where Chinese students will attend college. “I bombed it,” Xian said with a laugh. “I don’t know how it happened.” It turns out that hiccup in her career opened the door to unexpected opportunities. After taking classes at another Chinese university, she revived her college search. She took the SATs three times and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with her sights set on U.S. universities. Unable to attend campus tours, the decision came down to internet research — and Penn State caught Xian’s eye. “I wanted to do magazine writing and I went online and saw really good things about Penn State’s communications program,” she said. “I read about Happy Valley and thought it would be new and fresh for me coming from a city … I took a leap of faith.” Xian arrived in the United States just one week before classes started at Penn State. She braced herself for the move from her massive home city of 14 million people to the rural setting of the University Park campus. But after years of English classes in high school, she was surprised to hear unfamiliar lingo and daily jargon among her

American classmates. For someone dreaming of telling stories for a living, it was intimidating. “It was just different. I had to learn how to order food and how to talk to people,” Xian said. “People interact and make friends in different ways here, but everyone is friendly and it helped me transition smoothly.” Xian cannot pinpoint the exact moment, but after a few awkward months of shyness, she found the confidence to speak up in class and talk to classmates. Given her chatty demeanor, she said it was only a matter of time before she began making friends and getting involved — in just about everything she could. Xian participated as a peer mentor her freshman year. She worked in the residential dining halls. She completed an internship for the local public radio station and worked as a freelancer at the local newspaper. She was also a video intern for the College of Engineering. As part of classes, she traveled to Baltimore to report on gentrification and to Greece to report on the refugee crisis. She produced a spotlight video on Mike the Mailman’s final shift in the University Park campus post office and a emotional video on a family raising a child with Down syndrome. Curt Chandler, a senior lecturer of journalism, said Xian understands good storytelling and is a “sponge of information.” He said she is not afraid to approach people and ask good questions. In fact, after a particularly stressful class, Xian approached Chandler and asked, “How can I help?” Chandler assigned her a project

“I read about Happy Valley and thought it would be new and fresh for me coming from a city … I took a leap of faith.” — Min Xian The Communicator | Spring 2017


Student News

A language barrier was no barrier for Min Xian, who brought a tenacity to her experiences in and out of the classroom. (Photo by Alex Yuan) that would beam professional multimedia journalists into the classroom from all over the country. Xian set up the meetings, organized the sessions and asked the questions. Via Skype, classmates got to meet independent multimedia journalist Carrie Ching, New York Times visual journalist Alexandra Garcia and several other reporters with multimedia expertise. “She did all the heavy-lifting in bringing about a half-dozen people in that semester,” Chandler said. “It vastly improved the experience.” Showing up to Penn State with dreams of being a magazine writer, Xian graduated with a portfolio of top-quality photographs, video features, news articles and other samples that make her resume stand out in a media market that values diverse skill sets. One particular course that expanded Xian’s professional horizon was Chandler’s COMM 271: Principles of Multimedia Journalism. “Curt introduced me to multimedia in that class,” she said. “I couldn’t thank him enough for that. The thing about him is that every student is his favorite. He always knows more than I do, and he is patient and caring to all of his students.” Xian took international reporting and urban reporting courses, which sent her to Greece and Baltimore, respectively, and an independent study with Chandler. She got to meet practicing journalists and be a part of practical multimedia journalism projects. Xian took home more than 10 hours of footage from her “alternate spring break” in Baltimore, a project she is especially proud of. Eight Penn State student reporters worked with five students from Morgan State University and covered gentrification initiatives and socioeconomic issues in the most urban parts of the city. Xian focused on food access for people in these areas. “It was a similar format to our international reporting class when we went to Greece, and in many ways Baltimore was equally exotic for me,” Xian said. “It’s obviously way different than State College, which is the one town I am familiar with in 32

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

the U.S.” Back in Happy Valley, Xian freelanced for the Centre Daily Times and interned at WPSU. She says both positions introduced her to working in newsrooms and living in an American town. She covered local rallies and community sustainability issues as well as performances and events. “Min doesn’t shy away from tougher stories,” WPSU news director Emily Reddy said. “A lot of students may wait for me to assign them a story, but Min comes up with interesting ideas and she is excited to cover them.” One of Xian’s projects for WPSU was a story on how a U.S. immigration change affected students and faculty at Penn State. Reddy said Xian was hounding people for interviews, even showing up to their offices when they didn’t reply to emails. “She’s tenacious,” said Reddy. “She had a lot to learn, and she did that while producing really solid work. It didn’t take her long to earn my trust, even on the harder stories.” In a clever video about gerrymandering in Pennsylvania for WPSU, Xian took outlines of the state’s congressional districts and asked people if they knew what they were. The responses were both enlightening and humorous. At commencement in May, 8,000 miles away from home, Xian led her classmates down the Bryce Jordan Center aisle as the student marshal for the Department of Journalism. It’s an honor she said was a “little sprinkle” on top of the great experience she had at Penn State. Xian says she has been “building a racecar” the past four years, and she can’t wait to find a job and put what she has learned on the racetrack. “To employers out there, if you want a tenacious, sharp-asa-tack photographer, videographer, producer, reporter and writer, you should hire Min,” Reddy said. “She is as good a writer as any native English speaker.” Not bad for a student who, just a few years ago, was learning how to order a burrito at Chipotle. l

Student News

‘I’m not bound to my disability’ Penn State Ability Athletics swimmer has eye on 2020 Paralympics Editor’s Note: Journalism major Jingling Zhang, who graduated in May, produced a photo story about Sean Brame for a class assignment.


ean Brame sees himself as an athlete and an agitator. When other people look at him, though, they might not seen the same thing. Brame’s life changed forever when he was 9 years old. In 2005, Brame sprained his ankle during a soccer game at Red Land High School in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. His doctors initially diagnosed the injury as an ankle sprain. So they bandaged his ankle and sent him home. After a few days, however, his condition got worse as he developed sepsis, an infection causing inflammation throughout the body. He nearly died. The bacterial infection got so bad, so quickly, that doctors were unable to save his limbs. Both Brame’s legs and his right hand were amputated. His left wrist, index finger and part of his thumb were saved. “I’m not bound to my disability,” Brame says. “It’s a part of me but it doesn’t’ define me.” Brame is a swimmer – the first aquatic competitor in Penn State’s Ability Athletics program. He has been training at McCoy Natatorium and Multi-Sport Facility at Penn State’s University Park campus since February 2014 in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. l

The Communicator | Spring 2017


Student News

Spring student marshals (from left): Jesse Pepperman, Min Xian, Lindsay Miller, Emma Shellhamer, Sabriana Pimentel and Danielle Wegman.

Standout Student Marshals Six represented majors at commencement


ix Penn State seniors joined an impressive list this spring. With their selection as student marshals in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, they represented the latest honorees who have displayed their commitment and talent as undergraduate students at the University. Commencement exercises were conducted May 6 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The group of honorees included an overall marshal and a representative from each of the Bellisario College’s five majors. The honorees were:


Emma Shellhamer, a native of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, was a Schreyer Honors College student who earned bachelor’s degrees in public relations and English. During her time as an undergraduate, Shellhamer completed a variety of internships and experiences, including a copywriting internship at QVC, a technical editor internship with the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State, and an online editorial internship with Spoon University. In addition, Shellhamer held a secretary position with The Navigators


Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

campus ministry, a social media marketing position with Undressed Foods, and served as editor-in-chief at Spoon University. “I am so grateful for the past four years at Penn State, and it is a remarkable blessing and honor to serve as the overall student marshal for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications this spring,” said Shellhamer.

Advertising/Public Relations

Sabriana Pimentel, who earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising/public relations, was selected to participate in the nationally competitive 2017 American Advertising Federation Most Promising Multicultural Student Program. She also completed a strategy internship at Initiative–IPG Mediabrands in New York City. Pimentel was highly involved on campus, working on student advertising campaigns for Adidas and Avon. In addition, she was an executive board secretary for the Advertising Club, an intern for Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics Strategic Communications and an account associate for Happy Valley Communications.

Student News

Parents’ gift boosts international efforts


Danielle Wegman earned her film-video degree and a degree in marketing. She also put together a strong list of professional experiences while at Penn State. She served as a brand ambassador for Seeso (an advertising-free streaming comedy channel operated by NBCUniversal), completed a technical operations internship at CNBC in New Jersey, and worked as a postproduction and marketing intern at Universal Pictures in Los Angeles. On campus, Wegman was a managing director for the Penn State Marketing Association, a rotating crew member for the PSN-TV news broadcast, worked as a crew member for 46 LIVE for three years, and was a member of CommRadio.


A native of China, Min Xian was the student marshal for journalism. During her time at Penn State, Xian traveled to Greece as part of the international reporting class to cover the refugee crisis and reported on gentrification in Baltimore during 2017 spring break. Xian also put together several professional experiences, including serving as a reporter and photographer for the Centre Daily Times and completing internships with WPSUFM and the College of Engineering.

Media Studies

Lindsay Miller served as the media studies representative. On campus, she served as a contributor for Her Campus Media. She was a public relations intern for BD&E in Pittsburgh and at Light of Gold PR in New York. In addition, Miller gained business experience as an accounting assistant with Regency Transportation in Pittsburgh and as a registration operations assistant with St. John’s University Conference Services in New York. Miller, who transferred to Penn State in the fall of 2015, was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, Ed2010 and EmpowHER.


Jesse Pepperman completed two internships in Los Angeles — one at Paradigm Talent Agency and one at Echo Lake Entertainment. He was one of 12 students to spend the spring of 2016 in Los Angeles as part of the inaugural cohort of students in the Penn State Hollywood Program. He completed an internship at C-SPAN during the fall of 2015 through the Stanley E. Degler Washington Program. His other experiences included an internship at A&E; working in The Daily Collegian advertising department; helping in the control room for sporting events on campus; and working as a show representative with PSN-TV. l

Alan and Rungnapa Routh will give $100,000 through the Penn State Parent Philanthropy program. The funds will be divided between an endowment for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, named the Routh Family International Education Fund, and funds for new equipment for the Career Services Center at Penn State. “Many of our students know the importance of studying abroad to expand their understanding of the world, but they don’t have the means to do it,” said Dean Marie Hardin. “This endowment will provide that opportunity. As it opens doors to our students, it will also change lives.” The Rouths have a long-standing history with Penn State. Their daughter, Alexandra, is enrolled in the Bellisario College of Communications, and son Nicholas graduated in 2015 with an economics degree from the College of the Liberal Arts. Their other two sons, Jonathan and Christopher, graduated from the University of Wisconsin and Muhlenberg College, respectively. Alan Routh holds electrical engineering and master’s of business administration degrees from Oklahoma State University, serves on Penn State’s Parent Philanthropy Committee and Muhlenberg College’s Board of Observers, and is vice president of the Chatham (New Jersey) Education Foundation. He met his wife Rungnapa when they were employees of Esso Thailand, an affiliate of ExxonMobil. “Penn State believes in the value of studying abroad but, due to limited funding for these experiences, they rank among the lowest in the Big Ten for percentage of undergrads who study internationally,” Alan Routh said. “As Penn State parents and volunteers, we understand that global experiences are life-changing for our students.” l

Alexandra Routh (left) with Dean Marie Hardin, Kim Neely, director of the Parent Philanthropy program, and Alan Routh. The Communicator | Spring 2017


Alumni News

“Mission Possible”

Alumni helping to share stories of adversity with Eric LeGrand In 2010, during a game at MetLife Stadium, former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand suffered a spinal cord injury making a tackle, leaving him paralyzed. Since then, he has worked tirelessly and regained some feeling and movement, while using his platform to motivate others and to share his story. Now, he’s sharing the stories of others who have overcome adversity — and two alumni from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications are helping him. JC Costa (’07 Telecomm) and classmate Bill Connell (’07 Film) are the co-founders of NewPace Productions, which was launched in 2007. The company is producing “Mission Possible with Eric LeGrand,” which was picked up by Fox Sports. So far, the group has compiled six episodes, which are three-to-five minutes apiece. One episode, released leading up to WWE’s WrestleMania, features Rohan Murphy, a former Penn State wrestler who lost his legs at the age of 4. Together, LeGrand and Murphy visited WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, met with company officials, and attended Summer Slam. Some other episodes included LeGrand visiting the New England Patriots with a woman who finished the Boston Marathon on two prosthetic legs and her friend who was a double amputee, as well as LeGrand taking a

girl with cerebral palsy to prom. “I think at the end of the day, the idea is to showcase people’s abilities instead of their disabilities,” said Costa. “These people are regular people. In spite of their disabilities, they’re transcending that and not letting it hold them down. They’re overcoming adversity. Shedding light on them is what Eric’s mission is, and to use his platform to be able to share other people’s stories.” The idea came about a few years back when Connell and Costa met with Steve McWilliams, who is the director of disability services at Villanova University. Along with Gregory Hannah and Matthew Marencik, the original idea for the show was to feature people with disabilities playing sports and overcoming adversity. Eventually, the idea evolved and the crew was introduced to Mike Luciano, who was paralyzed from the waist down. That’s when the idea took off. First, they completed a pilot episode on Luciano. In addition, Luciano happened to go to the same rehabilitation facility as LeGrand. After an introduction from Luciano, and about two years after the initial idea, the group had its host. They started to produce episodes of LeGrand meeting with others with disabilities and pitching the pilots. Eventually, Fox Sports decided to move forward with the

Alumni JC Costa (right) and Bill Connell (back right) with Eric LeGrand, center, and the “Mission Possible” team. 36

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

Alumni News “... the idea is to showcase people’s abilities instead of their disabilities.” — JC Costa project. “It was kind of crazy because it took so many years for somebody to buy in and fund the project so we could go out and really produce it,” said Costa. “We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it, and our own money and time. People really liked the idea from different networks, but nobody really ever signed up. Fox Sports finally did and the content turned out to be really good.” The group shot the first six episodes, which were created for a pilot series on the web, during the summer and fall. The show was eventually promoted on an episode of “Fox NFL Sunday” last September, with LeGrand visiting the set to talk with the hosts. In December, LeGrand visited ABC’s “Good Morning America” to promote the show, as well. Each segment takes about three days to shoot. After meetings with the subject, their family and friends, they then work on interviews and related content. Later they shadow LeGrand and the subject during a special experience, and they wrap up with confessional interviews with LeGrand. NewPace Productions has a theme of producing impactful films, including one about a rare disease called scleroderma, narrated by Bob Saget. For Costa, these stories make his job fulfilling and rewarding. “To be totally honest with you, that’s what I feel like my life’s work calling is,” said Costa. “To be able to have purpose in our work and really believe in what we’re doing and to be able to make a change in people and change the way people see things is pretty awesome. “It’s always cliché to say if you can help one person, save one person’s life, or change one person’s attitude about things, then the project is worth it … but we’ve done that and it’s true.” l

Shannon Furman addresses a class during her visit to the University Park campus.

Emmy winner earns Achievement Award Alumna Shannon Furman (’03 Journ), a producer and director for NFL Films, was one of nine outstanding Penn State graduates honored with the Alumni Achievement Award in March. Furman is a five-time national Emmy Award winner whose work has appeared on NFL Network, HBO, Amazon Video and all four major televison networks. Over the past 13 years, Furman has worked at eight Super Bowls, the NFL Draft four times, several NFL scouting combines and the Pro Bowl. She also has had a leadership role in the production of several programs and features, including “Hard Knocks,” “A Football Life,” “NFL Films Presents,” and “All or Nothing.” NFL Films is a division of the National Football League that’s known for its production innovation, technological advancements, and quality presentations. Alumni Achievement Award recipients are nominated by an academic college or campus and invited by the president of the University to return to campus to share their expertise with students and the Penn State community. Honorees demonstrate to students that Penn State alumni succeed in exceptional fashion at an early age. The Alumni Association Award began in 2005, and since then has honored 139 outstanding alumni, including this year’s class. During a typical campus visit for the award, recipients will meet and talk with students during a special event at the Hintz Family Alumni Center. The visit also includes the University-wide award presentation and many honorees conduct guest lectures in classrooms to share insights on their successes in their careers and life. l

The Communicator | Spring 2017


Alumni News Levine brings back popular LB-turned-lawyer

Many offer strong support for #journalismmatters effort


simple request for help produced dozens of responses when the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications launched its #journalismmatters campaign this spring and the alumni-driven, grassroots effort has plenty of room to grow. The timely effort, Caitlin Rossman was one of several alumni participants. initially designed as a public service correspondent Ben Feller of Mercury) announcement, was put together to and Washington, D.C. (Bob Garfield of champion the craft and validate the NPR, Caitlin Rossman of AARP and Dave undergraduate major at a time when Skidmore of the Federal Reserve Board). some were questioning journalism, and There were videos featuring members of even questioning facts. the Alumni Society Board and alumni at As the Bellisario College prepared the Altoona Mirror, too. to begin the effort and sought alumni Individual sessions with National Press volunteers, the response was immediate Club President Jeff Ballou and Ted Anthoand strong. ny, the Asia-Pacific news director for The The initial PSA quickly grew into sever- Associated Press, moved the video series al different versions. Participants in the beyond a PSA with Anthony discussing first video in the series were Mark Lima journalism’s ability to “create echoes” and of Fusion Network, Lisa Salters of ESPN Ballou touching on several topics. and Diane Salvatore of Consumer Reports. More iterations of the video are Subsequent videos included alumni planned. Also, alumni and friends can from New York City (Dave Cole of The express support for the project by sharWall Street Journal, former White House ing their job titles and a photo. l

More info, 38

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

When it comes to compelling protagonists, author Paul Levine (’69 Journ) knows how to craft them, and one of his most popular characters — Penn State linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter — returns in Levine’s latest legal thriller. In “Bum Luck,” Lassiter has just won a big case — albeit for a client he believes is guilty, which prompts a moral dilemma. He’s also battling serious physical ailments in the form of crushing headaches, and he has memory problems. His squabbling law partners, Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, fear the concussions Lassiter sustained while playing football have caused the irreparable brain damage known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). With all that as a backdrop as Lassiter considers vigilante justice against his client, and as a female doctor attempts to cure him, or at least halt his decline, “Bum Luck” offers a strong vehicle for the award-winning Levine to showcase his storytelling skills. Levine, who has authored 22 novels, first introduced readers to Lassiter, a Penn State linebacker who enjoyed a career in professional football before becoming a lawyer, nearly 25 years ago in “To Speak for the Dead.” Lassiter has served as the lead character in 12 books by Levine. “Bum Luck” (Thomas & Mercer) is available at in paperback, as an e-book, or on audio. All of Paul Levine’s legal thrillers are free for Kindle Unlimited members. More information may be found at www.paul-levine. com. l

Alumni News

Ryan Belz, ‘Come on down!’ Ryan Belz set the Plinko record, earning $31,500. (CBS)


hat started out as a spring break trip to California turned into a dream come true for Ryan Belz. In March, Belz had the chance to “come on down” on “The Price is Right.” Belz, an animated and outgoing 23-year-old who aspires to be an on-air TV personality, had the crowd chanting his name at one point. He eventually got on stage, advanced in the game and set the Plinko record by winning $31,500. “It’s literally a dream come true,” said Belz, who was a reporter on campus for the award-winning “Centre County Report” and a meteorologist for the Penn State Campus Weather Service. The episode didn’t air until the end of May, forcing the rarely quiet Belz into two months of silence. “I literally signed my life away and could not tell anybody,” he said. “It was the hardest thing to keep secret. Anybody who knows me, that’s not an easy feat.” Belz (’16 Journ) earned five Plinko chips by guessing a correct digit in the price of five different prizes. He then climbed the stairs to the top of the Plinko board and dropped the chips down through pegs and into slots at the bottom that represent different dollar amounts. His five drops earned, in order: $10,000, $1,000, $10,000, $500 and $10,000. Once the episode aired, the Millerton, Pennsylvania, native instantly became an internet sensation. His priceless reactions on the show were emotional click bait — with one video accumulating more than 1.5 million YouTube views. Belz, who at one point ran through the crowd high-fiving the audience after winning on Contestants’ Row with a $1 bid, spent his time running, jumping and screaming while on stage. That was no act, either. Before entering the studio for the taping, members of the audience completed 30-second interviews with a producer so those in charge of the show could pinpoint anyone they might want to feature. During Belz’s Q&A, he did an impersonation of George Gray, the announcer for “The Price is Right.” The

Alumnus lives his dream on ‘The Price is Right’ producer loved it. The kicker was that Belz’s big moment almost didn’t happen. When his group arrived for the 8 a.m. show taping, they had just missed the cutoff for tickets. Some show producers saved the day, though, offering Belz and his three friends priority tickets to the 1 p.m. taping. Belz and company were seated two rows behind Contestants’ Row. From there, Belz started pumping up the crowd. Soon, the producers moved Belz’s group to the back corner of the studio, despite some booing from the audience. As it turned out, the move was made to give Belz a farther distance to get to the stage when his name was called. While on stage, he got to meet host Drew Carey and one of his favorite models, Amber Lancaster. It was an unforgettable experience for Belz, who watches the show every day — even scheduling Penn State classes around it when he was a student. The money is definitely a plus. Belz plans to use some to pay off student loans and some for enjoyment. “I want it to be something as amazing as this experience has been,” said Belz. Having the “Price is Right” experience under his belt, Belz said the next thing on his bucket list is to meet Al Roker, the man who holds his dream job as co-anchor of the “Today Show.” Becoming the Plinko king certainly helped Belz get his face on TV. Multiple outlets either featured Belz or shared his story, including Fox News, “Good Morning America,” HLN, USA Today, The Washington Post and even the “Today Show.” Belz, who has a weather forecasting certification and minors in climatology and geography, wouldn’t mind getting back into meteorology. He even did a forecast during an appearance on “Good Day Sacramento.” No matter what, though, Belz knows where he’ll be in 10 years. “The rule says I can’t be on (“The Price is Right”) for up to 10 years and somebody has got to defend that record.” l

The Communicator | Spring 2017


A man of many firsts Although his alma mater has changed immensely the past 62 years, Alvin Goodman’s school spirit remains as strong as ever By Jonathan McVerry (’05)


ike a Penn State encyclopedia, Alvin Goodman recalls significant years in University history with remarkable quickness and accuracy. It helps that he has had a front row seat for many Penn State achievements and changes. Goodman received his bachelor’s degree in 1954, Penn State’s first graduating class as a University. He was then one of first of three to receive a master’s degree in journalism in 1955. He remains the only living member of that inaugural master’s class. In 1955, Penn State’s centennial year, Milton Eisenhower was the University’s president and his brother Dwight was the president of the United States. He spoke at commencement exercises at old Beaver Field. The campus was growing and would nearly double in size by the mid-1960s. “It was a great time to be at Penn State,” Goodman said. Goodman has a knack for being a part of milestones. As a child, he was a charter member of the “sight saving” class in the Scranton School District, his hometown. Born with a vision impairment, he took part in a special curriculum from fifth through eighth grades, and ninth through 12th at


Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

Scranton Technical High School. While in high school, Goodman discovered his love for writing. Summer days and time after school were spent working part-time at the Scranton Tribune and Sunday Scrantonian as a copy boy. “I remember my father asking me what I like to do,” he said. “I told him that I liked writing and he suggested I go down to the newspaper. Right after I turned 16, I did just that and they hired me.” Graduating high school with honors, he accepted a full scholarship to attend the Pennsylvania State College in 1950. The Pennsylvania Council for the Blind in the Department of Welfare awarded Goodman the scholarship. Years later, he would spend a large portion of his career in Harrisburg working for the state agency for the blind. He took his passion for writing to Penn State and enrolled as a journalism major. He joined The Daily Collegian his freshman year and wrote for the campus newspaper all four years. It was a busy time for the college and there was a lot to write about. Goodman was on campus for nearly the entirety of President Milton Eisenhower’s tenure. The campus was growing. West Halls residential area

was nearing completion. Goodman lived in one of the new West Halls buildings (Hamilton Hall) and recalls eating meals in McAllister Hall, while West’s Waring Dining Commons was being completed. Next door to McAllister in 1955, the Hetzel Union Building (HUB) was also ready for its opening. “It felt like Penn State was just getting started,” he said. “The best part was that the Collegian put you right in the middle of it.” Goodman said he enjoyed his time at the student newspaper. By graduation, he was the newspaper librarian and on the Collegian’s senior board. “It was before computers obviously, so in order to save files and clippings, I’d paste each one on paper and file them in file cabinets,” he said. Goodman would join the Daily Collegian Alumni Interest Group years later and stay in touch with colleagues from the paper. Pennsylvania State College became the Pennsylvania State University in 1953, his senior year. Goodman recalls covering the school’s new name. Penn State hoped the town of State College would update its name to reflect the change, he said, but the borough declined. Soon after, the University Park campus received its


Alumni Feature own zip code and added a post office in the to the Department of Public Welfare, HUB. becoming the first public information In 1955, Goodman became one of the first officer of the Office for the Blind, the graduate students to receive a master’s agency that had helped him so many years degree in journalism at Penn State. The before. University was the first in Pennsylvania to “In 1972, I was promoted to a new offer master’s degrees in the field. position as director of the publications There were three members of that division and coordinator of photographic inaugural graduate class and they were all services in DPW.” He retired in 1991 after friends and members of Sigma Delta Chi, nearly 30 years working for the state. the collegiate chapter of the Society of After retirement, Goodman stayed busy. Professional Journalists. Donald Lambert Living in Harrisburg, he is a freelancer was the president of the Blue Band and and for 15 years has written feature would later be a journalism professor at articles about World War II and Korean Ohio University. War veterans living James Peters in south central was a “lifelong Pennsylvania for a newspaperman” in monthly newspaper. Buffalo, New York. “So many of Peters served as the them have unique sports editor for the 1954: He was a member of Penn State’s and interesting Centre Daily Times first graduating class as a University. experiences,” he while still a student 1955: In Penn State’s centennial year, he said. “I will write at Penn State. Both was one of the first three people to earn occasional op-ed men are deceased. a master’s degree in journalism. pieces for the local “We kept in touch 1959: While working for the Titusville newspaper, titled As over our careers,” (Pennsylvania) Herald, the community I See It.” Goodman said. “They celebrated its oil centennial. Goodman and were really good 1966: Became first public information officer his wife Iris return men.” for the Office for the Blind in Pennsylvania. to State College as Goodman began June 2017: Celebrates 60th wedding often as possible. his career in the anniversary with wife, Iris. It should be no newspaper business, surprise Iris and but spent most of Alvin bleed blue and it working for the white. Not only were they both students, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After it’s where they first met. During Goodman’s completing his master’s degree, he was hired as editor of the National Jewish Post senior year, he met Iris, who was singing in & Opinion, a weekly newspaper based out an off-campus choir. She was an education of Indianapolis. He returned to his home major and one week after her graduation state 15 months later to write for the in 1957, the two got married in New York City. Iris grew up in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Titusville Herald. “I was in Titusville for its oil centennial and the two will be celebrating their 60th in 1959,” Goodman said. “It was 100 years wedding anniversary this June. “We have a lot of Penn State since Col. Edwin L. Drake drilled the world’s first oil well. A special U.S. postage memorabilia,” Goodman said. “I have a large post card collection of street scenes stamp was issued to commemorate it.” His writing and interviewing skills were and buildings and a large collection of La always solid, but Goodman’s congenital Vies, the Penn State yearbook, including vision impairment added a challenge to his the first one from 1890.” Goodman also reporting. Luckily, colleagues or Goodman’s has an extensive football card collection, wife Iris provided transportation to stories including cards of hundreds of Penn State when needed. players. He and Iris are life members of the After five and a half years in Titusville, Penn State Alumni Association. he joined the Public Relations Section of “I am glad to see Penn State continue to the state’s Department of Health as an grow,” he said. “It is a very special place for information writer and in 1966 transferred us.” l

Good times to be Goodman

(Photo courtesy Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated)

Rockin’ Rec Hall Alvin Goodman’s creative repertoire stretches beyond newswriting. A professional musician, his band headlined 1955’s freshman orientation week dance at Rec Hall. Goodman played the piano in a seven-piece group called the Al Wyand Band. The band leader’s father, C.S. Wyand, was a University Alvin Goodman as a employee and Penn State senior in Al became 1954. a music professor at a commonwealth campus. “We used to play fraternities and school proms,” Goodman said. “I played with the group for about a year; it was great.” Goodman still performs for various local organizations, mostly as a volunteer, on the piano or organ. He specializes in singalongs and standards from the 1940s and ’50s, “big band music you can dance to.” In addition to tunes, Goodman is a poet. He began writing poetry in high school and his verses have appeared in newspapers, magazines and two anthologies of poetry. He is listed in the 1970 “International Who’s Who in Poetry” (London). He said he writes “humorous poems and sometimes ones about journalism, current events and human interest.” l

The Communicator | Spring 2017


Alumni Notes 1950s

Robert H. Little (’56 Journ) is a comedy magician and performer (boblittlessupersunday. com) who still teaches magic and performs at age 85. He lives in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.


Richard “Dick” Jones (’70 Journ), former owner of Dick Jones Communications, donated a collection of his father’s WWII “Letters to Home” to the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society and Heritage Museum. He lives in State College. Curt Harler (’71 Journ, ’71 Ag) collaborated with Purdue alumnus Dean Wiseman on a book about caving. The 272-page “Caving Basics” offers insights from 27 of the nation’s leading cave experts in a variety of speleological specialties, ranging from cave safety and caving lights to cave geology and archeology. Chris Porter (’74 Journ), who attended Penn State Shenango, is vice president of communications and development with Child Development Centers Inc. in Franklin, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Cindy have three children and one grandchild. Diane Nottle (’75 Journ) published “American English for World Media: The CUNY Journalism School Guide to Writing and Speaking for Professionals” in November with CUNY Journalism Press. A 20-year veteran of The New York Times, she coaches international students at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where she founded and writes the English for Journalists blog. She has taught both journalism and English at universities in New York, Poland, China and Canada.


Chuck Gloman (’80 Film) is an associate professor and the chair of the TV/film department at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. His recent film, “Lester’s Collection,” was named Best Film from the Lehigh Valley at the eighth annual Movies at the Mill International Film Festival in Easton, Pennsylvania. Bruce Wood (’80 MA Journ) gave up his role as the beat writer covering Dartmouth College sports for the local daily to begin a paid subscription website that has offered daily coverage of the Ivy League school’s football team since 2005. He’s the senior writer for the Dartmouth publication Peak Quarterly and fills in the rest of the year freelancing. His son Matt graduated from Penn State with a geography degree in 2016 and daughter Kelly graduated from Dartmouth. He and his wife live on a dirt road on the side of Moose Mountain in the rural village of Etna, part of Hanover, New Hampshire. 42


Terry City (’90 Telecomm) will be producing an untitled film with New Line Cinema and Ratpac based on ESPN’s 30 for 30 film, “Playing for the Mob.” The film will be produced in conjunction with City’s production company, Steel Titan Productions. Patrick Evans (’90 Journ), a Navy commander and defense department spokesman in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, received the internationally recognized Accreditation in Public Relations. That demonstrates a mastery of strategic communications practice, as well as a commitment to lifelong learning and ethical standards in public relations. Eric Polins (’93 Journ) and his firm, HCP Associates in Tampa, Florida, earned the American Advertising Federation’s Silver Medal Award, the organization’s highest honor. The Silver Medal is bestowed annually by AAF clubs throughout the country to outstanding members of their local advertising community. Polins has more than 23 years of marketing and advertising experience with an emphasis on creative direction, writing, broadcast production and technology. Polins is a senior brand strategist/partner at HCP Associates. He is also the co-founder of Gulf+Atlantic Films and remains in the indie film industry. Mark Muller (’96 Ad/PR) is a regional marketing manager for Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Orlando, Florida. CAA was recently ranked No. 8 overall (out of 427 total entries) on the first-ever Forbes SportsMoney Index — a ranking of the most influential athletes, agencies, brands and teams in sports. Valerie Manns Gliem (’97 Journ) is vice president for marketing and communications at Eckerd College. Ira Rosensweig (’99 Film) produced, directed and edited “Mystery Now” for NBC. The digital series, a prequel, of sorts, to NBC’s “Trial and Error,” stars John Lithgow and is available online and video on demand.

Submit an alumni note at Ben Rupp (’02 Journ) accepted a position as a senior major gift officer at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania. Ben, Karla (wife), and sons CJ (6) and Calvin (1) live in Landisville, Pennsylvania. Rob Joswiak (’04 Telecomm) and Matthew McCarty (‘95 Edu) are both Air Force veterans who were given their first post assignments as Department of State Foreign Service Officers. Joswiak’s website covers his background ( while McCarty is a retired pilot embarking on a second career as a diplomat. Both were sworn in Feb. 17 by Secretary Tillerson at the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C. Jen Lemanski (’04 Ad/PR) was named as one of Houston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 for 2017. She is the practice growth senior manager for Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, P.C. (PKF Texas), a middle market accounting and advisory firm in Houston. She is also a national board member of the Association for Accounting Marketing. Lemanski recently completed three terms as president of the Greater Houston Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, where she remains as an at-large board member. Lauren Mintzer Clark (’05 Film) is a senior producer for “Crime Watch Daily.” Kevin Fawcett (’06 Telecomm) is a project manager with Crystal Technologies Group. Matt Papaycik (’07 Journ) is a news producer at WSVN-TV in Miami. Peter Chalfin (’08 Journ) recently accepted a position as assistant director of leadership gifts at Princeton University.

Meredith Topalanchik (’99 Ad/PR) was promoted to executive vice president, operations and client services at CooperKatz & Company. She has been with the agency for more than 11 years. On Jan. 24, 2017, Topalanchik was honored in New York City at PRNews’ Top Women in PR Awards Luncheon. The event annually celebrates communicators who have made bold advances in managing crises, developing brand messages and protecting and building brand reputations for their organizations or clients.

Josh Moyer (’08 Journ) is sports editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College.


Bjorn Trowery (’08 Ad/PR) and his team at Heineken USA won an award for best viral campaign from PRNews.

Katie Robles (’01 Film) authored “Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives,” which provides tips and encouragement for women to lose weight and get healthy and keeps them entertained along the way. Mike Gogel (’02 Telecomm) is senior media services coordinator at MetLife Stadium.

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

Joe Dolan (’08 Journ) is managing editor of Michael Dorf (’08 Telecomm) is director of monetization at Condé Nast.

Chris Harley (’09 Film) was named best new artist at Tongal, a crowdsourced film studio. Angela Haupt (’09 Journ) is a senior editor with the Health and Wellness section at U.S. News.

Alumni Notes Devon M. Herrick (’09 Ad/PR) is engaged to Jordan Taylor, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. They plan to marry in the spring of 2018. Kaitlyn Marchek (’09 Journ) married Eric Erb on Sept. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. She and her husband live and work in New York City, where she is a client experience manager in the pharmaceutical advertising department at Phreesia, a healthcare technology company. Kathleen Duke Moks (’09 Ad/PR) is a recruitment manager with the Brunswick Group. Andrew Wible (’09 Journ) married Bridget Monaghan (‘09 Journ/Lib) in October. They first met in The Daily Collegian office, where Bridget worked in the arts section and Andrew in sports. Bridget is a lawyer with Monaghan-Wible Law and funeral director with Oliver Bair/Monaghan Funeral Homes. Andrew is the senior manager, rights, licensing and partnerships with Wolters Kluwer Health.


Pete Jensen (’10 Journ) is a producer and senior fantasy editor for, and an analyst for NHL Network. He lives in Astoria, New York. Samantha Scheller (’10 Journ) is a complex commercial litigation attorney in New York City, with a passion for media law and First Amendment issues. Sam Smink (’10 Journ) joined WPTV-TV (an NBC affiliate) in West Palm Beach, Florida, as an investigative reporter. Brittany Sykes (’10 Ad/PR) is public relations director at Everything But The House. Aaron Clark (’11 Journ) is the communications director and digital strategist for Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). Ashley Gold (’11 Journ) married Eli Glazier (‘12 Lib), a founder of Onward State, in November. She is a technology policy reporter for POLITICO, formerly covering breaking news for the BBC in Washington, D.C. Bill Landis (’11 Journ) is a sportswriter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kevin Cirilli (’12 Journ) is the chief Washington correspondent for Bloomberg TV. Melissa Graesser (’12 Ad/PR) is an integrated media supervisor at Maxus Global. Chelsea Sweithelm (’12, Ad/PR) was promoted to senior communications analyst at Highmark Inc. Miranda Zackowski (’12 Ad/PR) is an account supervisor at Weber Shandwick.

Co-founders Jason Jamieson and alumna Shruti Patel pose with the Engineering Emmy for Group It For Me! at the 68th Engineering Emmy Awards. (Photo by Jordan Strauss)

Alumna plays key role for Emmywinning, time-saving technology


ood ideas sprout up every day in almost every industry, and those that find success often do so based on more than the idea itself. Attention, client support and usability are among the many factors that matter as well. So, co-founder Shruti Patel’s role with Group If For Me! — which earned an Engineering Emmy Award — was vital to the web-based application’s success. Patel (’97 Film), helped enhance users’ experience and familiarize them with the technology. Group It For Me! expedites the grouping and multigrouping processes for Avid Media Composer — enabling producers, editors and assistant editors to remain focused on producing quality content. Users can automatically do in seconds things that previously took hours to complete manually. “On my first interaction with the site, it was clear it was clever but it didn’t have that look and feel that would convey that as well as it could,” Patel said. Co-founder Jason Jamieson made the technology a reality and Patel

helped fine tune the look and get the technology to market. A Philadelphia area native, Patel lives in Australia with her husband and 11-year-old son. Trips back to the United States are rare for Patel, who enjoys her job and appreciates the market Group It For Me! has developed. Patel did get back to the states last fall, though. That was a special trip to pick up the company’s Emmy Award in Hollywood. With that attention, one would expect a bump in business. Patel said it came, but slowly. “Everybody saw the Emmy and that gave us more credibility,” Patel said. “We did get more attention and interest, but it took a little bit.”. She’s excited about the future because the technology itself remains proprietary and unique. “There are not really competitors out there,” she said. And there might not be as many co-founders as driven or talented as her out there, either. l

The Communicator | Spring 2017


Alumni Notes David Amerman (’13 Journ) is a marketing proofreader with Dick’s Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh.


Jill Knight (’13 Journ) is a new media digital producer at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina. Grant Shumaker (’13 Ad/PR) is a copywriter for Custom Ink in Fairfax, Virginia. Paul Sweeney (’13 Journ) is an account executive at Nike Communications. Allen Vickers (’13 Journ) is a reporter at WNEPTV in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He previously worked at WMDT-TV in Salisbury, Maryland, earning multiple Associated Press awards and an Emmy nomination. Emily Agosti (’14 Ad/PR) is a senior recruiter at General Healthcare Resources. Kristen Stoller (’14 Journ) is a reporter at the Hartford Courant. Marissa Sturm (’14 Ad/PR) is an account executive at Ketchum. Craig Waldron Jr. (’14 Journ) is a specialty sales representative for Avion Pharmaceuticals Hematinic Division. Michael Appleman (’15 Journ) is a production assistant for “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC. He lives in New York City. Erin Ford (’15 Media) is an account executive at Success Communications Group. Sam Janesch (’15 Journ) is a reporter at LancasterOnline. Zachary Slater (’15 Journ) is an associate producer at CNN. Angel Brock (’16 Journ) is a production assistant at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. Carolyn Drozynski (’16 Ad/ PR) is a media coordinator at Gatesman+Dave. Geena Goozdich (’16 Journ) is a broadcast associate at CBS News. Akash Ghai (’16 Journ) is an international photo editor at China Daily. Kelly Gibson (’16 Ad/PR) is an assistant account executive at Weber Shandwick. Emi Gugold (’16 Ad/PR) is a content strategist for Odyssey Media Group. Kacie Lazor (’16 Journ) is a reporter at WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. 44

Christopher Nock (’11 Ad/PR) earned his law degree from the Penn State Dickinson School of Law in May. He’s employed as a law clerk for Judge Jessica Brewbaker in the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas. Natalie Leonard (’16 Journ) is a photo researcher at Vogue. Andy Madore (’16 Journ) is a student at the University of San Diego School of Law. Mario Marroquin (’16 Journ) is a reporter for NJBIZ, a publication and website covering New Jersey business. Aisha Powell (’16 Journ) was accepted into Columbia University’s international reporting graduate program. Thomas Stewart (’16 Film) directed his first TV show, “Spotlight Arts, Episode 2,” which aired on KLCSTV. The show, produced by the Los Angeles Unified Arts Education Branch, focuses on the L.A. arts community. It is available online as well. Erica Walsh (’16 Ad/PR) is a staff assistant at Burson-Marsteller. Sika Wheeler (’16 MA Media) is the LGBT Equity Center coordinator at the University of Maryland. Urfine Guobadia (’17 Telecomm) is a broadcast tecnical operator at QVC. Danielle Wegman (’17 Ad/PR) is a sales assistant with Discovery Communications.

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

Mark Greenwald (’64 Journ), formerly of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, died Monday, June 5, 2017, in The Villages, Florida, where he and Beverly, his wife of 54 years, have lived since his retirement in 2001. He was 77. He was an advertising sales representative for The Patriot-News newspaper and WSBA and WKBO radio stations. He worked as VP for Marketing at Lemoyne Sleeper Company. His primary career was in the marketing department at D&H Distributing, where he worked for 38 years and from which he retired as Vice President of Marketing. After his retirement, he established On the Mark Travel, a boutique travel company. He created and was the founding president of the Tri-County Chapter of Central Florida of the Penn State Alumni Association, which established the Mark and Beverly Greenwald Trustee Scholarship in honor of their work on behalf of the chapter. Rick Starr (’75 Journ), longtime sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, died Monday, May 22, 2017. He was 64. Starr took over as the paper’s sports editor in 1980 — a successful time for the teams his paper covered, from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers to Penn State and Pitt football and, especially, high school sports in western Pennsylvania. Starr earned local and national writing awards from The Associated Press, the Pennsylvania News Publishers Association, Gannett Corp., and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Starr covered the Steelers for 19 years, during the coaching eras of both Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. He covered the Steelers in Super Bowls XIII, XIV and XL. Starr enjoyed many sports, especially golf. He covered major tournaments, golfed with friends and made his own clubs. He was a former editor of The Daily Collegian who drew praise for his coverage of John Cappalletti’s 1973 Heisman Trophy speech when Cappalletti dedicated the award to his brother, Joey. l

Alumni Notes

Berner’s barn book earns Pa. Press Club’s top honor


etirement has not meant slowing down for alumnus and longtime faculty member R. Thomas Berner, who added a series of awards to his growing list of accomplishments since leaving the classroom. Berner’s self-published book “Pennsylvania Quilt Barns” earned the 2017 “Sweepstakes Award” from the Pennsylvania Press Club. The book — featuring photos of barns across the Alumnus R. Thomas Berner earned the 2017 “Sweepstakes Award” from the Pennsylvania Press Club. state with quilt designs painted ’89 MEd) lived in New Mexico where he spent more time honing on them — earned first place in nonfiction and book design categories of the statewide compe- his lifelong interest in photography. They returned to central Pennsylvania in 2010 and live in Bellefonte. tition. He spent a few years working on the quilt barn book and Berner (’71 Lib, ’74 MA Journ), a professor of journalism and American studies for 28 years, was also honored as a photogra- remained busy with photography. His work has been featured at pher/writer for “Barns of Central Pennsylvania,” a photo essay the Bellefonte Art Museum and at The Field restaurant in State (“Douro River Valley, Portugal”), a separate single photograph, College, among other locations. Next up for his photographic focus — churches and, with permission of the sources, portraits and a feature story. After retirement in 2003, he and his wife Paulette (’67 HHD, of just the eyes of people, tentatively titled “Anonymous Eyes.” l The Communicator | Spring 2017



Ben Feller Ben Feller (’92 Journ) is a managing director at Mercury, an international strategy firm. Before becoming a communications consultant in 2013, he was the chief White House correspondent for The Associated Press. He spent more than six years covering President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush – traveling aboard Air Force One around the United States and to more than 25 other countries. He was honored for distinguished presidential coverage as a “master of deadline reporting.” With Mercury, he crafts messages for universities, corporations, foundations and individual leaders, and he manages successful, fast-moving media campaigns. He became a national writer for the AP in 2003 while covering education. Before that, he worked for the Tampa (Florida) Tribune, the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., and his hometown Centre Daily Times in State College. Ben works and lives in New York City. Do you miss covering the White House? I don’t. The White House reporting role was such a marvelous and meaningful experience, and I am immensely grateful for it. But being the White House correspondent for the AP is not a job, and it is not a career. It is the center of your life. And after 20 years in journalism, it became clear to me that I wanted a different life. The pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of the story were no longer matching up. Of course, there are those moments when I miss it. Like when I’m stuck on the tarmac at LaGuardia. That never seemed to happen on Air Force One. Why did you do well as a journalist? I like to think I was committed to always getting better at journalism – breaking stories, writing with clarity, shaping tough questions, developing sources, getting smarter on a lot of subjects. Plus, like most national journalists I worked with and competed against, I liked to be first and I hated to get beat on a story. What was the breakdown in preparation vs. writing time for you in that role? Preparation is actually an unappreciated part of journalism. My deadlines always seemed constant. So having a strategy for how to cover the beat each day allowed me to build in preparation for interviews, news conferences, press briefings, foreign trips and so on. Feeling prepared for anything was the only way to be ready for everything. What’s your sense of how things have changed for the media, and for newsmakers, in the past few years? I mean, where do I start? It’s hard to capture how much things have changed for the national media with the election of 46

the new president, the biggest newsmaker of all. Journalists have been branded as the enemy. The atmosphere is wildly different, and not for the better. I take heart in what has not changed — facts still matter, and they always will. The demand for fair, tough, contextualized reporting is as high as ever. The news platforms keep changing, but news reporters are never going away. Consumers have more choice than ever about where they get their news and many choose to get it only from specific outlets. Is that a good thing? I think the freedom of choice among a variety of news and opinion outlets is a great thing. It’s up to those outlets to decide what their standards are, and to be prepared to be judged on them. Would it help the country if more people sought out coverage that did not always reinforce their own thinking? Yes. Would it be better if more elected leaders genuinely respected other points of view? Absolutely. But that’s just my opinion, and I don’t walk around thinking it counts more than your opinion. What sources do you use to get your news and information on a daily basis? I read a combination of newspapers and magazines and whatever stories catch my eye on Twitter. I rely on a variety of smart tipsheets and newsletters to help me curate the day’s reading. Usually my reading interest far outstrips the time I have to dig in each day. What had the most impact on you and your career path? Why? At Penn State, I switched majors in my senior year — which was unconventional — because I thought that writing might

Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

be a career path that I would actually enjoy. I took a chance on myself. When it worked out, I brought that mindset into each journalism job I had. How has being a father influenced how you do your job? Being a father is absolutely the best part of life. The job I chose allows me to both take care of my business and to be a very present dad in my son’s life, and the firm I chose respects how important that is to me. What do you like most about your position with Mercury? I spent most of my career trying to bang down closed doors and find out what was really happening to inform the public. It has been fascinating to me, in my second career, to be invited inside those rooms where decisions are made and advise leaders of organizations, universities and companies on strategy and storytelling. I still get to write and lead in my own voice. I like that I am learning all over again. What is the one skill that people need most in pursuing journalism, or any communications field for that matter? Writing well. Learn it. Live it. The ability to write crisply, quickly and compellingly will always be in demand. What’s the best advice you ever received? Stay humble, kid. Good advice. I think humility is at the root of so many important things — treatment of others, healthy perspective in life, work ethic irrespective of status. Conversely, I have always found arrogance to be one of the most unappealing traits ever invented. So I have tried to show humility all through life. And, you know, I think I have been great at it. (Kidding.)


Inspiring speech Reporter Lisa Salters, who was part of an ESPN E:60 team that received a Sports Emmy in the Outstanding Long Feature category for “Life as Matt” this year, presented the commencement address for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications in May. Salters reminded graduates to “have courage, be great, go get ‘em, and make us Penn State proud.”

JUN 28

Second Six-Week Summer Session Starts


Independence Day (No Classes)

JUL 9-14

Bellisario College Summer Camps

JUL 13-16

Central Pa. Festival of the Arts


Second Six-Week Summer Session Ends

AUG 21

Fall Semester Classes Begin


Labor Day (No Classes)

OCT Foster-Foreman Conference 19-20 of Distinguished Writers OCT 20-22

Bellisario College Dedication Weekend

NOV 10

Homecoming Parade

NOV 19-25

Thanksgiving Break (No Classes)


Fall Semester Classes End

DEC 11-15

Fall Semester Final Exams

DEC 16

Fall Commencement

The Communicator | Spring 2017


The Communicator

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