Dean’s Message As all 73 faculty members in the Bellisario College can tell you, we get a little smarter every day we interact with our students. As we work to widen their horizons and build their intellectual capacity, they’re often doing the same for us.
It was gratifying to hear their stories about helping others who crossed their paths and discovering the rewards in doing so. Christina Chambers, a junior from West Chester, Pennsylvania, had visited a first-year seminar, and after talking with the class, had been approached by a freshman who wanted advice. That conversation has turned into a mentoring relationship, allowing Christina to discover the joy of “paying it forward” well before graduation.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when one of our new Bellisario College
I think that many of our students and alumni — even if they’ve never heard of the word — know very well what to “sonder” means, because they regularly seek to connect with others. I have come to believe that this ethos is part of our collective Penn State identity.
Fellows (see story, page 20) taught me a new word and got me thinking deeply about what it means for my work with students and faculty. The word is “sonder.” It’s not in Webster’s, my usual go-to when I’m solving a crossword or playing Scrabble. Instead, as I learned from senior Taylor Harrington, it’s in the “Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,” a compendium of invented words — “words that we need but do not yet have.” At a recent dinner gathering of the fellows, Taylor explained the word to the group. She’d stumbled across it and felt a strong connection with the sentiment it conveys. The meaning, according to the dictionary’s website, is this: “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” Taylor connected to it so powerfully that she named her Etsy store (she’s an entrepreneur) “Sonder Connections,” and she says she often thinks about the concept as she walks through campus, gets a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and enters Carnegie Building for classes and meetings. When she mentioned the idea of sondering to her classmates, they could powerfully relate. Immediately, they talked about chance meetings they had experienced that had turned into opportunities for themselves or others. And they quickly connected the concept to ways their Penn State experience could be enriched. They explored the ways their networks are like webs that can expand dramatically with a single common thread: Penn State.
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
It’s the reason we respond so powerfully when we hear a “We Are!” in the most unexpected of places (such as on a sidewalk in Tampa, Florida, where I recently heard it). It’s also the reason our alumni are always eager to help our students — with financial support, with advice, and with connections. The alumni who visit classes or participate in networking events hosted by the Bellisario College tell me how much they enjoy the interaction. They know: Each student — otherwise a “random passerby” — brings talent, experience and dreams along with that resume. And the connections live on, thanks to email, LinkedIn and the other ways to stay in touch between conversations. Many times, I’ve come across a student who would benefit from a conversation with one of our graduates. With an email, I connect them and I know good things will result. As we celebrate the holiday season and move into the new year, I hope we’re all able to take some time to sonder a bit more — seeing the life and possibilities in all those around us, and taking the time to connect and serve. It’s what makes we Penn Staters special! Stay in touch,
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 Mike Poorman (’82) DESIGNER Whitney Justice 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, the Bellisario College or editorial staff.
The Communicator Penn State Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications 302 James Building University Park, PA 16802 Email: email@example.com Twitter: @PSUBellisario Web: bellisario.psu.edu
12 Brand Builders
Alumni Marc Brownstein and Kathy Heasley lead efforts to brand Philadelphia and Arizona, respectively
18 Bellisario Media Center
Collaborative, entrepreneurial and open facility moves closer to reality
24 Keeping it Real
Michael Robinson only knows one route to success — honesty
34 Meeting a Need with Design
Entrepreneurial alumna’s five-pocket dress ready for debut
48 Remembering a Good Guy Reflecting on the impact and legacy of Don Smith
ON THE COVER 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: http://guru.psu.edu/policies/AD85. html U.Ed. COM 19-30
Alumni Marc Brownstein and Kathy Heasley work to build the brands of the city of Philadelphia and the state of Arizona, respectively, by finding and emphasizing factors like diversity and “heart.” (Photos by Marissa Gonzalez, ′19 and design by Whitney Justice)
43 Crossword Puzzle 44 Alumni Notes 50 The Interview
The Communicator | Fall 2018
1 of 3
Center fielder Bo Walker of the Southeast makes a catch during the U.S. championship game at the Little League World Series. Bellisario College and John Curley Center for Sports Journalism students covered the event as part of a partnership with media organizations. (Photo by Eric Firestine, '19)
2 of 3
Members of the Penn State Army ROTC apply face paint during a field training exercise that included cadets learning to camouflage themselves. (Photo by Catrina Dubansky, â€™19)
3 of 3
Todd Miner of State College pedals students to their polling place to vote during the midterm election on Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo by Brianna Morgan, â€™19)
three-time national champion and perennial Top 10 in Hearst Journalism Awards Program, â€œthe Pulitzers of college journalismâ€?
study abroad opportunities
course selections with 20 or fewer students
The Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State provides the opportunities and resources of a large university with the personalized feel and support of a small school. As the largest accredited program of its kind in the nation, the Bellisario College offers a place where all students can fit in and succeed.
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
News & Notes
Accreditation visit a success
A six-member site visit team from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications visited the Bellisario College in late October as part of a regular review process (such visits happen every six years) and came away impressed. The team recommended full accreditation and compliance across all nine of the ACEJMC’s standards. Among the many strengths noted were: • “exceptional momentum” and “great morale” among the faculty, staff and students; • “extremely productive and studentoriented” faculty who provide “exceptional learning experiences”; • outstanding student services operations; and • engaged students and committed alumni. Final ACEJMC approval will not come until the spring.
Amoros tabbed as trustee
Alumnus Abe Amoros (’90 Journ), legislative director at the Laborers’ International Union of North America, was appointed to the Penn State Board of Trustees by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
Page Center adds three to board
The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication recently added three members to its advisory board. Suki Dardarian, senior managing editor and vice president of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune; Aedhmar Hynes, former CEO of Text100, and Dave Samson, general manager of public affairs at Chevron Corp., were added to the group. Since its 2004 founding, the Page Center, a research center housed in the Bellisario College, has become an international leader in research on ethics and integrity in public communication.
Staff member marks 25 years
Janet Klinefelter, who works with alumni, donors, faculty and students overseeing scholarship and stewardship efforts in the Bellisario College, celebrated 25 years at Penn State in November. Among her many duties, Klinefelter coordinates the annual Recognition Dinner. She spoke at that event this year, sharing the pride she takes in her job connecting donors with students who need support.
Lives in: New Jersey Job: Reporter, NFL Network, and sports radio talk host, WFAN Big break: YES Network hired me—with no TV experience on my resume— to be the Yankees clubhouse reporter in 2005 In this issue: Profiles Michael Robinson (page 24) My TV/guilty pleasure: I don’t miss “Dateline” or “48 Hours” Three things always in my fridge: Diet Rockstar, pepper jack cheese and cherry tomatoes Fondest Penn State memory: Meeting my best friend, Stacey Bevilacqua (football games are No. 2) Top three artists on my playlist: I have everything from Eazy-E to Adele. Right now: Prince, Nelly and Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day to be Alive” Pet peeve: Talking the talk but not walking the walk
MY GO-TO CURE FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: I have to manufacture a deadline.
Lives in: Glenside, Pennsylvania
Lives in: Glenside, Pennsylvania
Job: English instructor at Penn State Abington
Big break: Coauthored the nonfiction children’s book, “Madam President: Five Women Who Paved the Way” In this issue: Profiles brand experts Marc Brownstein and Kathy Heasley (page 12) Favorite kind of cookie: Warm sugar cookies Fondest Penn State memory: Performing with the first CUPSI slam poetry team and singing with The Coda Conduct, a co-ed a cappella group. Also meeting my fiancé, yep, that’s a big one that I should have mentioned first. It’s a good day when: I get to pet a dog. Any dog. Any dog ever.
BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED: Assume people are three times more important than you first expect. All people matter to someone. Treat them like they do.
Big break: When my current school hired me despite my relative lack of experience In this issue: Profiles brand experts Marc Brownstein and Kathy Heasley (page 12) Now reading: “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein My TV/guilty pleasure: “The Office,” forever and always Favorite vacation destination: Cape Cod Three things always in my fridge: Fresh fruit, veggies and craft beer Favorite kind of cookie: Chocolate chip Fondest Penn State memory: Reuniting with my childhood best friend (long story) and meeting my fiancée Best advice I ever received: Listen to the marginalized
IT’S A GOOD DAY WHEN: I can run, read, and write with my fiancée (my beat partner for this story)! The Communicator | Fall 2018
Alumni Marc Brownstein and Kathy Heasley lead efforts to brand Philadelphia and Arizona, respectively. By John Stuetz ('15) and Abby Kennedy ('17)
randing a geographical region is often accompanied by a quick and hopefully memorable slogan. “I Love New York” and “Virginia is for Lovers” come quickly to mind. But attaching a feeling both to and for a destination involves more than words. Love does have a lot to do with it. According to Kathy Heasley, founder and president of Heasley & Partners and Heart & Mind Branding, branding done right is all about the heart. “When you do this work of finding the heart of a brand,” says Heasley, “it enables a person to speak passionately about it to others. It allows people to share their experiences, and their stories, you know? And that’s powerful, more powerful than a slogan.” Heasley (’83) and Marc Brownstein (’81), a pair of Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications alumni with degrees in advertising and professional lifetimes as passionate entrepreneurs, currently oversee unique branding campaigns. But not always for consumer goods or services. Think locales. Places not only with heart, but close to their hearts as well. While Heasley’s branding firm has worked to discover the heart of Arizona since 2015, Brownstein’s firm has just started rebranding the city of Philadelphia as a safer, cleaner and more profitable metropolis. Georgraphic branding research remains a burgeoning field. A brand consists of shared realities “dynamically constructed through social interaction,” according to scholars David Ballantyne and Robert Aitken. For that reason, Aitken and fellow scholar Adriana Campelo believe branding a place relies on the rights, roles, responsibilities and relationships of community members. Locals, and perceptions of locals, play integral roles in the branding process, according to researcher Joao Ricardo Freire. Other scholars note that when trying to rebrand a place with a negative image, making positives out of negatives and documenting sincere efforts to change the problems of a place is crucial. Heasley and Brownstein, president and CEO of the Philadelphia-based Brownstein Group, are veterans of the field. They know these details well. Heasley’s Heart & Mind Branding process focuses on listening to the stories of her clients.
Heasley’s firm has worked to discover the heart of Arizona since 2015.
Brownstein’s firm has just started rebranding the city of Philadelphia as a safer, cleaner and more profitable metropolis. So what does it take to brand a place from scratch? Heart & Mind Branding has five steps: Heart, Message, Image, Actions and Systems. In other words, to brand a place, it’s important to discover the most essential and meaningful aspect of that place, cultivate that into a clear set of messages, and create images that reflect the words and define the actions the brand can “own.” Then, finally, synthesize everything for consistency. “It’s all about showing vs. telling,” Heasley says. “So just putting a tagline out there is telling. But how much more powerful is it when we have stories and truths and realities?” To get to these stories, she conducted countless workshops with “any group (in Arizona) that wanted to be heard.” She asked participants what Arizona meant to them, getting back testimonies about Arizona’s make-ithappen spirit, diversity, community, innovation and optimism. They also shared stories of how it’s easier to enjoy life, how people help others to succeed and how life is just better in the state. Along with countless face-to-face interviews and discussions, she amassed more than 5,000 completed surveys, based on open-ended questions. She found similar results across the board. Artists, small-business owners, winter residents, students, urban leaders, rural leaders, entrepreneurs and tech workers often said variants of the same message: Arizona “is the land of opportunity for people who are willing to work hard, grow, and invest in the community.” Over in Philadelphia, Brownstein advocates not only for a diverse group of respondents, but actually a diverse group of employees in his branding company, which was founded in 1964. “I fundamentally believe that our work will be better with diverse points of view,” Brownstein asserts. “That’s just the way the creative process goes. If you have like minds on work, it’ll be less interesting and less relevant to the marketplace.” Fostering diversity in advertising and branding is not always easy. “It’s hard to attract the kind of diverse talent that we would like in our industry, partly because they’re not coming into our industry. They don’t even know that our industry exists,” Brownstein admits. “So part of what we have to do is go into middle schools and high schools and say, ‘Hey, we’re an industry that builds websites. We’re an industry that builds brands. We’re an industry that creates advertising campaigns
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
and PR campaigns. It’s something you may want to consider for your careers one day.’ You have to do that early, affect the pipeline of talent and then hope that they apply for a job one day. It’s going to take time.” He defined diversity “not just in terms of black and brown,” but also in terms of gender, sexuality, class and more. Once a diverse team collects diverse stories, a good branding company has to ensure those stories make an impact. Heasley noted that several branches of Arizona’s government — from the Office of Tourism to the Commerce Authority — have infused these brand messages into their work. Brownstein looks at his task, just beginning, the same way. All parts of the Philadelphia community will have to work together to reflect the new branding. “Our job is to create this global brand for Philadelphia that will help them do four things: attract businesses to relocate here, attract investment in the city region, get people to relocate here, and to boost tourism,” Brownstein said. “This is global, so our work is going to resonate throughout the world, and it’s going to supersede all other efforts that the city’s doing.” Last year the Brookings Institute and JPMorgan Chase began a joint project called the Global Cities Initiative, designed to increase the marketability of 32 U.S. metropolitan areas. The initiative comes on the heels of the Brookings Institute’s own 2016 report, which concluded that American exports did not drive significant economic growth in most parts of the country. Marek Gootman, Brookings fellow and director of strategic partnerships and global initiatives, remarked on Philadelphia’s branding efforts. “Global identity is about how a large or small city-region can achieve more differentiation, visibility and recognition to compete for business and talent,” Gootman says. “This isn’t a logo, slogan or sales campaign. Greater Philadelphia will coalesce diverse stakeholders to project an integrated image telling the story of its purpose, value and opportunity at home and on the global stage.” The city seemed pleased to follow his team’s lead, Brownstein added, with the mayor leading the charge. “In an increasingly global economy, the need for an internationally recognizable brand identity is more vital than ever before,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a press release. “Philadelphia’s continued participation in the Global Cities Initiative will allow the region to examine our existing strengths and opportunities in order to develop a compelling message about who we are that we can share with the world.”
BRAND BUILDERS HELPING BUILD BELLISARIO COLLEGE, TOO
Along with their efforts building brands, Marc Brownstein and Kathy Heasley have made commitments to help build the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Specifically, Brownstein made a $100,000 commitment to CommAgency. The student driven production agency housed in the Bellisario College serves a variety of on-campus clients, typically research centers or special enterprises, by producing videos and offering support in areas such as photography, social media and more. As part of the Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence Campaign and the Economic Development Matching Program, the University will make a one-time 1:1 matching contribution, thereby doubling the impact of Brownstein’s support. Overall, the Bellisario College is seeking to raise a total of $500,000 toward that matching challenge. Heasley established an Open Doors Scholarship Endowment designed to helps Pennsylvania students in need realize their dreams of a degree in communications. As part of the University’s Open Doors Scholarship program, this gift will put deserving students in the pathway of not just curriculum, but also people who will alter their destinies forever. Support like that from Heasley helps students secure their degrees and build an educational foundation for their careers. With the university match, that endowment currently totals $90,000.
Before that, however, branding calls for a lot of qualitative and quantitative research. Brownstein, a Philadelphia-area native and resident, said he has a vision of what he thinks the final deliverable will be. Only a few months into the research stage, Brownstein said, he and his team are focusing on one-on-one stakeholder interviews and information-gathering so that in the future they can distill that input into a concrete plan of action and message.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
Personal experiences and research show that such a branding campaign has not always paid off. Heasley knows that first-hand, having spent a decade working with such clients as CocaCola, Ryland Homes, Exxon and Dr. Pepper before founding her own firm. “The companies that let me find and bring the heart out in what they do were the ones that did exceptionally well,” Heasley says. “The ones that kept everything at arm’s length, ran everything by a spreadsheet, and just wanted a project here, a project there, did not excel.” Just as it is for Brownstein, diversity is a hot-button issue for Heasley. Her task has included not just rebranding a city, but an entire, very diverse state. As the Arizona Daily Star reported, for years people have associated the state simply with retirement, the desert, and the Grand Canyon. Arizona has also had its share of controversy regarding border issues. Since the branding effort started, according to Heasley, “the state has added 260,000 new jobs, and the number of businesses who have chosen Arizona has been numerous.” Recently, several STEM companies, including Acronis, AXISCADES, Cognizant and Infosys have announced plans to expand in Arizona. Brownstein’s task also offers a unique challenge as he seeks to rebrand Philadelphia, which remains the poorest large city in the country. Twenty-six percent of the city stands below the poverty line, about twice the nation’s average, according to this year’s data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Philadelphia School District has a 67.2 percent graduation rate, significantly lower than the state’s average of 86.6 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In addition, as of midOctober, there had been 271 homicides
in the city in 2018, surpassing the tally from the past five years at that date.
love you, and then when they love you, you can’t leave it.’ Stuff like that.”
Along these lines, Philadelphia has a reputation for toughness. As evident from reactions to the Philadelphia Flyers’ new mascot, Gritty, the very reason that residents love the city is the same reason outsiders sometimes feel an aversion to it.
These responses parallel those that Heasley says she received in Arizona: “‘I feel loved. All my neighbors know each other and watch out for each other. We are blessed.’”
Brownstein is of course aware of this perception of a tough Philadelphia with grit. “But,” Brownstein adds, “the modern Philadelphia, the dynamic arts and culinary scene, affordable place to live, the highest concentration of millennials in America, the second-most universities in America,” all make for a promising rebranding. As he put it, “there’s a good story to tell.” The city’s quality of life, he argued, and its proximity to the Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., international hubs are also important to consider. This modern Philadelphia has enjoyed several victories in the past few years that perhaps offer a rare opportunity for the city to refresh its image to the nation and the world. “After hosting the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis, the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the NFL Draft and winning the Super Bowl, the spotlight has shifted onto Philadelphia and there is tremendous interest in figuring out how to capitalize on this recent momentum so the city is elevated on the global stage,” Brownstein’s company wrote in a press release after it was selected to represent the city this past summer. The city was also in the running for the second Amazon headquarters. In hopes of winning the Amazon bid, the city created a “Philadelphia Delivers” campaign, claiming that “Philadelphia is in the Goldilocks zone for Amazon — it possesses all of the key ingredients the company needs to support its longterm growth.” Although the Amazon bid was unsuccessful, the work was useful. And from Brownstein’s own research and branding campaign, he began hearing a shift in tone regarding Philadelphia: “We’re starting to hear things like, ‘Give it a chance. It’s better than you think. It’ll surprise you in a good way. Philadelphia can be tough until they
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
It is personal. I care about the city. A healthy city is going to be healthy for my business and my employees. I care about its reputation and I’m honored to be charged with defining and owning that reputation.
Meanwhile, Brownstein said marketing a region is usually not so different from marketing a product, citing that he has also branded the city of Hershey in the past without trouble. He acknowledged that marketing Philadelphia does come with one main difference. He said not to expect a finished project for at least three to five years because “perceptions of Philadelphia are so ingrained in people here and maybe around the world, but certainly domestically, that it may take more time to shift perceptions than it does for a candy bar or an insurance company, or Swedish furniture.” When branding a place, he explained, “You have to stay at it a little bit longer.” However, especially in these cases, Brownstein and Heasley don’t mind the long-term process. Originally from Pennsylvania, Heasley has lived in Arizona since 1986 when she worked with the agency that became McCann Erickson on the region’s Coca-Cola media buying and branding. When she started her own branding business, Heasley & Partners, in 1994, she stayed in the state, loving its people, environment and its “heart.” The mission of her company, Heasley says, “is to help everyone live more purposeful lives. Kind of odd for a branding company. But not really when
you think about it. Surround yourself with purposeful people, and be one yourself, and everything is possible.” Rooting herself in the state has worked well for Heasley. Her work with local businesses, corporations stationed in the state, and the state itself has earned her notice. In 2012, she was an Athena Award Nominee and The Phoenix Business Journal listed her in its Top 25 Women in Business. More recently, in 2017 Business Magazine named her a Woman of Achievement. Meanwhile, Brownstein grew up as a self-proclaimed “ad brat,” overhearing advertising discussions at the dinner table. And other than his four years at Penn State and subsequent eight years in New York City, mostly as a copywriter with Ogilvy & Mather — fulfilling the minimum number of years he was “required” to spend away from the family business — he has lived in his hometown. Today, he owns the 215 S. Broad St. building out of which he runs his company. (Of course, within the “215 area code” the address won’t hurt the marketing of his own company, now one of the oldest independent agencies in the country.) On a questionnaire within his company’s website, the president and CEO explained briefly what “215” means to him: “Born and bred Philly. Can’t fake passion.” “It is personal,” Brownstein said of his current project. “I’m very involved in the city, specifically philanthropically, politically. I employ a lot of people. I care about the city. A healthy city is going to be healthy for my business and my employees. So I care about it. I care about its reputation and I’m honored to be charged with defining and owning that reputation.”
Heasley reflected on her time at Penn State, saying the University’s size, fast-pace and connections provided “the best lesson outside of the traditional classroom.” And when it came to the traditional academic lessons, she said, Penn State also prepared her exceedingly well. To this day she still uses the long-form copywriting style that she learned in her advertising strategy class. “It’s almost like New York,” she explains. “If you can make it at Penn State, then you can make it anywhere.” She serves on the Advertising/PR Alumni Network Board in the Bellisario College, and relishes the opportunity it affords to make an impact. “It’s a very important time, and it can be a little scary making that leap from college to the real world,” she says. “So serving the College allows me the opportunity to help people making that leap into the real world.” For his part, Brownstein is chair of the Advancement Council. He finds the Bellisario College modern and dynamic under Dean Marie Hardin’s leadership. “But we have to raise some funds to make sure we have the facilities that are going to attract the best students. That’s what our team is doing,” Brownstein says. “We’re really looking to fundraise to make sure that the Bellisario College competes with the best communications schools in America. And these things cost money, right? So we’re crafting a vision for the facilities, the equipment, and the talent that we need, the professors that we want to attract, and what it’s going to take to do it.”
Reflecting on the $30 million gift that Donald P. Bellisario gave to Penn State, Brownstein expressed gratitude, but also a proactive perspective concerned for the future. “Where’s the next $30 million gift coming from?” he asks. As for the current students in the Bellisario College, Heasley frequently returns to campus to provide specific and insightful advice. She encourages students to “be curious about everything” and “work your butt off.” Heasley also went further, saying, “Don’t expect to find or don’t wait for your so-called dream job, because quite honestly when you get out of college, you might think you know what your dream job is but you really don’t. I thought I wanted to be a brand manager at Procter and Gamble, which is what everyone at the time thought they wanted to be. I didn’t even really know what a brand manager was, but it sounded really good. Now looking back, there are very few jobs that would have been more ill-suited to my skills than that.” At that, Heasley laughs. “So I always say, don’t hold out for your dream job, because this world is changing so fast it probably hasn’t even been created yet,” Heasley says. “You’re going to discover your dream job probably two or three or four gigs into your career. It’s going to start to present itself, because you’re going to start to know yourself better.” Like with the process of branding, according to Heasley, students have to find their heart, too.
Which harkens back to Heasley’s message: You have to find and cultivate the heart of a subject, not just a slogan. Doing so takes time. “I intend to make Philadelphians proud and I intend to make Penn Staters proud with the work we’re about to do,” Brownstein said. Now, both Heasley and Brownstein also devote their time to Penn State.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
DONALD P. BELLISARIO
MEDIA CENTER P
lans for the Bellisario Media Center, which will be constructed in Willard Building in the heart of the University Park campus, continue to move forward on schedule.
The ambitious and vital project for the Bellisario College encompasses all four floors of the building. When complete, in time for the 2020-21 academic year, the modern, sophisticated facility will match the people it supports — providing a space for students and faculty to collaborate, employ the latest technology and engage in ground-breaking storytelling. “The Bellisario Media Center will not only inspire students to perform at their very best while at Penn State, but it will also prepare them to thrive within the kinds of media environments they will enter as professionals,” said Dean Marie Hardin. “The new center will be, hands down, the most exciting place on campus for Penn State communications students and faculty.” The 35,000-square-foot Bellisario Media Center will be the home for student media organizations and contain forward-looking spaces for innovation, teaching and research. Those spaces include: • a Media Commons where student can collaborate with their peers; • an Innovation Lab where students and faculty can experiment with new technologies; • dedicated spaces for student media operations and advanced journalism classes; • the Bellisario College’s renowned Media Effects Research Laboratory, which studies the impact of technology and media on individuals and society; • and more. Operations currently located nearly a mile away from campus — including classrooms, the equipment room, film shooting space, TV studios and more — will be integrated into the Bellisario Media Center. Specifically, the commitment to students and investment in the facility will enable CommAgency, which pairs clients from across Penn State with professionals in training, to be located closer to many of those it serves. Likewise, TV studios for the award-winning “Centre County Report” and sports magazine show “In the Game” will be in the Bellisario Media Center, as will studios for CommRadio. Buzz about the Bellisario Media Center started when the transformational gift from alumnus Donald P. Bellisario and his wife Vivienne was announced in April 2017. Benchmarking and planning for the facility then started almost immediately. In the months since, the project architect, Studios Architecture of Washington, D.C., has made numerous visits to campus and worked closely with administrators, faculty, staff and University planning officials to examine every detail of the facility.
APR. 21, 2017
SEPT. 15, 2017
Gift announced to support students and programs, and to establish state-ofthe-art media center
University groundwork and approvals
Benchmarking as faculty and staff tour facilities across the country to help shape the design process of the Bellisario Media Center
Studios Architecture approved as architect after review of proposals from more than 30 firms
Construction approvals, hiring contractor
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Oliver selected as inaugural
Bellisario Professor A
distinguished faculty member renowned for her research in entertainment psychology and her mentorship of students has been named the inaugural Donald P. Bellisario Professor of Media Studies.
Mary Beth Oliver, a Penn State faculty member since 1998, is the first faculty member to move into a professorship named for Bellisario, the distinguished alumnus who provided a $30 million gift to the University in 2017. “Part of Don’s vision for his transformative gift was to (Photo by Marissa Gonzalez, ’19) support the work of faculty members who are among the most gifted teachers and researchers in the field,” said Marie Hardin, dean of the Bellisario College. “Dr. Oliver is the perfect match for Don’s vision — someone who has distinguished herself as a scholar and also as a mentor who changes lives.” Oliver is a Fulbright Scholar, Fellow of the International Communication Association (ICA), and is a co-primary investigator on a multiyear grant from the Templeton Foundation to study inspiring media messages. Oliver earned ICA’s B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award in 2017. She has edited five books about media effects, made dozens of presentations, and published scores of articles related to her work. Her work has appeared in such journals as the Journal of Communication, the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Communication Research, Human Communication Research, and Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, among others. Oliver has earned numerous awards for her research, teaching and service at the University. She also is codirector of the Media Effects Laboratory at Penn State. Funding for the professorship was part of the $30 million gift from Bellisario and his wife, Vivienne. At the heart of that gift was a scholarship fund for communications students, with first preference given to undergraduates who are U.S. military veterans, active-duty service members, reservists and members of the National Guard.
Full academic year begins with classes in Bellisario Media Center
The gift includes support for programs and faculty, along with funds to help launch a new media center at the heart of campus in fall 2020. The Bellisario gift advances “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university. The designation of Oliver for the Bellisario professorship will enhance Penn State’s already strong international reputation as a leader in the field of media effects research, Hardin said.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
ten students selected as
Ten Penn State students were selected as the inaugural group of Bellisario College Fellows in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. The 10 students, two each from the Bellisario Collegeâ€™s five majors, were selected after initial faculty recommendations and by completing a rigorous application process that included reviews by alumni and faculty, as well as personal interviews. More than 90 high-achieving students were nominated for the program. Those selected were: ADVERTISING/PUBLIC RELATIONS
Junior West Chester, Pennsylvania
Senior Westport, Connecticut
Junior West Chester, Pennsylvania
Senior Land Oâ€™Lakes, Florida
Senior Trumbull, Connecticut
Senior Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Senior Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Andrea Melgar Senior Pahrump, Nevada
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Meghan Shiels Senior Julian, Pennsylvania
(Photo by Trey Miller, â€™12)
Candidates were evaluated on their academic performance, demonstrated interest in career development, involvement in campus media opportunities, and potential to become notable stewards to the Bellisario College. The Bellisario College Fellows program is an effort to provide a transformational learning experience for students, helping them network and meet with alumni and friends, while also engaging them to serve as ambassadors for the Bellisario College and Penn State. The program is designed to offer special opportunities for students, provide them with exclusive access to on-campus events, and even participate in field trips to meet with key alumni in nearby major media markets. Members of the inaugural class of Fellows met with alumnus and Bellisario College benefactor and namesake Donald P. Bellisario at a private lunch (above) during Homecoming week. Students selected also earned scholarship support. Alumni reviewers for the process were Alyson Joyce, chair of the Bellisario Collegeâ€™s Alumni Society Board and previously an associate for stakeholder relations at Seneca Resource Corp., and Richard Rapp, chair of the Bellisario Collegeâ€™s Ad/PR Network Board and president of Altamira, an integrated marketing and communications company based in Westport, Connecticut.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
A GIFT DRIVEN BY PASSION Jimirro Professorship the result of lifelong curiosity
lumnus James P. Jimirro— whose illustrious career has included roles as the founding president of both The Disney Channel and Disney Home Video, and who revived the National Lampoon brand—has endowed a $1 million professorship in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Jimirro’s gift creates the James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects, further positioning Penn State as a leader in the study of the impact of media messaging and communication technologies on the way individuals consume and process information as well as the way they think, and ultimately, behave. “The James P. Jimirro Media Effects Professorship at the University is an important effort designed to bring continuing light to the issue of media and society,” said Jimirro, who earned his Penn State degree in 1958. “Media are at a crossroads. Digital outlets are altering the legacy media landscape. “That makes an awareness of how media affects behavior even more important. I trust the professorship will play a continuing and significant role in helping people understand and deal with this dynamic.” For Jimirro, creating the professorship represents a continuation of his passion for media that started as a pre-teen in Pittsburgh. He performed in school plays, edited school newspapers, worked at radio stations and more in high school and college. After earning his undergraduate degree at Penn State, he followed his passion to New York City and eventually worked for CBS-TV. The positions at Disney followed later, as did the creation of his own company, J2 Communications, which acquired and revived National Lampoon. Jimirro’s passion for media — and its impact – has remained a constant in his life. “Despite the demanding work of my day jobs, I would write, read, listen to and speak incessantly about the role of media in influencing behavior: how people think, how people buy, how they vote, and so forth,” he said. “I never believed our society paid sufficient attention to helping people understand this phenomenon.” The professorship will address those topics, and more. S. Shyam Sundar, who is recognized internationally for his
ground-breaking work in media effects, has been named the inaugural holder of the James P. Jimirro Professorship. Sundar is the founding co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, a leading facility of its kind in the country. Sundar’s research investigates social and psychological effects of technological elements unique to online communication, ranging from websites to newer social and personal media. Earlier this year he was honored as the recipient of the Paul J. Deutschmann Award for Excellence in Research by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. It is the organization’s highest award recognizing research. In 2017, Sundar was named a Fellow by the International Communication Association. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services, among others. In 2015, he was awarded a Faculty Scholar Medal by Penn State, the University’s highest award for research. “Dr. Sundar is the ideal scholar for this professorship,” said Marie Hardin, dean of the Bellisario College. “His research has influenced the field dramatically as he’s brought our attention to the ways technology works with content to impact the ways people respond to media messages. His work has been groundbreaking. He is the kind of pioneer in research that Jim has been in the industry.” The Media Effects Research Lab conducts empirical research on the psychological effects of communication technologies and media psychology. Studies involving hundreds of subjects have been conducted in the lab since its opening in 1997. Experiments have been executed by faculty as well as undergraduate and graduate students taking classes in media effects, psychological aspects of communication technologies, and introduction to communication research method. This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections.
Dr. Sundar is the ideal scholar for this professorship. –Marie Hardin
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
EMPATHETIC MACHINES favored by skeptics but might creep out believers By Matt Swayne (’05)
ost people would appreciate a chatbot that offers sympathetic or empathetic responses, according to a team of researchers, but they added that reaction may rely on how comfortable the person is with the idea of a feeling machine. In a study, the researchers reported that people preferred receiving sympathetic and empathetic responses from a chatbot — a machine programmed to simulate a conversation — than receiving a response from a machine without emotions, said S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory. People express sympathy when they feel compassion for a person, whereas they express empathy when they are actually feeling the same emotions of the other person, said Sundar. As healthcare providers look for ways to cut costs and improve service, he added these findings could help developers create conversational technologies that encourage people to share information about their physical and mental health states, for example. “Increasingly, as we have more and more chatbots and more AI-driven conversational agents in our midst,” said Sundar. “And, as more people begin to turn to their smart speaker or chatbot on a health forum for advice, or for social and emotional support, the question becomes: To what extent should these chatbots and smart speakers express humanlike emotions?” While today’s machines cannot truly feel either sympathy or empathy, developers could program these cues into current chatbot and voice assistant technology, according to the researchers who report their findings in the current issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking. However, chatbots may become too personal for some people, said Bingjie Liu, a doctoral candidate in mass communications, who worked with Sundar on the study. She said that study participants who were leery of conscious machines indicated they were impressed by the chatbots that were programmed to deliver statements of sympathy and empathy. “The majority of people in our sample believe in machine emotion, so, in our they took those expressions of empathy as courtesies,” said Liu. “When we looked
(Photo © Getty Images / Andrey Suslov)
did not really interpretation, and sympathy at people who
have different beliefs, however, we found that people who think it’s possible that machines could have emotions had negative reactions to these expressions of sympathy and empathy from the chatbots.” The researchers recruited 88 volunteers from a university and Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online task platform. The volunteers were asked to interact with one of four different online health service chatbots programmed to deliver responses specific to one of four conditions set up by the researchers: sympathy, two different types of empathy — cognitive empathy and affective empathy — or, an advice-only control condition. In the sympathetic version, the chatbot responded with a statement, such as, “I am sorry to hear that.” The chatbot programmed for cognitive empathy, which acknowledged the user’s feelings, might say, “That issue can be quite disturbing.” A chatbot that expressed affective empathy might respond with a sentence that showed the machine understood how and why a user felt the way they did, such as, “I understand your anxiety about the situation.” The researchers said that affective empathy and sympathy worked the best. “We found that the cognitive empathy — where the response is somewhat detached and it’s approaching the problem from a thoughtful, but almost antiseptic way — did not quite work,” said Sundar. “Of course, chatbots and robots do that quite well, but that is also the stereotype of machines. And it doesn’t seem to be as effective. What seems to work best is affective empathy, or an expression of sympathy.” In a previous study, the researchers asked participants to just read the script of the conversation between a human subject and a machine. They found similar effects on the use of sympathy and empathy in messages. The researchers said that future research could examine how the sympathetic and empathetic interactions work for different issues beyond health and sexuality, as well as investigate how people feel if humanlike machines and robots deliver those types of responses. “We want to see if this is a consistent pattern in how humans react to machine emotions,” said Liu.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
Michael Robinson knows one route to success — honesty — which has served him well on the field and as a broadcaster By Kimberly Jones (’91, ’93 MS)
t’s a Saturday morning in October and Michael Robinson is on an NFL Network set, tackling a subject that runs through his DNA: Winning. “Winning championships,” he says. “That’s the only reason we play.” He’s just getting started with this lesson about football, which is also how the football star-turned-football star broadcaster views life: “Every player, when you walk into that locker room, it’s about this commitment to this team, a commitment to a purpose — a higher purpose — in trying to win a championship,” he shares. “It’s the hardest thing to do in all of sports, to get all 11 guys at one point to do everything together to win a championship.” As most Penn Staters know, Robinson always has done some of his best work on Saturdays, dating back in the early- and mid-2000s when he was also earning degrees in advertising and journalism Monday through Friday.
In this case, he is speaking passionately and confidently – yes, I’m asking myself as I write this, When isn’t Mike Rob confident? – on “Good Morning Football Weekend,” at an NFL Films studio in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Mike Rob contributes to other programming, including “Total Access,” the flagship program that originates from the home of NFL Network in Culver City, California. Mike Rob and I are now colleagues, so we proudly share an alma mater and a workplace. Just about everyone calls him Mike Rob, including one of my bosses (coincidentally) on this day in a phone conversation. “It’s become who I am,” Mike Rob says. He was M-Rob at Penn State. As a pro, it morphed into Mike Rob and “Real Mike Rob,” which is his Twitter handle. It fits. “It’s my ability,” he says, “to be nothing but honest.” Mike Rob is particularly comfortable on television. He is himself, without straining, without yelling, with emotion that is genuine, and only genuine. He explains that quality — his realness — by taking me back to his days as a kid playing football in southern Virginia. Even then, he was able to find calm. “Hey Mike, be careful what you say in the huddle,” a youth football coach once told him. “Because for whatever reason, these kids listen to you.” Mike Rob was 9 years old at the time. “Processing stuff at an early age came naturally to me,” he says. It has helped him to navigate television as an analyst and a personality. “You know this, Kim,” Mike Rob says, “there’s a lot going on behind the scenes when you’re on camera. People are in your ear, communicating with you. You’re trying to make your point. And it’s that ability, in chaos, to make your point and relate to the audience that takes you a long way.”
••• (Photo by Tori Richman/NFL)
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
On “Good Morning Football Weekend,” Mike Rob is usually on set with Colleen Wolfe, Mike Garafolo and either Steve
Smith Sr. or Reggie Bush. A year ago, as everyone was getting to know each other, Garafolo would ask Mike Rob if he had watched a certain game. “The answer was always yes, so at some point I stopped asking and just got right into what I wanted to know,” Garafolo says. “Mike Rob is always prepared.” Garafolo has adopted a pre-show routine: He’ll view the coaches’ tape of a game or play, “but then I’ll run it by Mike Rob and he’ll always give me a better understanding of not only what they’re seeing, but also why they’re seeing it. Context is extremely important in our business and nobody understands it better than him. He’s the most prepared analyst I’ve ever worked with.” (Speaking of better understanding, a brief aside: On Oct. 7, Dez Bryant tweeted that against the Carolina Panthers, Saquon Barkley — the former Nittany Lion and current New York Giant rookie — “really just hit the B button…he’s nice for real!!!” I messaged MikeRob to ask what B button meant. His answer came within two minutes: “Spin move.” Thank you.) Garafolo recalls a fun on-air segment, “Club 4-3,” where the panel debated which NFL teams with 3-3 records would get a victory and join the club. “He played the bouncer shtick perfectly and made it an entertaining segment, but it was all based on solid football insight,” Garafolo says. “He wasn’t just trying to be goofy. It was tremendous.” I suggest to Mike Rob that “goofy” is not his calling card. “It’s not, Kim and that’s part of my paradox, right?” he says, his voice rising slightly. “They say, ‘Smile more,’ but when I’m talking football, I’m very serious. I take it seriously. I really think football is a microcosm of the entire world. I take it seriously. I have to.” From the time he knew in 2014 that his professional football playing career was over, Mike Rob says he was ready. “I said, ‘I’m done and I can’t wait to get in front of the camera.’ This is the career I’ve always wanted.” Michael Robinson is at the NFL
Network because of his NFL career, which spanned eight years, four seasons in San Francisco and four in Seattle. He won a Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2014, when the Seahawks dismantled Peyton Manning’s Broncos, 43-8. Immediately after the game and while holding an NFL Network microphone, I interviewed Mike Rob on the field and asked him to identify the game’s turning point. “The coin toss” was his entire reply.
In the NFL, Mike Rob played running back, fullback and wide receiver, and was a valuable special teams contributor. He scored five touchdowns, three on receptions, two on rushes. And he threw a total of two passes. Which seems … crazy. “And they were trick plays,” he says. “I threw a lot more passes at practices.” His versatility? Simply amazing. “I don’t know how many quarterbacks who were Heisman Trophy finalists go on to play the most physical position in football in the NFL,” he says, referring to the fullback spot. Mike Rob retired from the NFL a few
“I use the game of football to help youth find success in life.” – Michael Robinson
months after winning that Super Bowl. The summer before, in 2013, he had become critically ill, facing potential
liver and kidney failure that caused his weight to drop from 240 pounds to 215. A liver specialist and kidney specialist were able to diagnose and offer successful treatment. As he recovered, Mike Rob made changes, mostly eliminating meat from his diet and vowing to no longer take medication of any kind. Looking back, he says, “That experience sped up my transition to life after football. The universe was kind of talking to me.”
He knew he had a higher purpose, a belief that had been crystallized at Penn State.
••• In 2005, as a fifth-year senior, dual-threat quarterback and Nittany Lion team captain known as M-Rob, he cemented himself in school and conference record books. And in the hearts of Penn Staters everywhere. He was named Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. He won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten MVP. He became the first player in Penn State history to throw for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 500 yards in the same season. He rushed for 11 touchdowns and threw for 17 more. Capped by the four-hour, had-tosee-it-to-believe-it, 26-23 win in three overtimes over Florida State in the Orange Bowl, he chauffeured the Nittany Lions to a signature win – and the program to a revival. This postgame image endures, of M-Rob and JoePa, both exhausted, surrounded by bowls of oranges. The Communicator | Fall 2018
“I didn’t necessarily foresee it (unfolding) like that,” Mike Rob says. “But as sure as I knew the sky was blue, I knew that team would play in a championship game. We were one second away,” citing the excruciating loss to Michigan in October 2005. “I remember that summer, being at Tamba Hali’s apartment (with teammates) and doing push-ups and sit-ups, talking about the season (to come) and for the first time in my life, I saw a vision. Nothing would stop us. We wound up a little bit short, but that year was special. We cemented Coach (Joe) Paterno’s legacy.” It wasn’t always going to work out that way. After the Capital One Bowl three years earlier, Mike Rob was disenchanted with his playing time and began looking for a way out. He strongly considered a transfer. The core issue: He had replaced an ineffective Zack Mills during the bowl game, but Paterno had reinserted Mills to run the two-minute offense. “How am I going to get experience if you don’t let me play?” Mike Rob recalls yelling at his head coach on the sidelines.
(Photo by Tori Richman/NFL)
“That was the first time, ever, that Joe didn’t have an answer for me,” he says. Shortly thereafter, Penn State’s quarterback coach at the time, Jay Paterno, gave Mike Rob the book, “Days of Grace: A Memoir,” by Arthur Ashe. As Jay recalled recently, “We thought he could transcend sport to change lives.” (Jay still believes that to be true.) Throughout his NFL career, Mike Rob and Joe spoke regularly: “We never talked about football. We talked about family. He asked if I was saving my money.” Pause. “Then Sue would jump on the phone and correct my grammar. ‘Michael, I heard a double negative … .” We both laugh. Of the heated one-way exchange at the Capital One Bowl: “We ended up joking about that for the rest of his life,” Mike Rob says.
••• Although Mike Rob left Penn State more than 12 years ago, his connection remains strong. He became close to Bill O’Brien, who succeeded Paterno as head coach, and he is now close with James Franklin, the current head coach.
He’s come back to campus to speak to the football team at the invitation of both. He tells Franklin he is sorry he doesn’t visit more often. “I go back to Penn State not only for me,” he says. “I have a duty to share my experiences with these young men at my school.” His messages, often, are about facing adversity. He loves Saquon, calling him “a franchise person. To me, that’s where the Giants won in the draft.” Mike Rob held school records for career rushing yards by a quarterback and rushing yards by a QB in a season until another dual-threat quarterback came along. But, in the latter stages of the 2018 campaign, a fellow PSU QB from Virginia unseated him in both categories. “I admire his will to win,” Mike Rob says of Trace McSorley. “His teams always have a chance.” Mike Rob and his wife Shameka live in Richmond, Virginia, with their four children, two boys and two girls. It is there, in his hometown, that he has laid substantial groundwork in what may become the greatest part of his legacy.
(Photo by Seattle Seahawks)
In 2012, he founded the Excel 2 Excellence Charitable Foundation, geared to encourage kids to excel in academics and in society and to limit behavioral issues. With the help of professional athletes and community mentors, TEAM EXCEL positively motivates students and rewards them based on their grades, attendance and community service. The foundation also includes E2E Football, a youth football league that serves Richmond city and surrounding areas. As we speak, Mike Rob is in the midst of organizing a trip in December to California for 150 Richmond youth players to compete against a league run by rapper Snoop Dogg. “I use the game of football to help youth find success in life,” Mike Rob says. On a broader level, he equates football to life, and he wants the rest of us to consider doing the same. For example,
(Photo by Steve Manuel ’84, ’92 MA)
take the quarterback who reads a defense and decides the right play is to throw high and outside on an out cut. “A web master at Google is doing the same thing,” he says, “and getting paid for it.” Similarly, a middle linebacker assesses risk/reward as he diagnoses a play a split second. “That’s the same thing a banker gets paid a lot of money to do.” Mike Rob is passionate about this and committed to it. “We have to stop talking about just the physicality of football,” he says, “and start talking about the value of what the brain is processing while you play football. There are sustainable skills that you learn playing football that can help you throughout life.” There may be no better example than the man himself. Michael Robinson, also known as Mike Rob. Make that Real Mike Rob.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
HIGH PRAISE FOR
‘QUIET SUNDAYS’ Student-produced sports documentary enjoys strong festival run
A student-produced documentary that explores the passion that sports creates among fans earned numerous honors and made its Pennsylvania premiere at the Pittsburgh Shorts Film Festival during the fall semester. “Quiet Sundays” received the Dr. George Sanger Best Student Film Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, at the Coronado Island Film Festival near San Diego on Nov. 12. The film, which is about NFL fans in Great Britain, came from a 10-day, on-location working trip by students in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, who covered two NFL games at Wembley Stadium in 2017.
film schools in the country,” said “Quiet Sundays” faculty director Boaz Dvir, an assistant professor of journalism who represented the Curley Center at the Coronado Island Film Festival. “I enjoyed representing ‘Quiet Sundays’ at this top-notch film festival, especially talking with festival-goers about how our students made the film,” said Dvir, who is an award-winning documentarian. “Accepting the award on behalf of our whole team gave me the opportunity to name each member, from the director, Katie Kemmerer, to my colleague and faculty producer, John Affleck.”
The award came just days before the film’s first general public screening in Pennsylvania—Nov. 15 in Pittsburgh.
Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and director of the Curley Center, said the award was gratifying.
“It’s been humbling to see the shorts against which our undergraduate students competed—wonderful work by grad students from some of the top
“We’re very grateful to the organizers of the Coronado Island Film Festival. The honors for ‘Quiet Sundays’ have been an incredible reward for all the
/// Two award-winning films by Pearl Gluck, assistant profesor of film-video, captured numerous awards and screened at festivals across the country during the fall semester. “The Turn Out” screened at the Comcast NBCUniversal Film Festival in Oregon, at YoFiFest in Yonkers, and at The Gershman Philadelphia Film Festival. Among its many accolades, “The Turn Out” won as Best Debut Feature at Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival; earned the Critic’s Choice Award at the Iowa International Film Festival; and was named Best Experimental Feature at the Cutting Edge Film Festival. “Summer” was named Best Screenplay at the Sulmona International Film Festival. It also screened at the 30th annual NewFest LGBTQ Film Festival in New York City. 28
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
work the students put into the project,” said Affleck. Other accolades for “Quiet Sundays” have included: “Best Editing in a Documentary” at the Southampton International Film Festival in England last month; “Best Student Film” in a monthly competition sponsored by the Online Film Festival earlier this year; and a nomination for a Mid-Atlantic Emmy as a university student production. The Curley Center, created in 2003 and housed in the Bellisario College, explores issues and trends in sports journalism through instruction, outreach, programming and research. The Curley Center complements its core courses with an emphasis on internships and hand-on experience, covering major sporting events for professional media organizations. In addition to on-field coverage, the center emphasizes the lessons that sports can teach about culture.
/// A faculty member’s documentary about child poverty was chosen as an official selection for festivals in Milan, Italy, and Brisbane, Australia. Boaz Dvir, assistant professor of journalism, screened “El País de la Eterna Primavera” (Land of the Eternal Spring) at Italy’s SOUQ Film Festival at the Cloister of Piccolo Teatro Grassi in Milan and as part of Australia’s online Colortape International Film Festival. Dvir directed, produced and filmed “El País,” following photojournalist Jason Henry (The New York Times) and writer Erik Maza (Town & Country, Baltimore Sun) as they traveled to Guatemala’s most infamous landfill. Edited by Penn State film-video alumnus Allan Guerrero, the short documentary showcases Henry’s striking Teculután photographs.
GETTING A STRONG START Award-winning student filmmaker busy on campus By Nina Trach (’21)
A freshman in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications was selected as an LA Cinefest semifinalist for his film “Shades of Light: The Refugee Crisis Abroad,” documenting refugee stories in Paris. Sebastien Kraft, a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, and native of France, traveled back to Paris for four days in August 2017 to film his 7 minute short documentary about the refugee crisis. His film follows two refugees from Mauritania and Yemen, along with Kraft’s great aunt and Amnesty International member Marie-Edith Douillard. “The goal was to depict the paradox between Paris, ‘The City of Lights,’ and all its monuments that we had to film and visit, and the refugees whose situations are more unfortunate,” Kraft said. “My films are not meant to divide, but rather to unite.” Kraft submitted his documentary to over 75 festivals on FilmFreeway, an online platform for festival submissions. “I wasn’t necessarily expecting a positive verdict because oftentimes they take professional films and not student films or youth films,” he said. “But I was absolutely ecstatic and thrilled when the Los Angeles confirmation came in and I was announced as a semifinalist.” Each month, LA Cinefest announces semifinalists, finalists and winners for its online events. If Kraft’s work is selected as a finalist, his film will be showcased at LA Cinefest’s live event in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, 2019.
Kraft already has experience with film festivals. His work won best documentary at the Great Message International Film Festival in India, and another of his films was named best documentary at the 2018 Montgomery County Youth Media Festival. Two moments stand out to Kraft in his nominated film – a shot of an accordion player in the Paris Metro and a story shared by Douillard of a hummingbird helping to tame a large fire. Each moment emphasizes the importance of doing small things that matter. “Being not even 18 years old yet, I think I’m very fortunate to be able to experience this surplus of emotion and experience,” Kraft said. “Even before college.” Kraft, a Schreyer Honors Scholar, plans to focus on broadcast journalism, stemming from his involvement in Montgomery Blaire High School’s communication arts program. He is a news anchor for PSN-TV and an arts and lifestyle columnist/film critic The Daily Collegian. He plans to one day be a broadcaster, news anchor or columnist, with interests in multiplatform journalism. Just beginning his Penn State journey, Kraft is most excited for the internship opportunities he hopes are in his near future and to meet all different kinds of new people. “It all kind of comes down to the connections you make and the people you meet,” Kraft said. “I hope to bolster my ability to promote myself and those I represent and the people with whom I’m close, and to do my family proud, as well.”
(Photos by Mariesa Beneventano, ’19)
The Communicator | Fall 2018
Every month since January 1996, Penn State alumna Mimi Barash Coppersmith has conducted a question-and-answer session in “Town & Gown,” the community magazine she founded in 1966 that focuses on Happy Valley. We’ve flipped the script here. On the occasion of Barash Coppersmith (’53 Journ) publishing her memoir, “Eat First, Cry Later,” Dean Marie Hardin of the Bellisario College is asking the questions. All proceeds from the book will benefit Penn State communications students who study abroad. Along with founding “Town & Gown,” Barash Coppersmith, 85, was co-founder of State College-based Morgan Signs Inc. She served seven three-year terms as an alumni-elected member of the Penn State Board of Trustees and was the first woman elected board chair, serving two one-year terms. She has been honored as the Renaissance Person of the Year by the University and was named a Distinguished Alumna, the highest honor bestowed by her alma mater. Barash Coppersmith has complemented her history of philanthropy to Penn State and community organizations with abundant hands-on service. Among many roles, she has served as president of the board of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and as chair of capital campaigns for the Women’s Resource Center, Alpha Ambulance and the Hemlock Girl Scout Council. Her book shares life lessons gleaned through personal tragedy and triumph as she built a career, lost her first husband to cancer, outlived another and divorced the third. Her forthright approach and strongmindedness shine through on the pages of the book as she discusses many topics, including raising her family, friendship, and the value of community. This is an excerpt of the full interview (available at https://bit.ly/2qvJ4VL). 30
(Photo by Trey Miller, ’12)
MH: What was the most valuable part of the book-writing process for you? MC: Having an opportunity to do something constructive with my older daughter. She and I have spent a lifetime of struggle to manage a solid, positive relationship. We had a very bumpy ride at the end, but throughout the experience from November of 2016 to May of 2018, I had won a daughter and she had won a mother back. MH: One of the things I love about this book is we learned about your professional life, but we also learned about your personal journey and your journey with your daughters. What I’m hearing you say is that this book really allowed you to do some things in your own life with your daughter. MC: With great pleasure. It was hard work, very hard work. She’s critical, and critical is a positive word. She can be very critical, as I can be. It was an interesting experiment. It proves that we can get along, though. MH: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about writing a memoir? MC: Be better prepared than I was, personally. It takes a lot of time to do a good piece of work, whether it’s short or long. It requires your memory. It requires your objectivity. There’s a tendency to want to tell just the nice parts of the journey, but really, the interesting part and the challenging part is to try to understand the difficult parts. I believe that Carol helped me look, square in the eye, after I had written these anecdotes and pull out of me more details. The reality of suffering
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
from a loss, from a disappointment: it’s not easy and as I talk, I get little chills up and down my arms realizing that you can overcome it, but it’s hard getting out of the hole and sharing it with the rest of the world. And she wanted to share far more than I wanted to. There are still people who read the book and say, ‘I couldn’t be as open as you were.’ I assure them it wasn’t easy for me in many spots, but I believe that’s what makes the book authentic and I credit my daughter for it. MH: I so admire how much you shared with us in this book. What other responses have you gotten from folks who have read the book? MC: I get some emails that just send me into heaven. I had that terrible flu this past winter that had me out of commission for two months. I had never been that sick. It kind of puts in the past the dark, having a mastectomy, because you’re asleep through all that and when you get up, you’re pretty normal except you’re less one boob. When I got this illness, it challenged me in terms of getting better. The hardest part of getting better from the recent flu was that it brought back my anxiety and depression. This is not in the book, but this is an offshoot of the time involved and I’m much better now, but I couldn’t have done this interview two months ago, perhaps. I mean I’m tough, but you can only tell your body so much. MH: You write about your struggle with depression. Have you heard from folks that have said that made a difference for them? MC: Other people bring the subject up now with me. In speeches that I give,
or during the ‘Lunch with Mimi Live’ program with Kish Bank over a 10-year period, I frequently talk about it because it is a serious subject facing women. Women are less prone to share deep, personal things than others. I try to share with women how therapy helped me get out of the hole I was in when I caught my third husband cheating on me—not that I had two others that cheated. I had two other good ones. MH: There is so much that you’ve done. What do you want your legacy, ultimately, to be? MC: She was tough, but fair. I believe that’s the legacy I will leave behind. There are certain projects you don’t have to make money on. There are projects that are worthwhile for your own satisfaction and for the community. The model for Town & Gown is not a good business model. To start a publication that’s free, and part of our idea was to have more circulation than anybody else, and it demonstrated our overall quality and capability as an organization. I had the good fortune of having more than a single business. MH: But you built that. MC: We built that, yes. Yes, and it does have a bottom line. Not a big one and in the kind of market we’re dealing with today in terms of the challenges for print media, it’s a good model because newspapers around the country are half the circulation that they were 15 years ago and keep going down. Ours doesn’t keep going down, but we keep paying for it. The model is right, but it’s not a model that will make you rich and famous. But, because it is a magazine that the community and visitors have warmed up to, it has survived in a more positive way than many other print media in the market. But it’s a challenge. All print media will be challenged as the social media become stronger and can generate data. It’s a fact. I don’t think print media will go totally away, but probably their circulation will continue to decline. MH: You’re talking about change, and one thing I loved about this book was learning about Sy and Lou and the roles that they played in your life. They were both a part of this community and helped grow this community. What
do you think would surprise each one of them today about Penn State and State College? MC: They wouldn’t believe the physical things that have happened. I don’t know about you, but those new student apartments in Toftrees look like an Army barracks. All those trees went. If you’ve lived here and care and drive around and look, they took all of those trees down and turned them into sawdust, mounds of sawdust that were hauled away, and I just wanted to open my car window and scream and just yell at them, ‘Stop!’ What went up is just the ugliest possible thing. Now, you’re not supposed to talk that way, but that’s the truth. Maybe what I’ve learned from them and with the passing of time, the truth may hurt but you’ve got to deal with the truth to ever solve a problem. MH: Both Sy and Lou were great partners in serving and giving to the community. That motivates you so much, and I admire that. Can you talk about why philanthropy means so much to you? MC: Well, first of all, I have everything I need. I live in a beautiful place. I have nice clothes and can buy whatever clothes I want. I didn’t grow up that way but I was taught the real value of life—and the real value of life is transferring on to other people your good fortune. Whether it’s when you make $10,000 or $15,000 a year or when you make hundreds of thousands of dollars, there is more personal growth in reaching out of yourself and spreading so-called wealth or wisdom, and having other people feel they’ve experienced
advancement in their life and you can feel you’ve played a role in it. MH: So, philanthropy does great things for the giver? MC: You bet, more than the receiver. Because it lasts longer. MH: You have so generously decided the proceeds from this book would support students who study abroad in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Why is study abroad so important? MC: Well, we’re living in a global society. There are so many problems worldwide. We need young people to physically see and experience how lucky they are to have the opportunities that we’ve had up to now in our country. I believe that study abroad in this generation is as important as going to college was in my generation. It’s at the top of the schedule within the total program because you can’t just think or live by yourself. You have to see how others thrive, how others suffer and starve and get killed. I just think everybody has to have that experience, within their total education. MH: And so many students can’t afford it without financial help. MC: I could’ve never afforded Penn State without financial help. MH: So, what a wonderful blessing and gift this book is for readers — and it’s also going to be a blessing and gift for students. MC: Into perpetuity, that’s the best part of giving. If you can give in a fashion that it goes on from generation to generation, you can feel good about the time you spent above the dirt.
(Photo by Trey Miller, ’12)
The Communicator | Fall 2018
ACCESS & OPPORTUNITY Lack of broadband access a challenge in Commonwealth
s a yearlong effort to study broadband access in Pennsylvania nears its conclusion, the Penn State faculty member leading the effort sees numerous opportunities – the overwhelming amount of data documenting that relatively few residents of the commonwealth have access to even the FCC-mandated minimum for measuring internet availability and speed opens up options for accessing grants to bridge the digital divide. “The evidence is absolutely compelling. When you look at our data visualization map—which documents areas of Pennsylvania where the median measured broadband speed meets the FCC’s minimum speed for broadband connectivity — it becomes clear that under 10 percent of the state meets this minimal requirement. That’s just an absolute travesty,” said Sascha Meinrath, the Palmer Chair in Telecommunications in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. “The good news is that because we are compiling an overwhelming evidentiary trail, there is a general acceptance that we’ve put our finger on a very important and real phenomenon — one that we can now begin to address.”
Meinrath is a renowned technology policy expert who has been named to the Time Magazine “Tech 40” as one of the most influential figures in technology; to the “Top 100” in Newsweek’s Digital Power Index; and received the Public Knowledge IP3 Award for excellence in public interest advocacy. Meinrath also co-founded Measurement Lab, a global online platform for researchers to deploy internet measurement tools that empower the public and key decision-makers with useful information about broadband connectivity. That online resource, known as the M-Lab, allows anyone to test the connectivity of their computer with a few simple clicks. M-Lab is used by the FCC to help define the official broadband speeds of the United States, and has set the standard for broadband data measurement. M-Lab has been a vital part of the study of rural broadband access in Pennsylvania because over 5 million tests have already been conducted in the Commonwealth since its inception in 2008. That data provides the baseline for Meinrath’s study that began February 1, 2018 and stretched throughout the calendar year.
“Nobody’s out there saying these hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tests are wrong.” Meinrath’s work, supported by a $50,000 grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and millions of dollars in in-kind donations from Measurement Lab consortium members and national organizations like the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Open Technology Institute, is meant to equip legislators and other policymakers with scientifically rigorous documentation of the true state of broadband connectivity across Pennsylvania.
Want to test your broadband speed? And see results from across Pennsylvania? Visit: pa.broadbandtest.us
Meinrath said the discrepancy between advertised and actual speeds for Pennsylvania residents has been illuminating. As expected, people in rural areas pay more money for less—rural speeds are slower vis-a-vis advertised availability than people in more
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
metropolitan areas. The amount of difference has been striking, though. “It’s not just a little different. It appears that the more rural areas have a larger difference between advertised and actual broadband speeds than urban locations,” Meinrath said. “In some locales, the discrepancy between actual and advertised speeds are an order of magnitude difference or larger. And if you’re this underserved or without internet access entirely, you’re just not going to be a viable part of the 21st century economy.” For businesses across the spectrum, education, and people who need access healthcare that’s a serious concern. Pennsylvania agriculture is another area of potentially serious impact. “We have heard from a ton of Pennsylvania farmers that they’re facing real problems due to their lack of connectivity. With the advent of ‘smart’ equipment and more efficient farming services and devices, they need Internet connectivity; if you’re under-served you’re at a meaningful competitive disadvantage,” Meinrath said. “There’s not a lot of margin for farming to play with, so even if you’re 5 percent less efficient due to marginal connectivity, that’s the whole ballgame.” For Meinrath, the answer is investment. He said infrastructure improvements today to enhance broadband access will more than pay for themselves by alleviating expenses that the lack of connectivity will create. “The fundamental importance of broadband connectivity is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” he said. “Marginal broadband connectivity is a Commonwealth-wide problem—my hope is we can get people to agree that we’re all in this together and implement solutions starting immediately.”
Gift Supports Creation of Innovative Position Brad Davis has spent much of his career investing in people and organizations with potential for impact, and he plans to do the same for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications with the creation of a Media Innovator-inResidence program. Davis, who earned his Penn State journalism degree in 1961, is the managing partner, with his son, of Ridge Capital Partners LLC. For more than two decades, their firm has looked for opportunities to invest in promising companies. “We buy existing companies and invest in them and then help grow the company,” Davis said. “We’re not into distress or situations like that. We try to be strategic and thoughtful about what we do. Plus, we’re pretty good at operations and helping run companies.” Davis, drawn to the opportunity to launch a venture that was seen as novel at the time, initially moved into the business with a Penn State classmate.
“Today everybody knows about private equity and venture capital. It’s more institutionalized,” Davis said. It’s not the entrepreneurial thing it used to be years ago.” Davis enjoys finding and executing deals, and the competitive nature of the business motivates him. In many ways — from the entrepreneurial basis and competition to making the most of opportunities — the Media Innovatorin-Residence program will mirror Davis’ career.
will also help keep coursework and curricula cutting-edge for innovation and entrepreneurial approaches. “It’s an interesting and important position,” Davis said. “From my experience it’s clear those experiences and skills are vital—and that they’ll be important for faculty and students going forward. Helping make that possible is exciting.”
The program will bring innovators and entrepreneurs to campus to interact with faculty and students. Each Media Innovator-in-Residence will be selected for their expertise in digital media, film, entertainment, journalism, media activism, music, strategic communications, or a related field. They will teach, help launch in-house media startups, lead media innovation experiments, and help faculty and students realize their own media enterprises. They
(Photo by Melissa Gonzalez, ’19)
WEB SERIES SEEKS TO SPUR CONVERSATION ON PRESSING SOCIETAL ISSUES ‘HumIn Focus’ highlights work by Penn State
Sparking meaningful dialogue about the fundamental issues and questions shaping society today — and highlighting the work being done by Penn State humanities scholars to address those issues — is the onus behind HumIn Focus, an educational web series recently launched by the Penn State Humanities Institute. The Humanities Institute was launched by the College of the Liberal Arts in the fall of 2017 as an outgrowth of the former Institute for the Arts and Humanities, which flourished at Penn State for nearly half a century. According to John Christman, Penn State professor of philosophy, political science, and women’s studies and director of the Humanities Institute, HumIn Focus advances the institute’s broader effort to showcase the social value of humanities research and to create conversations between humanities scholars and members of the community on topics of pressing social importance. Online: https://sites.psu.edu/huminfocus “We want our faculty and students to listen responsively to questions of social concern, and to explain how their research speaks to and enriches discussion of those questions,” Christman said. “We wanted more than an interview show or panel discussion; we wanted to make something visually interesting and dynamic.”
“We firmly believe that Penn State scholars who have studied the world from a humanities perspective can enrich the ongoing public conversation about these issues,” added Matthew Jordan, Penn State associate professor of media studies. “Ideally, a critical function of the public land-grant university is to help citizens make sense of the world. We see the series helping to deepen the public’s understanding of the issues we will focus on by shifting people’s perspective on them.” The name HumIn Focus is a play on the Humanities Institute’s name, and the word “Human” and “in Focus” is a nod to that intent. Christman and Jordan anticipate the second HumIn Focus episode will debut in the spring of 2019. As the site continues to grow, every chapter of each episode will include follow up questions that help viewers contemplate how they would respond to the content. “Our aim is not to provide specific answers about how to solve the problems or issues — to act as conversations stoppers — but rather to kick start and broaden the conversation that people might be having about them,” Jordan said. “We also want to show that the humanities matter in a democratic society, perhaps now more than ever.” The Communicator | Fall 2018
EMPOWERING THROUGH FASHION Family and Functionality Influence Dress Design By Katie DeFiore (’18)
rom cycling the Silk Road to attending fashion design classes in Spain to volunteering on a non-profit cruise ship, Kay Makishi has led an adventurous and diverse lifestyle. She started to get tired of packing multiple changes of clothes to fit the different occasions. Not only was this bulky to carry around, but the clothes would get wrinkled in her suitcase or backpack, and a lot of the outfits weren’t super comfortable.
“What makes us different from all other athleisure wear or any other type of apparel is that every single piece is designed so it can fold into a pocket,” Makishi said. “I think women nowadays are traveling a lot, and so I view this as a vehicle — it’s empowering females through fashion.” Makishi graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in advertising/public relations. She started out working for Digitas, a Boston based advertising agency. While working there, Makishi was awarded a fellowship from the Japanese government to travel to Okinawa for a year. She decided to take the opportunity and went to Japan to connect with her extended family. “My family has a 300-page book published of our family tree starting over 400 years ago,” Makishi said. “It was a big puzzle piece that has been missing in my life, just getting in touch with my roots and learning about my heritage and culture. I’m the 15th generation Makishi.” From there, Makishi continued to travel the world, exploring her heritage and gaining an interest in fashion design. While traveling, she really started to develop a passion for creating a global community and supporting cross-cultural pursuits.
Kay Makishi works on an initial design for the Little Bamboo Dress. (Photo Provided)
This is how Makishi got the idea for the Little Bamboo Dress — a dress made out of rayon made from bamboo that has five pockets and is versatile in whatever occasion it can be worn for. She started a Kickstarter campaign for the dress and raised over $48,000, surpassing her Kickstarter goal on Aug. 26 of this year.
“I’ve always been interested in peace building, and that’s sort of been the common thread all throughout my life in whatever I did,” Makishi said. “I’ve been to 50 some countries, and I’ve concluded for myself that people everywhere — we all want the same things. We want love, we want to protect our family, we want happiness, and we just want to feel like we belong and that we’re contributing to our community.” In 2016, Makishi moved to Spain to work with a small garment manufacturer in Valencia as a business consultant through an entrepreneurship program sponsored by the European Union. Her original plan was to help small businesses reach American
Graduated from Penn State
Lived in Okinawa, Japan, for one year to connect with heritage and culture
Moved back to Japan to work for local government
Worked for Digitas ad agency in Boston
Backpacked through South America to connect with other relatives for three months
Volunteered on a non-profit cruise ship circumnavigating the world for three months
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Susan Yim modeling the dress. (Photos by Suxiao Yang)
and Japanese markets. However, she ended up surrounded by clothing design, which inspired her to start taking fashion design courses in Spain. This is when she started working on the design for the Little Bamboo Dress. She said it originally was a long sleeve shirt, but because she ended up wanting multiple pockets, she changed the shirt design to a dress design. Makishi said it was important for her to incorporate her Japanese culture into the design, and so the insides of the sleeves of every dress have a custom print pattern inspired by traditional Okinawan design meaning “I’ll love you wherever in the world, forever.” Once she had a finalized design, Makishi went to New York to turn her business idea, Makishi Apparel, into a reality. Now, after completing a successful Kickstarter campaign, Makishi has five more products in product development in addition to the Little Bamboo Dress, which is scheduled to ship to consumers in February. Makishi said she is currently in the midst of building a larger full-time team and applying to different start-up incubators. “For the consumer end, I think it’s making people look and feel good, and I think when people look and feel good, you feel more confident, and when you feel more confident, that leads to happiness,” Makishi said. “The whole mission of Makishi Apparel is to help women feel unstoppable as they pursue true happiness.” Makishi in Japanese means “Pursue True Happiness.”
For more information or to pre-order the Little Bamboo Dress, visit the Makishi Apparel Website: makishiapparel.com
AUG 26, 2018
Cycled the Silk Road from China to Uzbekistan for five months
Started taking fashion design classes in Spain and exploring ideas for Little Bamboo Dress
Reached Kickstarer Fundraising goal (also Women’s Equality Day in the US)
European Union Young Entrepreneur’s program, through which she did in-house consulting for Spanish dress manufacturer
Moved to New York to start Makishi Apparel
Dress ship to consumers
The Communicator | Fall 2018
Student Finds Opportunities and Support at Penn State By Nina Trach ('21)
Olivia Piechocinski has found a home at Penn State because of the many opportunities the University offers. (Photo by Marissa Gonzalez, ’19)
tarting college can be daunting for a first-generation student — and that’s especially true for someone whose parents are unfamiliar with American universities. In just a few weeks, however, first-year Penn State student Olivia Piechocinski already felt at home in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and on the University Park campus. A native of New York City, born to Polish parents, Piechocinski was originally unsure if she even wanted to leave her home state for college. “I wanted to go out of the city but I never thought I would actually leave the state and go to the middle of Pennsylvania, so that was a shock for me,” Piechocinski said. “When it came around to decision time, it just felt like Penn State held so many opportunities for me.” After watching the popular high school football TV series “Friday Night Lights,” Piechocinski said she was inspired to search for schools with a vibrant and spirited sports culture like the one on the show. That eventually led her to Penn State. When she learned more about the Bellisario College, she realized Penn State was the perfect choice for her— beyond the Saturday night lights in Beaver Stadium. 36
With a passion for people and writing, Piechocinski was looking for a career path that would allow her to interact with others and express herself creatively. The advertising/public relations major said she can pinpoint the exact experience that led her to pursue a communications degree. In her creative expression class at Townsend Harris High School, Piechocinski’s teacher required that each student submit work to their high school literary magazine. Although she originally submitted her work solely out of obligation, the editor soon reached out and encouraged Piechocinski to take a position as a literary editor for the magazine. “Things kind of just fell into place for me,” Piechocinski said. Her experience guiding the magazine’s writing group through the writing process was eye-opening, setting Piechocinski on her current advertising track to combine interests in writing, humanities and communications. Since arriving at Penn State, Piechocinski has already gotten involved with the AD/PR Club, CommRadio, the Student Programming Association, and the Colombian American Student Association. Coming from a diverse neighborhood on the border of Queens
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
and Brooklyn, Piechocinski said she was looking to interact with a wide variety of peers from all different backgrounds through her extracurricular involvement. As for student life as a first-generation college student, Piechocinski said she thought she would be in shock from the transition. Instead, she has made herself at home by taking advantage of free concerts on campus and getting to know her classmates. “Even though a lot of kids aren’t first generation, we’re all going through similar experiences,” Piechocinski said. “I thought I would feel more left out being a first-generation college student, but everyone has been super helpful.” Piechocinski is a 2018 recipient of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications Scholarship and Student Support Endowment, a gift that she said greatly helped to ease the financial burden on her family. Anticipating what will come out of her time at Penn State and in the Bellisario College, Piechocinski is excited by the opportunities and environment that surround her. Instead of the stereotypical homesick phone call to parents, Piechocinski said her calls home have been to reassure her parents that she is certain she made the right choice to come to Penn State.
SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION Marine Corps veteran pursues her passion in Bellisaro College By Nina Trach (’21)
oing to college is a transition for everybody, but while most students are simply dealing with the differences between high school and college, others are making the transition from serving in the military to studying. Chandler Godinez, a 25-year-old junior, made her way to Penn State after serving five years in the Marine Corps as a sergeant. She is combining her skills as a former meteorological oceanographic analyst forecaster with a major in broadcast journalism to pursue a passion in weather broadcasting. Originally majoring in meteorology, Godinez made her decision to come to Penn State while serving in Japan. She soon realized she was more interested in the briefing side of weather broadcasting than the behind-the-scenes work. So, she transferred into the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications this summer and says she is already more engaged in her coursework. “Going into the broadcasting major has just really shown me what I’m actually interested in,” Godinez said. “That’s I think the fun part of college, is you can change your mind 100 times until you really find what suits you.” This flexibility has been a change for Godinez who was accustomed to the more disciplined and structured environment of the military. A native of Oakland, California, Godinez joined the Marine Corps impulsively as an 18 year old seeking the military branch with the highest standards, after realizing she wasn’t yet ready for college. “I needed that structure in order to actually fulfill my potential,” Godinez said. “Now that I’m here I take it very
(Photo by Mariesa Beneventano, ’19)
seriously because I have more maturity than I did at 18, so it’s benefited me a lot to have gone from the military to school in that order.” At first, Godinez struggled with the transition from military service to college student, finding it difficult to connect with 18- and 19-year-old students as a 24-year-old at the time. That changed once she started working with the Veterans Outreach Office and the people there helped her connect with other veterans on campus. She said the adjustment can be particularly difficult for female veterans, as many don’t know about the resources available to them. She now spends her time out of the classroom at a work study position with the Veterans Outreach Office, helping fellow veterans who may not have been able to find the community and support that the office gave to her. Godinez said the most challenging part of the transition has been learning to relax and focus on personal growth. “When I got here I was still kind of in that mindset of having to prove myself and I really had to ease up,” Godinez said. “It’s not about that here, people are just trying to do their thing.” Godinez is a 2018 recipient of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications Scholarship and Student Support Endowment. When she is not studying or working at the Veterans Outreach Office, she also works at Orangetheory Fitness and spends time with her friends from the gym. Godinez is fully embracing the opportunity to discover herself in the Bellisario College. “I feel so free in a sense that everything I’m doing right now is for personal growth,” Godinez said. “I’m super pumped about being here.”
The Communicator | Fall 2018
EMBEDDED CLASSES OPEN WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES By Nina Trach (’21)
The world will become the classroom for students participating in embedded courses this spring. With classes traveling to Belize, Guyana, Poland, Puerto Rico and South Africa, Bellisario College students in all majors will gain hands-on experience preparing, collecting and producing international media. Each year, the Bellisario College offers students the opportunity to travel abroad over spring break as part of their course work. In each of the six courses being offered in spring 2019, students will prepare for their travel abroad throughout the semester, then gather material abroad and complete production for the remainder of the semester. “First and foremost, it’s about students experiencing something outside of the Penn State environment that gives them more of a global perspective,” said Pearl Gluck, an assistant professor of film-video. “Then they bring it back and look at themselves living in a global village.” Gluck will lead a group of 14 film students to Lodz, Poland, for an advanced documentary filmmaking class. Partnering for the first time with students from the renowned Polish National Film Television and Theatre School, Bellisario College students will write, direct and shoot original documentaries taking a critical look at topics of interest ranging from Polish hip-hop to how the story of the Holocaust is told in different languages. The 18 students selected for COMM 402 International Reporting, will also have the opportunity to choose the subject of their articles while in Puerto Rico with journalism lecturer Katie O’Toole. “There are so many underreported stories, especially as a result of Hurricane Maria,” O’Toole said. “There’s a lot of very interesting things going on there that we really don’t hear about as much here.” Though not technically an international trip, O’Toole selected Puerto Rico as the 2019 destination for the course, which has run for more than 10 years, because of the unique opportunity for students to experience a different culture, location and language in their own backyard. Students from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, under the direction of John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, will be in Puerto Rico at the same time. 38
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Students will travel farther with Anthony Olorunnisola, professor and head of the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies. They’ll study world media systems in South Africa. The honors course will analyze the functions of mass media in the United States and South Africa as political, economic and communication systems. Other students will travel to Guyana, South America, for the capstone advanced telecommunications management and leadership course led by Anne Doris, an assistant teaching professor. Focusing on critical challenges that develop in international communications businesses in both the United States and Guyana, students will interact with media and telecommunications companies while overseas. Tara Wyckoff, assistant teaching professor of advertising/ public relations, will have 12 students take a closer look at ecotourism in Belize, home to the second-largest rainforest and second-largest barrier reef in the world. Paired with a local client, a family owned ecotourism hotel (The Trek Stop), students will learn to earn media for the client and prepare a media kit as part of a public relations methods course. Wyckoff looks forward to students finding the meaning and impact of their work after hearing from guest speakers in the first half of the semester and gaining hands-on experience while abroad. “We don’t know the direction of Trek Stop’s story until we go there and we meet with them,” she said. “I love that that is unscripted.” Besides the academic benefits that students can anticipate in each of the embedded courses, professors also look forward to the opportunity for students to grow independently and broaden their global perspective. Through navigating a different environment and experiencing new cultures and food, embedded courses are an opportunity to broaden their horizons and catch the travel bug. “This is going to be an opportunity to see a different culture where another language is spoken and to find out what that culture is like by immersing themselves in it and getting to know the people,” O’Toole said. “It’s one of those experiences that I wish every student could have.”
A DOCTORAL PRESCRIPTION Student embraces opportunity to follow many interests By Jonathan F. McVerry (’05)
oe Cruz has many interests, and he has found the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications to be the perfect place to challenge himself and investigate those interests as a doctoral student. Reluctant to begin the single-focus lifestyle of a doctoral student, Cruz found a better way. He learned he could examine several types of media—comic books, film and social media—and study their effects on issues important to him. It was a perfect match for the Puerto Rican-born researcher who always seemed destined to be a communicator. “When I was 6, I knew I was going to be on the radio,” he said. “I played with cassette recorders. I got a camera when I was 12. That is where my passion (for communications) started.” After moving to the continental United States, earning his bachelor’s degree, dabbling in campus radio, working on his master’s degree, and even briefly exploring a career in banking, Cruz remained focused on communications. “Research having social value caught my eye,” Cruz said. “I saw research as helping society in general, and I wasn’t necessarily aware of that before.” Cruz’s interest in politics began while he was a high schooler in Puerto Rico. He made several appearances on the radio speaking as the “youth perspective” for one of the national parties. He was 17 and it was his first experience talking on air. “It’s embarrassing to think about now,”
he said with a laugh. “I had no idea what I was talking about.”
have the nationalistic themes that Cruz finds fascinating.
While exploring doctorate programs, Cruz was afraid he’d be forced to pick a discipline and then spend the rest of his life exploring the ins and outs of one narrowly focused topic. “That’s just not me … it’s not my personality,” he said. “So, I have three areas of study that don’t necessarily overlap.”
When Cruz teaches COMM 150: The Art of Cinema, he cites the Nazi film “Triumph of the Will” as an important example of propaganda and the power of nationalistic film-making. The key takeaway, he said, is that the camera often lies.
Penn State provided a valuable breadth and depth of expertise to support his interests, too. Patrick Parsons, professor of telecommunications in the Bellisario College, said tackling multiple areas of study is not uncommon, but it is challenging. Luckily, Parsons said Cruz is one of the most organized people he knows.
The faculty here are amazing and very welcoming. I am forever grateful for that.
“Joe has got this renaissance ability to be a specialist in a bunch of areas and bring them together,” Parsons said. “On one hand, he can move from the history of political mobilization and social media development of political activism all the way down to elections in Puerto Rico and the role of social media there.” It’s a wide area to cover and that’s exactly how Cruz likes it. Plus, his research interests don’t end there. Cruz studies how comic books exemplify current global and national issues. He is working on a book chapter with Matt McCallister, professor of film-video and media studies, on how superheroes like Batman and Ironman promote hyper-individualism. Cruz has studied film as well, mostly productions from Puerto Rico. He says the films he studies are often designed to build nationalistic enthusiasm. A lot of movies from his home territory don’t garner the attention of U.S. films, but they (Photo by Jonathan F. McVerry, ’05)
Cruz loves the classroom and hopes to include teaching in his academic career. Parsons said Cruz’s attention to detail carries over to the classroom and helps him thrive in front of students. Lastly, Cruz’s work also examines the ever-evolving world of social media. More researchers are studying the role online formats like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have on political and community engagement. Cruz calls it “digital citizenship.” “We essentially have two lives—the real world and the social media world—that sometimes overlap,” he said. “Some of the research I am doing looks into those two streams of behavior. How is social media dividing us into clusters? How are people using it to develop into communities?” As Cruz’s areas of research align, he hopes to have a dissertation idea in time for a January proposal defense. He plans to conduct most of his dissertation work next summer with a first draft coming in the fall. While he doesn’t have specifics, he is considering analyzing how political campaigns use online videos to create and maintain fear. “My time at Penn State has been great,” Cruz said. “The faculty here are amazing and very welcoming. I am forever grateful for that. I am not sure if this (Ph.D. process) is supposed to be fun, but it is. It’s not easy, but it’s fun.” The Communicator | Fall 2018
Ben Feller honored as
Alumnus Ben Feller was one of 14 Penn Staters recently honored as an Alumni Fellow, the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association. Feller is a managing director at Mercury, a global problem-solving firm. An award-winning writer, Feller offers strategic counsel on storytelling and communications aftera 20-year journalism career in which he challenged U.S. presidents and distinguished himself as one of the finest reporters in the nation. Feller, who lives in New York City, now specializes in crafting powerful messaging for corporations, foundations, universities, and leaders, and in providing national media strategy. Before joining Mercury, he was the chief White House correspondent for The Associated Press, a role in which he held a front-row seat to history and led presidential coverage for the world’s largest news organization. Feller spent more than six years covering President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, traveling about Air Force One across the U.S. and to more than 25 countries. He has been published worldwide and was honored in 2010 with the Gerald R. Ford Prize for being a “master of deadline reporting.” As chief correspondent, Feller helped set the tone of the press corps and often asked the first question at presidential news conferences. Raised in State College, Feller comes from a Penn State family, has appeared on the cover of the Penn Stater magazine, and has spoken at Penn State’s Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers. He got his journalism start at his hometown Centre Daily Times in 1992. Since 1973, the Alumni Fellow Award has been given to alumni who are outstanding in their chosen field. Recipients, as leaders in their professional fields, are nominated by an academic college and accept an invitation from the President of the University to return to campus to share their expertise with students, faculty, and administrators.
AWARDS RECOGNIZE BELLISARIO COLLEGE Alumni, Faculty Member and Industry Leader Three Penn State alumni, a faculty member and an award-winning Pennsylvania television leader earned the top annual awards from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications Alumni Society Board. The awards were presented at an on-campus event during the fall semester. Those selected for the honors were: Jeff Lowe, a 2013 journalism graduate, who earned the Emerging Professional Award Ron Regan, a 1975 journalism graduate, who earned the Outstanding Alumni Award Jeffrey Ballou, a 1990 journalism graduate, who earned the Alumni Achievement Award Fred Young, a retired senior vice president of Hearst Television who was named as recipient of the Douglas A. Anderson Communications Contributor Award
Alumnus Ben Feller shares the podium with his son, Sam, during his acceptance speech. (Photo by Steve Tressler)
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Tara Wyckoff, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Advertising/Public Relations, who earned the Excellence in Teaching Award
Emerging Professional, Jeff Lowe
Lowe is a media entrepreneur who co-founded the popular movie podcast and website “Lights, Camera, Action,” which is affiliated with Barstool Sports. He previously led overall strategy and content production for all social media entities for ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” As a Penn State student, he was a student manager at CommRadio, where he created and developed an annual on-site live NFL Draft show and produced play-by-play content and talk shows focused on several Penn State sports. He also completed internships with MLB.com, Dial Global Sports and KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas. He also spent two summers working with Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media Productions.
Outstanding Alumni, Ron Regan
Regan is the chief investigative reporter for WESW-TV and its “5 On Your Side Investigations,” the largest team of its kind in the Cleveland market. Regan’s work has earned the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence as well as a National Headliner Award, four Edward R. Murrow regional awards and 24 regional Emmy Awards. His investigations have freed an innocent man from prison, changed state laws making it easier to donate pharmaceuticals to nursing homes, and required public disclosure of inspection reports of service providers for the disabled on a state web portal. A Regan-led investigation that gained national prominence was eventually turned into an Emmy Award-winning HBO movie about a suburban mother intent on hiring a hit man to murder her daughter’s cheerleading rival.
Alumni Achievement, Jeffrey Ballou
Ballou is a 30-year journalism veteran who currently serves as news editor for the Americas with Al Jazeera Media Network’s English language channel in Washington, D.C. He was a member of the staff that launched that network in 2006. In 2017, he made history as the first international broadcaster and the
Among the award recipients from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications Alumni Society Board were (from left): Ron Regan, Fred Young, Tara Wyckoff and Jeffrey Ballou. (Photo by Trey Miller, ’12)
first African-American male elected president of the 111-year-old National Press Club. Ballou previously worked as an editor at WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C., and as a White House producer for Hubbard Broadcasting’s CONUS Communications. Other successful career stops have included CSPN, WTOP-AM, NPR and WCVB-TV. As a Penn State student, he was active in Black Caucus, Undergraduate Student Government, The Daily Collegian and WPSU.
Anderson Communications Contributor, Fred Young
Young spent 25 years in television in Pennsylvania—in positions such as vice president, general manager and news director—before moving to New York City in a corporate role with Hearst Television. In that role, he oversaw news operations of TV stations in 26 different states. During his tenure, he earned the Paul White Award from The Radio-Television News Directors Association, the group’s highest honor. He was one of only two of the award’s 53 recipients to have been focused exclusively on local TV news. Young retired from Hearst Television in 2008, concluding a distinguished 46-year career. The company later formally named its journalism fellowship in his honor.
His connection with Penn State goes beyond being the father of two alumni and the grandfather of a current student. Under his direction, Hearst worked closely with the Bellisario College and supported “Success in the City,” the annual internship and career fair in New York City.
Excellence in Teaching, Tara Wyckoff
Wyckoff has been teaching in the Bellisario College since 2010, consistently earning praise from students and the respect of her colleagues. She launched a “Take Your Professor to Work Day” effort, visiting five former students who are recent graduates working in New York City. She also served as faculty lead for two National Community Conferences, where students from around the country attend networking sessions with executives from companies such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Boeing, Microsoft, NBCUniversal and Starbucks. She earned the Deans’ Excellence Award for Teaching in 2017 and serves as the adviser for the Ad/ PR Club. She has also developed an embedded course for spring 2019, when Bellisario College students will study in Belize.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
Start-to-finish coverage of THON available Feb. 15-17 thanks to 46 LIVE and Bellisario College students
This center will allow us to prepare the next great generation of digital storytellers, creative thinkers and strategic communicators. We expect it to be a magnet for students and faculty in a high-energy environment. Dean Marie Hardin, discussing the Bellisario Media Center
funded research by Bellisario College faculty reached a record high during the 2017-18 academic year “Thank you to the wonderful donors who make the contributions to the students like my son, Darius, so they can soar and you can help families in need like ours. I’m so very appreciative.”
first-year communications students accepted into the Bellisario College for 2018-19 academic year, the largest class since 2013
whose son Darius Williams McKenzie, a scholarship recipient, graduated in December
COMM Careers in the Capital inaugural internship and job fair conducted Nov. 30 in Washington,D.C., giving the Bellisario College three communications-specific events focused on students’ success 42
countries represented by members of the Class of 2018
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Enrollment in the three-year-old Digital Media Trends and Analytics minor has reached more than 400 students – making it the seventh-largest minor at Penn State
A Donald P. Bellisario Production ACROSS
1. “Mending Wall” poet 6. Errand boy 14 11. Whiskery one 14. Main artery 17 15. “_____ the fruited plain.” 20 16. Scheduled landing hour 17. Huge jump 19. Hill of San Francisco 20. Cards cap letters 26 27 21. Shoe brand 22. Chinese philosopher 24. L ongtime columnist 32 of San Francisco 25. Power 35 26. Smashing Pumpkins song 38 29. Trailer shape 32. Canvas prop 33. Scots’ skirts 41 34. Texter’s titter 35. N ew England arts college 36. Filmmaker Steven 46 47 37. ‘Enry’s experiment 38. Pennsylvania power company 52 39. IPA taste 40. Flaxen fabric 56 41. 2 quarts (roughly) + 3.14 (roughly) 43. Least wild 59 44. Marilyn’s real name 45. “_____ america 46. “_____ mortal” 48. Itemized document 49. State College-Harrisburg dir. 52. Brain injury acronym 53. Alterations 56. Charged particle 57. Singer-songwriter John 58. “Way, hey _____ she rises” 59. Tennis unit 60. Wise ones 61. Simple question
1. Oft-posed queries 2. Blowout 3. Unwritten exam 4. Sleep over, in text-speak 5. “Bye, everyone!” 6. Waif 7. _____ di (Beatles song)
45 48 53
8. Enemy 9. Assess 10. Fixes 11. Faceoff locale 12. Comprehensive 13. Forbidden (alt. spelling) 18. Pigmented part of the eye 23. Finicky, clinically? 24. Respect on the street 25. Peanut butter partner 26. Blood plasma 27. Northern forest 28. Task for a teacher 29. Actor Hedren 30. Seeps 31. Led Zep frontman 33. Phi Beta _____ 36. Bellisario student site 37. Long car, for short
39. Kudos 40. Fifth month of the previous year 42. Valley of San Francisco 43. Exam 45. Fine sprays 46. “MD isn’t south of VA,...” 47. Midwestern tribe 48. Stringed instrument 49. Receivers 50. Dumbfounded 51. Hockey great Phil’s nickname 54. Bender 55. State College – Binghamton dir. Need help? Answers on page 47
This is the second crossword faculty member Russell Frank has created for The Communicator. The Communicator | Fall 2018
Alumni Notes 1960s
Jeanne Yocum (’68 Journ) has authored “The Self-Employment Survival Guide: Proven Strategies to Succeed as Your Own Boss,” published by Rowman & Littlefield.
Rich Grant (’71 Ad/PR) co-wrote his first book, “100 Things to Do in Denver Before You Die,” with Irene Rawlings (Reedy Press). Grant retired last year after 35 years as communications director of VISIT DENVER, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, to focus on full-time travel writing. Jeff Lytle (’73 Journ) has retired after a 41-year career in newspapers and television in Pennsylvania and Florida. He served as editorial page editor of the Naples (Fla.) Daily News and hosted weekly news/talk programs for 25 years. He won Florida and Scripps awards for commentary writing, page design and headline writing. He resides in Bonita Springs, Florida, with his wife, Susan. 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. Rick Weber (’79 Journ) contributed to his fourth Chicken Soup for the Soul book, “The Power of Yes!” Weber, who previously wrote an inspirational biography, “Pink Lips and Fingertips,” is a writer for Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, and is based in Fort Myers, Florida.
Chuck Gloman (’80 Film) is an associate professor and the chair of the TV/film department at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. His film, “Lester’s Collection,” was awarded as 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.
David Boyer (’82 Journ) is senior White House correspondent for The Washington Times. Tony A. Phyrillas (’83 Journ) is editor/content manager of The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Phyrillas previously served as a reporter, copy editor, city editor and managing editor of The Mercury. Greg Myford (’86 Journ) was named director of athletics for the University of Alaska Anchorage. Myford takes his 30-plus years in professional and collegiate sports to the UAA Seawolves, where he will oversee the 13-sport program. His career included serving as Penn State’s associate athletic director for business relations and communications from 2004-2013, as well as executive roles with the Detroit Pistons, Tampa Bay Lightning and IMG College. Kathy Fox (’89 Ad/PR) is now the vice president of customer & technician experience at Comcast and recently completed the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute program as part of the BMLI Class 32 along with fellow Penn State alum Lauren Monks of NBCUniversal.
Adrienne M. Ciletti (’90 Journ) is senior manager of internal communications at J.C. Penney Company Inc., earned the Strategic Communication Management Professional certification. Adrienne is among the first to sit for and pass the inaugural exam by the Global Communication Certification Council, an initiative of the International Association of Business Communicators. This certification demonstrates her proficiency in advising and leading, management, strategy development, innovation, ethics and reputation management in the field of organizational communications. 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, APR (’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. Jon Jackson (’90 Journ) was named deputy director of athletics/men’s basketball, Blue Devil Network and digital media at Duke University. He had been leading the athletic department’s external affairs unit. In the new role, he will handle primary administrative duties for the men’s basketball program while overseeing the Blue Devil Network and digital media. He has been at Duke since 2000.
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Stacy Keller Williams (’90 Journ) is the vice president of member experience and training at Navy Federal Credit Union. Williams and the Navy Federal Social Care Team were recently recognized as the ICMI Global Award Winner for Best Social Customer Care. David Falchek (’91 Journ) was appointed executive director of the American Wine Society, the oldest and largest organization of wine consumers in the United States, in 2017. A member of the American Society of Association Executives, he serves on that organization’s public policy committee. Marc Goldman (’91 Journ) was recognized among the first-ever SPOKEies award winners. The SPOKEies honors the best in-house spokespeople representing brands, nonprofits and corporations. Goldman was named the winner in the Corporate Sports category for his work as the head of marketing and sponsorship for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., where he also serves as the organization’s spokesperson. The MCM routinely ranks as one of the largest marathons in both, the country and the world, welcoming more than 30,000 runners annually. Mark “Markus” Hinkle (’94 Film) launched a Christian apparel, gifts and accessories effort in November 2017. He is the founder, managing partner, designer and webmaster for SON LiFE Designs LLC. SON LiFE Designs can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or via the website at www.sonlifedesigns.com. He lives in Hampstead, North Carolina, with his wife, Tammy (‘93) and three children. Hinkle previously worked for many years in theatre, TV and film (onstage, backstage, on camera and off). Sean De Simone (’94 Brcab) currently resides in New York City where he owns and operates Sean De Simone Casting, a full-service television, film and commercial casting company. Scott Dodd (’94 Journ) was elected to the board of the Society of Environmental Journalists at the organization’s 2017 conference in Pittsburgh. He is the editor-in-chief of Grist, the nation’s leading nonprofit environmental publication. On Twitter: @scottdodd Chris McKim (’95 Film) won a Daytime Emmy for the documentary “Out of Iraq,” which he produced and directed. Previously he was the executive producer and showrunner on the first four seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” John L. Myers (’95 Brcab) is producer of NPR Music’s “World Cafe” Michael Corr (’96 Telecomm) joined Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as the director of marketing and communications in November 2016, after 15-plus years in corporate and agency marketing in New York, the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. He leads a team responsible for strategic marketing communications designed to effectively promote Moravian College and its emerging graduate programs, and to provide marketing services to all faculty and staff.
NAVIGATING HOLLYWOOD SUCCESS FEELS FAMILIAR FOR TV WRITER
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. Stephanie (Podey) Kuhl ('97 Telecomm) is vice president and associate general Counsel at NCTA The Internet and Television Association in Washington, D.C. She lives with her husband and daughters in Arlington, Virginia. Christina Babinsack ('98 Telecomm) placed in the top 30 of the Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Contest and is a finalist in the Los Angeles International Screenplay competition with the screenplay “Something Old Something New.” Annie Marter ('98 Film) is senior vice president for feature films at First Look Media. Laurie A. (Roth) Gavin ('99 Journ) recently passed her licensing exam and is a registered municipal clerk in New Jersey. She was recently promoted to the position of municipal clerk/ registrar/ public information officer in Allentown, New Jersey.
Jessica Kartalija (’01 Journ) was named co-anchor of “Eyewitness News” on CBS 3 in Philadelphia and CW Philly’s 5, 6, 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts starting Oct. 29. Kartalija had been a reporter at WJZ-TV in Baltimore. She began her career at KYMA-TV in Yuma, Arizona, and worked at KOB-TV and KASA in New Mexico. She and her husband, Brian, have a 7-year-old son, Drew, and a lab mix, Luna. Katie Robles (’01 Film) is the author of “Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives.” The book provides tips and encouragement for women to lose weight and get healthy and keeps them entertained along the way. Brooke (Pilszak) Duffy (’02 Ad/PR) Ph.D., published her second book, “(Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Work” (Yale University Press). She is an assistant professor of communication at Cornell University and lives with her husband Michael Duffy (‘03 Eng) in Lansing, New York. 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 (www.robjoswiak.com) while McCarty is a retired pilot now 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.
By Nina Trach (’21)
It’s not exactly art imitating life, but Alex Raiman, who moved to Hollywood after he graduated from Penn State, does see himself a bit in his work. Raiman is a staff writer for the SyFy TV series “The Magicians” who has worked his way up the ranks from writer’s and director’s assistant to script coordinator and eventually staff writer. Navigating the volatile Hollywood job industry can be difficult and Raiman said he can relate to the characters he gets to write about for the show. “‘The Magicians’ is a show about a 20-something trying to find his way, so it’s kind of cool to be a 20something trying to find my way while writing the show,” said Raiman, 28. “I’m very, very lucky in that this is sort of where I intended to be. I love what I do so much, it’s hard to tear me away.” A native of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, Raiman graduated with a degree in film-video in 2012. He then moved to Hollywood. After six months at an internship, Raiman found work as an assistant working on NBC’s “The Blacklist” and “State of Affairs.” After the end of “State of Affairs” and Raiman’s new, short-lived spot in the show’s writers room, he found himself back at square one. After beginning the job search again, Raiman found work on “The Magicians” with writer, producer and television creator John MacNamara. Raiman again had to work his way up. He has been a staff writer since March 2018. Raiman had his first opportunity to write for the fantasy show with his writing partner and longtime friend, Jay Gard. Having studied abroad together at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague during Raiman’s time at Penn State, the writers met up again in Hollywood and wrote a musical episode for Season 3 of “The Magicians.”
“I think the success of that first episode was probably my greatest accomplishment,” Raiman said. “It being a musical, it being our biggest musical, it being our most ambitious episode up to that point, and the fact that they were trusting us 27-year-olds to supervise the entire production, was a success.” Raiman is excited for a project he and his fiancée, Jorey Worb, are working on together. A web series, “Group,” will tell the story of how the couple met in group therapy. As a mental health advocate, this series is particularly special for Raiman. While he is excited to share their story, he also hopes “Group” will serve to help eliminate the stigma often associated with therapy. Raiman, who spent two years volunteering at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, continues to be passionate about the benefits of therapy and advocating for mental health. Raiman and Worb are hopeful that what is now just a 15-page script will be a future success after shooting “Group’s” pilot in the coming weeks. Raiman can still see the career impact from his time at Penn State, including his experiences on the set of the film “Elysium,” starring Matt Damon, and creating a short documentary about fraternity life as a brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi. He said his most influential experience was his exposure to all aspects of film, not just directing, through his major. While he has experienced points in his career where he was unsure of his next step in the fast-paced Hollywood world, Raiman credits his success to patience and persistence, trusting that the work he put in would pay off. “If you’re passionate about something, just don’t put a time limit on it,” Raiman said. “Choose what you want to do, and then just do it.”
The Communicator | Fall 2018
Alumni Notes 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 Mele (’08 Ad/PR) has co-founded Beachwood Entertainment Collective, a full-service entertainment public relations company with a focus on music, film and talent. Based in Los Angeles, she serves as the vice president of the company, overseeing legendary clients like Brian Wilson (co-founder of The Beach Boys), actor Jeff Bridges, Sublime (estate), actor Bruce Greenwood and others. The company also develops music documentaries and manages up-and-coming independent bands and artists.
Addie Manis (’04 Film) was promoted to director, live action visual effects at Lucasfilm with a focus on television content.
Lauren Boyer (’09 Journ) is the manager of social media intelligence at National Geographic.
Laura Michalski (’05 Journ) joined The Washington Post as a multiplatform editor in August 2017. Previously, she had worked at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia. She started there as a Dow Jones News Fund intern in 2005 and became a copy editor, assistant copy desk chief and, most recently, night editor. She now lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Lauren Sweeney (’05 Journ), an investigative producer at the NBC affiliate in Houston, was invited to attend a peer-to-peer educational conference between American and Russian journalists in Moscow in September. The event was organized by the Sunlight Foundation and Transparency International in Russia, a division of the U.S. Embassy in Russia. Adam Faderewski (’06 Journ) is now associate editor of the Texas Bar Journal for the State Bar of Texas in Austin.
Robby Corrado (’09 Ad/PR) is senior producer at The New York Times, leading a team of six in the ideation and production of interactive content for NYT advertisers. Corrado specializes in virtual reality and interactive web experiences. John Giblin (’09 Journ) is an Army Captain with 219th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and is currently stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. He is associate director for Dedicated Endeavors, a 501c3 charity that focuses on mental health.
Lindsey Epley (’10 Ad/PR) recently relocated to Columbus, Ohio, for a career with Bath & Body Works. As an associate product manager, she develops efficacious body care product lines for the retailer’s more than 1,600 store locations. She previously spent eight years working in the grocery retail industry.
Kevin Fawcett (’06 Telecomm) is a project manager and certified PMP for Crystal Technologies Group Inc., a technology consulting firm based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, specializing in connectivity, cloud and managed services. He has been with Crystal Technologies for over 10 years ever since he graduated in 2006. He currently resides in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
Samantha Scheller (’10 Journ) is a complex commercial litigation attorney in New York City, with a passion for media law and First Amendment issues.
Nancy Chan (’07 Film) is associate director of pricing and planning at Fox Sports Ad Sales.
Sam Smink (’10 Journ) joined WPTV (an NBC affiliate) in West Palm Beach, Florida, as an investigative reporter.
Matt Papaycik ('07 Journ) is a news producer at WSVN-TV in Miami. Devika Rao (’07 Journ) has been named president of the O’Neill Communications and has become an equity partner in the interactive marketing and communications agency. She and her management team are working toward full ownership in June 2022 and this promotion is an important step in assuring clients continuity in the management of their ongoing marketing and communications programs. Rao has been with O’Neill Communications since December 2013, most recently serving as vice president of account services. As an award-winning journalist, she previously worked for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Khabar Magazine and Jezebel Magazine. She is on the board of directors of the Spruill Center for the Arts, Hands on Atlanta Changemakers and is active in both TiE Atlanta and the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.
Rossilynne Skena Culgan (’10 Journ) is assistant director of marketing at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.
Paul L. Tsompanas (’58 Journ) died Friday Aug. 24, 2018, at his summer home in Colonial Beach, Virginia, with his wife by his side. He was 81. As a young boy Paul was fascinated by a weekly TV series, which drove him to become a reporter. His writing career began in high school as a sports editor of the school paper. After graduating from Penn State, he served two deployments for the U.S. Navy as a communications officer aboard the USS Cabildo. In 1960, he became an award-winning reporter at the Clovis News Journal in New Mexico. Then, in 1963, he was working at the San Diego Tribune one evening when an inventor called with something he thought was newsworthy. Tsompanas’ story introducing the world to the recreational
Brittany Sykes (’10 Ad/PR) is the PR director at Everything But The House. Becky Perlow (’11 Journ) is a producer for ABC News based in Denver. Lynn Ondrusek (’12 Journ) switched gears in her career to the nonprofit world, and is the community outreach and communications manager with Third Street Alliance for Women & Children in Easton, Pennsylvania. She married Dustin Schoof, a 2004 Temple graduate, in June 2018. Chelsea Sweithelm (’12 Ad/PR) was promoted to senior communications analyst at Highmark Inc. David Amerman (’13 Journ) is a marketing proofreader with Dick’s Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh. Tyler Estright (’13 Journ) is a managed service representative for Link Computer Corp. in Bellwood, Pennsylvania. Robert Roselli ('13 Ad/PR) is an assistant athletic director for marketing at Rutgers University. Grant Shumaker (’13 Ad/PR) is a copywriter for Custom Ink in Fairfax, Virginia. Rebecca Himmelstein (’14 Journ) a reporter for WXMI-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, earned a regional Emmy Award for Military-News Feature. 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. Molly Dronson (’15 Telecomm) is a media planner at Harmelin Media. David Zellers (’15 Telecomm) has joined NH Bragg in Bangor, Maine, as a marketing and e-commerce specialist. sport of parasailing ran in the next day’s paper. In 1964 Tsompanas was a part of the Washington bureau of Copley News Service as a Congressional correspondent. He held that position for three years until he started working as chief of staff to a Republican congressman from San Diego. Eight years later, he was appointed to the professional staff of the House Armed Services committee. During his time there, Tsompanas attended the National War College. He retired from Capitol Hill in 1987. After much research into the great grandfather of his children, the book “Juan Patron: A Fallen Star in the Days of Billy the Kid” was published in 2012. Tsompanas is survived by his wife, Mary, five children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.
To submit an alumni note, visit bellisario.psu.edu/alumni 46
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
Kendall Allen (’16 Ad/PR) is an account executive with North Hills Magazine in Pittsburgh.
Gabrielle Baum (’18 Joun) is a media relations coordinator at Macy’s.
Erik Austin (’16 Telecomm) is working as a digital video producer for AccuWeather. He lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Christine Beaudet (’18 Ad/PR) is a planning associate with GroupM.
Carolyn Drozynski (’16 Ad/PR) joined Gatesman+Dave, a Pittsburgh-based independent marketing communications agency, as a media coordinator. She will focus on media buying and planning support for clients such as UPMC. Emi Gugold (’16 Ad/PR) is a content strategist for Odyssey Media Group in New York City. Mario Marroquin (’16 Journ) is a reporter at LatinFinance. Haley Nelson (’16 Journ) is a digital content producer at St. Mary’s College of California. Yousef Saba (’16 Journ) is a reporter with Reuters in Egypt. Grady Li (’16 Media) is social media coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Alex Bobbyn (’18 Journ) is a reporter at WFVX-TV in Bangor, Maine. Max Campbell (’18 Ad/PR) is an assistant account executive with Geometry Global. Erica Cruz (’18 Ad/PR) is a client service representative at Viacom. Apoorva Garigipati (’18 Ad/PR) is a digital media coordinator at Resolution Media. Antonia Jaramillo (’18 Journ) is a space trending reporter for Florida Today in Melbourne, Florida. Zinnia Maldonado (’18 Journ) is a multimedia journalist at PBS39/WLVT in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Sam McCormack (’18 Ad/PR) is an account coordinator at Coyne Public Relations.
(Photo by Natasha Ferguson, ’20)
Nina Trach, a sophomore majoring advertising/public relations and Spanish completing a strategic communications internship with the Bellisario College during the fall semester, wrote several pieces for this issue of The Communicator. During the spring semester she’ll be studying abroad in Spain. Hometown: South Brunswick, New Jersey First Penn State memory: Eating ice cream at the Berkey Creamery with my parents and older sister on home football weekends, when I was too small to climb onto the Nittany Lion statue by myself
Arienne Ferchaud (’17 Ph.D) is an assistant professor at Florida State University.
Jack Milewski (’18 Journ) is a director of broadcasting for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League
Jenna Grzeslo (’17 Ph.D) is an assistant professor at SUNY-New Paltz.
Samantha Rutland (’18 Journ) is a reporter at the York Daily Record.
Jinyoung Kim (’17 Ph.D) is a researcher at Amazon.
Alyssa Scotto (’18 Ad/PR) is an assistant account executive with Ogilvy.
Favorite class: EDTHP 234H Leadership JumpStart
George Stockburger (’18 Journ) is a correspondent at WETM-TV in Elmira, New York.
Favorite spot on campus: Beaver Stadium
Abigail Ventosa (’18 Ad/PR) is a client staff assistant with Burson-Marsteller.
Favorite kind of cookie: Chocolate chip
Sushma Kumble (’17 Ph.D) is an assistant professor at Towson University. Rose Luqiu (’17 Ph.D) is an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Why Penn State? I love that I get to experience all the spirit and opportunities at such a huge university and still find so many small communities that make me feel so at home
Join us on
Search Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Penn State – Alumni and – Ad/PR Network to join the groups and connect with your peers and professors.
The Communicator | Fall 2018
REMEMBERING one of the good guys By Sally Heffentreyer (’78, ’04 MA)
on Smith had no use for the limelight. His attention was on students and their success. They benefited from his knowledge and support. Smith taught journalism at Penn State from 1962 through 1990, when he retired. He died July 12, 2018, at age 90. Smith taught news reporting, magazine writing, and media law at the undergraduate and graduate levels, starting when what has become the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications was the School of Journalism within the College of the Liberal Arts. From 1974 through 1981, he served as professor in charge of journalism, managing faculty and curricular matters in addition to teaching and researching. Countless students over the years happily discovered Smith’s long-term commitment to them, including me. For example, at one point, a modest annual grant I was lucky enough to be awarded was late for the beginning of senior year. Smith, who had encouraged me to apply for the grant, contacted the organization and resolved the problem before I even realized he knew about it. Later, jobless two months after graduation, I got a phone call from him, telling me about an opening at a daily newspaper. I’ve always been grateful that he took the time to call with that tip, which gave me my first full-time journalism job. Don Smith focused on making students the best they could be. But he also put them at ease with his wry humor. For instance, journalism students on the staff of The Daily Collegian often were chided by faculty members for being late to morning classes (if they couldn’t avoid scheduling them) and/or being half-asleep even if they were on time, having worked until the wee hours, when 48
the paper went on press. Smith would joke, “I hope you Collegian people never try to work for an afternoon paper. That would mean you’d have to get up and go to work in the morning. You know, when it’s light outside.” Jerry Schwartz, editor at large for the Associated Press and editor of the Collegian in 1975–76, appreciated Smith’s needling. “Don Smith had the best sense of humor in the School of Journalism—which is saying a lot, because there was a lot of laughter in a faculty that included people like Gene Goodwin and Tom Berner,” Schwartz said. “But Smith was jovial and droll, and he chuckled quietly, often while sharing the latest gossip. He was a great gossip.” Joking aside, Smith’s willingness to help students impressed Schwartz. “He also truly liked to engage with students (especially, I think, with Collegian staffers); it seemed as if there was always someone sitting in his office, sometimes discussing academic matters but more often just ... talking,” Schwartz said. “This may seem small praise, but it’s not: He was a genuinely nice man.” Robert D. Richards, the John and Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies in the College, put it simply: “Don gave definition to the term ‘a gentleman and a scholar.’ He was both.” Smith taught during years that saw expansion of the Bellisario College in size and scope, but he maintained his focus on students as individuals. “He cared deeply about his students long after they graduated,” Richards said. Smith’s academic research reflected
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
the same high level of commitment that characterized his dedication to students — the gentleman as scholar. “Years ago, Don donated his personal library on the Constitution to the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment,” Richards said. “As I looked through the books — seminal volumes on the First Amendment — I saw that they had been meticulously underlined and annotated by Don. He was a true scholar of free expression. He also contributed to that literature himself with his acclaimed biography of law professor and legal philosopher Zechariah Chafee.” The biography, “Zechariah Chafee, Jr.: Defender of Liberty and Law,” was published by Harvard University Press in 1986 and named one of 100 noteworthy books of that year by the Sunday Book Section of The Philadelphia Inquirer. It received favorable reviews in several well-known journals, including Academe, Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law Review, and Political Science Quarterly. Chafee, the scion of a wealthy Rhode Island industrial family, became both a Harvard law professor and a crusader for constitutional protections of free speech. Through his writings, court arguments, and behind-the-scenes arm-twisting of Supreme Court justices, Chafee became one of the most influential architects of the modern interpretation of the First Amendment. His views were harshly criticized during some dark periods in U.S. politics, but despite considerable professional risk, Chafee persevered and helped to define and expand fundamental freedoms for all Americans.
He was a true scholar of free expression.
Donald L. Smith (left) and Daniel W. Pfaff, journalism professors who each taught for nearly 30 years in what is now the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, chat in Smith’s office in Carnegie Building in May 1978. (Photo by Thomas Berner, ’71, ’74 MA)
John S. Nichols, professor emeritus of communications and international affairs, who provided the above background on Chafee, praised Smith’s work on the biography, calling it “meticulously researched and elegantly written.” “Don’s biography of Zechariah Chafee was one of the best books ever written by a faculty member in the entire history of what is now the College of Communications,” Nichols said. “It is not only the story of the life and times of a seminal figure in the development of First Amendment law but also a powerful tutorial on the importance of those constitutional protections, especially during troubled political times. That lesson is all the more salient today.” Schwartz echoed Nichols’ point that Smith’s knowledge stands the test of time, calling his teaching “terrific.” “His journalism law course was memorable and important. He led us through Alexander Meiklejohn and Learned Hand and the rest—masterfully and passionately, though of course in a low-key way,” said Schwartz, who graduated in 1977 with bachelor’s degrees in
journalism and history. “More than 40 years later, Don Smith’s First Amendment lessons are still with us, more relevant than ever.” Retired journalism professor R. Thomas Berner shared for this story introductory remarks he had made for Smith in 1988, when Don spoke about the Chafee biography for the College’s Graduate Lecture Series. Although Berner made the comments many years ago, they give timeless insight on Smith as a teacher, colleague and friend. “As an English literature major, I needed advice about journalism and sought it in Carnegie Building,” Berner said in his remarks. “I recall that Professor Smith steered me in the right direction. “Years later, I returned to darken his door, when as a part-time graduate student, I needed to maintain my one-course-a-term schedule and could not find an appropriate course. He very kindly offered to tutor me in mass communications law through independent study. After I finished the course, we conducted a review over brandy in his family room.”
In his advising role, Smith put gentle, yet insistent pressure on students to be high achievers, but he put more intense pressure on himself. He admitted to Berner that he wanted to do well with the Chafee biography not only for himself, but also for the College. When Smith wrote the following line in a note to Berner in 1988, he was humbly referring to his work on the book. But the words point to one of his underlying goals during his many years on the faculty, serving in teaching, research and administrative roles: “Overall, at least, I hope I represented the school well.” Richards is sure that Smith did that, many times over. “Don’s legacy as a teacher and a scholar will be a lasting one,” he said. Nichols said, “In some respects, I think Don was channeling Chafee throughout his career. Like Chafee, Don was a superb First Amendment scholar, a defender of civil liberties, and a dedicated teacher of those ideals. But, most important,” he said, “Don was a really good guy.”
The Communicator | Fall 2018
The Interview Everyone loves a good story, and those stories can have emotional and political effects that are long-lasting. Fuyuan Shen, professor of advertising-public relations and head of the Department of Advertising/Public Relations, wants to know more about the impact of stories. He studies narratives, their influence and what makes them effective or ineffective. Companies use narratives to show off their products, people or visions through in-depth stories. They can be feature articles, TV advertisements or highly produced online videos. Specifically, Shen studies health advertising and how it can change beliefs and/or lead to behavior changes. Shen has been a faculty member in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications for 17 years. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, and his research gains perspective on the power of messaging. Next year he is leading a call for research proposals for the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, a research center within the Bellisario College, that will recruit projects from researchers all over the world that focus on narratives in corporate and public communications. Narratives are the stories that we tell and share, so what are you looking at when you study them? I look at how narratives are used and how they affect different audiences by conducting experiments. I want to understand the implications of certain narratives and see them from different perspectives. So, I look at several types of media like print, video and online; different audiences from different generations, cultures and professions. How can stories be effective? What issues do the storytellers run into? How can they be adjusted to have more impact? Can you share an example? In one study, we looked at news stories on the environmental impact of oil drilling. In the narrative format, we learn about how a family’s life was changed because of the drilling and how their property and house were affected by contamination. You can also present that information in a non-narrative format by just using statistics and numbers — no faces of the people affected. We found that the stories were very powerful in generating emotional and cognitive reactions. The narratives tend to have a larger impact on us, and the impact lasts longer than the non-narrative stories. Twentyfour hours later, the impact can be still there affecting us. This way of communication is more effective. Of course, there are conditions where narratives may not work and that is something to look at in the future. When does narrative communications not work? It could be issues that we have strong opinions on or issues that we have made up our mind on. These
can be hard. Some messaging can work but have less of an effect than other messaging. There are a lot of variables. For example, one of my studies found that narratives in audio/video format tended to have stronger effects than print media. Or if you have a story with students in it, students will identify with it more. Is the health issue of concern to students? Are the characters students? If so, they will resonate with that message. The connection becomes important. If you don’t identify with the story, that can limit its power. Why are narratives so effective? Even before we had written language, human beings had been telling stories. It’s key to our way of life. It’s our natural way of communication. We are familiar with stories and super comfortable with them. Plus, it affects emotion. We develop empathy, anger and fear from stories. The purpose of narratives is to share a story, not to persuade you so it’s less likely to lead to arguing. We identify with individuals when we hear their stories. What do you hope to get out of the Page Center grants? I have done research on many different types of narratives, but narratives in corporate communication are just as important and I have not seen a lot of research in that area. We’d like to encourage researchers who study areas within corporate communications — and all public communications, too — to apply. The impact of corporate narratives in changing people’s perceptions on social and political issues, that’s what we want to study. In addition, what are the ethical issues of using narratives? A company can choose to use
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications (Photo by Jonathan F. Mcverry, ’05)
fictional narratives in their communications — what are the ethical implications of that? What’s an example of a corporate narrative? A good illustration is companies’ social responsibility campaigns. Peet’s Coffee, for example, uses stories to show how they provide assistance to their farmers and help famers’ families with income. They put characters into the story and consumers can buy-in and feel like they’re helping the cause. It’s far more effective than listing the number of people effected. Is it working? Well, corporations think it’s the way to go. We see them using narratives more and more compared to 10 or 20 years ago. A lot of the advertisements we see today are stories. The ones we like tend to be story-based.
COLLEGE CALENDAR JAN 7
Spring Semester Classes Begin
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Some students test their sledding skills during a snowy day on the Old Main lawn.
Spring Break (No Classes)
JobExpo.Comm 2019 (9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Alumni Hall)
(Photo by John Beale)
F R O S T A O R T A
S T L
G O F E R A B O V E
Q U A N T U M L E A
C A T E T A
N O B
A V I A L A O T Z B 24 25 C A E N J U I C E 26 27 28 29 30 31 S T A R L A T E A R D R O P 32
S T A R L K I L T S L O L 35 36 37 R I S D C A P L E L I Z A 38
H O P P Y
M A G N U M P I 44 N O R M A
I N E N
T A M E S T 45 M E S O 49
I O N 59 S E T
H I A T T 60 S A G E S
A N D U P 61 Y E S N O
Student Sports Business Conference (Nittany Lion Inn)
Penn State Powwow (Mt. Nittany Middle School, State College)
Spring Semester Classes End
(12 p.m., Bryce Jordan Center)
L I S T E S E N O M E R E 52 53 54 55 A D J U S T M E N T S C T E 56
Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism (5:30 p.m., National Press Club, Washington, D.C.)
The Communicator | Fall 2018
The Pennsylvania State University 302 James Building University Park, PA 16802 bellisario.psu.edu / @PSUBellisario
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications Presents
COMMversations A weekly podcast focused on the people and programs of the Bellisario College.
Fall 2018 edition of The Communicator, the magazine for alumni and friends of the Donald Pe. Bellisario College of Communications.