Communication Academic News

Senior Multimedia Journalism majors Harvey Creasey III and Humberto Zarco have been selected to intern with NBC during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Creasey will serve as a runner for the Today show, which is airing live from PyeongChang during the games. Zarco will work as a footage logger at the International Broadcast Center. The students credit Department of Communication faculty members Dale Jenkins, Bill Roth, and Jared Woolly for the preparation their courses provided for this experience.

The following students in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences accepted the invitation to become members of Phi Beta Kappa last semester: Anna Boutwell, Literature and Language; Kaitlyn Burton, Literature and Language and Creative Writing; Michael Carter, Literature and Language; Megan Koch, Public Relations; Morgan Long, Spanish and Literature and Language; Robin Marx, Public Relations and Political Science; and Taylor Mosier, Political Science. The initiation took place on December 20.

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors recently conferred the emeritus title on the following faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences:

Frederic Baumgartner, a professor of  History, is a leading scholar of early modern France, military history, and the Reformation. His publications included nine books, one of which was recognized with the Charles Smith Book Prize from the Southern Historical Association, and he received numerous grants, fellowships, and awards for his research. In recognition of his teaching and research, the Virginia Social Sciences Association named Baumgartner Historian of the Year in 2002. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1976, he served on many committees and commissions at the university and was active in numerous professional organizations as well. Baumgartner earned his undergraduate degree from Mount Saint Paul College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Eric McCollum, a professor of Human Development, was recognized for his impact on the field of Marriage and Family Therapy through scholarship, clinical work, and teaching related to substance abuse, domestic violence, and mindfulness meditation; he was awarded grants and contracts for the implementation and assessment of intervention programs in the first two areas. He joined the Virginia Tech community in Falls Church in 1992 and served as clinical director and program director of the Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program in the National Capital Region. He was recognized with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Training Award for his clinical work. McCollum earned his baccalaureate and master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Kansas State University.

Marjorie Norton, a professor of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management and a professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics, promoted the understanding of clothing and textiles through research on economic and trade policies, consumer economics, manufacturing, and merchandising as well as through service to professional organizations and journals in her field. She frequently provided expert testimony on apparel safety. Her teaching of undergraduate and graduate courses garnered her the William E. Wine Award for Teaching Excellence, and during her tenure at Virginia Tech, which began in 1980, she advised hundreds of undergraduates and dozens of graduate students. Norton earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Marlene Preston, an associate professor of Communication, made significant contributions to the field of teaching communication and was recognized as an authority in instructional development and innovation in oral and written communication. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1993, she served the Department of Communication in numerous administrative capacities, including Assistant Department Head. For her teaching, advising, and service she received awards at Virginia Tech, such as the XCaliber Award for Technology in 2015, as well as from professional organizations, including two Communication Centers Section Service Awards from the National Communication Association. Preston earned her bachelor’s as well as master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.

Barbara Ellen Smith, a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, was honored for her contributions to Women’s and Gender Studies, sociology, geography, and Appalachian Studies; she was the author of four books and numerous articles and book chapters. She served as director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and played an important role in the transition of the program to the Department of Sociology. She taught a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, garnering a Department of Sociology award for her undergraduate teaching as well as awards from ASPECT and Sociology for her work with graduate students. Smith earned her bachelor’s degree from Antioch College and a master’s degree as well as a Ph.D. from Brandeis University.

Department of Communication faculty members Douglas Cannon, a Professor of Practice, and Jenn Burleson Mackay published “Millennials Fail to Embrace Civic Duty to Keep Informed,” Newspaper Research Journal 38.3 (2017): 306–15.

The following students in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences were awarded scholarships for the 2017–2018 academic year.

The Dean’s Rising Senior Scholarship was awarded to Makeda Mesfin, International Studies. Recipients of the Dean’s Rising Junior Scholarship and Rising Sophomore Scholarship were Kevin Foster, Theatre and Cinema, and Jenna Humphrey, International Studies, respectively.

The following students were recipients of a Destiny Scholarship: Olamiposi Akinyemi, Political Science; Taylor Anderson, Political Science; Tyra Anderson, Human Development; Hannah Ange, Literature and Language; Madison Arnesen, Political Science; Curtis Batchelor, National Security and Foreign Affairs; Megan Church, Communication Studies; Danielle Cieslewicz, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Shannon Clarke, Theatre Arts; Sarah Coates, International Studies; Meaghan Doherty, Political Science; Mariah Evans, Criminology; Madeleine Gagne, International Relations; Lidia Guerra, Political Science; Noah Hairston, Multimedia Journalism; Diana Harley, Political Science; Connor Ingalsbe, International Studies; Danielle Jeffers, Multimedia Journalism; Halle Jordan, Multimedia Journalism; Haein Kim, International Studies; Alexander Knight, International Studies; Desiree Laureano, International Relations; A’via Linton, Spanish; Gabrielle Lozama, Multimedia Journalism; Matthew McPherson-Jaramillo, Multimedia Journalism; Casey Molina, Multimedia Journalism; Joshua Morrison, Music; Corrine Murray, Public Relations; Elisa Nicolini, International Relations; Casey Pongonis, Professional and Technical Writing; Collin Sabine, Political Science; Hunter Shinn, Classical Studies; Sierra Spain, Communication Studies; Virginia Stephenson, Multimedia Journalism; Rachel Sutphin, Religion and Culture; Luca Thoms, Political Science; Zachary Weeks, Classical Studies; Cassidy Whitlow, Human Development; Jada Woodson, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Ryea Young, Human Development; Jason Yoxthimer, Communication Studies; and Amy Zelaya, Human Development.

Recipients of the Austin Student Veterans Scholarship were Mallary Brown, School of Education, and William Thomas IV, Political Science.

Awarded the Tom Barton Family Scholarship was Sara McNulty, Political Science.

Jessica King, Communication Studies and International Studies, received the Dean Robert Bates Scholarship as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Senior Challenge Book Scholarship.

The Megan E. Christenson Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Courtney Flickinger, Multimedia Journalism.

Human Development doctoral student Shelby Borowski was recognized with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Faculty Campaign Scholarship and the Mildred Tate Scholarship.

Sarah Lim, Literature and Language, was recognized with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Staff Association Scholarship and the Susan Pascoe Farrell Scholarship.

The following students were recipients of a Martha Price Hancock Scholarship: Theodore Alt, Music Education and Music Performance; Vincent DiNardo, Music; Rachel Hargrave, Creative Writing; and Lauren Weaver, Spanish.

Receiving a Laura Jane Harper Scholarship were: Danielle Cieslewicz, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Emilee Cruz, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Benjamin Graulich, Residential Environments and Design; Makahla Stout, Fashion Merchandising and Design; and Junhua Zhang, Consumer Studies.

Stefnie Cerny, Theatre Arts Design and Studio Art, and Sarah Lim, Literature and Language, were recognized with a Hallie L. Hughes Memorial Scholarship.

Kathryn Kowalski, Professional and Technical Writing and Literature and Language, was awarded the Hulick Scholarship for Leadership, Friendship, and Service.

The John and Jane Milne Academic Scholarship was awarded to Juri Oh, Human Development.

The following students received the Moody, Pratt, Minor Scholarship: Matthew Barrett, Russian; Stefnie Cerny, Theatre Arts Design and Studio Art; Emily Hoyt, Human Development; Haley Meade, Religion and Culture and Biochemistry; Makeda Mesfin, International Studies; Caroline Nicotra, Spanish and Biological Sciences; Kaelyn Petrides, Public Relations; and Nikki Tobler, Theatre Performance.

Lyn O’Connell, Human Development, was the recipient of the James D. Moran Memorial Scholarship.

A Nelson–Lehmann–Gold–VanSant Family Scholarship was awarded to Jesse Marie Acierto, Human Development, and Melody Gregory, Human Development.

Recognized with the John Rathbone Scholarship were: Sarah Lim, Literature and Language; Scottie Lynch, History and Business Leadership; and John Mastakas, History.

Mary Karen Read Memorial Scholarships were awarded to Amy Crow, Jordan Fuller, and Vanessa Robinson, all Human Development.

Receiving a Robichaud Family Scholarship were: Jesse Marie Acierto, Human Development; Theodore Alt, Music Education and Music Performance; Paige Bailey, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Raleigh Christian, Political Science; Lauren Farrar, Music and Multimedia Journalism; Jesse Hughes, Music Education; and Kathryn Kowalski, Professional and Technical Writing and Literature and Language.

Sarah Patton, International Studies, was the recipient of the Ora Goodwin Roop Scholarship.

The following were awarded a Margaret Groseclose Skelton Scholarship: Molly Maurin, Human Development and Psychology; Jordan Mercer, Consumer Studies; and Leah Richards, Literature and Language.

The recipient of the Maryellen Spencer Scholarship was Lauren Weaver, Spanish.

Holly Hunter, Public Relations, and Kayla Parrish, Human Development, received a Margaret Rawlinson Svoboda 4–H Scholarship.

Mildred Crawford Weidemann Scholarships were awarded to: John Mastakas, History; Molly Maurin, Human Development and Psychology; Paige Moorman, Fashion Merchandising and Design and Spanish; and Natalie Tabor, Human Development.

Haley Meade, Religion and Culture and Biochemistry, was the recipient of the Mildred E. Young Scholarship.

Students awarded College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Education Abroad Scholarships were also acknowledged; their names appeared in the May 2017 issue of News2Note.

All of the recipients above as well as the donors who support the scholarships were recognized at a dinner on October 19.


Stephanie Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, was selected as a Kopenhaver Center Fellow for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s (AEJMC) annual conference. As a fellow, Smith completed a one-day workshop for professional development and networking with other pre-tenure women faculty members throughout the U.S. She also was selected to give a Great Ideas for Teaching (GIFT) presentation at AEJMC’s conference based on her Case Studies in Public Relations group project.

Douglas Cannon, a Professor of Practice for the Department of Communication, published “Proximity Prominent News Value for Online Publication,” Newspaper Research Journal 38.2 (2017): 259–70, with Guolan Yang; and “Not Just Doers of the Word:  An Updated Look at Roles Religion Communicators Play,” Public Relations Journal 11.1 (2017).

Brandi Watkins, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, was awarded an Educator Fellowship by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. The program provides public relations educators with a two-week summer fellowship designed to enhance professional development, leadership skills, and industry networking. During the fellowship, Watkins worked with the public relations agency Ketchum in Chicago, Illinois.


Wat Hopkins, a professor in the Department of Communication, was reappointed to his sixth three-year term as editor of Communication Law and Policy, the peer-reviewed, quarterly journal of the Law and Policy Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Robert Denton, Jr., the W. Thomas Rice Chair and Head of the Department of Communication, edited The 2016 US Presidential Campaign: Political Communication and Practice (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).  His individual contribution to the volume was “Issues of Gender in the 2016 Presidential Campaign,” pp. 179–205.