Archive for the ‘Faculty’ category

The Global Reach of iMedia

February 13, 2012

The most innovative feature of our M.A. in Interactive Media program is the Winter Term fly-in.

Last month, our 41 iMedia students divided into five teams that went to Iceland, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica (two teams) to produce an interactive project for the public good.

This week, three iMedia students will appear on “North Carolina Now” on UNC-TV public television (7:30 p.m. Thursday). Lindsey Taylor, Chris Kirkham and Brandy Stearns were part of a team that went to the reserve for the Boruca indigenous group in Costa Rica and created a website to showcase the group’s culture upon their return.

Their teacher, Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill, observed, “The fly-in is a key aspect of the iMedia program because students can integrate what they’ve learned in the fall as they work together, very hard, on these projects. Going to these countries and working with these organizations is a real challenge. We learn about other cultures and ways of life, all while getting a large project completed in a small amount of time.”

iMedia students prepare for the UNC-TV interview

Senior Lecturer Randy Piland, accompanied by Assistant Professor Nicole Triche, took students to Panama for his third year, this time to work with a group that does conservation and education about sea turtles. Piland said that the students were very fortunate to be there when baby turtles hatched and made their way to the sea – something that can’t be predicted. That moment was preserved by iMedia students in a video for the group’s website designed by the team.

Further north, Assistant Professor Phillip Motley took students to Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, where they traveled for several days, ending up at Campanario Biological Station, which is run by a former Peace Corps volunteer who purchased the land and developed the station for education, conservation and research. Motley’s group carried gear across rivers and through jungles to get great shots of the biological and cultural diversity that Campanario seeks to preserve. “The problems that our students are expected to solve are genuine,” Motley said. “Providing our clients with a viable solution is the ultimate measure of project and course success.”

Assistant Professors Sang Nam and Max Negin took students to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico to work with a program that provides supplementary education for children in the area. Students worked to develop a consistent brand for Academia Natanael, including designing custom logos for the group. They also incorporated a blog element into the website that lets the academy director tell the stories about his work in a way that he can easily update.

Really further north, a hardy group of iMedia students, Assistant Professor Derek Lackaff and Instructor J McMerty spent the first part of 2012 in Iceland. Lackaff’s students did a series of videos and a website redesign for the Citizen’s Foundation, which seeks to use new technologies to increase citizen participation in democratic decision-making. “Small societies are fascinating!” Lackaff said. “With only 315,000 residents in the country, we were told repeatedly that there are at most only two degrees of separation between any two Icelanders. The Mayor of Reykjavik, a Member of Parliament, and an Academy Award-nominated poet were among the friends of the nonprofit who were willing to be filmed for our project.”

iMedia students presented their work to a standing-room-only crowd in McEwen Communications Building two weeks ago, and now some of them will be on statewide television, sharing the story of Elon’s global reach through its interactive projects for the public good.

A Conversation with the President

February 11, 2012

President Lambert welcomed the School of Communications faculty and staff to his home this week for a conversation about the future of Elon.

He started by complimenting the school, saying, “You are absolutely on fire!” The president called the school “truly extraordinary” and said that when people now think of Elon, many think of the School of Communications.

In his series of conversations about the future of Elon, the president focuses on what he sees as the headlines from The Elon Commitment strategic plan over the next 3-5 years.

He listed 10 headlines. The first is to build “a premier residential campus” because students perform better academically when they live on campus. He talked about the need for intercultural competence in its many forms, such as study abroad, foreign language instruction, religious pluralism, campus internationalization, and a doubling of need-based financial aid. His third headline was creation of a National Center for Engaged Learning.

His fourth headline especially grabbed our attention — a showcase School of Communications building. He called it “the next big thing” in terms of construction projects at the university and said it will be a premier building for a premier program.

Other headlines dealt with the Student Professional Development Center, law school, business school, athletics, a culture of philanthropy, and maintaining Elon’s “best value” position by keeping tuition increases in check. Robust Q&A followed.

We are fortunate to be at a forward-thinking university where the president wants to interact with faculty and staff about the future.

Emmy Time

October 2, 2011

Professor Max Negin (photo by Julia Sayers, Pendulum)

A School of Communications faculty member and three of the school’s alumni are recipients of Emmy Awards this year.

A special congratulations to assistant professor Max Negin, who won his third Sports Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his work on NBC’s team coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Negin previously won Emmys for his work as video coordinator for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and for promotional writing for Fox 29 in Philadelphia.

At Elon, Max teaches Sports & Media, Digital Media Convergence and Sports Broadcasting in our school and advises the student-produced Elon sports show that airs on Saturday mornings on ESPN2.

We also celebrate the regional Emmy successes of Matt Belanger (class of 2005), Amy Clark (class of 2007) and Mitch Pittman (class of 2009).

Matt Belanger

Belanger is a reporter at WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pa. He was honored by the Academy’s Mid-Atlantic chapter for an investigative report on the practice of “ghost voting” in the Pennsylvania legislature. Some lawmakers have been using coins, paper clips or pieces of paper to jam their voting buttons down, effectively casting votes, even when not present in the state Capitol.

This is Matt’s second Emmy. He graciously offered his first to be on display in the School of Communications lobby, where it resides today as an inspiration to current students.

Mitch Pittman

Pittman is a multimedia journalist at KSTP-TV in St. Paul, Minn. He won a Video Journalist Emmy, which recognizes reporters who shoot, write and edit their own stories. Mitch won the Emmy from the Academy’s Upper Midwest chapter. He joined the staff only six months ago after working for two years in Burlington, Vt., with Fox44 News.

Clark won a regional Emmy from the Academy’s Lehigh Valley chapter for video editing she did at PBS 39 in Pennsylvania. I wish we had a similar photo of Amy holding her Emmy, but she holds nursing instruments these days. Amy recently earned a degree in nursing. A communications degree can lead in many directions!

Our Colleagues Abroad

September 14, 2011

Three faculty members in the School of Communications are teaching abroad this fall.

Glenn Scott is a Fulbright Professor in Japan. Follow his blog here as he and his family spend a year at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa.

This photo from his blog shows that a picture can be worth a thousand words, especially if you don’t speak the language. (The text reads: “Dear Dogs, Don’t walk by yourselves. Please bring your owner with you. And don’t forget to clean up your poop.”)

Department chair Jessica Gisclair is teaching this fall in Elon’s London program, and Tom Nelson is teaching in Elon’s program in Florence, Italy. We’ll see if they can provide similarly interesting signs in their overseas environs.

In Praise of Teachers

August 28, 2011

Professor Joe Saltzman of the University of Southern California tells an inspiring story.

In receiving the national Teacher of the Year award at our annual conference in St. Louis, Saltzman dedicated the award to his high school journalism teacher, Ted Tajima. This is how Saltzman tells the story:

“In 1955, I was a junior, and he found me standing in the hallway crying my eyes out. He asked me what was the matter. I told him that the high school counselor just told me I wasn’t college material and that I should follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a window cleaner. My dream of being the first person in my family to go to college was over.

With USC's Joe Saltzman

“Ted was furious and went to see that high school counselor. When he came back, he told me that together, we would work to get me into the best school of journalism on the West Coast — the University of Southern California — and with a scholarship as well. And he made it happen. If it weren’t for Ted, I probably would have ended up a window cleaner.

“When I wonder why I’ve spent the last 44 years teaching at USC, I think back to Ted. I know I became a teacher because of his influence on me. I wanted to do for future journalists what he had done for me.”

Tajima died in February 2011, shortly before Saltzman and I were informed that we would be receiving the Teacher and Administrator of the Year awards, respectively, from the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

It was an honor to stand with Joe at the awards ceremony this summer. He donated his $10,000 prize to a nonprofit dedicated to helping ill children, and my prize went to help Elon Communications students needing financial support to stay in school.

The Loss of a Wonderful Teacher

June 29, 2011

When students return to campus in the fall, the School of Communications will provide a time to gather and remember Melody van Lidth de Jeude, an instructor who died May 27 following a brief illness.

Melody was so relentlessly cheerful that news of her death, just a week after she turned in final grades for spring term, shocked us all. About two dozen faculty and students attended her memorial service on June 25 in Chapel Hill.

Melody surely taught more students each year than any other faculty member at Elon. Because she taught a lot of sections of the 2-hour Public Speaking course, we estimate she taught about 250 students a year. And because she came to Elon in 2007 and taught mostly first-year students, we calculate that about 1,000 of the 5,000 undergraduates at Elon as of last spring enjoyed having her as a teacher.

I read all student comments on course evaluations, and it was obvious that Melody gently helped many, many students to overcome their fear of public speaking in their first year at Elon, and students were so appreciative. The School of Communications, and our students, deeply mourn the loss.

A Professor at the Pinnacle

October 28, 2010

David Copeland with a student

Receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award sounds like something that comes in the twilight of a career.

So we’ve been having some fun this week with Professor David Copeland, who deservedly received the award from the American Journalism Historians Association at its national conference in Tucson, Ariz.

You see, Copeland is at the pinnacle of a career, far from the twilight. We came to Elon the same year — David as the A.J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Communications and I as dean of the school. Today, David serves as director of the school’s M.A. in Interactive Media program.

In my letter of support, I wrote that he is an “extraordinarily good” teacher and a “prolific” author and a “superb” mentor to colleagues. The use of strong adjectives just came naturally when writing about David Copeland. Many students call him the best teacher they’ve ever had, and his scholarship includes editing an eight-volume series on American war reporting as well as authoring a 2010 book titled The Media’s Role in Defining the Nation.

Congratulations, David, on receiving the highest honor from the American Journalism Historians Association — and in the prime of your career!