Archive for the ‘Students’ category

Big Laugh

September 12, 2011

Back last spring, I sat at a table with several new Lumen Scholar recipients including sophomore theatre major Logan Sutton.

Logan’s project is “Everyday Odyssey,” which involves the composition and staging of a play exploring the struggles of Odysseus’s family in his absence.

Logan is one of 15 Elon students awarded a $15,000 Lumen Prize last year to pursue scholarly and creative achievements. Another is Caitlin O’Donnell, a Communications student whose project under Professor David Copeland’s tutelage is “The Media of White America: Press Coverage and Treatment of Historically Outcast Members of Society.”

Back to that dinner last spring…  After talking about the Lumen Prize, the table conversation turned to movies — and that’s when Logan and I discovered we both had a special liking for the marvelously odd 2003 movie “Big Fish.”

Fast forward to last week. When I returned to my office one day, I found a DVD of “Big Fish” on my desk, compliments of Logan. I had to laugh. Then I took it home and enjoyed watching it again. In fact, I think my daughter may now like “Big Fish” as much as I.

Logan, the thank-you note is in the mail, and best wishes on your project.


Bravo to Our National Finalists

May 20, 2011

From left, Liz Moy, Alex Harrington, Molly Cox and Annie Hellweg

Congratulations to Elon’s student team for finishing third in the nation in the 2011 Bateman public relations case study competition in New York City.

Congratulations as well to the two schools that beat us out this year. A student team from the University of Florida won first place, and Loyola in New Orleans came in second.

The Public Relations Society of America created the competition 38 years ago to give university students an opportunity to exercise analytical skills and judgment required for public relations problem-solving. The 2011 client was Ally Financial, and students were tasked with building brand awareness and expanding outreach for the company’s financial literacy program.

While Liz, Alex, Molly and Annie deserve great credit for their hard work, creative ideas and excellent presentation, let’s not forget the faculty adviser!  Associate professor Frances Ward-Johnson knows what it takes to reach nationals. In fact, this is the fifth consecutive year that Elon has been recognized in the competition.

A Collegiate Emmy in Hand

April 18, 2011

We had quite the happy event in our television news studio a few hours ago.

Elon’s newly acquired collegiate Emmy exchanged hands from the staff of student newscast Phoenix14News (represented by executive producer Kirsten Bennett) to the School of Communications (represented by me) for display in the school’s lobby.

After we all applauded, it was right back to work for everyone. After all, Phoenix14News had a live 30-minute newscast fast approaching.

In Los Angeles nine days earlier, five Elon students and faculty adviser Dr. Rich Landesberg enjoyed the moment when Elon’s name was called as the national recipient of the collegiate Emmy for student television newscast. Bennett, Drew Smith, Nick Ochsner, Jasmine Spencer and Mallory Lane went on stage in their tuxes and gowns to collect the award. Afterwards, they went backstage for photos and a walk on the red carpet.

“What a fantastic achievement for this talented team of aspiring broadcast journalists,” Professor Landesberg said. “I always tell my students never to work for awards but to always do award-winning work. Once again, they have all shown just how good they can be.”

Brian Williams at Elon

April 9, 2011

Williams with students Jason Puckett, Adrianne Haney and Sophie Nielsen-Kolding

Our students sure did enjoy two days with Brian Williams this week.

On Thursday, the anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” moderated an event on campus titled “We Can Be Better: Courageous Voices Confront Our Greatest Challenges” that relied on experts to talk about education, energy, the economy, religious pluralism and the political will to do something about them.

Williams spent Friday in the School of Communications as the national chair of the school’s Advisory Board.

He was a trooper during his time at Elon — a Q&A with hundreds of students, a video interview, student media, photo shoots and NBC affiliate interviews. He did it all with wit and humor.

We’re already hearing from students about the impact of his visit. He spoke about the need for passion, integrity and a hunger to get the story right. It’s a message that we teach, but frankly it sticks better when a Brian Williams says it with conviction.

The Clone Wars

March 6, 2011

Photograph published in Fast Company magazine

Look at all those Apple icons. This picture, taken in a university classroom in Great Britain, shows Apple’s astonishing success in branding.

At Elon, a picture like this wouldn’t be possible. Classes in the School of Communications come in four maximum sizes: 33, 25, 18 and 15. Still, the ratio of Apple logos in our classes would be similar.

I purchased my first computer in 1983 upon becoming a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee. I bought a “clone” — a Franklin computer with a floppy-disk drive — because I was a cheapskate. The Franklin had the same operating system as the Apple II and was less expensive.

Later that year, Apple successfully sued Franklin for copyright infringement, with the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that copyright law can protect an operating system. (Franklin was caught red-handed, with embedded strings in its operating system containing the word “Applesoft” and the name “James Huston,” an Apple programmer.)

Apple was able to force Franklin to withdraw its clones by 1988, and Franklin soon stopped manufacturing computers.

This was only one skirmish in a decade of Clone Wars in the early years of the computer. IBM similarly battled clones (such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Epson, NEC, Olivetti, Tandy and Zenith) that adopted “IBM-compatible” systems. To shake off the pesky clones costing it millions in lost sales, IBM changed the design of its PCs in 1987, creating the ironic situation of IBM computers no longer being “IBM-compatible.”

Today, the computer world is basically divided into Apples and PCs. The classroom photo above shows us which is winning over young people.

Funny Fellows

March 5, 2011

These four guys met as freshmen last year in the Communications Fellows program at Elon.

They started making music videos, first as birthday presents in the Communications living-learning community and then for class projects. They won the “Wannabe” lip-syncing competition last year, then hit it big with a music video about Elon’s dean of student life, Smith Jackson, whom they dubbed as the man with two last names.

But this lovefest to Elon’s Phoenix mascot is my favorite of their original music videos. The four guys are Will Anderson, Dan Enders, Greg Gentile and David Gwynn, and the group goes by the name of project Halcyon.

The halcyon is a mythical bird, just like the phoenix that rises from the ashes. In ancient legend, the halcyon (commonly associated with the kingfisher) nested at sea around the time of the winter solstice to calm the wind and waves. In popular use, the phrase “halcyon days” harkens back to an earlier time remembered as idyllic.

This weekend, more than 80 high school seniors and their families came to Elon to participate in the selection process for the 2011-12 Communications Fellows program. A lot of nametags listed the home states of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina, with other Fellows candidates hailing from states such as Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida and Kentucky.

Next fall when the new Communications Fellows class gathers, friendships will be made, and who knows what these creative students will end up doing.

Elon: Home of Filmmakers

February 13, 2011

Congratulations to 13 students in the School of Communications who comprise an amazing third of students selected nationally as screenwriters, producers and crew for original works to be filmed in this year’s Sprite competition.

Seniors Josh Chagani and Kristin Genszler are two of the six college students whose original screenplays will be produced. They join students from Northwestern, Indiana University and Florida State. Trailers for their films will be screened at 20,000 theaters across the nation, directing viewers to a website where they can view the 6- to 12-minute films.

Eleven more Elon students were selected in a blind review for the 33 production roles on the films. Films will be shot in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York, with a completion date of March 31.

A special congratulations to cinema professor Paul Castro for securing Elon’s place in the competition and shepherding the students to success. Castro knows firsthand what it takes. As a film student at UCLA, he was awarded the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Grant Award.

This year’s competition attracted more than 100 applications from 12 schools invited to participate: Elon, Northwestern, Indiana, Florida State, Columbia, Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Chapman, Cal State Long Beach, Savannah College of Art and Design, and the North Carolina School of the Arts.