Back to top


Land Grant Films, Students Receive Emmy Nomination

Welcome Home BrotherWelcome Home Brother, a film created by two recent UT graduates as part of Land Grant Films’ Defender of Dreams documentary series, received a nomination in the topical documentary category of the Midsouth Regional Emmys.

“The news of our recent Emmy nomination is very exciting. I am so thankful for those who appeared in our film and everyone at Land Grant who helped us along the way,” said Tim Morris, who along with Isaac Fowler directed Welcome Home Brother. “When we made this documentary, we never expected it to go as far as it has gone. We are just extremely blessed.”

The eight-minute documentary, created in 2017, tells the story of three Vietnam veterans as they find their voice in East Tennessee through the help of the Bill Robinson Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Association. The series was produced in collaboration with East Tennessee PBS.

“The award is a huge compliment to the work Tim and Isaac put into this project. While it is their first Emmy nomination, I’m sure it won’t be their last,” said associate professor Nick Geidner. “The success Tim and Isaac and the rest of the Defenders of the Dream series wouldn’t be possible without the support of our donors, project mentors, and producing partners, Nolpix Media and East Tennessee PBS. Filmmaking is a team sport, and we are so grateful for the team that supports Land Grant Films.”

Welcome Home Brother has shown at the Nashville, Knox, Full Bloom, and College Media Association Film Festivals. The documentary took first place in the short documentary category at the CMA festival and third place in the Tennessee film documentary category at the Knox festival.

Geidner created Land Grant Films in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media in UT’s College of Communication and Information to give students hands-on experience in documentary storytelling while providing no-cost video services for local nonprofit organizations.

CCI Honors School/Program Alumni and Faculty

CCI presented five school/program alumni awards and five faculty awards during its annual Awards and Scholarship Donor Appreciation Banquet on Friday, November 9, 2018 at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair.

“We are proud to recognize these alumni for their outstanding career accomplishments and service to their respective communities,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “It is a privilege to welcome them back to campus to acknowledge and honor them for everything they have achieved. Congratulations to Curtis, Heather, Sandra, Frank and Rebecca!”

The 2018 CCI school/program alumni award winners were:Dean Wirth, Curtis Rose, Heather Fasano, Frank Gibson, Rebecca Huckaby

Advertising Alumnus of the Year
Curtis Rose (’03)

Communication Studies Alumna of the Year
Heather Fasano (MS ’15; BA ’12)
Associate Sales Representative, Medtronic – Carolinas Region

Information Sciences Alumna of the Year
Sandra Treadway, PhD (MS ’07)
Librarian & State Archivist of Virginia, Library of Virginia

Journalism & Electronic Media Alumnus of the Year
Frank Gibson (’76)
Public Policy Director, Tennessee Press Association (retired)

Public Relations Alumna of the Year
Rebecca Huckaby (MS ’03)
VP of Public Relations, Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Five CCI faculty were also honored for their accomplishments at the banquet. CCI’s 2018 faculty award recipients were:

Dean Wirth, Nick Geidner, Moonhee Cho, Courtney Childers, Megan Fields, Laura Miller

Faculty Teaching Award
JEM Associate Professor Nick Geidner

Faculty Research Award
ADPR Assistant Professor Moonhee Cho

Faculty Service/Outreach Award
ADPR Associate Professor Courtney Childers

Lecturer Teaching Award
CS Distinguished Lecturer Megan Fields

Bud Minkel International/Intercultural Award
CS Associate Professor Laura Miller

The evening concluded with the presentation of the 2018 CCI Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award to Stephen Land, CEO and founder of Jupiter Entertainment.

“This annual event is always a  highlight for CCI because we get to recognize and thank some of our outstanding faculty,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “Congratulations to Nick, Moonhee, Courtney, Megan, and Laura!”

In addition to the award winners, CCI scholarship donors are honored at the annual banquet  and given the opportunity to meet their scholarship recipients. For many CCI students, it is the first opportunity to meet and thank their donor face-to-face.

Jupiter Entertainment CEO Stephen Land to Receive Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award

Stephen Land

Stephen Land, founder and CEO of Knoxville-based Jupiter Entertainment, will receive the 2018 Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award from UT Knoxville’s College of Communication & Information at the college’s awards and scholarship donor appreciation banquet on Friday, November 9, 2018 at the Knoxville Holiday Inn Downtown.

Land is among America’s most prolific television creators and producers. During his career, which spans over two decades, he has developed and executive produced series and specials for virtually every major media company.

With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Knoxville, Jupiter is actively engaged in developing and producing a broad mix of award winning programs for a host of cable television groups. Among its highly rated series are “Sons of Guns” (Discovery), “Snapped” (Oxygen), “Wild West Alaska” (Animal Planet), “Homicide Hunter” (ID), “Biography” (A&E), “Welcome to Myrtle Manor (TLC), and “Modern Marvels” (History).

Land is also involved with the Knoxville Museum of Art (past member of the Board of Trustees/Executive Committee), the University of Tennessee College of Communication and Information (emeritus member of the CCI Board of Visitors), the Tennessee Music, Film and Entertainment Commission (past commissioner), Church of the Ascension, and Knox Heritage. 

Upon graduating from UT with a communications degree in 1976, he went to work for the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce where he held a number of positions, eventually serving as General Manager. “I was so fortunate to work for the Chamber during the World’s Fair.  The atmosphere in the community was just electric,” said Land. 

While working at the Chamber, Land met Ross Bagwell who had been hired to produce several videos for the Chamber and formed a lifelong connection.  Bagwell hired Land for Cinetel Productions, placing him in charge of creating shows and pitching them to networks.   Over time, Land began to write, produce and oversee shows for Cinetel and later for Scripps Networks. In 1996, he started Jupiter Entertainment to pursue his passion for storytelling through film.

 “Stephen Land is one of the most talented and prolific individuals in his field,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “He’s had a remarkable career and generously supports our students, through such initiatives as the CCI Land Ambassadors Program. The Hileman Award is fitting recognition for everything he has accomplished and all he has done for CCI, UT and the Knoxville community.”  

Stephen and his wife, Nancy, are also strong supporters of the Knoxville Museum of Art and other civic groups including: the YWCA, Knox Heritage, Ijams, and St Jude Hospital.

Knoxville Central High School, from which Land graduated in 1971, named him as an honored graduate in 2013.

The Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award is named for the first permanent dean of the College of Communications, forerunner to the College of Communication and Information. The award was established in 1994 in celebration of the college's 25th anniversary. It is awarded to college alumni who have made notable contributions to the fields of communication and information.

Past recipients of the Hileman Award include Mark McNeely, founder and senior partner of McNeely Pigott and Fox; Sharon Price John, CEO and president of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc.; Charles Tombras Jr., CEO of the Tombras Group; Alexia Poe, principal at Poe Consulting and former director of communications for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; Alan Wilson, McCormick & Company Inc. chairman (retired); Alan N. Greenberg, president and co-founder of Avenues the World School and former Esquire magazine publisher; John Noble Wilford, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science journalist (retired); and Peyton Manning, former NFL and UT quarterback.



Information Sciences Former Director Ed Cortez Dies at Sixty-six

Ed Cortez

Ed Cortez, professor emeritus and former director of the School of Information Sciences in the College of Communication and Information, died on Saturday October 6, 2018 at his home in Tucson, Arizona (see his obituary below).

“Ed was a champion of the information sciences profession and dedicated to supporting the next generation of leaders," said Mike Wirth, dean of the College of Communication and Information. "He played an important role in leading the School of Information Sciences and in guiding its integration into the college. He will be greatly missed!”

Edwin Michael Cortez Obituary
(1951 – 2018)
Dr. Edwin M. Cortez “Ed”, age 66, of Tucson, AZ and Waynesville, NC, passed away Saturday, October 6, 2018 in the comfort of his Tucson home and surrounded by loved ones. He was born December 16, 1951 in New York, NY and was the son of Cecilia Maria and Miguel Angel Cortez. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Dr. Cortez received a BS in History from Wagner College, a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Arizona and a PhD in Information Science and Management Communication from the University of Southern California.

He taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Catholic University of America (where he served as acting dean), the Pratt Institute and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He recently taught an online course in collaboration with Wayne State University. He served as chair of several American Library Association (ALA) committees, particularly relating to accreditation. In the 1990s he was appointed as a Regent to the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Cortez was a Professor Emeritus in the School of Information Sciences at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville where he served with distinction as Professor and Director for 11 years and retired at the end of 2016.

From a scholarly perspective, Dr. Cortez wrote books and peer reviewed journal articles that describe and evaluate the management of information systems and technology from a variety of organizational perspectives. He was also a frequent presenter at national and international conferences in the fields of information science and technology.

Ed’s true passion was to teach, to impart and share knowledge for the betterment and empowerment of others. While demanding, he was caring, generous, and committed. He was very influential in the professional and personal success of many students, colleagues, friends and family.

A great talent in the kitchen with exquisite taste, Ed loved to entertain and share this talent and taste. Over the years, there were many dinner parties lasting late into the night, accompanied by hearty laughter, wit and perhaps a bit of wisdom.

Ed loved to explore the world and the world of ideas. He was quite well travelled throughout the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia. With passion and opinion he would engage one or many in discussion ranging from food and culture, people and countries, politics and business, even decorating and needlepoint.

Ed’s ready smile, infectious laugh and giving spirit continue to give back to those who knew and loved him.

Dr. Cortez is survived by his partner of nearly thirty years Kenneth Dunn of Greenville, SC, brother Alberto Cortes of Raleigh, NC, brother Herman Cortez and sister-in-law Leslie Cortez of Largo, FL. Other survivors include niece, Pilar Fonseca, nephews Julian Cortes, Luis Cortes of New York City, and nephews Marcus Cortez, Alexi Cortez, and Christopher Cortes of Florida. He is also survived by numerous extended family members and special friends.

All services will be private.

Memorial gifts may be made in Ed’s memory to the ASPCA at

Luther to Participate in Prestigious TV Academy Foundation Program

Catherine LutherCatherine Luther, director of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media in the College of Communication and Information, is among 25 professors nationwide chosen to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s 2018 Faculty Seminar Program.

The faculty fellows will gain the latest information on the television and content development industries from top entertainment professionals during a weeklong seminar in Southern California in November.

“It is such a privilege to have been selected for this wonderful program,” Luther said. “I hope to gain insight into the current undertakings in the entertainment industries and bring that knowledge back to my unit.”

The seminar will include panel discussions with broadcast and cable network programming and scheduling executives, legal experts, and cutting-edge content creators. Private studio tours and trips to top Hollywood production facilities to meet with producers, observe production, and get firsthand updates on television technologies are also part of the program.

Before entering academia, Luther worked in the United States and Japan as a television news producer. She is the author of three books, the most recent being the second edition of Diversity in U.S. Mass Media, published in 2017. She conducts research on the intersections of media, gender, and race and ethnicity as well as issues involving global communication. Luther has received several awards including the UT Chancellor’s Award to attend the HERS Institute at Bryn Mawr; the UT Notable Woman Award recognizing excellence in administration, research, and teaching; and a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Japan.

Established in 1959 as the charitable arm of the Television Academy, the Television Academy Foundationis dedicated to preserving the legacy of television while educating those who will shape its future through an oral history program, faculty seminars and student internships, and awards.

Three with Ties to CCI Receive UT Alumni Awards

2018 UT Alumni Award Winners

The UT Knoxville Alumni Board held its annual Alumni Awards celebration on Friday, September 7. Among the 2018 UT alumni award recipients were three with ties to CCI.

  • Chris Grabenstein (BS/JEM ’77 & an emeritus member of CCI’s Board of Visitors) received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
  • Erin Hauck (BS/AD '07) received the Alumni Promise Award.
  • Gregory Cox (BS/BA ’95; MS/Acct. ’96 & a current member of CCI’s Board of Visitors) received the Alumni Service Award.

Chris Grabenstein is a New York Times bestselling author and a 2010 UT Accomplished Alumni Award recipient. He is a prolific writer who has won an Anthony Award for “Best First Mystery” and is a four time Agatha Award winner for Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel. Grabenstein is a former advertising executive with Young & Rubicam in New York City where he worked with author James Patterson, and he has written several screenplays including The Christmas Gift.

Erin Hauck is founder and senior director of digital investment and senior director of audience planning for Hearts & Science in New York City. She developed the first US digital team for the ad agency. She received the inaugural Cynopsis Media’s Top Women in Digital Award Mentors Category and was selected for the Omnicom Global Talent Exchange Program. Hauck has won numerous awards for her advertising work and was the 2017 CCI Advertising Alumna of the Year.

Gregory Cox is a senior analyst for Georgia-Pacific’s North American Consumer Business in Atlanta, Georgia, and he is a member of the UT Foundation Board of Directors. He received the 2010 UT Alumni Promise Award and was a UT Torchbearer in 1995. He served as volunteer chair of the Hands on Atlanta Day in 2008. From 2011 to 2013 he was president of the UT Black Alumni Council and was a member of the UTK Alumni Board. He also served on the UT Department of Accounting Advisory Roundtable from 2006-2013.

“We congratulate these outstanding alumni and thank them for their willingness to give back to UT and CCI,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth.


Peyton Manning’s Gift Establishes the John Haas Student Experiential Learning Endowment

Manning HaasPeyton Manning (BA/CS ’97 and an honorary member of CCI’s Board of Visitors) has donated $1 million to UT to establish the John Haas Student Experiential Learning Endowment.

The gift honors John Haas, a longtime director and associate professor in the College of Communication and Information’s School of Communications Studies. As one of Manning’s professors and his UT faculty advisor, Haas played an instrumental role in Manning’s college education.

“Exceptional teachers transform your way of learning by challenging and motivating you while teaching more than just a subject,” said Manning. “For me and so many others, that teacher was Dr. John Haas."

“Dr. Haas’ passion for his students and their success makes him one of those remarkable teachers who change how you experience the classroom. I’m very proud to establish the John Haas Student Experiential Learning Endowment in his honor.”

The endowment will support student trips, study abroad learning, internships, and other opportunities for students in the Communication Studies program to grow and develop outside the classroom.

The $1 million gift adds to the significant donations Manning has made previously to UT.

“Peyton continues to give back to the university both with his valuable time and with significant gifts,” said Chip Bryant, UT vice chancellor for advancement. “The profound impact he has made on this campus will continue to support current and future Vols for years to come.”

Following the announcement of the endowment, Haas was both surprised and honored by Manning’s gift as it was given to him during a special faculty retreat.

“Students learn so much outside the classroom and the experiences they have change their views of the world,” said Haas. “These experiences are key to getting them ready for success and this gift reflects Peyton’s commitment to educational experiences for our students. His pursuit of excellence has also inspired me. He’s served as an example for all of us.”

Haas joined UT in 1989 and currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in organizational communication, interpersonal communication, and research methods. His work has appeared in many academic journals. In addition, Haas has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on research grants from agencies such as the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Engineering Information Foundation.

Manning, who graduated from UT in 1997 after leading the Vols to an SEC football championship and went on to a storied NFL career, remains steadfast in his dedication to the Volunteer community, providing opportunities for the next generation of students.


John Haas with Comm Studies Faculty & StaffPeyton expresses thanks to John Haas

John Haas

Taylor Elected ICA Fellow

Maureen TaylorMaureen Taylor, UT School of Advertising and Public Relations director and Beaman Professor, was named an International Communication Association (ICA) Fellow at the 2018 ICA annual conference in Prague, Czech Republic, May 24 – 28.

Being named an ICA Fellow is a lifetime achievement award that recognizes the individual’s distinguished scholarly contributions and service to the profession. Taylor is the first ICA public relations division member elected to this elite group and the first ICA Fellow from UT.

“I’m humbled and honored to be named an ICA Fellow,” said Taylor. “Becoming part of this legendary group of communication scholars, provides me with even greater inspiration to contribute, serve and lead.”

Her public relations research has focused on nation building and civil society, dialogue, and the use of websites and new technologies. Her research has taken her to post conflict nations in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Eurasia. During her academic career, she has published more than 60 refereed journal articles in communication, public relations and media journals.

In 2010, Taylor was honored with the Pathfinder Award, presented by the Institute for Public Relations in recognition of her “original program of scholarly research that has made a significant contribution to the body of knowledge and practice of public relations.” She is a member of the Arthur S. Page Society and serves as editor of Public Relations Review. Taylor earned her PhD and MA in Communication from Purdue University.

“Maureen Taylor’s selection as an ICA Fellow is a tremendous honor that clearly recognizes her as a leading communications scholar,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “Her sustained level of scholarly productivity coupled with her dedicated service and leadership have had a remarkable impact on the public relations field.”


The “International Communication Association (ICA) is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication. ICA began more than 50 years ago as a small association of US researchers and is now a truly international association with more than 4,500 members in 80 countries. Since 2003, ICA has been officially associated with the United Nations as a non-governmental association (NGO).” (ICA website)

Allard Named Chancellor's Professor

Chancellor's Professor Suzie AllardSuzie Allard (SIS), CCI associate dean for research and director of the Center for Information & Communication Studies, has been named a Chancellor’s Professor by UT Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis. “Appointment as a Chancellor’s Professor constitutes the highest honor that can be accorded a UT Knoxville faculty member. This designation recognizes extraordinary, nationally or internationally recognized, scholarly attainment in an individual discipline or field as well as a record of excellence in teaching and service to the university.”

Allard is one of six newly named Chancellor’s Professors. The others are: Lou Gross (Evolutionary Professor Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics); Wes Hines (Nuclear Engineering); Susan Riechert (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology); Jay Rubenstein (History); and Soren Sorensen (Physics and Astronomy). She joins Carol Tenopir (SIS) as CCI’s second Chancellor’s Professor out of 11 UT Chancellor’s Professors.

Allard, who was also named as the new CCI Board of Visitors Professor in March 2018, came to UT after completing her PhD in Communication at the University of Kentucky in 2003. During her academic career she has built an exemplary international leadership profile and her service to the School of Information Sciences, the college, the university and her profession has been extensive.

“Suzie Allard’s distinguished record of research, teaching, and service is recognized locally, nationally and internationally,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “She brings respect and renown to the University of Tennessee, the College of Communication and Information and the School of Information Sciences while tirelessly serving her students, colleagues, and profession.”

Allard is among the top 100 funded researchers at UT. Her continued success in obtaining grants from such organizations as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and other funding agencies is exemplary. Her outstanding work in this area makes her one of the top collaborative researchers nationally in the field of information sciences, most notably in the areas of research data management, science information, and team science.  She currently serves as co-PI and UT lead on the ten-year multi-million dollar NSF DataONE project, as well as serving as PI and co-PI on many other grants over the last decade.

In 2014, Allard was the winner of the national Library Journal Teaching Award. She has mentored dozens of master's and doctoral students over the last 15 years and taught a variety of graduate-level courses.

Land Grant Films Receives New Grants/Has Documentary Selected for Film Festival

New grants: Land Grant Films received a $10,000 award from the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and a $7,920 grant from Humanities Tennessee to support its production of 100 Million Stories, a documentary about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

7 Days in America from Medal of Honor Project on Vimeo.

Immigration Film Festival: 7 Days in America, a documentary produced by UT’s Land Grant Films, has been selected for screening at the Immigration Film Festival in Washington, DC.

The half-hour documentary follows Katie Willocks, a case worker from Bridge Refugee Services, as she helps a family of Burundian refugees resettle in Knoxville. The film was directed by School of Journalism and Electronic Media Associate Professor Nick Geidner with a crew of UT students.

“I’m so proud of my students’ work on this project,” said Geidner. “With the language barriers and other complexities, this film was a lot more work than some of our other projects, but our students rose to the task and produced a great film. We are excited to screen 7 Days in Washington, DC, and proud to be part of the Immigration Film Festival.”

The film was one of 17 selected out of more than 300 submissions. The festival runs October 26–28.

7 Days in America has already aired on East Tennessee PBS and won an award of excellence in the Broadcast Education Association’s Media Arts Festival faculty competition.

Geidner launched Land Grant Films in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media several years ago as a way to give students hands-on experience in documentary storytelling while providing no-cost video services for local nonprofit organizations.

Visit Immigration Film Festival for the IFF 2018 selections.

Kelly Appointed to iSchool Board of Directors

Diane Kelly

School of Information Sciences Director and Professor Diane Kelly has been elected to the inaugural iSchool Board of Directors.

The iSchool organization is dedicated to advancing the information field in the 21st century and serves a large international membership of information science schools, colleges, and departments.

The iSchool Board of Directors is comprised of members of the executive committee and several elected representatives from three regions of the world: Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. The iSchool organization was founded in 2005 and has expanded to include more than 80 institutions worldwide.

“Diane Kelly is an outstanding scholar, teacher, and administrator,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “Her innovative leadership and vision for the future of information sciences make her an excellent choice for the iSchool Board of Directors.”

Kelly was appointed as SIS director in 2016. She came to UT from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a professor in the School of Information and Library Science. Her research and teaching interests focus on interactive information search and retrieval, information search behavior, and research methods. Kelly is the current Chair of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group in Information Retrieval (SIGIR).

iSchools focus on maximizing the power of an interdisciplinary approach to human interaction with information and technology. They promote the information field, provide effective responses to strategic research and academic opportunity, support and solutions for shared challenges, and inform public policy on important topics such as dissemination, use, and preservation of information.

Members of the inaugural iSchool board of directors are:

Executive Committee:

  • Sam Oh (Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea) - Chair
  • Gobinda Choudhury (Northumbria University, United Kingdom) - Chair elect
  • Ron Larsen (University of Pittsburgh) - Past chair
  • Johannes Bauer (Michigan State University) - Treasurer
  • Keith Marzullo (University of Maryland - College Park) NA Regional chair
  • Ann-Sofie Axelsson (University of Borås, Sweden) - EU Regional chair
  • Miguel Nunes (Sun Yat-Sen University, China) - AP Regional chair
  • Michael Seadle (Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Germany) - Executive Director

Additional North American members:

  • Kristin Eschenfelder (University of Wisconsin- Madison)
  • Tom Finholt - (University of Michigan)
  • Diane Kelly (University of Tennessee - Knoxville)  
  • Gary Marchionini (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill)

Additional European member:

  • António Lucas Soares (University of Porto, Portugual)

Additional Asia-Pacific member:

  •  Bin Zhang (Renmin University, China)


2018 CCI Commencement Highlights

Commencement 2018

Interim Provost John Zomchick conferred degrees on 338 CCI spring and summer graduates (279 bachelor’s, 53 master’s and 6 doctoral) at the CCI Commencement held May 12, 2018 in Thompson Boling Arena. Larry Patrick (MS/C&I ’73 and CCI Board of Visitors member) delivered the commencement speech challenging the graduates to keep learning. “The knowledge of how to prepare content, to be objective, to write and edit well and to both speak and listen well are the keys to tomorrow for you,” said Patrick. He went on to urge the graduates to always conduct themselves with integrity and to help pave the way for future generations through service.

Chancellor’s Honors recipients and top graduates from each school major were recognized during the ceremony including Torchbearer Justin Crawford (JEM) and two graduates recognized for Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service – Kiah Albritton (PR) and Kianna Townsel (CS).

After the ceremony, graduates and their families attended a reception on the CCI Patio where they were greeted by Larry Patrick and several CCI faculty members and administrators. The summer-like weather and great views from the patio provided the perfect setting for taking photos and celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2018!

JEM Senior Andrew Capps Is 2018 Carnegie-Knight News21 Fellow

Andrew CappsAndrew Capps (JEM and PLSC ’18)is one of 26 students selected from journalism programs across the U.S., Canada, and Ireland to participate in the 2018 Carnegie-Knight News21 program. The News21 program was established by the Carnegie Corporation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate the potential of journalism students to conduct national investigations on major topics. This year’s topic is hate crimes in America.

The News21 fellows began their work with a seminar taught via video conferencing by former executive editor of The Washington Post, Leonard Downie Jr. and Pulizter Prize-winning journalist and News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel. With the completion of the spring semester, the fellows will be heading to Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21’s headquarters, to work out of the school’s newsroom and travel across the country to pursue their stories throughout the summer.

Capps focus is on the issues involving hate crimes in Tennessee and Kentucky. “It’s been really interesting to see how different counties report hate crimes, and how different the laws are regarding who is protected when hate crimes occur,” Capps said.

This year marks the fifth year in a row that the School of Journalism and Electronic Media has sent a competitively selected student to News21. While the Knight Foundation provides core support for the program, participating universities must provide additional financial support if one of their students is selected.

John and Patty WilliamsA generous donation, from John Williams (BS/JEM ’71 and chair of the CCI Board of Visitors) and his wife Patty (UT SIS Library Endorsement ’86), has made it possible for JEM to send one of its top journalism students to News21. John is the current CEO of the Regional Eye Center in Kingsport, Tennessee, and Patty, now retired, spent her career as a dedicated librarian at Abraham Lincoln Elementary and George Washington Elementary in Kingsport and at public elementary schools in Sevierville and Knoxville.

“Patty and I are both alumni of the college,” Williams said. “She is now retired as a public school librarian, and I have not been a working journalist for many, many years. But I still use my journalism skills every single day in my work.”

Looking for a way to give back to the college, they found the Carnegie-Knight News21 program through the college’s development office.

“We were looking at ways to get involved as a donor with the college, and we were given some ideas that were based on our interest area,” he said. “One of them was very much broadcast related, which dealt with my past. One was more academic, which dealt with my wife’s past. And then we were presented with this one, which had the journalism element as well as the academic support.”

School of Journalism and Electronic Media Director Catherine Luther expressed heartfelt gratitude for John and Patty’s support and emphasized the invaluable experience News21 has given to students. “The investigative projects that past recipients have worked on have been recognized by several leading journalism organizations in their award contests. All past recipients have secured excellent positions as journalists upon graduation and I’m quite sure News21 played a role in their success in doing so.”

Another Fulbright; UT Student Pushes Record-Setting Recipient Tally to 19

Tiana CastilloA 19th UT student—Tiana Castillo—has just been offered a Fulbright US Student Program award for the 2018–19 academic year, making this record-setting year even more impressive for the university.

In its history, UT has had 77 student Fulbright recipients, with its first in 1959. This year, UT had 52 Fulbright candidates and 27 semifinalists, with 19 students offered awards—all single-year records for the university. UT also has one alternate who could still receive an award. 

Castillo, of Nolensville, Tennessee, is a senior majoring in communication studies with a minor in religious studies. She will travel to Vietnam for an English teaching assistantship.

Larry Patrick to Deliver 2018 CCI Commencement Speech

Larry PatrickLarry Patrick (MS/C&I ’73) will deliver the 2018 College of Communication and Information commencement speech at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 in Thompson Boling Arena.

He is managing partner of Patrick Communications, a media investment banking and brokerage firm based in Maryland with over $7.5 billion worth of deals to its credit. The firm has sold over 600 radio stations and 160 television stations. Patrick also owns Legend Communications, a group of 22 small-market radio stations in Wyoming, and an interest in 14 major market television stations.

Patrick served as chairman of the board of ION Media Networks, a public company and operator of 60 full-power television stations across the country. He is also a former senior vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

He is on the board of numerous companies and charitable institutions including: a long time member and past chair of the UT College of Communication and Information’s Board of Visitors, treasurer of the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation, chair of the National Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation, chair of the Bayliss Foundation, and past president of the Broadcast Education Association and of the National Association of Media Brokers.

Patrick is the recipient of many awards including: the University of Tennessee’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, the UT College of Communication and Information’s Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award, the Broadcast Education Association’s Distinguished Education Service Award, Ohio University’s Outstanding Alumnus Award and the Broadcasters Foundation of America’s Ward L. Quaal Leadership Award. In 2017, he was named to Tennessee Alumnus Magazine’s list of the Top 100 University of Tennessee Alums. He is also a member of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media’s Hall of Fame and of the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

In addition to his master’s degree in communication from UT, Patrick holds a doctorate in communications and management from Ohio University and a law degree from Georgetown University.

“Larry Patrick is one of the finest individuals I have ever known,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “He is incredibly generous with his time, talent and treasure and is dedicated to making the world a better place. His generosity serves as an inspiration to current and future generations of the Volunteer Family, and he has had a profound effect on the College of Communication and Information and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.” 


CCI Students Recognized with Chancellor's Honors

A number of CCI students were recognized for their outstanding work at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet held April 17, 2018. Included in the list are three CCI students in the top two campus award categories: Justin Crawford as Torchbearer; Kiah Albritton and Kiana Townsel as recipients of the Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service Award. The list of all CCI students and the Chancellor’s Awards they received are listed below along with links to the associated 2018 Chancellor’s Honors Banquet Awards web pages. Please join us in congratulating these great students!

Justin CrawfordKiah AlbrittonKiana Townsel

Torchbearer (see

  • Justin Crawford, Journalism and Electronic Media

Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service (see

  • Kiah Albritton, Public Relations
  • Kiana Townsel, Communication Studies

Top Collegiate Scholar  (see

  • Madison Mayfield, Public Relations

Extraordinary Academic Achievement (see

  • Mary Ann Baker, Advertising
  • Beverly Banks, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Matt Batson, Advertising
  • Bailey Brown, Communication Studies
  • Austin Byerly, Public Relations
  • Ayla Eubanks, Public Relations
  • Joan Hargett, Advertising
  • Kelsie Jones, Communication Studies
  • Kelsey Krieger, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Christopher Manning, Communication Studies
  • Madison Mayfield, Public Relations
  • Jarrod Nelson, Public Relations
  • Whitney Padgett, Public Relations
  • Quinn Pilkey, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Hannah Price, Public Relations

Extraordinary Professional Promise (see

  • Beverly Banks, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Caroline Beach, Advertising
  • Austin Byerly, Public Relations
  • Andrew Capps, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Danielle Clark, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Justin Crawford, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Baker Donahue, Communication Studies
  • Ayla Eubanks, Public Relations
  • Mike Folks, Advertising
  • Laura Gamo, M.S. in Communication & Information
  • Shelby Greaves, Communication Studies
  • Johnesha Harris, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Savanna Jacoby, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Kelsey Krieger, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Madison Mayfield, Public Relations
  • Katie Mitchell, Communication Studies
  • Jarrod Nelson, Public Relations
  • Josh Oliver, Advertising
  • Lauren Parrish, Advertising
  • Rachel Ricker, Communication Studies
  • Ashley Sharp, Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Kathryn Truppo, Advertising
  • Xiaojia Zeng, M.S. in Communication & Information

Advertising and Public Relations Students Travel to Nashville for Networking Trip

Earlier this month, 25 UT advertising and public relations students traveled to Nashville to network with alumni and learn about various types of advertising and public relations opportunities.

Students at DVL SeigenthalerStudents at DVL Seigenthaler (left)

Students were accompanied by Maureen Taylor, director of the School of Advertising and Public Relations, and Lauren Ziegler, school coordinator.

“UT’s School of Advertising and Public Relations has so many great alumni who are passionate about helping current students,” Taylor said. “These types of trips help build relationships among students and alumni.”

Students were introduced to the strong alumni network in Nashville. The students met with a panel at the Country Music Association to learn about the work that goes into CMA Fest. The panel featured members of CMA’s marketing team, including UT alumna Mary Overend, the senior marketing manager.

Junior Abigail Cox, of Indianapolis, said the trip provided “the chance to make contacts in the agencies that I would like to work for after graduation, as well as a look into what working in an agency really looks like.”

Students at Tennessee Titans practice facilityStudents at the Tennessee Titans practice facility (left)

At MP&F Public Relations, students met senior partner Mark McNeely and partner Alice Chapman, both UT alumni.

Alumnus David Bohan gave students a tour of Bohan Advertising, his full-service advertising agency with clients such as Pigeon Forge and O’Charley’s. Some of UT’s Nashville alumni gathered for a networking social at the Bohan agency.

On Friday, students toured DVL Seigenthaler, a communications agency in Nashville.

“It was really cool to learn about their work with the Nashville Zoo, and we also got to hear from their current interns about their postgrad internship program. You could tell that they have a great company culture,” said Lauren Turner, a senior from Clarksville, Tennessee.

To end the trip, students met with Tennessee Titans social media manager Nate Bain. Bain is a graduate of UT’s sports management master’s program and led the students on a tour of the Titans’ practice facility.

“It was such a great experience getting to network with fellow UT alums and having the chance to see how successful graduates of CCI are and can be,” said Lauren Hood, a senior from Chattanooga.

The School of Advertising and Public Relations in the College of Communication and Information also offered experiential networking trips this year to New York, Atlanta, and Disney World.

Students’ Documentary to Be Featured in Nashville Film Festival

Welcome Home BrotherThe Nashville Film Festival has announced Welcome Home Brother, directed by School of Journalism and Electronic Media seniors Isaac Fowler and Tim Morris, as an official selection in its short documentary category.

The festival is an Academy Award–qualifying competition and received more than 6,000 entries for 2018.

Fowler and Morris’s eight-minute film documents the experiences of three Vietnam veterans as they find their voice in East Tennessee through the help of the Bill Robinson Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Association.

Welcome Home Brother is part of the Land Grant Films’ Defender of the Dream documentary. The project was produced in collaboration with East Tennessee PBS.

For this project, Morris, originally from San Diego, California, and Fowler, a native of Roane County, Tennessee, were paired with mentor Rich Middlemas. Middlemas, a 1997 JEM alumnus, is the Academy Award–winning producer of the feature documentary Undefeated.

Along with its selection for the Nashville Film Festival, Welcome Home Brother received first place in the short documentary category at the College Media Association’s film festival and is a finalist for the 2017 Tennessee AP College Contest Awards in TV specialized/topic reporting.

Welcome Home Brother became a family affair for the two students. Morris’s father did the voice-over and the film was dedicated to Fowler’s father, a Vietnam War veteran. 

“To be able to honor the documentary for my dad means more to me than any of these awards,” said Fowler. “It’s been a very special project.”

The full program for the Nashville Film Festival is scheduled for release later in April.

Land Grant Films was launched by Nick Geidner, a professor in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, several years ago as a way to give students hands-on experience in documentary storytelling while providing no-cost video services for local nonprofit organizations.

Documentary about Burundian Family to Air on PBS Sunday

UT JEM alumni, Ashley Sharp interviewing executive director of Bridge Refugee Services, Drocella Mugorewera. The documentary 7 Days in America, produced by UT’s Land Grant Films, will air on East Tennessee PBS at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 8.

Students in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media produced the documentary, which follows a case worker from Bridge Refugee Services as she helps a Burundian family settling into life in East Tennessee.

“Learning about refugees and the resettlement process was a humbling experience,” said Nick Geidner, journalism professor and director of 7 Days in America. “It was amazing to hear the stories about struggles these families have overcome to get to America and to be able to resettle in our city.”

Geidner launched Land Grant Films in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media several years ago as a way to give students hands-on experience in documentary storytelling while providing no-cost video services for local nonprofit organizations.

A total of 10 students were credited on the film working in various roles such as producers and camera operators.

This weekend, Geidner will receive an Award of Excellence in the Festival of Media Arts Faculty Competition at the Broadcast Education Association Conference in Las Vegas.


UT Grad Student Helps Community While Working on PBS’s Black in Appalachia

Juniper StarrJuniper Starr, a master’s student in information sciences, is helping to preserve the history of African-Americans in Appalachia.

Her work will be part of the East Tennessee PBS digital series Black in Appalachia. The project’s goal is to highlight the history of African-Americans in the development of the mountain South and its culture by collecting materials and narratives, engaging with the public and holding exhibitions.

After researching her own family history, Starr realized how much information is lost because people often don’t believe their stories are worth telling. So when the opportunity arose to work on this project, she was thrilled.

“My role in the Black in Appalachia project began as my School of Information Sciences practicum focused on collecting and digitizing historical material in the Greene County African-American community,” Starr said.

As a digital archivist, Starr scans in contributed materials and then categorizes the artifacts, images, and stories shared by people from the region.

While researchers have gathered materials from Tusculum College, the Greene County History Museum, and the Elmer T. Cox Memorial Library, many of the best items have come from community members themselves.

For instance, during a recent meeting of the Negro Women’s Civic Club in Greenville, Tennessee, area residents were filmed as they shared stories about themselves and their ancestors. They also brought in family photographs, newspaper clippings, home movies, and other historical documents.

Starr scanned these personal items into a computer, then saved the images on jump drives—keeping a copy for the Black in Appalachia project and giving another copy to the participants after returning their artifacts.

Starr will graduate in May and hopes to begin her career in an academic library working in archives and special collections.

She said her UT professors and mentors have been her biggest cheerleaders.

“They inspire me to reach for those far off dreams and give me the tools to make those dreams possible in both my personal life and career. I have found lifelong friends, not just colleagues.”


Donna Silvey (865-974-6727,