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After Whitewater Canoeing, Kerns Finds Grad School Smooth Sailing

Charli Kerns - Journalism PhD studentJournalism PhD student Charli Kerns has fought her way through whitewater rapids and cascaded over waterfalls in her canoe. Knowing that adrenalin rush, she doesn’t get too stressed out over research, writing, or teaching a class.

Kerns been an action sports enthusiast since being introduced to kayaking through UT’s Outdoor Pursuits during her undergraduate days on Rocky Top. She later picked up canoeing and now considers whitewater canoeing her main sport. She’s traversed waterways across the United States as well as in Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Germany, France, and India.

She’s managed to translate her love for action sports—the preferred term for what some people call “extreme sports”—into a career and now into her doctoral studies in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media in the College of Communication and Information. Her research focuses on how action sports media can help reimagine issues of gender in sport and culture.

For her dissertation, Kerns is looking at how female athletes are represented in Red Bull Media House, a global multiplatform media company that’s a leader in action sports news. Red Bull’s YouTube channel has 8.5 million subscribers.

Kerns is looking at why sports media so often downplay women’s sport—whether they consider it less interesting or less of a moneymaker for them—and the ramifications that has on society: “If a sports news outlet says women aren’t worth covering, what does that say . . . and does that lead to girls not being able to imagine themselves as big athletes?”

In addition to completing her own studies, she’s teaching multimedia reporting.

Kerns said the pure exhilaration of whitewater canoeing, stemming from fear, risk, and physical exertion, has given her a different perspective on the stress of everyday life.

“It’s so much easier to deal with deadlines and social expectations when you know, as close to firsthand as you’re going to get, how precious and short life is.”

Charli Kerns - WhitewaterKerns said “scary” is when you almost drown—or when you’re unable to save a friend from drowning. That’s what happened to her in an accident on the Little River.

“If you’ve been paddling long enough, you know someone that’s died,” she said.

To overcome her grief, she forced herself to go back out on the Little River and conquer the same rapids that claimed her friend’s life.

“Absolutely nothing holds focus better than whitewater paddling,” Kerns said. “It reminds me how small I am in the grand scheme of things. It’s taught me that the little things in life are not that big a deal.”

Born in Wyoming, Kerns moved with her family to South Knoxville after her dad retired from the military. She graduated from South Doyle High School. Kerns earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from UT in 2011 and her master’s degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University in 2012.

Once she was job hunting, she realized that most science and medical writing jobs would require living in a big city.

“I’m a mountain person,” she said.

So when she saw a job posted for an online editor for Canoe and Kayak magazine, she jumped at it. She was hired and relocated to San Clemente, California, where she began writing for Canoe and Kayak and other publications in the Adventure Sports Network.

After about two years on the job, writing about everything from epic fishing trips to Grand Canyon rafting to motoccross, she was sent on assignment to western North Carolina to do a story about whitewater paddling on the Green River. She fell in love with the place and the river.

She gave notice to the magazine, moved to Asheville, North Carolina, andlanded a job with the Hendersonville Times-News.

“I’d always had zero desire to work in newspaper, but I absolutely loved it,” she said. “Breaking news is one of the biggest highs you can get as a journalist.”

Kerns spent two years at the newspaper and another year teaching at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. All along, she continued to do contract writing and editing for a variety of outdoor and sport publications.

“I had always wanted to get a PhD and teach and study journalism,” she said. “I really want to do research and teach at a top-level university.”

Kerns applied to several schools but chose to come back home.

“I’m so very happy I chose UT,” she said, adding that the support of faculty has allowed her to meld two things she loves, journalism and action sports.

And getting to do it in Knoxville—which is close to some of the best whitewater paddling locales in the country—doesn’t hurt either.

“I can take a lunch break and paddle the Little River,” she said.

2019 CCI Commencement Highlights

2019 Graduation HighlightsUT Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis conferred degrees on 257 CCI spring graduates (213 undergraduate, 40 master’s, 4 doctoral) during CCI’s May 9, 2019 Commencement ceremony at Thompson Boling Arena. Summer graduates were also honored at the event.

Pinnacle Financial Partners Chairman Martha S. “Missy” Wallen (BA/CS ’73), a longtime member and former chair (2015-17) of the CCI Board of Visitors, delivered the commencement address in which she stressed the importance of fostering personal connections with others in an increasingly digital world.

Wallen said building relationships helped launch her career in the financial industry during a time when few women held leadership roles. Developing meaningful connections both in the workplace and outside of business helped her succeed in business, but more importantly, those friendships enriched her life.

“I realized that my true interest in human behavior had nothing to do with my getting ahead in business and everything to do with a sincere interest in people,” Wallen said. “Regardless of how people acted -- brash and outgoing or shy and reserved -- each needed to know one thing: that they mattered.  And mattered to whom?  Certainly not to their iPhone, Android, iPad, Siri or their Roomba! They wanted to know that they mattered to other people.”

Graduates and their families attended a reception in the Communication Building following the ceremony.

C&I doctoral graduate Jamie Greig was the student speaker at the UT Graduate Hooding Ceremony on May 9. Greig, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, studied communication law and policy in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. During his time at UT, he served as both senate chair and vice president of the UTK Graduate Student Senate.

In additional graduation news, read about the future plans of the top graduates from each of CCI’s schools and degree programs.

More CCI Commencement Coverage:

2019 Chancellor’s Honors

Longmire Reflects on How JEM Program Shaped Her into a Torchbearer

2019 SIS Hooding Ceremony Recap

2019 CCI Commencement Photo Gallery (Facebook)

2019 SIS Hooding Ceremony Photo Gallery (Facebook)




Information Sciences to Launch Undergraduate Major This Fall

New Information Sciences ProgramUT will launch the state’s first bachelor’s degree program in information sciences in the fall, Provost David Manderscheid announced today.

The program, approved by UT’s Board of Trustees in March, received final approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in May.

“Launching this program offers an exciting opportunity to build on our highly regarded graduate program, while positioning UT to recruit top students and prepare them to compete in a growing job sector,” Manderscheid said.

Faculty and administrators from the School of Information Sciences (SIS) in the College of Communication and Information (CCI) have worked for more than four years to make the new major a reality.

“We believe strongly that an undergraduate major in information sciences will allow us to increase the impact we make on the university, the state, and information professions,” SIS Director Diane Kelly said.

The major will have two areas of concentration: user experience design and data, information management, and analytics. Jobs requiring these concentrations are projected to grow by more than 36 percent in Tennessee by 2024, according to Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development estimates. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 27 percent job growth rate for data analysts and a 15 percent job growth rate for user experience designers.

Kelly said the undergraduate program will teach students to approach information problems from humanist, scientific, social, and computational perspectives. The curriculum will include courses on data management, analytics, and visualization; human-computer interaction and usability; web development and programming; and information literacy and ethics. She said the undergraduate program should create a natural path for more students to enter the existing information sciences graduate program.

“One of the most exciting things about starting an undergraduate major in information sciences is that it allows our field to have a much greater reach. Library and information scientists have been on the cutting edge of information management and services for decades,” Kelly said. “Educating people about the information sciences at the undergraduate level not only honors decades of scholars and practitioners who have worked to establish and define the field, it also helps elevate and make visible information professions.”

CCI Dean Mike Wirth said the new program will benefit the college and the university as a whole.

“It will attract new students to CCI and provide complementary courses to other college majors, allowing our students to develop skills and expertise that make them more competitive in their communication fields,” he said.

SIS and its master’s program—now ranked in the Top 20—was established in 1971. The school’s enrollment has quickly accelerated in recent years, which Kelly said is another indicator of growing interest in a field with expanding applications and possibilities.

Author, Actress Danica McKellar to Narrate Imagination Library Documentary

Danica McKellar and Dolly Parton work on the Imagination Library DocumentaryAuthor and actress Danica McKellar will narrate The Library That Dolly Built, the first feature-length documentary about Dolly Parton’s book gifting program, The Imagination Library, produced by Land Grant Films in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media. 

Land Grant Films provides UT students experience in documentary storytelling while providing local nonprofit organizations with videos that can be used to raise awareness and funds. Fifteen UT students worked on the film.

“We are honored to have Ms. McKellar work with us on this important project,” said Nick Geidner, who is a JEM associate professor, the director of Land Grant Films, and the director and producer of The Library That Dolly Built. “She was a pleasure to work with and incredibly generous with her time and talent.”

McKellar is an actress, mathematics writer, and education advocate. Her successful acting career includes her role as Winnie Copper on The Wonder Years, voiceover work in popular animated movies, and a number of movies on the Hallmark Channel. 

In addition to her acting work, McKellar has written eight books, all encouraging children, especially young girls, to have confidence and success in mathematics. Her book, Goodnight, Numbers, is currently included in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 

“I’ve admired Dolly Parton since childhood,” said McKellar, “and even more so upon learning of her Imagination Library. I can’t wait for the world to learn more about Imagination Library through this beautiful documentary, and I couldn’t be prouder to narrate it.”

Dolly Parton also was excited to have McKellar on board. 

“I was thrilled that Danica agreed to narrate our documentary,” Parton said. “She is the perfect person to help us tell our story. She is very talented and she has such a giving heart.”

The Library That Dolly Built—formerly 100 Million Stories—covers the history, impact and future of America’s largest nongovernmental children’s literacy program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. It features Parton's music and includes original interviews with recipients of the books, parents, policy makers, authors, program organizers, and Parton. 

Staff Profile: Gary Peterman

Gary Peterman at Graduation

By Josh Witt

A beloved figure at the University of Tennessee retired at the end of this semester. No, it’s not the coach of one of the university sports teams, and it isn’t a member of the university administration. His name is Gary Peterman, and he’s been here longer than many of the university’s more recognizable figures.

As an advisor for UT’s College of Communication and Information, Peterman has spent 31 years helping hundreds of students navigate their college careers.

“He knows his stuff,” Haley Harbin, a senior in the School of Journalism & Electronic Media, said. “It’s not just a job for him, it’s kind of like a mission. He knows how to help us, and he wants to help us get to that point of success in college.”

Peterman is Harbin’s advisor at UT, and she’s sad to see him go.

“I think the college has really benefitted from having him, and he will be sorely missed,” Harbin said. “I know some people who are coming into this college—you know, they’re in high school or they’re transitioning over here—and before I heard that he was retiring last week, I was planning on being like ‘Hey, you know, whenever you get an advisor, see if there’s a way you can request him, because he’s amazing.’”

Peterman wasn’t always an advisor at UT, though—he’s worked here for 31 years, and even attended UT, earning his bachelor’s degree as well as his master’s degree here. He worked at UT as a software analyst for some time before eventually becoming an academic advisor.

“I’ve enjoyed this more than anything,” Peterman said. “It’s easy for me to work in… I feel at ease with everyone, and I’m trying to set them at ease as well.

“I was a graduation specialist for a few years, so I’ve seen the very end of students, when they’re ready to graduate. So I’ve sort of seen them from A to Z.”

To better advise his students, Peterman takes a unique approach: he attends the classes that they’ll have to take.

“I was a history major as an undergraduate, and college student personnel as a graduate, so I knew nothing about advertising, public relations, journalism, any of those majors,” Peterman said. “So I would take my lunch hour and pick a particular class, and I went and attended them so I would have a better understanding of them. Because how could I talk to students if I didn’t know what I was talking about?”

Sometimes, he’ll just attend the first class period to get a better idea of what it’s about. Other times, he’ll attend multiple class periods throughout a semester. Sometimes, he’ll even attend a class for an entire semester. In all cases, he’s there so he can make better recommendations to his students.

“If you can relate back to a student what they’re going to be doing, I think it’s very beneficial. They don’t think that I’m just putting them through, ‘Well, you’re going to take this, you’re going to take this, and you’re going to take this,’” Peterman said. “It’s, ‘You’re going to take this because… and here’s what I know they go over.’”

Peterman’s wide-ranging knowledge of classes stood out to Harbin as they planned out her class schedule for this semester.

“My goal was to be here as little as possible,” Harbin said. “I went into his office and was like. . .  ‘I only want to be here on Tuesdays and Thursdays; I have these requirements I need to fulfill—what can I do to make sure I don’t have to be here more than that?’ He was like, ‘Okay, well here’s these online classes you can take. I took this one—it was really fun and really interesting. You would enjoy it.’

“It was something he knew and and something that was already in the back of his mind. He didn’t have to search for it. He knows his stuff, and that was always really impressive to me.”

Although Peterman doesn’t have kids of his own, he treats students like they’re his grandchildren, which he thinks sets him apart from other advisors.

“I’m older than most advisors, I’m 65—soon to be 66—and I sort of treat my students as grandchildren,” Peterman said. “I feel like I’m trying to protect them or help them.”

Although Peterman worked to help students, he also wanted them to take charge of their own college careers. He emphasized how the curriculums worked and what classes were necessary for their success. Sometimes, Peterman’s efforts would be so successful that he wouldn’t even have to advise a student.

“It always pleases me immensely when a student walks in and I don’t have to advise them—I sit here and say, ‘Tell me what you’re taking,’ and they tell me,” Peterman said.

While Peterman thinks his “grandchildren” mindset sets him apart, Harbin thinks his personality and ability to remember details about students is what makes him unique.

“He always remembered me as the Disney girl. So every time I’d go in, he’d be like ‘Miss Disney! How are you?’” Harbin said. “I don’t know what the other advisors are like, but I feel like he’s a special dude.”

Peterman has no specific plans for retirement and wants to “take it as it comes to [him].” With more time on his hands, he can read more of the history books he loves, spend evenings in his treehouse, go on hiking trips and build his skills as an amateur astronomer.

He says he’s looking forward to going to bed without worrying about the students he’s advising the next day.

“Having been here 31 years, advising has been the best job I’ve ever had. I hardly can think of a student I haven’t really liked or gotten along with,” Peterman said. “It’s very bittersweet for me.”

Peterman’s passion for advising will leave a strong impression on the students he helped, even after he retires.

“He cared about his job and he cared about his students,” Harbin said. “You can tell that.”

2019 CCI Outstanding Graduates: What's Next?

Outstanding Grads FeatureEvery graduate has that next step ahead, whether walking across the stage means a journey toward further education or the launching point of a career.

As graduation season returns to Rocky Top, here’s a look at the outstanding graduates from each CCI school and major including their future plans and how their majors prepared them for professional careers. 


Matthew Meyers (Memphis, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I am waiting to hear back from agencies to get a quality assurance job, but ultimately plan to move to New York.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“I think the degree has helped me grow into my role as an account management or strategy person.”


Emily Caylor (Cleveland, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I will be attending George Washington University Law School in Washington, D. C., in the fall.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“My degree has sharpened my reading and writing skills along with teaching me how to conduct research. These skills will be invaluable in law school and will serve as a foundation for the rest of my legal career.”

Kane Smith (Wolverhampton, United Kingdom)

What’s next?

“I will be attending American University's Washington College of Law to obtain a JD.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“Being able to study communication has allowed me to have a better understanding of how we send and receive messages, especially in a culturally diverse world, and has definitely helped me prepare for my future career as an attorney. Similarly, studying political science and Chinese has given me the tools I need to go into international law.”


Karen Held (Knoxville, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I’m continuing to work for the University of Tennessee and will hopefully find a job that will allow me to utilize my MSIS and MPA degrees to benefit the university.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“My service in the Navy and with the United Nations made me aware of a serious lack of information in real world situations. I witnessed events where information that was essential had been misplaced or lost. My degree program has given me the skills to start capturing and preserving information in ways that will hopefully help others in the future. I have already been able to help a few people at my current job with the digitizing of paper documents and the organization of their electronic documents in order to help them find information quickly. 

“What I enjoyed most about this program was my interactions with my professors and fellow distance education students. Keeping in touch with students geographically located in other areas has given me a broader picture of what is happening in information sciences across the United States."


Abby Bower (Knoxville, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“Over the summer I will be completing a full-time internship in the communications office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where I will focus on science writing. After that, I will pursue permanent employment.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“My degree program has prepared me for my career because I have had so many amazing faculty members who have taken a vested interest in my success. Not only did they prepare me for my career through their carefully designed course content and assignments but also by always taking extra time to help me improve my writing -- whether that was environmental writing, feature writing, editing, or writing for documentary film. I also think the School of Journalism and Electronic Media excels in its commitment to helping students get real-world experience through practicum and internship programs. My practicum at WBIR-TV in Knoxville allowed me to have real newsroom experience as early as the summer after my freshman year. At UT, you can also get real-world experience through student media programs. For example, the aspect of the journalism program I enjoyed the most was working on documentary films with Land Grant Films. Land Grant taught me how to approach a project professionally, conduct research, lead interviews and tell a story. Additionally, it gave me the opportunity to have some of the coolest experiences of my life, including interviewing Dolly Parton! Lastly, I was fortunate enough to take advantage of the CCI Global Scholars Program to study abroad for a semester in Sydney, Australia. This opportunity, which combined studying and interning abroad, is one of my favorite memories from my time at UT because it taught me valuable life lessons about adapting to new cultures.”


Cara Hunter (Mount Juliet, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I plan on graduating in December 2019. This summer I will be interning with Parachute Media, a digital advertising agency, in East Nashville. After graduation I hope to move to Nashville and work at a creative agency to expand my skill set and network. This experience will prepare me for my long term goal of starting my own public relations firm.”

How did your program prepare you for your career?

“The School of Advertising and Public Relations within the College of Communication and Information has challenged and shaped me into the young professional I am today. While I learned many valuable lessons and skills in the classroom, such as graphic design, strategic messaging and advanced writing skills, ADPR also pushed me to become a better professional and human every day. By providing opportunities for internships and career development, I experienced hands on learning in content creation, social media analytics and so much more, which will help me define myself during my job search. Finally, ADPR provided me with a family. At a university as large as UT, it is reassuring to know you have a group of faculty and staff that care about you and want to help you succeed. Finding your place in college can be a difficult journey, but ADPR made it easy to call UT home.”


Hannah Whitson (Kingsport, Tennessee)

What’s next?

“I am hoping to become the public relations coordinator for Regal Entertainment Group.”

How did your program prepare you for your degree?

“My degree has prepared me for my career in many ways. It has developed my understanding of intercultural communications and strategic planning. I feel confident in my abilities and knowledge as I enter the working world. I am most appreciative for the relationship and connections I have gained through CCI’s amazing faculty, staff and students. Serving as an ambassador for the college allowed me to share my love for my college with prospective students and alumni. As I enter this new chapter of my life, I will continue to hold my CCI experience very near and dear to my heart.”

April 2019: Faculty/Staff Notes


Longtime CCI staff members Diana Hall and Gary Peterman recently retired after dedicating their careers to tirelessly helping students behind the scenes. We wish them all the best in their retirement! 

Diana Hall - Retirement

Hall served as administrative services assistant to the CCI Associate Dean for Academic Programs and worked at UT for 26 years (1992-2018). Her primary work was with graduate students, assisting them from recruitment through graduation. She retired earlier this year but continued to work part-time to help out until her successor, Margaret Taylor, was in place.

Gary Peterman - Retirement

Peterman retired after 31 years at UT (1976-81, 1990-94, 1995-2019). He served as a senior advisor in the CCI Center for Undergraduate Studies and Advising and spent countless hours advising and helping CCI undergraduates throughout his career.


Maureen Taylor Leaving

Professor and Director of the School of Advertising and Public Relations Maureen Taylor is leaving the University of Tennessee at the end of May to become a professor of Strategic Communication in the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. Although her primary office will be on the other side of the world, she will still remain a part of UT’s research team for the interdisciplinary Russian misinformation campaign study, which recently received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative.

ADPR Professor Sally McMillan will serve as interim director of ADPR effective June 1, 2019. She has been a CCI faculty member since 1999. Prior administrative roles in which McMillan has served at UT include: UT Vice Provost for Academic Affairs (2010-15) and CCI Associate Dean for Academic Programs(2005-09).  


Margaret Taylor has moved from the CCI Center for Undergraduate Studies and Advising to the Office of the CCI Associate Dean for Academic Programs, where she is now the administrative services assistant.

Abigail Blanker is an advisor in the CCI Center for Undergraduate Studies and Advising, coming to UT from Pacific Lutheran University where she was the Transfer Student Success Advisor.

Karli Sanders is CCI’s marketing and communication specialist, a brand-new role for the college. She is an advertising graduate from UT (BS ’10) and spent nine years in various positions at Scripps Networks Interactive and Discovery. She was most recently a marketing and sales specialist for McHale Performance, a Knoxville-based engineering firm. 

April 2019: Student News


Reed Shaw (MS C&I) and Jorden Albright (JEM) were two of 35 students nationally selected into the prestigious IRTS Summer Fellowship Program, which runs June 2 to Aug. 3 in New York City. Shaw’s internship will be with Katz Media Group, the largest media rep firm in the United States, and Albright’s internship will be with WABC-TV. Albright was named the IRTS University of Tennessee Fellow Sponsored by Larry Patrick (MS/C&I '73 and a member of the CCI Board of Visitors).

NFL Draft Experience in Nashville


JEM Assistant Professor Mike Martinez accompanied JEM students Will Boling, Elizabeth Profit, Cory Sanning, and Tyler Wombles on an NFL Draft behind-the-scenes media experience April 24 in Nashville, Tennessee. The group was on hand for media interviews with NFL Network personalities, a taping of 10 Burning Questions with Daniel Jeremiah, and one-on-one time with Charles Davis (BS/Political Science ‘86), the former Tennessee Volunteer and noted television football analyst.


At the annual EUReCA Awards, CS senior Dara Carney-Nedelman received an Office of Research and Engagement Silver Award and first place in the CCI award competition for “AUIGTROSAI (Acronym Usage in Groups: The Relationship of Socialization and Identification)” with faculty mentor CS Assistant Professor Emily Paskewitz. CS senior Emily Caylor took second in the CCI division for “Family Communication Patterns and Advice Response Theory: How Emerging Adults View Parental Advice on Money” with faculty mentor CS Associate Professor Courtney N. Wright.


Technical Writing AwardsFive students, who studied science writing with JEM Professors Mark Littmann and Julie Andsager, won top honors for science writing and technical/professional writing from the Society for Technical Communication – East Tennessee Chapter. The annual J. Paul Blakely Awards were May 1 and included a cash prize and certificate.

JEM senior Abby Bower earned an Award of Distinction in the undergraduate science writing division for “ORNL Scientist Isolates Potentially Disease-Causing Microorganism.” Bower, who was recently named JEM’s top graduating senior, will start a science writing internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) this summer.

JEM junior Christy White received an Award of Excellence in the undergraduate science writing division for “Enter to Learn. Go Forth to Serve,” which chronicled a Fulton High School teacher’s environmental education program with the Tremont Institute. This summer, White will be starting her second science writing internship with ORNL in a different division.

Chloe Lash earned an Award of Distinction in the graduate science writing division for “The Invisible Drivers: Why We Should Care about What We Cannot See.” Lash is a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Megan Lilly took home an Award of Excellence for “Into the Quantum Realm.” Lilly is a doctoral student in energy science and engineering, a Bredesen Center interdisciplinary ORNL-UT doctoral program.

Evan Newell, a senior in chemical engineering, received an Award of Distinction in the undergraduate technical/professional writing category for “Polymers to the People: Making Polymer Science More Readable.”


The School of Communication Studies inducted 19 members into the Alpha Gamma chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s official honor society. New members include: Caroline Ambrose, Annie-Europa Ankamah-Asamoah, Chloe Bilbrey, Jessica Black, Isaac Carver, Max Davenport, Jennifer Edwards, Shannon Evans, Ellen C. Henson, Emily Kirk, Regan Lyrek, Hailey Manus, Jennie McBrayer, Olivia Motsay, Allie Norris, Nicole Payne, Ann Marie Simpson, Lilli Tillman, and Darby Wood.

McClung Speech Contest Winners


The School of Communication Studies’ Charles J. McClung Speech Contest, the largest public speaking contest in the Southeast, was held in April. The semi-annual contest features all students enrolled in CMST 210: Public Speaking. This semester’s top finishers included: 1. Jordan Henegar (Biological Sciences), 2. Jackson Long (Business Administration), 3. Jake Lester (Marketing), 4 Eugene (Gen) Kim (Business Administration), and 5. Seth Davis (Business Analytics).

The school also completed its second Smokey Talks speech competition featuring students from CMST 240: Business and Professional Communication. This semester’s event was organized by lecturers Kathy Braun and Lorna Keathley and was judged by more than 900 students enrolled in the course. 1. Maxwell Gustafson (Arts & Sciences Exploratory), 2. Kellie May (PR), 3. Allie Marcom (CS), 4. Nia Myrthil (JEM), and 5. Robinson Walsh (Kinesiology) and Bella Reed (English). 

ADPR in Atlanta


Sixteen students from the School of Advertising and Public Relations took a three-day pre-professional development trip to Atlanta in April to gain understanding of different professional possibilities, including ones outside standard agency work. The group visited the digital media team for the Atlanta Braves: MELT, a full-service agency that specializes in sports and culinary business; United Way of Greater Atlanta; Edelman, the largest PR agency in the world; and the national headquarters for Home Depot. CCI Board of Visitors member Amy Corn hosted a dinner and attended sessions with the group.


Twenty-four master’s students from the School of Information Sciences attended the second-annual SIS School Trip to attend the 2019 Tennessee Library Association (TLA) Conference in Chattanooga. SIS covered the cost of transportation, conference registration and board for the student attendees.

“I would highly recommend students attend future SIS trips because they’re enriching in a multitude of ways," MSIS student Heather Doncaster said. “The knowledge gleaned from attending conference sessions, roundtables, site visits, behind-the-scenes tours, and receptions, was invaluable.”


SIS Assistant Professor Xiaohua (Awa) Zhu received a 2019 Summer Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) grant from the University of Tennessee Office of Research and Engagement to support MSIS student Amy Moore during summer 2019. The grant provides research support for Zhu to continue her work on digital ownership and possession.

“This is very helpful because I need someone to help me with data collection, literary review and data analysis,” Zhu said. “Moore can analyze the interviews to get a sense of how people feel, and what people say about this. We can then design a survey based on the interview data.”


Two CCI members of the swimming and diving team were named to the SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll: swimmer Ty Powers (CS) and diver Ana Celaya Hernandez (JEM). To be listed on the conference honor roll, a student-athlete has to be a non-freshman with a 3.0 or higher GPA for a year. Transfer students must be enrolled for an entire academic year to be considered.


April 2019: Class Notes

CCI Grads: Did you get a new job? Maybe that doctoral degree or that next big promotion? Let us know by filling out this form.


Richard Beaty (BA/CS ’90) is the Associate Director of Admissions at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama.

Justin Crawford (BS/JEM ‘18) is an entertainment and lifestyle group assistant for NBCUniversal Media in New York City.

Bobby Fricks (BA/CS ’16) is a marketing coordinator for East Tennessee Spine & Sport Physical Therapy in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Courtney Gardner (BA/CS ’18) is a social media and event coordinator for Real Estate Investors of Nashville, Tennessee.

Cynthia Lozano (BS/PR ’16) is a database marketing specialist at TransUnion in Boca Raton, Florida.

Margo Pressley (BS/JEM ’12) is the event manager at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  

Jeff Roberts (BA/CS ’15) is the communication coordinator for the University of Tennessee School of Music.

Catch the rest of the year's updates here. 

April 2019: Alumni News

Beverly Banks (BS/JEM ’18) received the White House Correspondents’ Association’s 2019 Deborah Orin Scholarship. She is pursuing a  Master’s of Science in Journalism with a focus on Politics, Policy, and Foreign Affairs at Northwestern University and plans to work as a political correspondent in Washington, D.C. Read more here.

Julia Small (BA/CS ’96), Knoxville Police Department Technical Services Supervisor, was named the 2018 Knoxville Police Department Employee of the Year in April. She and the Technical Services Unit successfully upgraded the KPD analog radio system to digital, the first major change to the communication system in nearly 30 years. Read more here.

Isaac Wright (BS/JEM ’03 & CCI Board of Visitors Member) and his company Forward SSG won five top honors at the 2019 Pollie Awards, an annual national contest sponsored by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC). Awards included: Overall – Ballot Initiative Division, Best Digital or Internet Campaign; Overall – Ballot Initiative Division, Best Direct Mail Campaign; Digital/Internet – Ballot Initiative Division, Digital Creative – Full Set; Digital/Internet – Candidate Division, Internet Advertising – Mayor; and Digital/Internet – Candidate Division, Internet Advertising – Local/Municipal/Regional. Read more here.

Students Win Five Tennessee AP Awards

AP AwardsThe University of Tennessee garnered five first-place honors at the annual Tennessee Associated Press Broadcasters and Media Editors college journalism competition. Final results were announced Saturday, April 28, at the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

One first-place award took a true team effort from the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. Senior Lecturer Melanie Faizer’s course, Digital News Reporting (JEM 350), won the college media website division for its multimedia online project, “Eviction: Stories from Tennessee.” The collaborative website started in fall 2018 and takes an in-depth look at eviction laws and stories from around the state. 

The Daily Beacon Editor-In-Chief Kylie Hubbard (JEM) and staff writer Cat Trieu (Interdisciplinary Programs) scored a win in the online ongoing coverage division for their coverage of the student programming allocation committee.

Elisa Razak (Graphic Design) took first place in news graphic/illustration division for her work with The Daily Beacon, where she has served as a design editor.

Jake Albright (JEM) earned his second win in the college television division, this time for the TV news story, “Tennessee’s Structurally Deficient Bridges.” Last year, he took first in the television reporter category.

In the radio division, Levi Johnson (JEM) placed first for his specialized/topic reporting piece, “UT Professor Suggests Climate Change as Reason for Warmer Fall Weather.”

Razak, Albright, and Johnson were also recognized with best of show scholarships.

In addition to her win with Trieu, Hubbard placed second in the newspaper reporter division for her article, “Campus Community, the Rock Sets Stage for Free Speech Battle.”

The Daily Beacon Campus News Editor Gabriela Szymanowska (JEM) finished second in investigative/in-depth reporting for “Campus Fraternity Investigated for Scavenger Hunt Targeting Asian Students.” Colin Sawyer (JEM) was second in the television reporter category for his piece, “Protesters Oppose White Nationalists.”



College Newspaper Division

News Graphic/Illustration: 1. Elisa Razak, The Daily Beacon

Investigative/In-Depth Reporting: 2. Gabriela Szymanowska, The Daily Beacon, “Campus Fraternity Investigated for Scavenger Hunt Targeting Asian Students”

Newspaper Reporter: 2. Kylie Hubbard, The Daily Beacon, “Campus Community, the Rock Sets Stage for Free Speech Battle”

College Online Division

College Media Website: 1. University of Tennessee, JEM 350, “Eviction Stories from Tennessee”

Online Ongoing Coverage: 1. Kylie Hubbard and Cat Trieu, The Daily Beacon, “Student Programming Allocation Committee”

Radio Division

Radio Specialized/Topic Reporting: 1. Levi Johnson, “UT Professor Suggests Climate Change as Reason for Warmer Fall Weather”

College Television Division

TV News Story: 1. Jake Albright, “Tennessee’s Structurally Deficient Bridges”

Television Reporter: 2. Colin Sawyer, “Protesters Oppose White Nationalists”

2019 Chancellor's Honors

Thirty-one CCI students and one faculty member earned 40 total awards at the annual Chancellor's Honors Banquet, which was held April 16.

Chancellor's Professor Carol Tenopir was named the Macebearer, the University of Tennessee's highest faculty honor celebrating a distinguished career and a commitment to students, scholarship, and society. Tenopir's research in information sciences has been cited more than 10,000 times and has garnered more than $10 million in funding. 

Senior Journalism and Electronic Media major Elizabeth Longmire was one of just seven graduating seniors who earned the university's highest student honor of Torchbearer. 

Below is a listing of all CCI award winners: 


• Carol Tenopir, SIS Chancellor’s Professor/BOV Professor/CCI Interim Associate Dean for Research


• Elizabeth Longmire, JEM

Top Collegiate Scholar

• Abby Bower, JEM

Extraordinary Academic Achievement

• Abby Bower, JEM

• Dara Carney-Nedelman, CS

• Emily Caylor, CS

• Loren Gilbert, PR

• Sophie Grosserode, JEM

• Joan Hargett, AD

• Cara Hunter, PR

• Callie Johnson, PR

• Katherine Matthews, PR

• Matthew Meyers, AD

• Alyson Parris, JEM

• Kane Smith, CS

• Sarah Wilbanks, AD

Extraordinary Professional Promise

• Jacob Albright, JEM

• Jorden Albright, JEM

• Katherine Armitage, CS

• Hailley Baker, AD

• Peyton Cantrell, PR

• Dara Carney-Nedelman, CS

• Anslee Daniel, JEM

• Loren Gilbert, PR

• Jamie Greig, PhD C&I

• Sophie Greig, JEM

• Joan Hargett, AD

• Cara Hunter, PR

• Andrew Kochamba, AD

• Katherine Matthews, PR

• Hunter McClure, AD

• Matthew Meyers, AD

• Chelsea Ott, PR

• Lindsey Owen, MS C&I

• Cassandra Ray, PhD C&I

• Kane Smith, CS

• Fiona Sparks, PR

• Chelsea Trott, CS

• David Wall, AD

• Hannah Whitson, PR

Longmire reflects on how JEM program shaped her into a Torchbearer

Elizabeth Longmire receives 2019 Torchbearer awardGrowing up in Corryton, Tennessee, just 15 miles north of Knoxville, senior Elizabeth Longmire always knew where she wanted to go to school.

The Volunteer Spirit at the University of Tennessee is more than just about wearing orange and white. It is about being challenged by peers and professors to grow into the best possible individual and collaborating with others to make positive societal changes.

Longmire, who graduated in May with a degree in journalism and electronic media and a minor in political science, is being honored for exemplifying those very qualities.

She is one of seven graduating seniors named 2019 Torchbearers: the highest student award given at UT for recognition of academic achievement, leadership, and service.

“Seeing the energy and love that goes into being a Tennessee Volunteer is what made me so excited and passionate to be a Volunteer when it came time to join as a first-year student,” Longmire said. “That is just reinforced to me every single day as I walk on this campus.”


While attending a rare Monday meeting for her Delta Zeta sorority chapter, Longmire was surprised when Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis arrived––bouquet of balloons in hand––to announce the news of her honor.

Longmire said she knows the description sounds like something out of a movie, but the experience of receiving the award while surrounded by her friends was “one of the most overwhelming and humbling moments of my life.”

Leadership has been one of Longmire’s standout qualities during her four years on campus. Among many roles, she has served as president of the Panhellenic Council, a leadership group of 13 women’s sororities on campus. She has also held leadership roles in Delta Zeta and recently represented the sorority as part of the Fraternal Relations Governing Coalition in Washington, D.C.


Longmire’s academic journey will not end when she walks across the graduation stage in Thompson-Boling Arena. She will pursue a Master’s in Higher Education at the University of South Carolina.

“The way staff and faculty pour into their commitment to their work and challenge you to be your best self is truly why I believe I applied to graduate school in the first place,” Longmire said. “I wanted to continue my education and understand how I can impact other students as well.”

Her experience at Tennessee, as a student and campus leader, is what inspires her future career. She wants to work in university leadership, perhaps as a dean of student life, so that she can inspire and develop future generations of students.

JEM INSPIRATIONInterim Chancellor Wayne Davis presents Longmire with Torchbearer award at her sorority meeting

Longmire was active in JEM opportunities from the start. She still remembers attending an orientation meeting for The Volunteer Channel (TVC) her first week on campus. Currently, Longmire serves as an associate producer, floor manager, and an anchor for TVC.

"Besides being intelligent, talented and driven, she's always been an extraordinary team player,” TVC and JEM Production Specialist Clint Elmore said. “She is ever ready to take up slack without complaint, whether it's reporting, producing or working a camera.”

As a sophomore, she joined the Society of Professional Journalists East Tennessee student chapter and served as fundraising coordinator. During her junior year, she attended an SPJ trip to New York City to tour national media outlets and network with Tennessee alumni.

In May 2018, Longmire traveled to Washington, D.C., to work as a fellow for the Washington Program of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. JEM Director and Professor Catherine Luther recommended Longmire for the program and one of the JEM program donors provided a scholarship to make the trip possible. While in D.C., Longmire worked alongside the nation’s top public servants, researchers, and journalists to learn more about public policy.

Whether she was preparing for anchoring UT Today or working toward an internship, Longmire said the JEM professors were always there to help her understand her full potential in the classroom and as a student on campus. She was particularly grateful to two mentors: Luther for her leadership example and Professor Sam Swan for always challenging her to perform to the best of her ability as a student and in everyday life.

Professors and news organizations took notice of her skillset and constant drive for improvement.

“Elizabeth has all the qualities that embody a Torchbearer,” Luther said. “She has excelled in her academic studies and taken on important leadership positions both within and outside of the university. Her Volunteer Spirit is quite impressive. I’ll add that what I believe makes Elizabeth distinct is that she is able to take on so much while maintaining a calm demeanor. I think it will serve her well in her future career.”

During her collegiate career, Longmire obtained two internships––one at Knoxville's NBC affiliate WBIR and another at ABC affiliate WATE. During the summer and fall of 2017, Longmire served as a news intern and television reporting intern at WATE. Following that opportunity, she secured a newsroom internship at WBIR during the summer of 2018.

“Elizabeth is a very creative storyteller in TV news, displaying a rare talent for on-camera performance,” Swan said. “Her writing and reporting skills helped her gain an internship at WBIR-TV, where she excelled as a video journalist.”

While her career plans might not involve sitting behind a news desk, Longmire honed leadership and collaboration skills through the School of Journalism and Electronic Media that she can use daily as a university leader.

“Looking at my major, I am grateful for those hands-on experiences and internships outside of the classroom that have helped me understand just how great the impact journalism has right now on the UT community and the Greater Knoxville community,” Longmire said.

Story by Amanda Pruitt and Chelsea Babin

Photos submitted by Elizabeth Longmire

CCI Global Scholars Attend Reception for US Ambassador in Sydney

US AmbassadorTwenty-one students from the College of Communication and Information who are studying abroad and interning in Australia recently attended a reception honoring UT alumnus and US Ambassador Arthur “A.B.” Culvahouse Jr. at the Consul General’s residence in Sydney.

“When Consul General Sharon Hudson-Dean learned there was a class of UT students studying in Sydney, she worked with her staff to invite the students to the reception knowing both they and Ambassador Culvahouse would be pleased to make the connection,” said Noah Rost, director of the Programs Abroad Office and associate director of the Center for International Education.

Each spring, the CCI Global Scholars program sends advertising, communication studies, journalism and electronic media, and public relations students to Australia for a 13-credit-hour study abroad program. They take a UT course on intercultural communication, a course taught at the University of Sydney on the history and culture of Australia, and then complete an internship in Sydney. The program is led by Laura Miller, associate professor in the School of Communication Studies, and supervised by Sam Swan, director of internationalization and outreach in the college.

Students who attended the reception were: Kerri Adkins of Chesterfield, Virginia; Colton “J.P.” Banville of Hendersonville, Tennessee; Kristina Bone, APO AE (armed forces, Europe); Jacob Boughter of Memphis; Julia Dergunov of Ooltewah, Tennessee; Molly Domkowski of Knoxville; Holly Fahy of Fairview, Tennessee; Reagan Homan of Brentwood, Tennessee; Alyssa Johnston of Greeneville, Tennessee; Hannah Keil of Knoxville; Ainsley Kelso of Medina, Tennessee; Hannah Knoch of Nashville; Missy Krest of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Kate Luffman of Cory, Pennsylvania; Kaila Marcum-French of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Abby McGee of Glen Ellyn, Illinois; Kristen Peters of Oakton, Virginia; Ashton Smith of Franklin, Tennessee; Hannah Stanley of Brownsville, Tennessee; Marcella Tocco of Glen Head, New York; and Becca Wells of Waxhaw, North Carolina.

Culvahouse, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from UT before going on to law school at New York University, was the chair of O’Melveny & Meyers, an international law firm, and also served as counsel to President Ronald Reagan. He also helped John McCain and President Donald Trump vet vice presidential candidates. Trump nominated him to be ambassador in November 2018, and after being confirmed by the Senate and approved by Australian officials, he took office in March.


Wallen to Deliver CCI Commencement Address

Missy WallenChairman of Pinnacle Financial Partners and University of Tennessee graduate Martha S. “Missy” Wallen will deliver the commencement address at the University of Tennessee College of Communication and Information’s commencement ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena on May 9 at 4 p.m.

Wallen is a longtime member and former chair (2015-2017) of the CCI Board of Visitors and has been an influential leader in the Knoxville community during her more than 40 year career in the financial services industry.

In July 2014, Wallen was named chairman of Pinnacle Financial Partners, a Middle Tennessee-based bank system with operations in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. She previously served as regional president for Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T) in Knoxville from 2007-13.

She started her banking career as a teller at First National Bank and steadily rose up the industry ranks, holding leadership positions at Valley Fidelity Bank and Trust Company, Bank of East Tennessee, and BankFirst, which was acquired by BB&T in 2000.

In addition to serving on the CCI Board of Visitors, Wallen is a past board member and executive committee member of the UT Knoxville Alumni Association. She also served as a member of UT Knoxville’s Chancellors Associates.

Her volunteer civic work and board service include: board member and audit chair of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee; vice chairman of The Development Corporation of Knox County; past treasurer of the Executive Women’s Association; past chairman of the American Red Cross, Knoxville Area Chapter; past chairman of The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra; and member of the Great Smoky Mountain Sertoma. She was part of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 2004.

Wallen has won a number of awards including: the 2017 UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors Alumni Service Award, the 2006 BB&T East Tennessee Region President’s Award, and Knoxville Catholic High School’s Volunteer Coach’s Award. In recognition of her tremendous generosity and support of CCI, The Martha S. Wallen Classroom was dedicated in her honor on March 5, 2010. In 2016, Wallen created the William H. Swain Endowed Professorship, in honor of her father, in CCI’s School of Communication Studies.

Wallen graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Theater. She later earned a degree from from the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University (’88) and completed the Owen School of Management Executive Leadership Program at Vanderbilt University (’99).

Wallen is married to Joe B. Wallen Jr. They have two daughters: Hallie Elizabeth and Marianne Connolly.

JEM Students Tour Media Companies in Atlanta

JEM students at SkillshotA group of students from the School of Journalism and Electronic Media took a trip to Atlanta during Spring Break to network and meet with professionals from a variety of media companies.

The three-day tour of companies included both traditional outlets and new media companies that work in the fast-growing field of esports.

The JEM students were members of the Society of Professional Journalists and/or part of The Volunteer Channel (TVC). Faculty and staff on the trip included JEM Director and Professor Catherine Luther, Howard Distinguished Endowed Professor of Media Management and Law and Beaman Professor of Journalism and Electronic Media Stuart N. Brotman, and Video Production Specialist Clint Elmore.

JEM alumna Amy Corn (JEM ’88 and CCI Board of Visitors member) hosted a group dinner at Barcelona and helped facilitate several stops on the tour. She is a corporate communications executive who has worked with several multi-billion dollar companies during her career.

The tour started Monday, March 18, with a visit to Axis Replay, an entertainment and event facility that specializes in esports. The facility, opened in 2018, hosts video game events and high-tech conferences.

Additional video game tour stops included Hi-Rez Studios, an independent game developer responsible for indie hits like Smite (2014) and Paladins (2016), and Skillshot Media, an esports tournament operator and production company that is a subsidiary of Hi-Rez. UT alumnus Nicholas Bashore (JEM ’16), a senior community manager for Skillshot, talked with the group during the visit.

The JEM group also visited several public relations and international communications companies including: the Arketi Group, a PR and digital marketing agency that builds strategy with business-to-business technology organizations; Porter Novelli, an international PR group; and Cox Enterprises, the global conglomerate that also includes Cox Communications and Cox Media Group.

No communication tour of Atlanta would be complete without a trip to the CNN World Headquarters, where the group met with UT alumna Tori Blasé (JEM ’93 and Emeritus member of CCI’s Board of Visitors), who is CNN supervisor and executive producer for the Anderson Cooper Show. The JEM group also stopped by CBS 46, the Atlanta CBS affiliate.

“My goal was to allow the students to understand the varied ways they could apply the knowledge and skill sets they have been learning in our school,” Luther said. “All of the media firms the students visited provided valuable insight into their organizations and tips on how to secure a position upon graduation. I am so grateful to our alumni members Amy Corn and Tori Blasé for using their connections to make arrangements for our visits.”

JEM student and Campus News Editor of The Daily Beacon Gabriela Szymanowska said the trip really broadened her perspective of where her journalism degree could take her after graduation.

"The trip to Atlanta was an amazing opportunity for us to network and open our minds when it comes to being journalists,” Szymanowska said. ”During our courses, we get this set idea of what careers we can go into. For me personally, I am now rethinking my career path in a more creative way, possibly going into marketing where my love of writing and photography can still play a huge part in what I do." 

The visits with professionals reinforced the importance of tailoring resumes and cover letters to the specific needs of employers. It also allowed students to make connections that will help them find a career path when they graduate.

March 2019: Class Notes

Adam Alteri (BS/JEM ’12) is a producer for House Hunters International, which airs programs on HGTV. He works with a third-party production company hired by Discovery and puts together entire episodes, from story and locations to interview questions and schedule.

Josie Secher Ballin (BS/JEM ’89) is director of marketing and donor engagement for ArtsMemphis, the city’s largest arts support and funding resource for arts-mission based organizations in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee.

Bruce Colbert’s (BS/JEM ’70) ninth book, Deuteronomy, will be published this summer by Blue Jade Press. The book chronicles the unknown conspiracy in the shooting death of Martin Luther King Jr.

Mike Costa (BS/JEM ’85) is vice president and general manager of the Alabama News Network in Montgomery, Alabama. The network consists of CBS, ABC, and CW affiliated stations.

Susan DeBonis (BS/JEM ’78 & PhD/C&I ’86) and J. Nicholas DeBonis (PhD/C&I ’87) are the Innkeepers for York House Inn in Rabun Gap, Georgia, the oldest operating bed and breakfast in Georgia. The venue is undergoing extensive renovations and will reopen in early 2020.

Andrew Plant (BS/AD ’88), principal of Plant Communications, joined the board of Star-C Programs, an Atlanta-based nonprofit sustainable model providing afterschool programs and other wraparound services to affordable housing communities. He chairs the board’s communications committee. Plant Communications is a virtual public relations agency primarily partnering with entrepreneurs in professional and financial services.

Charise Ragland (BS/JEM ’86) was promoted to director of national feed & gathering for the NBC News Channel in Charlotte, North Carolina, where  she has worked since 1991.

March 2019: Student News

UT STUDENTS UP FOR EIGHT TENNESSEE AP AWARDS: Kylie Hubbard (JEM), editor-in-chief of The Daily Beacon, is a finalist in two categories: best newspaper reporter division for her article, “Campus Community, the Rock Sets the Stage for Free Speech Battle;” and she and staff writer Cat Trieu (Interdisciplinary Programs) are finalists in the online ongoing coverage category for their story, “Student Programming Allocation Committee.”

Gabriela Szymanowska (JEM), campus news editor of The Daily Beacon, is a finalist for investigative/in-depth reporting for her article, “Campus Fraternity Investigated for Scavenger Hunt Targeting Asian Students.”

Elisa Rezak (Graphic Design) , a Daily Beacon design editor, is a finalist for news graphic/illustration.

Tennessee students are also finalists in the college media website division for the standalone news site, “Eviction: Stories from Tennessee.” The collaborative, multimedia project started in fall 2018 with a mission to take an in-depth look at eviction laws and stories from around the state.

In the radio category, Levi Johnson (JEM) is a finalist for specialized/topic reporting for “UT Professor Suggests Climate Change as Reason for Warmer Fall Weather.”

JEM students are also finalists in a pair of television categories: Jake Albright for TV news story, “Tennessee’s Structurally Deficient Bridges;” and Colin Sawyer for television reporter, “Protesters Oppose White Nationalists.” Albright won for television reporter in 2018.

Winners will be announced April 27 at the Tennessee AP College Awards Luncheon at the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville.

GREIG SELECTED TO SPEAK AT HOODING CEREMONY: Communication and Information (C&I) doctoral candidate Jamie Greig has been selected as the student speaker for UT’s Graduate Hooding Ceremony, on May 9 at 7:00 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena. UT’s Spring 2019 master’s and doctoral degrees will be conferred at the ceremony.  

Greig, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, is studying in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. His primary research area is communication law and policy with a focus on the impact of federal and state legislation and regulation on rural broadband expansion. He works as a graduate teaching associate in the college and serves as the senate chair and CCI PhD representative in the UTK Graduate Student Senate.

Greig will receive his second degree from UT at the ceremony, having previously earned his M.S. in Communication and Information with a specialization in political communication. He earned his Certificate of Higher Education in law from the University of Aberdeen and a Bachelor’s in journalism from Robert Gordon University.

DSLS Travels to NYC for Networking Trip


CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society traveled to New York City for its tenth annual spring networking trip to visit media and communication organizations during Spring Break. 

Led by CCI DSLS Director and CS Lecturer Alice Wirth, with assistance from CCI Dean Mike Wirth and Communication Studies Lecturer Nick Meade, the group met with a number of communication and information professionals, including nine CCI alumni.

The trip started with a visit to the Monday, March 18 GMA Strahan & Sara Show, ABC’s new daytime talk show, to be part of the studio audience. Alice Wirth was invited to the stage midway through the show to compete in a St. Patrick’s Day-themed contest, which she won, taking home a pair of oversized green glasses as her prize. The group talked with hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines after the show and took a group picture.

The next visit was to CNN’s New York offices, which was arranged by CNN Supervisor/Executive Producer for the Anderson Cooper Show Tori Blasé (JEM ’93 and Emeritus CCI Board of Visitors member). CNN session speakers included: Elissia Alam, HR coordinator and head of CNN’s New York City internship program; Laura Vigilante, CNN brand marketing and awards manager; and Rob Frehse, supervising editor of CNN News. Students also toured CNN’s newsroom and sat in on the live broadcast of CCN Anchor Brooke Baldwin’s CNN Newsroom.

The next stop was a visit to the International Radio and Television Society Foundation (IRTS) to meet with long-time IRTS President and CEO Joyce Tudryn. Tudryn provided great insights and advice about how to break into the communication and information industry including a variety of networking and interviewing tips. The group then met with Madison Square Garden Company Vice President of Communications Ed Patterson (PR ’89 and Emeritus Board of Visitors member) and took an All Access Tour of Madison Square Garden, one of the most famous sport and concert venues in the country.

Alumnus Jeff Boyd (CS ’92) hosted an alumni session, featuring eight CCI graduates who are now working in New York City. The event was held at Heidrick & Struggles, a top executive search firm where Boyd is now a principal. Justin Crawford (JEM ’18), a BOLD TV correspondent and a Cox Media Group digital media specialist, was instrumental in recruiting the session panelists. (The full list of alumni panelists and their current jobs is provided below.)

“Giving DSLS students the opportunity to connect and network with outstanding communication and information professionals and alumni is a life changing experience,” said DSLS Director Alice Wirth. “Students return to campus from these networking trips with a much better idea about what they want to do and where they want to go. They are also highly motivated to put in the work required to succeed as a result of the advice and inspiration provided by our speakers.”

After the meetings, the group spent a day sightseeing in the city. They also attended an NYC University of Tennessee alumni reception, meeting with graduates from all colleges around campus. Jamie Lonie (PR ’10 and a member of CCI’s Board of Visitors) is president of the NYC UT Alumni Association.


CCI Alumni Session Panelists

Andrea Arreaza Perez (AD ’17), Junior Account Manager, Verizon Creative Advertising

Jeff Boyd (CS ’92), Principal, Heidrick & Struggles

Jacob Coffin (JEM ’14), Development Manager, Big Fish Entertainment

Justin Crawford (JEM ’18), Correspondent BOLD TV/Digital Media Specialist at Cox Media Group

Brooke Fraser (JEM ’12), Digital Producer, Today Show

Myiah McCullough (CS ’18), Executive Assistant, The Vanity Group

Margaret Menefee (JEM ’08), MSNBC Line Producer, MTP Daily

Rachel Underwood (JEM ’18), NBC Universal Page Program

Faculty Earn Campus ORE Awards

ORE AwardsThree professors from the College of Communication and Information were recognized for their scholarship at the inaugural UT Office of Research and Engagement (ORE) Research Awards Luncheon on Monday, March 25.

CCI Interim Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Chancellor’s Professor and BOV Professor Suzie Allard (SIS) received a Research Spotlight Award in recognition of being CCI’s top sponsored research scholar.  

Associate Professor Nick Geidner (JEM) received ORE’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award for his Land Grant Films’ projects through the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. The award recognizes Geidner for having the top UTK faculty-led, mutually beneficial project, Land Grant Films, that connects the university with the community and results in excellence in engaged scholarship. Land Grant Films is a filmmaking group that provides students with experience in documentary storytelling. Geidner and his team are currently working on a documentary on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library entitled, “The Library That Dolly Built.”

CCI Interim Associate Dean for Research, Chancellor’s Professor and BOV Professor Carol Tenopir (SIS) received a Top Citations by College Award in recognition of being the individual with the highest total number of citations in the College of Communication and Information.

UT Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis and Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Robert Nobles presented 28 university-wide research awards to faculty and staff. Thomas Zacharia, director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was the guest speaker.