Category: CIS News

Dr. George Daniels to give 50th Honors Lecture at AEJMC

Tuscaloosa, Ala.— Associate Professor Dr. George Daniels will give the Honors Lecture at this year’s Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference, held in Washington, D.C. Daniels will deliver his lecture on Tuesday, August 8. 

“It is an honor to be in the same circle as those who have led scholastic journalism for years,” said Daniels. “As one who came into media because of high school journalism, I am thrilled to be considered one of the current leading educators in the field.” 

Each year, the Scholastic Journalism Division of AEJMC selects one of its members to present an Honors Lecture as a means of recognizing their career and research. Since this year marks the 50th Honors Lecture at the AEJMC conference, the lecture holds greater significance for Daniels.  

“I plan to…take [this selection] as an endorsement to keep doing what I do with our Alabama Scholastic Press Association and our Multicultural Journalism Workshop here at UA,” said Daniels. “I also plan to remain involved with the national organization, the Journalism Education Association and move forward in our elementary school outreach here in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama.” 

Beyond the conference, the lecture will feature in the division’s publications, broadening the reach of Daniels’ work within scholastic journalism. 

AEJMC is a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals. The Scholastic Journalism Division provides support to high school, middle school and elementary teachers in the areas of media and communication.  

Daniels was recently featured in the College of Communication & Information Sciences’ alumni magazine Communicator, which delves into his lifelong passion for scholarship and service.

C&IS alumni join Adweek’s Creative 100

Tuscaloosa, Ala.— Mary Buzbee and Lauren Meadows, 2018 graduates of the University of Alabama’s Advertising & Public Relations program and Minerva alumni, have been inducted into Adweek’s Creative 100 for 2023.   

Buzbee and Meadows currently work for Barkley. Their ARAG ad campaign, “ARAG Legal Needs Are In Your Future,” starring Kathy Najimy, won Silver at the American Advertising Awards and became a Shorty awards finalist.

When asked about what comes next, Buzbee focused on the work that she and Meadows are doing in the creative community.  

“Being included in the Creative 100 is a huge honor,” said Buzbee. “It’s nice to be recognized for the work that we’re doing, but it’s sweeter to see that The Workshop is having a positive effect on the industry. Making advertising more socioeconomically accessible is something that I’m passionate about, so it brings me joy that our director of curriculum, Kate Rohrich, as well as teachers and volunteers are receiving recognition.”  

The Workshop is a mentorship program created by the pair that focuses on the basics of advertising. It currently has two disciplines, art direction and copywriting, and apprentices from each are paired and matched with a teacher to work on three open-source briefs over three months. The goal is for apprentices to have three solid portfolio pieces and newfound concepting, art direction and copywriting skills. 

The Creative 100 celebrates the most innovative and visionary talent across advertising, marketing, social media, TV and streaming, visual art, literature, and filmmaking. Award recipients often shape culture and inspire change.  

Seth Self

C&IS alumnus wins second Munson Foundation scholarship with Black Warrior Riverkeeper

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation has awarded Seth Self, a recent graduate of The University of Alabama’s College of Communication & Information Sciences, a scholarship grant to return for a second consecutive summer internship with Black Warrior Riverkeeper in Birmingham, Ala. The Munson Foundation has supported UA’s Advertising & Public Relations department with scholarships for water conservation internships since 2008, most recently with Self in 2022.

​​“Thanks to monetary support from the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, students like Seth are able to do important work for Alabama environmental nonprofits like Black Warrior Riverkeeper and demonstrate the positive impact that public relations can have on society,” said Dr. Matthew VanDyke, interim chair for the Department of Advertising & Public Relations.

Self was chosen by the department to receive the scholarship in 2023, as he will be returning to UA in the fall as an incoming J.D. candidate at The University of Alabama School of Law. With an interest in practicing environmental law, Self was eager to intern once more. The clean water advocacy organization’s work is particularly relevant to Self as his family lives in Cullman County, part of the Black Warrior River watershed.

“I cannot wait to get back to Black Warrior Riverkeeper and intern again this summer,” Self said. “Working with the organization last year is what made me really decide to go to law school, and it was such a rewarding experience to have been able to see the real impact this group has on the Black Warrior River watershed and surrounding communities. I am so excited to get started with furthering their mission again this summer, all with the skills I received at C&IS and UA.”

As a member of Waterkeepers Alabama and Waterkeeper Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper patrols waterways, responds to citizen complaints, enforces environmental laws and educates the public. The organization also engages partner groups and volunteers in its efforts.

“Seth Self will be our first two-time Munson intern,” said Charles Scribner, executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper. “He has developed tremendous skills through The University of Alabama’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations and we are excited to have him back before embarks on new studies at The University of Alabama School of Law.”

Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River and its tributaries. The citizen-based nonprofit organization promotes clean water for the sake of public health, recreation and wildlife habitat throughout the Black Warrior River watershed.

UA Hosts International Association for Relationship Research Mini Conference

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Last weekend, The University of Alabama hosted the 2023 International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) Mini Conference. The conference ran from Thursday, June 8, through Saturday, June 10, and featured presentations from international scholars and leaders. 

An interdisciplinary team from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) and College of Human Environmental Sciences (CHES) hosted the event. Dr. Leah LeFebvre, Dr. Josh Pederson, Dr. Robert Laird and Dr. Casey Totenhagen were its lead organizers.  

The planning team initially scheduled the IARR Mini Conference in 2018, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conference schedules shifted, and it was pushed to this summer. As a result, the conference garnered widespread attention, resulting in 100 participants from more than 60 universities and 10 countries, spanning undergraduate and graduate students, professors and practitioners.  

The event began with a preconference in Reese Phifer that encouraged attendees to reflect and discuss inclusivity and diversity and asked them to think critically through research design. 

On Friday and Saturday, the conference featured sessions devoted to research initiatives. Keynotes by Dr. Susan Boon, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, and Dr. Brian Spitzberg, senate distinguished professor of communication at San Diego State University, captivated participants’ attention with their scholarship, experience and perspectives on the dark sides of relationships.  

Additionally, conference participants were invited to experience Tuscaloosa through a number of activities, such as expanding their knowledge of local history through civil rights tours, tasting the local and regional cuisine and singing karaoke. 

The conference was made possible through the support of IARR leadership, Dr. Stanley Gaines, and UA leadership, including C&IS’s former dean, Dr. Mark Nelson, and Dean Brian Butler. CHES Dean Stuart Usdan, Dr. Beth Bennett and Dr. Darrin Griffin were also key to the conference’s success. Additionally, hosts were grateful to the University and community, including UA Graduate School, Supe Store and City of Tuscaloosa for offering sponsorship with the Tuscaloosa Tourism Grant who helped make the conference successful. 

IARR offers the ability for multidisciplinary and international representation from a diverse network of scholars. 

Dear Ye

Minerva wins Silver ADDY at National American Advertising Awards

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Students from Minerva, Advertising & Public Relations’ graduate portfolio program, won Silver at the national American Advertising Awards on June 2. The campaign, titled “Spotify Audiobooks – Sincerely,” marks the profile program’s first national win in five years.

“It’s wonderful when students win awards because it is a tangible and measurable outcome for all the hard work they put into a campaign,” said Mark Barry, assistant professor in the Advertising & Public Relations program and director of Minerva. “Minerva has a reputation for developing industry-ready creatives and awards like this help build upon that reputation.”

Morgan Egan wrote the campaign’s copy, and Amanda Bowring, Laney Davis and Carlisle Ballard served as art directors. The campaign features a series of posters and billboards that “speak” to passersby via audiobook titles. “Dear Art Majors,” says one, featuring the cover of Lori Sullivan’s Jobs That Won’t Disappoint Your Parents. “Dear Ye,” says another, brandishing Soozey Johnstone’s I Am the Problem.

In February, the campaign won a Gold ADDY in Tuscaloosa’s local American Advertising Awards. From there, the campaign won Silver in district competition and Silver at the national awards earlier this month.

“I am absolutely in love with being an art director,” said Bowring. “In a way, this award is confirmation that I am on the right path. It’s reassuring to know that other professionals appreciate my work, and I am very pleased that I got to share this experience with my amazing teammates.”

She continued, “Minerva is training strong creative thinkers, and I believe this award is proof of that. Minerva’s focus has always been on how to concept well. Since starting my career, I have seen how much that skill is valued.”

“Winning a national award in the field I love is an incredible honor,” said Davis. “It’s been a great remedy for any lingering imposter syndrome and a reminder that my ideas and work can go places. I hope it inspires other Minerva students and alumni to make great things in the future, which is what I plan to do!”

As far what comes next, Barry said, “we all get back to work on coming up with the next concept.”

The American Advertising Awards, conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting more than 25,000 entries every year. The three-tier competition starts at the local level, progresses to district and concludes at the national American Advertising Awards. This year’s national awards gala was held in St. Louis.

Minerva is a two-year portfolio program that offers students the opportunity to build a competitive creative portfolio while getting their undergraduate or graduate degree in advertising at The University of Alabama.

Bryant Denny Stadium, home to the DMC

Work begins on Holle Center, will host diverse stories and storytellers

Bryant Denny Stadium, home to the DMCTuscaloosa, Ala. – Construction is underway for The Holle Center for Communication Arts. The Center will be housed on the fourth floor of the Digital Media Center (DMC), occupying 2,450 square feet in an area previously used for football storage. The $2.6 million space renovation will house a story lab for audio and video recording and a multipurpose space for workshops, screenings and offices. When it isn’t being occupied for a program, the Center will serve as an inviting and creative space for students, faculty and community leaders through programming, workshops and workspaces. 

“We wanted to make sure [The Holle Center] was distinct but also complimentary of the DMC, building upon the work and strategic plan of the College of Communication Sciences,” said Dr. Robin Boylorn, Director of the Holle Center for Communication Arts. “My vision for The Holle Center is to become a hub for storytelling and social justice.” 

The Center will connect students with nationally recognized communication leaders, including symposia, lecture series, screenings, workshops and discussion panels. Boylorn said that The Holle Center’s initial program will bring in professionals who can teach students about storytelling. From there, the Center plans to collaborate with an alum to produce student stories. 

The Holle Center also plans to host off-campus events, including art exhibit in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. The exhibit will feature the children’s book “Stand Up! 10 Mighty Women Who Made a Change” by Brittney Cooper, illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson. 

“When I was visiting Rutgers earlier this year, they had this exhibit because Brittney Cooper is a faculty member there. The book is about actual people who exist, and the narrator of the book – It’s a little Black girl. And as a Black woman, it was a ‘wow’ moment, thinking how significant it would have been to have representation when I was a little girl. There aren’t many Black books for children that have characters they can actually interact with. And that’s the kind of content and partnerships The Holle Center will champion, going forward,” said Boylorn. 

The Holle Center for Communication Arts was established in 2019 to promote scholarly activities in the communication arts and is possible through the generosity of the estate of Brigadier General Everett Holle through a gift to the College of Communication and Information Sciences. The development of the new Center will support “creative activity and scholarship that advances human dignity, breaks down barriers to understanding, illuminates injustices, and encourages collaboration and empathy.”  

Leah Myers

Leah Myers releases memoir, featured by The New York Times

Leah MyersTuscaloosa, Ala. – Leah Myers’ memoir, Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth, and Identity, was released to major booksellers today. The book is published by W.W. Norton and has been named a “Most Anticipated Book of 2023” by Millions and featured by The New York Times. Myers is the Communication Specialist on C&IS’s Communication & Advancement team. 

“Thinning Blood is slender and poetic but also wide-ranging,” said Maud Newton of the New York Times Book Review. “moving with ease from memoir to Native history to myth and back again, yielding a blend that transcends genre.

In her memoir, Myers excavates the stories of four generations of women to leave a record of her family. Beginning with her great-grandmother, the last full-blooded Native member in their lineage, she connects each woman with her totem to construct her family’s totem pole. 

“I wrote this book to be a record for my family and my tribe, so that people remember us even after we are gone,” said Myers. “I’m thrilled to share it with the world and to become part of a bigger conversation around cultural identity. Writing and publishing a book has been the number one item on my bucket list since I was 13 years old. Today, that dream came true and I couldn’t be happier.” 

A resident of Tuscaloosa, Myers is a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe of the Pacific Northwest. She received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of New Orleans, and her work has been featured in Fugue Journal, Craft Literary Magazine, High Shelf Press, and The Atlantic (forthcoming).  

Thinning Blood is available at all major retailers in ebook and hardcover formats. The audiobook is scheduled to be released later this year. 

Reese Phifer

C&IS Celebrates Achievement at 2022-2023 Faculty and Staff Awards

On May 8, the College of Communication & Information Sciences held its annual Faculty and Staff Awards in the Hotel Capstone ballroom. The luncheon celebrated all faculty and staff achievements over the last twelve months, as well as promotions, awards and acknowledgements.  


Promoted to Associate Professor: 

Dr. Caroline Parsons, Communication Studies 

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure: 

Dr. Laura Lemon, Advertising & Public Relations 

Dr. Chandra Clark, Journalism & Creative Media 

Dr. Matthew Barnidge, Journalism & Creative Media 

Promoted to Full Professor: 

Dr. Kenon Brown, Advertising & Public Relations 


2023 Stepping Up Awards 

Dr. Darrin Griffin, Communication Studies 

Dr. Michael Bruce, Journalism & Creative Media 

Dr. Jamie Naidoo, School of Library & Information Studies 

Dr. Matthew VanDyke, Advertising & Public Relations 


Knox Hagood Awards 

Doctoral Student: Amy Ritchart 

Staff: Tamika Hewitt-Payne 

Faculty: Dr. Josh Pederson 


C&IS Board of Visitors Awards 

Research Excellence: Dr. Scott Parrott 

Teaching Excellence: Dr. Adam Brooks 

SLIS to move to McLure building, renovations underway

McLure building
1705080, Campus

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – McLure Library will become the new home for the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS). The move gives SLIS and its programs more visibility on campus, spotlighting creative scholarship and allowing students to see Book Art creative scholarship and work in action, engage with youth literacy and community action LIS research, observe archiving and digital preservation practices and participate in information science research. 

“One of C&IS’s strategic priorities is to cultivate high-quality academic programs,” said Dr. Jaime Naidoo, Interim Director of the School of Library and Information Studies. “The acquisition of McLure will do just that for SLIS. It will offer expanded studio space for the Book Arts Program, increasing opportunities for them to grow undergraduate course offerings as well as attract additional graduate students. McLure will also provide a dedicated space for students in the EBSCO Scholars audio-visual (AV) archiving program to study and learn critical techniques for preserving information in a digital format.”  

SLIS’s relocation from Gorgas Library’s seventh floor to the McLure building is part of the Gorgas Library Master Plan, resulting from years-long discussions between the College of Education, University Libraries and the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS). McLure closed its doors earlier this month and demolition inside will begin this summer.  

Upon reopening, SLIS will use almost the entire building. The first floor will house the MFA in Book Arts program, as well as a materials center for the Archives Program and Book Arts. The second floor will house the SLIS administration suite, an exhibition area, a classroom, faculty offices and a flexible lab space for EBSCO Digital Preservation activities and information science research. The third floor will house an additional classroom, conference room and faculty offices, as well as the Blackshear Reading Room, which will be home to SLIS’s review collection of children’s and young adult books.   

As SLIS introduces a proposed undergraduate degree in informatics in the next few years, the move to McLure will provide spaces for incoming undergraduate students to study and engage with top researchers in information science. And with the proximity to the College of Education and growing programs in school library media and youth services, there are unique opportunities for collaborations and programmatic growth at the master’s level, feeding into future research and community-engagement initiatives in these areas. 

Degree programs in SLIS prepare students to critically examine and mediate the production, utilization, dissemination, preservation and implications (social impacts) of information on our ever-changing world to address real-world challenges such as health disparities and cybersecurity. The School was first accredited in 1972 and began offering its MFA in Book Arts in 1985. Since, it has become one of the nation’s leading institutions for library and information studies, committed to intellectual freedom, universal knowledge and the tenets of social justice. 

C&IS completes ACEJMC reaccreditation

Reese PhiferTuscaloosa, Ala. — The College of Communication and Information Sciences was reaccredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) earlier this year.

“ACEJMC reaccreditation is the gold standard for Journalism, Advertising, and Public Relations programs,” said Dr. Brian Butler, Dean of the College. “Reaccreditation in full compliance with the ACEJMC standards and strong positive comments from the review committee is clear recognition of the exceptional quality of our faculty and their dedication to preparing students for leadership in these critical mass communication professions.”

The process of reaccreditation is extensive, including an 1,800-page report with evidence constructed by a team from the College, as well as an on-site visit from a team with ACEJMC. Both parts of this process are designed to examine every aspect of the academic units to ensure it is all meeting the standards set but the council. “The self-study requires an enormous amount of data,” said Dr. Michael Bruce, one member of the accreditation self-study team. “Finding the data, condensing it and organizing it into a meaningful story of our department was a challenge.”

Dr. Suzanne Horsley, who led the efforts on reaccreditation, said that the team persevered through times of leadership change, completing all the components necessary while facing a possible loss of institutional knowledge: “We discovered some small things we can tweak in the coming years. But most of all, we confirmed what we already knew anecdotally, that we have terrific faculty and staff running meaningful programs that prepare our graduates to make a difference.”

The ACEJMC is dedicated to excellence and high standards in professional education in journalism and mass communications. The Council endorses professional education that recognizes and incorporates technological advances, changing professional and economic practice, and public interests and demands.