Category: CIS News

C&IS Faculty Elected to AEJMC Leadership Positions

Three C&IS faculty members received elected positions within the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals.

AEJMC’s mission is to promote the highest possible standards for journalism and mass communication education, to cultivate the widest possible range of communication research, to encourage the implementation of a multi-cultural society in the classroom and curriculum, and to defend and maintain freedom of communication in an effort to achieve better professional practice and a better informed public.

Congratulations to the three C&IS faculty members:

Dr. Suzanne Horsley

Horsley, Assistant Dean of Assessment, Accreditation and Diversity, was elected Accrediting Council Representative. Horsley will serve in the position for a three-year term and will work with the Executive Director to schedule sessions. Additionally, she will work with other representatives to issue written reports to the AEJMC Board of Directors following each meeting, which may also be published in the AEJMC newsletter.

Dr. George Daniels

Daniels, associate professor of journalism and creative media, was elected to the Professional Freedom & Responsibility Committee. In this position, he will serve as liaison to two or three divisions, working most closely with division chairs. The committee also works to sponsor a Resolutions Hearing.

Dr. Chris Roberts

Roberts, associate professor of journalism and creative media, was elected to the Teaching Committee. In this position, he will serve as liaison and maintain contact with assigned division and interest group teaching standards chairs. Roberts will also prepare a list of potential programming activities for division and interest group teaching chairs, provide divisions with goals that may be applicable to teaching standards, plan an AEJMC plenary once every three years, plan workshops and other teaching activities, and review papers submitted for Teaching Committee paper competitions when sponsored.

PRSSA Wins Four Alabama PRSA Student Awards

The University of Alabama’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) was recently awarded four Alabama PRSA Student Awards during the professional chapter’s monthly meeting in April.

The PRSA Student Awards are open to all PRSSA chapters within the state, and nine awards were given this year. The UA chapter won the awards for Outstanding Chapter, University Service and Chapter Newsletter. Additionally, Claire Dubreuil, a junior public relations major, was awarded the Wordsmith award.

Tracy Sims, senior instructor of advertising and public relations, has served as UA PRSSA chapter faculty adviser since 2008. She said that the opportunity for PRSSA chapters to receive recognition strengthens the value of what they do.

“I truly appreciate that PRSA Alabama created this opportunity for PRSSA chapters across the state to have their yearly chapter activities and successes to be recognized,” Sims said. “Such recognition reinforces the value of what they do for their chapter members, their universities and communities, and the public relations profession.”

Sims also said the most rewarding part of her role has been witnessing the chapter grow into a nationally award-winning organization and developing ethical leadership in the public relations field by providing career advice to PRSSA members.

“Over the years, our chapter leadership has focused on ways to increase involvement of our members beyond attending our monthly professional development meetings,” Sims said. “Members now can serve on various chapter committees, helping to create content for our social media accounts, writing for the chapter blog and participating in University and community service projects, for example. The chapter also has strengthened our diversity and inclusion initiatives, electing our first VP of diversity & inclusion in 2017-2018 and developing D&I pillars to guide our chapter activities in 2020-2021.”

Dubreuil, who first joined PRSSA as a freshman in 2019, said being involved with the organization has played a major role in expanding her knowledge of the PR industry and her skillset.

“We are constantly bringing in industry professionals who really want to form relationships with students and also bring internship offers with them as well,” Dubreuil said. “The meetings cover a variety of topics, so there’s really something for everyone and ample opportunities to learn about every area of PR. I think that college students should be taking every opportunity we have to learn while we’re still here, and PRSSA meetings are an easy and fun way to do that.”

Twelve UA PRSSA students have earned national PRSSA/PRSA Foundation individual scholarships since 2014, and since 2012, the UA PRSSA chapter and its PRSSA nationally affiliated student-run firm, Capstone Agency, have earned 22 total chapter awards at the PRSSA national level.

The University of Alabama PRSSA Chapter was founded in 1970 and currently boasts over 180 members. It is a leading pre-professional organization for students interested in public relations, communications and other related fields.

Dr. George Daniels Selected for Fulbright Award

Dr. George Daniels, associate professor in the department of journalism and creative media, was one of three UA faculty members selected for Fulbright awards for educators.

Daniels will participate in the pilot cohort of the Global Challenges Teaching Award through the US-UK Fulbright Commission and American Council on Education. This award is the first of its kind that provides an opportunity for universities in the U.S. and United Kingdom to partner in a virtual international exchange using the Collaborative Online International Learning, or COIL, method of teaching.

The award will promote digital innovation and democratize international exchange by bringing together classrooms on both sides of the Atlantic to address current global challenges. This year’s cohort will focus on three pressing issues: pandemics, climate change and racial justice, with the unique opportunity to share and compare knowledge across nations, widen their perspectives, and build all important transatlantic links that will help tackle these challenges collectively.

Daniels and Dr. Amal Abu-Bakare from the University of Liverpool in Liverpool, England, were selected to collaborate and connect their respective classes focused on racial justice. The goal of the virtual international exchange between UA and Liverpool is to share and compare knowledge across nations, widen students’ perspectives and build vitally important trans-Atlantic links that will help tackle global challenges such as racial injustice collectively.

“It is quite an honor to be the first winner of the Global Challenge Teaching Award for Racial Justice in the U.S.,” said Daniels. “I am looking forward to learning new ways to globalize learning for our students and expanding my own horizons in the area of international education. I believe what I learn about virtual exchanges and collaborative online international learning can benefit others here in The University of Alabama community.”

As part of the virtual exchange, both will not only connect their classes online but also travel to each other’s campuses during the fall semester to engage in person with students from the other campus. Daniels will focus on race, gender and media, while Abu-Bakare will teach about the politics of race and marginalization.

The Fulbright U.S. scholars program offers over 400 awards in more than 130 countries for U.S. citizens to teach, conduct research and carry out professional projects around the world. Learn more about the program here.


This story originally appeared on UA News Center.

AFC Finishes Tournament Season Strong with Eight National Championships

The Alabama Forensic Council (AFC) recently competed in four national tournaments and brought home a team national championship and seven individual national championships among other awards. During March and April, AFC attended the Pi Kappa Delta Biennial Convention and Tournament, the Asynchronous Speech Championship national tournament, the American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament and the National Forensic Association National Championship Tournament

The team had an incredible finish to its tournament season and received more than 100 awards across the four tournaments. Notably, AFC won the national championship for team sweepstakes at the National Forensic Association National Championship Tournament.

Additionally, four students – Alex Brewbaker, Anna Kutbay, Ja’Quacy Minter and Garrett Reynolds – collectively won seven individual national championships this tournament season.

At the Pi Kappa Delta Biennial Convention and Tournament, Alex Brewbaker and Ja’Quacy Minter won the national championship in Duo Interpretation, Minter won the national championship in Poetry Interpretation and Garrett Reynolds won the national championship in After Dinner Speaking. At the Asynchronous Speech Championship, Anna Kutbay won the national championship in Persuasive Speaking, and at the American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament, Kutbay won the national championships in Impromptu Speaking and Informative Speaking. She was also named the individual sweepstakes national champion for the second consecutive year, and Minter was named the individual sweepstakes national runner-up.

Read below for the full list of awards received by UA students at each of the four tournaments.

Pi Kappa Delta Biennial Convention and Tournament

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL LIST

Asynchronous Speech Championship National Tournament

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL LIST

American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL LIST

National Forensic Association National Championship Tournament

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL LIST

The Alabama Forensic Council is The University of Alabama’s competitive speech team. As the oldest co-curricular organization on campus, the program aims to respect and build upon the successes of alumni and forge a path for current and future students. AFC provides students with skills and resources to engage in intellectual discovery, enable professional development, strengthen and utilize their unique voices, construct compelling messages, engage in interpersonal and rhetorical exploration and foster community through advocacy and argumentation.

Phillip Weaver Honors Retired Faculty Members through New C&IS Scholarships

College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) alumnus Phillip Weaver recently funded two scholarships in honor of former C&IS faculty members who made a lasting impact on his time as a student within the College.

Weaver earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981, and he credits retired C&IS faculty members Dr. Jim Stovall and Camille Elebash with encouraging him to complete his degree.

“These two professors worked with me and saw something in me, and it meant a lot,” Weaver said. “It has weighed on my heart what Jim Stovall and Camille Elebash did for me, and I wanted to do something to honor that.”

Weaver’s scholarships will support students who are working while attending C&IS. He believes that the hard work and commitment of students who have jobs while in college should be recognized, and he hopes that his gift will be able to relieve some of the burden of tuition from them.

“I have a lot of respect for students that are working while they’re in school, and while it can be done, it takes time and commitment. I always tell students who work while in school that they are supporting themselves and controlling their own destiny and that they will be stronger for it,” Weaver said. “A lot of students are doing it so that they don’t have to borrow money, so I hope that this can take some of the weight off of them.”

During his time as a student in C&IS, Weaver began his career as a businessman in Tuscaloosa. The companies that he founded while completing his degree from the College remain well-known Tuscaloosa businesses today. Weaver is the co-founder and owner of Buffalo Phil’s, one of the longest-running restaurants in Tuscaloosa. He is also the founder of Campus Party Store and Gallette’s, and is the founder and owner of Weaver Rentals.

In addition to funding scholarships for C&IS students, Weaver has also generously hosted past C&IS alumni events in New York City. This year, he plans to host a reception on May 11 for alumni who live in the city and students who will be visiting New York for Industry Immersion – an experiential learning program that allows C&IS students to visit cities across the country to meet with professionals and learn more about the communication industry.

“I’m looking forward to the event because it is a good way to bring the UA community together. New York is a unique place with a lot going on and a lot of job opportunities,” Weaver said.

Weaver believes the event will give both students and alumni an opportunity to network and build new relationships.

“The event is a meet & greet and I think that is special. Networking is huge in our fields, and it is amazing what knowing someone can do for you,” Weaver said. “I’m excited for our Industry Immersion students to get that experience while in New York and for our alumni to connect with each other too.”

Experiential learning opportunities and student scholarships are funding priorities for C&IS as part of the Rising Tide Capital Campaign. The Rising Tide Capital Campaign is a University-wide effort to raise a minimum of $1.5 billion in philanthropic support for strategic priorities over a 10-year period. For more information, visit risingtide.ua.edu.

SLIS donates a record $38,300 in new, free books to School Libraries in the Black Belt and Beyond

During March and April, The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) awarded a record $38,300 in new, free books to elementary, middle and high school libraries in Alabama via the SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt & Beyond Program.

School librarians in the Black Belt region were asked to apply for the book give-away program in February 2022. SLIS received applications from 15 highly deserving schools. The judges chose three school libraries in the Black Belt Region of the state to receive on average $6,700 each in brand new children’s and young adult books. The judging of the applications was rigorous, as every school exemplified a significant need.

SLIS also selected three Book Bonanza Beyond winners. The Beyond winner is a low-income private school in the Black Belt Region of the state, or a public school demonstrating significant economic need in an area of the state outside of the Black Belt. The purpose of this award is to give an equally deserving school library, that is not eligible to be a Book Bonanza for the Black Belt Winner, a one-time opportunity to address literacy needs in their school community. Each of these schools will receive on average $6000 in brand new children’s and young adult books.

Please join SLIS in congratulating the following winning school libraries.

2022 Book Bonanza Black Belt Winners

  • Gordo High School, serving grades 7-12 (Pickens County), Librarian Heather Perrigin
  • Highland Home School, serving grades PreK-12 (Crenshaw County), Librarian Amy Campbell
  • Phenix City Intermediate, serving grades 6-7 (Russell County), Librarian Jessica Pittman

2022 Book Bonanza Beyond Winners

  • Saraland Elementary School, serving grades 2-5 (Mobile County), Librarian Cindy Wilson
  • Stapleton School, serving grades PreK-6 (Baldwin County), Librarian Lisa Comer
  • Woodland Elementary School, serving grades PreK-6 (Randolph County), Librarian Earnestine Fincher

Established in 2009 by Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, the SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (& Beyond) is an annual program that provides new, free books to school libraries in the Black Belt region of the state. For additional information about the program, please contact Dr. Jamie C. Naidoo at jcnaidoo@slis.ua.edu or visit the program website here.

Doctoral Program Alumna Wins Harwood Outstanding Dissertation Award

C&IS Alumna Dr. Danielle Deavours with Interim Department Chair for Journalism and Creative Media, Dr. Michael Bruce at the 2022 BEA Conference

Dr. Danielle Deavours, a College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) alumna, was awarded the 2022 Kenneth Harwood Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation titled, “Not just what you say, but how you say: neutrality of nonverbal behavior of journalists during crisis coverage.” The award is given each year by the Broadcast Education Association for the best doctoral dissertation in broadcasting and electronic media.

After working as a broadcast journalist for over a decade, Deavours reflected on how she had to remain unemotional and neutral during crisis coverage. This level of professionalism is required of journalists, and it led her to question how journalists work to conceal their nonverbal behaviors during crisis coverage in order to maintain professional norms of neutrality. With her dissertation, Deavours also sought to understand the effects of these behaviors on credibility, bias and the wellbeing of journalists.

After completing her dissertation, Deavours has taken her research findings to educational associations including the Broadcast Education Association and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, among others. Deavours hopes that her findings will help journalists and news organizations improve the industry’s standards and practices.

“I hope researchers will continue to explore nonverbal behavior of journalists, an area that has the potential to impact a lot of areas of media research,” Deavours said. “And I hope educators will consider the ways we can better prepare future storytellers for crises in terms of nonverbal behavior and vicarious traumatization.”

Deavours received her bachelor’s degree in telecommunication and film and political science from The University of Alabama in 2008. After she earned her master’s degree in communication management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she returned to UA and completed her Ph.D. in communication and information sciences. She has served as an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at the University of Montevallo for the past two years. This fall, Deavours will join the faculty at Samford University as an assistant professor of broadcast journalism.

Deavours said winning the award would not have been possible without the support of C&IS faculty including Drs. Wilson Lowrey, Michael Bruce, Scott Parrot and Darrin Griffin, and the University of Texas professor Renita Coleman.

“I am so grateful to my dissertation committee and their commitment to my research,” Deavours said. “I want to dedicate this award to every student that is told that they can’t. You can, and you should. Your voice matters. You just have to find the people who are willing to recognize your voice and celebrate how special it is.”

The Kenneth Harwood Outstanding Dissertation Award is an academic prize awarded each year by the Broadcast Education Association for the best doctoral dissertation in broadcasting and electronic media. Learn more about the award and past recipients here.

Honoring an Unforgettable Legacy: Friends and Family of Cecil Hurt Establish Memorial Fund

To make a gift to the Cecil Hurt Endowed Support Fund for Excellence in Sports Media, click here.

The night before the 2019 national championship game in Santa Clara, California – before Alabama took on Clemson – Hannah Saad, a C&IS University of Alabama student on staff of The Crimson White, sat at a table, surrounded by hubbub. The media hotel ballroom had been converted into a hangout space for working media. In one part of the room, a rowdy crowd played cornhole. There were large TVs everywhere because the NFL playoffs were taking place. Food and drinks were available and Saad took a spot at a table. As a college student photographer, she hadn’t really talked to many journalists who routinely covered Alabama football at the time. Cecil Hurt was sitting across from her.

Hurt, the Tuscaloosa-born authority on Alabama football, could be intimidating in his knowledge but his presence was never intimidation; more like serene and calming. Hurt took the time to talk with Saad.

“Here we are in a room full of national personalities and national media outlets and here Cecil was, taking the time to talk one-on-one with a student journalist,” Saad recalls. “He supported a lot of student journalists. It stuck with me that he took the time to talk with me, not only for journalism but also travel advice and even advice about taking care of dogs. After that, a lot of times our conversations weren’t even about sports or journalism. He’s just a great guy.”

Paul Finebaum – sports author, television and radio personality – remembers watching that moment.

“There were so many well-known people circling around who wanted to talk to him and he was with Crimson White students,” Finebaum recalled.

Many people knew Hurt as a sports columnist with hot takes and an ear down about the UA athletic department at all times, yet he was also an animal rescuer, loved music and professional wrestling and food enthusiast. Hurt loved his cat, Slim Charles, and his dog, Duchess, who was adopted when she had only a few years left to live. He also took in stray puppies.

His career spanned 40 years and he exemplified the best of journalism, as he rose to the top of his profession. Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban called him “friend.”

Hurt was never the kind of reporter to take notes on his phone. A notebook in hand, his writing managed to take sports to the masses by connecting it to pop culture or a current trend. He could make a mundane play seem like magic, but it was his hard work and studied love of words that made that magic. When he spoke – and it wasn’t often – people who knew him listened. He did not waste words. Always dressed comfortably, he was known as laconic and selfless.

Helping student journalists was not the only way he was selfless. Finebaum said after he and Hurt developed a trust, they would often share story ideas and material with one another, something almost unheard of in a business where having the most important information first can make or break a career.

“He knew that being at The Tuscaloosa News there was a certain status but I don’t think he ever appreciated how important and influential he was, “Finebaum said. “He began to appreciate his journey but felt compelled to give it back to students. It is a gift to be able to share that kind of information with young people who often seem too busy to listen. In his case they wanted to hear valuable pieces of knowledge.”

C&IS graduate Tony Tsoukalas worked with Hurt as an intern then, when he graduated, as a full-time copy editor on the sports desk. Tsoukalas now covers Alabama sports for BamaCentral but it all started with Hurt’s mentorship.

“He was the guy who didn’t mind helping out young writers. He wouldn’t leave out the young writers who often would get left out of conversations. As a young writer you don’t always get that, especially on big beats like Alabama football. We used to fight over who got to edit his stuff,” Tsoukalas said of Hurt’s work. “That usually went to the higher ups to read because it was almost like a privilege to read it first.”

One of those higher ups is Tommy Deas, who was executive sports editor at The Tuscaloosa News. Like Tsoukalas, Deas was a student at Tuscaloosa’s Central High School when he met Hurt – who was just starting out – and was mentored by him. Over the years Deas said he spent more time in a car and on the phone with Hurt than anyone else. He shared Hurt’s love of food and they would seek out off-the-beaten path places to eat the local cuisine in each city: Texas brisket, Carolina-style Bar-B-Q and steak in Hawaii.

On trips to cover night games Hurt liked to hike in national parks in the area in the mornings but always insisted on arriving to the press box three hours early because, he told Deas, he would rather sit in a press box reading than in a car staring at a bumper.

Hurt, himself a Junior, shares a name with his father who played football for Alabama under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. He took an interest in sports but knew he was not destined to become an athlete, Deas said. His early interest was wrestling because of a local student that became one. How to reconcile a man who reads classics for fun with a love of wrestling?

“Those things are not as far apart as what you might think,” Deas said. “Wrestling is storytelling. That is what it comes down to. He probably liked and appreciated that more than anything else. It’s not just physical action. Wrestlers are storytellers.”

Hurt loved storytelling but also loved to teach the next generation of storytellers, through words and action.

Terrin Waack, a C&IS alumna, worked with Hurt as an intern then full-time at The Tuscaloosa News. Waack wore a bucket hat in honor of hurt, an ardent bucket-hat fan, as she watched the first Alabama game after he died. She recalled early days working with Hurt as an intern, when his reputation was large and his 6’3” height made him seem even larger than life to her. She metaphorically and literally looked up to him.

“As soon as I met him, I knew Cecil was the gold star of journalism,” she said. “What he said held so much weight in the community and I recognized that. Cecil helped a lot with learning how to use your own voice and own your words and take a stance on something.

He grew to be her friend and they ate Thai food often, for lunch. Hurt met her family on several occasions and silently cheered on her career as she went on to work at NASCAR.com.

“I considered Cecil a friend to the end,” Waack said. “If I needed advice, I would have gone to him in a heartbeat.”

Hurt, known for sports coverage, was also an avid foodie and traveler. He once took a year off to travel the world, to Micronesia and throughout southeast Asia.

Yet above everything he loved was his love of reading. Everyone who knew him knew that he always had a book with him. He taught young journalists that to be a good writer you have to read. Reporters in any press box were always impressed that he could read yet still keep up with what happened on the field. The first time Finebaum met Hurt was at a basketball game and Finebaum noticed the book Hurt was reading, “Catcher in the Rye.”

“It was always a parlor game to guess what would Cecil have next,” Finebaum said. “Would it be ‘The Iliad and the Odyssey’ or something more contemporary?”

Hurt’s long-time friend Chad Mize, who delivered the eulogy at Hurt’s funeral, recalled a time in college when, on a road trip, Hurt spent his time reading.

“Cecil was the most well-read person that I’ve ever known,” Mize said. I looked and in the back of van Cecil was reading “Moby Dick, and probably not even for the first time. He wasn’t going to score any points with this crowd reading ‘Moby Dick’ but that’s who he was. Cecil was smart back before everybody was smart. I know it’s overstated, but Cecil was so bright. That just gave him the opportunity to do things that other people couldn’t.”

Hurt’s well-read stature aside, he earned esteem for his work ethic and unassuming demeanor from those who knew him.

“What always impressed me about Cecil was how he was trusted by everyone. By coaches. By athletic directors. By school presidents,” Finebaum said.

Over the course of his career, Hurt’s deliberate, thorough manner earned him respect from everyone, even Saban, who recognized Hurt’s work with students. Coaches and reporters don’t often share that respect.

“Cecil Hurt was a good friend and one of the best sports writers I have ever had the privilege of working with, not just at Alabama, but at all of our coaching stops,” Saban said in a statement when Hurt died. “He was a man of integrity and a fair-minded journalist blessed with wit, wisdom and an ability to paint a picture with his words that few have possessed … He was a role model for young writers and the most trusted source of news for Alabama fans everywhere.”

From well-known coaches to students just starting out, Hurt’s life had a great impact. Perhaps Tsoukalas said it best:

“He had a way of making everyone feel important.”

Friends and family of the late sports columnist Cecil Hurt have joined together to establish a memorial fund in his honor. The Cecil Hurt Endowed Support Fund for Excellence in Sports Media, which has already raised more than $15,000, will prioritize support for students and initiatives related to the sports media field.

Those who helped establish the fund hope that it will not only carry on the memory of Hurt, but that it will make a difference in the lives of students who choose to pursue a career path similar to Hurt’s.

A portion of the fund will be designated to provide discretionary support for the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ Department of Journalism and Creative Media (JCM). Through this support JCM will offer programming for current students and industry professionals that strengthens the program’s mission and propels education and innovation in the area of sports media and sports communication.

“Cecil Hurt has multiple legacies,” said Dr. Andrew Billings, endowed professor and director of the Alabama Program in Sport Communication. “One, of course, was his own contribution to sports writing and reporting—which is legendary. However, another pertains to his role as a mentor to students and young professionals aspiring to make it in a competitive field. I’m excited that this endowment will help future young sports media professionals for many years more.”

In addition, the fund will bring visibility to Hurt’s legacy through the establishment of an annual Cecil Hurt Award. This award will be given to an outstanding rising senior whose studies are focused in the area of sports communication.

“This endowment will recognize and support the exact type of excellence that characterized Cecil’s life and his work,” said Dr. Mark Nelson, dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. “He was an inspirational member of our community, and this fund will inspire and support future journalists for many years to come.”

The renowned and revered sports columnist had a reputation unlike that of any other professional in the field and those closest to him desire that this fund will continue to perpetuate his story.

To make a gift to the Cecil Hurt Endowed Support Fund for Excellence in Sports Media, click here.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Meredith Bagley leads C&IS Faculty and Staff in Civil Rights Programming

Downtown Tuscaloosa is usually bustling with activity, and visitors may not realize the historic events that took place right where they now walk. On recent visits to downtown, some may notice markers on the sidewalk featuring a hand symbol. These markers, and the work of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History & Reconciliation Foundation, bring history to life through a “civil rights trail” by highlighting key events that took place in Tuscaloosa in the fight for civil rights.

The Foundation aims to bring about positive change and reconciliation and to create “Civil Rights Tourism” in Tuscaloosa through the civil rights trail.

Dr. Meredith Bagley, associate professor in Communication Studies, was first made aware of the project in 2017 while she worked on the Autherine Lucy historical marker, which is now located on University Boulevard west of Colonial Drive.

Throughout the foundation’s progress, Dr. Bagley has connected her classes and students to the work by teaching special topics classes about public memory and campus landscapes that are featured sites on the civil rights trail.

During this monumental year with the rededication of a building on campus to honor Autherine Lucy, Bagley saw an opportunity to introduce C&IS faculty and staff to the trail. This semester, she led a tour through Downtown Tuscaloosa and provided faculty and staff with knowledge about the historic landmarks and events represented along the trail.

Dr. Bagley emphasizes how all people can connect to the history on the trail and highlights how the communication work involved in memory preservation and education can apply directly to the fields of study represented in our College. She also discusses how white faculty and staff can play a role in memory and advocacy, without placing the burden entirely on communities of color.

“It really just brings in all sorts of skills and ideas that we have expertise on here at the college: public relations, creative media, speech and rhetoric, intercultural relationships, leadership, we’re all over this topic or endeavor as a college,” Dr. Bagley said. “There are ways to accurately, respectfully tell the stories and learn the lessons that give us all a place in that story – a way to connect historically and contemporarily to issues of race, exclusion, community and progress.”

Dr. Suzanne Horsley, assistant dean of assessment, accreditation and diversity believes the tour is an opportunity to introduce the college community to this resource that is easily accessible for students, classes, and research.

“So many of our faculty and staff engage in social justice and diversity initiatives in their classes and programs, but I believe we often overlook what is right in our backyard,” Dr. Horsley said. “The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail is a free resource that is an easy walk or drive from campus, but it is incredibly rich in telling the story about the work for civil rights in Alabama and beyond. All members of the UA community should know and understand this institution’s role in history and then apply what they learn to their studies, research or future endeavors.”

In addition to walking the trail, faculty who participate in the tour with Dr. Bagley this year are asked to develop teaching, research or programming ideas based on their experience, and share their ideas at future meetings.

Diversity, equity and inclusion continues to be an ongoing conversation and focus within C&IS, and more events and future teaching endeavors are planned for this year.

C&IS is committed to promoting an environment that fosters diversity and inclusion and is proud of the efforts of our students, faculty and staff. To learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion in C&IS, visit cis.ua.edu/diversity.

C&IS Professors Receive NSF Grant Totaling more than $400,000

Drs. Steven Holiday and Matthew VanDyke

Drs. Steven Holiday and Matthew VanDyke, assistant professors in advertising and public relations, recently received a grant totaling more than $400,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant will allow Dr. Holiday and Dr. VanDyke to begin research on their project, titled “Developing surfmer structure-property relationships for high internal phase emulsion foams.” The study aims to address water quality issues, and the access to and availability of effective, efficient and affordable solutions, particularly in rural Alabama communities.

“One of the aims is to specifically examine resources, empowerment and advocacy in rural Alabama communities that are adversely affected by poor water quality,” Holiday said. “These communities disproportionately include citizens who are underrepresented economically, educationally and racially.”

Holiday and VanDyke will conduct community outreach to understand community members’ perceptions of their water, the awareness of resources available to improve water quality, and the perceived behavioral control in advocating for effective, efficient and affordable technology for water treatment. Using the information gathered, they will then work with advertising and public relations students in undergraduate campaign courses to develop strategic communication campaigns that increase community literacy and advocacy.

“A primary goal of this project is to produce work that will not only advance our knowledge about what people know, feel and how they behave regarding water quality issues and technologies, but also to inform effective and ethical communication practices that can help communities who will benefit most from better water quality technologies,” Dr. VanDyke said.

The work is the result of an interdisciplinary partnership with chemical and biological engineering assistant professor Dr. Amanda Koh. Koh wanted to better understand communities in rural Alabama and help increase their knowledge of water issues, technology for resolving those issues, and the role they can play in advocating for the use of those technologies.

Holiday said the project utilizes Koh’s expertise in chemical engineering, VanDyke’s public relations expertise in environmental communication, and Holiday’s advertising expertise with family and community engagement and communication.

“I was (and am) very excited to pair the theoretical and practical communication work we do daily with actual, novel, engineering-based solutions to pressing environmental issues,” Dr. Holiday said. “The work will bring together disciplines to give advertising and public relations students a real opportunity to use their strategic communication experience to influence meaningful, lasting environmental change in communities that really need their knowledge and expertise.”

UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences faculty and students conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit cis.ua.edu/research.