Minor league baseball teams across the country are being rebranded with new names and mascots thanks to the work of Brandiose, a branding and design agency based in San Diego, California. These teams and their refreshed brands are becoming an integral part of their city’s identity.
Brandiose was founded by C&IS alumnus Jason Klein and his childhood best friend, Casey White. The business partners and lifelong friends created Brandiose out of Klein’s residence hall, Burke Hall, at The University of Alabama. Years later, the branding and design agency is credited with developing the creative logos and mascots of minor league teams across the country including the Amarillo Sod Poodles, El Paso Chihuahuas, and Huntsville, Alabama’s Rocket City Trash Pandas.
Klein earned his bachelor’s degree in advertising from C&IS in 2003, but his interest in sports and branding started long before that. In high school, Klein served as his school mascot and later, the mascot for the San Diego Padres, following them to the 1998 World Series. When he decided to attend The University of Alabama, he successfully accomplished another goal – representing the University as Big Al.
When Klein started his business while attending UA, he met with a director of licensing and was able to see how the University interacted with a design firm. He then modeled his own business from what he learned. Klein believes the sports branding opportunities at the University are unmatched, and he attributes the start of his success to UA.
“In college I was surrounded by the pageantry, traditions and rituals at The University of Alabama, which I think was incredibly helpful,” Klein said.
Nearly 20 years after graduating from UA, Klein still looks to the University for motivation and advice. In particular, he regularly listens to press conferences of head football coach, Nick Saban.
“He’s not just telling you how to win at football, he’s telling you how to win at life,” Klein said. “If you apply the same stuff that he’s saying about determination and perseverance to your career, you’ll be unstoppable.”
Determination and perseverance were both important for Klein when beginning his career. He recognized early on that professional sports branding was a competitive market. When starting Brandiose, Klein and White sent letters to 150 minor league baseball clubs, and received a response from only one team in Jackson, Tennessee. After receiving the response, the business partners spent their entire summer working on a branding project for the team. That perseverance led to the lasting success of Brandiose.
Several of the agency’s current clients have gone viral and been featured on SportsCenter among other media outlets. After receiving promotional uniforms from Brandiose, some of their clients have earned hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of dollars in retail sales, earning a spot in the agency’s “Six-Figure Club.”
“I love when we get to see our clients at our annual convention and they talk about how much money the merchandise has made them,” Klein said. “I love being able to see them grow their business, and the more merchandise they sell, the more people in America that are wearing their logo, and that’s awesome.”
Klein and White are creating a lasting legacy in Minor League Baseball – one team at a time. Their creativity and talent in advertising is bringing fame to cities across the nation.
Dr. Chandra Clark, assistant professor in journalism and creative media, recently received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award from The University of Alabama National Alumni Association. The award is given each year to four faculty members at the University who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to teaching.
Clark teaches several broadcast journalism courses within the College of Communication and Information Sciences, including courses in electronic news, producing and digital news. Prior to joining the faculty at UA, she was an assistant professor at the University of Montevallo and a visiting professor at Samford University.
Clark’s passion for broadcast journalism started when she volunteered at a television station at 16 years old, and it continued as she helped start two other television stations in West and Central Alabama. During her career she has served as a senior producer at the ABC affiliate in Birmingham, a freelance producer, and a broadcast media marketing specialist for The University of Alabama.
Clark’s creative scholarship focuses on the impactful role of journalists in society. Her teaching focuses on leading the next generation of journalists by training them in ethics and in the profession of broadcast journalism in the ever-changing media landscape. She is innovative in teaching technology and storytelling across all mediums, platforms, and aspects of news, weather and sports. She has produced a series of award-winning mini documentaries related to how broadcast television and radio play a critical role as “first informers” in natural disasters, and she has produced a 5-part documentary series called “Eyes of the Storm.” Clark has also produced a forthcoming feature-length documentary on retired UA football coach Gene Stallings named “Do Right: The Stallings Standard.”
Clark believes in experiential learning, and she and her students have worked extensively with more than 60 nonprofit organizations and corporations to create over 100 comprehensive multimedia projects to date. Most recently, Clark and her students partnered with The World Games to produce and publish multimedia virtual tours for an international audience.
In 1976, The University of Alabama National Alumni Association began an innovative program designed to annually recognize four faculty members at the Capstone who demonstrate “Outstanding Commitment to Teaching.” The awards are based on the faculty members’ commitment to teaching and the impact they have had on students through the teaching and learning process.
The National Alumni Association is a self-governed, nonprofit membership organization that serves The University of Alabama and its many alumni, students, parents and friends. Through its programs, the Alumni Association promotes a spirit of fellowship among the alumni, provides a continuous flow of information on the progress and needs of the University, and encourages united alumni support for its advancement. For more information, click here.
Pat Duggins, news director at Alabama Public Radio (APR), was recently invited by the U.S. State Department to address a delegation from Africa regarding APR’s 14-month investigation of human trafficking. The audience included representatives of victim support groups, law enforcement and courts from nations including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti and Burkina Faso, among others.
The meeting was held in Birmingham, Alabama, as part of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Through the program, leaders of foreign countries, and “up and coming” leaders, are invited to the United States to meet with Americans with similar interests and experiences. The program is considered the U.S. State Department’s premiere avenue for the exchange of ideas between leaders in the U.S. and those from foreign nations. Alumni of the program have gone on to become world leaders, including Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Anwar Sadat, Indira Gandhi and Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias. The State Department felt APR’s 14-month investigation offered an opportunity to further U.S. foreign policy, and thus they invited Duggins to speak about the project.
“I was honored to spread the good word on APR’s project and the role an APR student intern played in it,” Duggins said. “During my address, I made it a point to say that, even though my team and I had spent 14 months investigating human trafficking, I was not claiming to be an ‘expert.’ I felt that message was necessary considering the background of the delegates. I wanted to hear what they had to say, even though I was the speaker.”
The initial investigation was completed in 2019 after APR spent 14 months and three thousand miles on the road investigating the trafficking issue in Alabama. Duggins was motivated to begin the investigation after reading a report from The University of Alabama’s College of Social Work on the child sex trade in the state. The report found 1,100 known cases of trafficking in Alabama in 2017, the year before the investigation began. The findings from APR’s investigation were compiled into a multi-episode award-winning radio series and a documentary which delved deeper into the specifics of human trafficking and those impacted by it.
The work completed during the investigation included contributions from APR student interns from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS). C&IS Alumna Tina Turner was named a top ten finalist in the audio category of the Hearst Journalism Awards Program for two audio reports she completed during her student internship with APR, including an episode of the human trafficking series titled, “Selling Kids: Being LGBTQ in the Bible Belt.” Duggins included insights from Turner’s work in his address.
As Duggins reflects on the address, he is humbled by the impact of both the project and the address in bringing light to the issue of human trafficking.
“The most poignant response to APR’s trafficking investigation is that two more victims of the sex trade have contacted me. They heard our coverage online and were offering to tell their stories,” Duggins said.
At the address, the State Department focused heavily on the impact of journalists within APR and their commitment to investigating human trafficking and eradicating the global problem.
“I was gratified that they focused on my role as a journalist, and my profession’s responsibility to shine a light on trafficking,” Duggins said.
To learn more about the project or APR’s role in the State Department address, click here.
Alabama Public Radio is a network of public radio stations based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama that serves the western half of the state of Alabama with classical, folk, jazz and nostalgic music programs, as well as local news and news and feature programs from National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and American Public Media networks. To learn more, visit apr.org.
C&IS students and staff from the Center for Public Television (CPT) recently won two Emmy awards at the Southeast Emmys.
The Southeast Emmys are awarded by the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences organization. The annual awards include entries from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina.
UA’s CPT earned 2022 Southeast Emmy Awards in the following categories:
The School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) and its partners recently received three grants totaling more than $1.2 million. The grants were each awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and come as part of a $21 million investment in library and archive initiatives by IMLS.
Each grant was made possible by the collaborative efforts of SLIS faculty, archives-related agencies, libraries and higher education institutions across the nation.
“The University of Alabama SLIS has a history of community engaged scholarship to the state and beyond,” said Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, interim director of SLIS. “I’m excited to see our faculty embarking on newly funded projects with community partners that focus on closing achievement gaps in young children and training current and future diverse library and information studies professionals to engage in critical work that creates environments to foster important cross-cultural conversations between these individuals and the pluralistic communities they serve.”
SLIS professor and EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice, Dr. Bharat Mehra is a leading collaborator in the three grants and believes collaboration is vital to the success of the projects and the advancement of social justice within library and archival studies.
“To make an impact on everyday lives in their external communities, institutions have to find creative ways to collaborate and partner across boundaries of all sorts, whether it is across institutions, organizations, private-public sectors, community groups, individuals, etc.,” Mehra said. “Collaboration is important in the various projects because it allows us to tap into the synergies across diverse settings and bring different entities together to apply complementary strengths and further social justice and social equity.”
Training of Community-Embedded Social Justice Archivists (SJ4a)
Mehra and Dr. Robert Riter, Marie Drolet Bristol-EBSCO endowed professor, were awarded a grant entitled “Training of Community-Embedded Social Justice Archivists.” The SLIS faculty members will recruit and train 12 Black, Indigenous and people of color paraprofessionals working in community‐based archives settings to earn library science master’s degrees from The University of Alabama Online. The curriculum will combine social justice and inclusivity with archival studies. The cohort of students will begin the program in January 2023, and Mehra, who serves as the principal investigator, believes the program will further the cohort’s impact in professional settings.
“There is an urgency in the 21st century to dismantle the resistance among archivists to expand the impact and relevance of their work by adopting social justice actions and diversifying the profession,” Mehra said. “Hence, the focus on recruiting and training paraprofessionals who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color with social justice and archival studies skills to further their impact in local and regional settings as well as in the profession and workforce.”
This grant will also support the creation of curricular and mentoring frameworks specifically tailored to the goals and objectives of individuals dedicating themselves to professional practice at the intersection of archives, social justice and advocacy.
“This cohort will be positioned to serve as change agents within their institutions, localities of practice, and the archives and records professions,” said Riter, the Co-PI of the project.
SLIS faculty will collaborate with the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Alabama Public Library Service, Multnomah County Archives, New Mexico State Library, Society of American Archivists and Special Collections and Archives at the California State University among others through various aspects of grant implementation.
Civic Engagement for Racial Justice in Public Libraries (RJ@PL)
Mehra received a grant entitled “Civic Engagement for Racial Justice in Public Libraries” in collaboration with Dr. Kimberly Black of Chicago State University and multiple state and public libraries. The project’s goal is to study and build the capabilities of public librarians and selected communities to lead civic engagement and promote positive social change by advancing racial justice. Mehra and his colleagues plan to spotlight positive initiatives of civic engagement that libraries in the southern regions are adopting to promote racial justice.
“Racial justice is a hot topic, but this project hopes to break down the stereotypes and barriers that people might have about the topic through the concept of civic engagement. We are asking ourselves how we can engage and interact in discussion and mutual understanding, and how libraries are doing that,” Mehra said.
Mehra and Black will be joined by the Alabama Public Library Service, Athens Regional Library System, Austin Public Library, Birmingham Public Library, Georgia Public Library Service, Howard County Library System, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Library of Virginia, Louisville Free Public Library, Maryland State Library Agency, Northwestern Library System, Richland Library, Richmond Public Library and Suffolk Public Library and Tennessee State Library and Archives to implement the project.
SLIS will also join Dr. Alissa Lange, Director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education and the Early Childhood Education STEM Lab at East Tennessee State University, to create and evaluate an online professional learning program, Libraries Count. Mehra will serve as the co-PI of the project which aims to support library staff to integrate math into programming for young children and their families. The program will first be implemented in Alabama and Tennessee libraries, and will ultimately support children and families living in diverse underserved communities across 10 states. Mehra notes that math skills are essential to students upon entry to kindergarten, and that there is a misconception that students only learn math in the classroom. This project aims to better-prepare librarians to integrate math into lessons with young children and families of diverse backgrounds, and to help these children in becoming more interested in math at a young age.
“Knowledge of math and math skills pre-kindergarten greatly shape young children’s educational journeys and future career paths. This learning emerges way before math is introduced in classrooms within schools because making sense of the world through math is ubiquitous and all-immersive, starting right at birth and developing all the time, everywhere,” Mehra said. “Professional learning and development for librarians could address misconceptions and help librarians to better extend themselves in their reach towards underserved populations for mathematics education.”
Webjunction, an online learning network, will help launch and evaluate the program impacts and publish the final webinars for libraries nationwide to access for free.
The School of Library and Information Studies is a top-ranked program for library, information and book arts education. SLIS aims to develop creative and critical thinkers and leaders for the information world through a supportive teaching and learning environment, collaborative research and community engagement. To learn more, click here.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. IMLS advances, supports and empowers America’s museums, libraries and related organizations through grant making, research and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov.
The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) is dedicated to fostering collaboration, unity and passion through distinguished faculty and staff. This fall, C&IS welcomes ten new faculty members who bring with them each a notable record of academic achievement. C&IS is proud to introduce the new faculty who will continue the College’s tradition of excellence:
Dr. Josh Bramlett, Assistant Professor, Advertising and Public Relations
Dr. Noor Ghazal Aswad, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
Dr. Kaylin Duncan, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
John Haley, Assistant Professor, Journalism and Creative Media
Brent Mitchell, Instructor, Communication Studies
Dr. Jeonghyun Oh, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
Dr. Jaclyn Shetterly, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
Dr. Teresa Tackett, Assistant Professor, Advertising and Public Relations
Caleb Walters, Assistant Professor, Advertising and Public Relations
**not pictured: Hailey Allen, Instructor, Journalism and Creative Media
The University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences will hold its bi-annual Communication Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday, October 13, in the Bryant Conference Center. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with a guided conversation and cocktail hour beginning at 6 p.m. This time will allow guests to connect with our inductees and fellow guests. The cocktail hour will be followed by dinner and a ceremony beginning at 7 p.m.
The 2022 inductees are Paul Finebaum, Charlie Monk, Janet Hall O’Neil and Frank M. Thompson Jr. Tickets to the event are $175 and can be purchased through October 3.
For more information and to purchase tickets or to sponsor the event, visit the C&IS website here.
The 2022 Class:
Paul Finebaum is a celebrated sports author, television and radio personality and former columnist best known as the host of “The Paul Finebaum Show” on the SEC Network. He is an award-winning columnist with more than 250 regional and national awards stemming from his days at the Birmingham Post-Herald, followed by both AL.com and Sports Illustrated. Today he is widely respected as an authoritative voice in his field.
Charlie Monk is a renowned leader in the Nashville music community and is affectionately named the Mayor of Music Row. He has created a lasting impact in radio, song writing, record producing and television in a career spanning more than 60 years. Monk fostered the careers of country music legends including Randy Travis and Kenny Chesney. Today, Monk hosts a weekend music and interview show on SiriusXM’s Prime Country.
Janet Hall O’Neil
Janet Hall O’Neil is a former news anchor for WBRC-TV who served her community for more than 40 years anchoring daily newscasts and delivering the news throughout the Birmingham area. Over the years, viewers have relied on Hall to cover everything from The Blizzard of ’93 to the tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frank M. Thompson Jr.
Dr. Frank M. Thompson Jr. is an award-winning former professor and director of The University of Alabama Forensic Council. Thompson began his career at UA in 1980 as an instructor in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS). For the next 33 years, he would become one of the most successful forensics coaches in the nation and an integral member of the C&IS faculty.
About the Hall of Fame:
Established by the College’s Board of Visitors in 1998, the Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame was created to honor, preserve and perpetuate the names and accomplishments of individuals who have brought lasting fame to the state of Alabama through the application of disciplines taught, researched and practiced in the College.
Dr. Dianne Bragg, associate professor in journalism and creative media, has been selected to receive the 2022 American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA) National Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The award honors a college or university teacher who excels at teaching in the areas of journalism and mass communication history, makes a positive impact on student learning, and offers an outstanding example for other educators. Bragg will receive the award during the annual AJHA national conference, which will take place September 29 through October 1 in Memphis.
Bragg attributes her teaching success to those who taught her.
“I’ve been fortunate to have many wonderful teachers in my life, including AJHA founder Dr. David Sloan, who set me on this path,” she said. “They taught me that the ‘devil is in the details,’ and I am better for it. I encourage my students to pursue topics that matter to them, and those who take that to heart often find their own passion, which makes it such a joyful journey.”
She added that the fulfillment of teaching media history is twofold.
“It combines my passions for journalism and history,” Bragg explained. “Mostly, though, it is because of how much I learn from my students. They often choose research topics on subjects I have not yet explored, and so I discover a journalist I’ve never heard of or a publication I never knew existed. And, for them and for me, looking at the past always seems to offer a more enlightened path for the future.”
Bragg’s interim department chair, Michael D. Bruce, praised Bragg for her passion for teaching and student success.
“Dianne devotes an enormous amount of time coaxing and mentoring students into media historians, at least for the semester,” he said.
Her colleague Chris Roberts said he has worked with her on several history-focused theses.
“She has an extraordinary ability to guide students through the long process from half-formed idea to finished thesis,” he said. “Between theses and term papers, her students have created work that has been presented (and won awards) at many regional and national academic conferences—another testament to her skill.”
Rebecca Robinson, one of the students whose thesis Bragg directed, also worked as a graduate assistant under Bragg.
“She truly engages her students in the subjects she teaches, whether it is a freshman in an introduction course or a senior in her (very rigorous) media law class,” Robinson said. “Her extensive knowledge of mass communication and journalism history makes any class she teaches an absolute joy to take.”
Bragg earned her doctorate from The University of Alabama and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Memphis. She has won numerous awards for her research and teaching, including second place best faculty paper and the Jean Palmegiano Award, both from AJHA.
Founded in 1981, the American Journalism Historians Association seeks to advance education and research in mass communication history. Members work to raise historical standards and ensure that all scholars and students recognize the vast importance of media history and apply this knowledge to the advancement of society. For more information on AJHA, visit http://www.ajhaonline.org.
Dr. Tyana Ellis, a recent graduate of the doctoral program within the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), recently completed a research proposal that was recognized as a top paper at the International Communication Association (ICA) conference in Paris, France.
As a former public speaking instructor and a graduate assistant within the Institute for Communication and Information Research, Ellis saw a connection between public speaking and the innovative technology in the College’s new Health Communication and Biometrics laboratory. Her proposal merged the research conducted within the lab with the public speaking program in C&IS by analyzing students’ facial expressions during public speaking presentations.
“Facial expressions are so important in public speaking because they can enhance the effectiveness of a presented message or actually lessen the effectiveness,” Ellis said. “Therefore, it made sense to utilize the software that we have in the Biometrics Lab to help improve presentation effectiveness in a new and innovative way.”
Ellis hopes that all research she does can have a positive impact on the lives of others, and she was especially happy that this research led students to become more confident in their public speaking capabilities.
“Through the research that was done for this project, students became more aware of the emotions that they convey while presenting, and it resulted in students being able to make changes to their presentation styles in order to become more confident and competent presenters,” Ellis said.
Because her innovative research was named a top paper, Ellis had the opportunity to present her research in Paris at the ICA conference.
“I personally loved the session I presented during the conference because it was so fun to share the work that we’re doing at UA while hearing about the ways that others are engaging students at their institutions across the globe,” Ellis said.
Ellis also noted that she is thankful for the collaborative effort of C&IS faculty and doctoral students who worked to make the project successful.
“This was most certainly a collaborative project and I’m very thankful for my co-authors Suyu Chou, Emily Dirks, Dr. Kim Bissell, Angela Billings, Dr. Anneliese Bolland and Dr. Ben Pyle,” Ellis said.
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.
The International Communication Association (ICA) aims to advance the scholarly study of communication by encouraging and facilitating excellence in academic research worldwide. Click here to learn more.
With a passion for serving others, C&IS alumna Avery Rhodes knew early in her life that she wanted to make a difference in her community. After completing two degrees from C&IS and working as a public speaking instructor for five years, Rhodes focused in on her passion by volunteering within the homeless community in Birmingham, Alabama.
She served meals, participated in service work and met with families experiencing homelessness to learn about their background and their struggles. Additionally, she conducted academic research on poverty, racism and homelessness in America to further understand the issues she was witnessing.
“This really turned upside down my understanding of homelessness and how it is perceived,” Rhodes explained of her experience. “The communicated word about people experiencing homelessness is usually very negative and oftentimes very false, and it’s harmful to that community of people who might be trying to break some of the barriers that they have in front of them to move forward.”
After years of serving communities of people experiencing homelessness, she decided to be even more permanently involved. From this desire blossomed the idea for Community on the Rise, a nonprofit organization that prioritizes people experiencing homelessness & poverty in Birmingham.
“At Community on the Rise, we’re committed to community empowerment and focus on connecting the community to housing, education, healing and employment,” Rhodes said.
As the executive director of Community on the Rise, she spends her time focusing on each of these principles so that she can play a role in empowering her community to reach its full potential.
“I see poverty as an unjust and unfair system that leaves some people without access to the kind of resources that they need and deserve, and it leaves all of us lacking the benefit of those people being able to contribute to our societies,” Rhodes said. “The people I know have a myriad of talents, strengths and gifts that need to be shared, and if you’re stuck in a tragic situation, you don’t have the bandwidth, energy or time to give those gifts. So, ultimately, we all suffer from that.”
Through Community on the Rise, Rhodes has served people experiencing homelessness and poverty through creating employment and housing opportunities, assisting community members in recovering identity documents, developing a healing circlecalled Community Table and more.
Her commitment to her community is unwavering, and she credits much of the knowledge and experiences she gained through C&IS with shaping her worldview and impacting her career trajectory.
“My experience within the College of Communication and the greats who poured into me – Dr. Frank Thompson, Dr. Mark Nelson, Dr. Beth Bennett, and Dr. Dexter Gordon – endowed me with the tools I needed to ask thorough questions, to explore my world more widely and to be open to people and perspective,” Rhodes said. “That absolutely put me on the path to discover my purpose and to use my passion. For that, I am forever grateful.”
As Rhodes reflected on her career path thus far, she noted that all professionals should incorporate two things into their careers – finding what brings them joy and finding a problem they are passionate about solving.
“I think it’s so important to ask yourself what brings you joy and also what problem you want to solve,” Rhodes said. “I think asking these questions can set you on a path where you are not just doing your work, but cultivating things within your work that can be really life-giving.”
Through its mission to connect people experiencing homelessness to housing, education, healing and employment, Community on the Rise prioritizes its community and works to remove barriers. Learn more about the nonprofit organization here.