Category: CIS News

C&IS Honors Day 2019

Dean Mark Nelson with Terri Truncale, the 2019 Plank Award Winner, and Jeffrey Emerson, the 2019 Bank Award Winner, at Honors Day 2019.

C&IS Honors Day

Honors Day is a time-honored tradition on The University of Alabama campus and within the College of Communication and Information Sciences. As the academic year comes to an end, we recognize the accomplishments of our most outstanding students and alumni. Selected both within their academic units and college wide, the individuals honored today have contributed excellence to the College and are distinctive representatives for our field.


Bert Bank Distinguished Service Award – Jeffrey W. Emerson

Since graduating from The University of Alabama in 1991, Jeff Emerson’s career led him to work in the halls of Congress, the Alabama Governor’s Office and currently the Executive Office of the President of the United States.  Since January 2018, Emerson has worked in the executive office of the president as deputy U.S. trade representative for public and media affairs. In this position, he develops and executes strategies to communicate the president’s trade agenda and U.S. trade policy.


Betsy Plank Distinguished Achievement Award – Terri C. Troncale 

Terri Troncale began her career in 1980 as a copy editor for The Birmingham News and would continue there for 14 years working as a reporter, editor and columnist. After serving briefly as an assistant regional editor for the Orlando Sentinel, she began working as the deputy editorial page editor for The Times-Picayune in 1996. She would take over as editor in 1999. Troncale shared in the 2006 Pulitzer Prizes for public service and breaking news reporting with her colleagues at The Times-Picayune for their work during and after Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, Troncale was a finalist for the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing for a series on the needs of Alabama public schools, alongside three other Birmingham News colleagues.

Outstanding Alumnus, Advertising – Curtis E. Galusha

As Senior Director of Innovation at Avanade, Curt Galusha leads market-facing digital innovation for the world’s leading brands and institutions. He focuses on his creative strengths: pioneering breakthrough customer experiences, user experience, digital marketing, strategy and brand expression. He is an expert at applying emerging technologies in relevant ways to elevate brands, improve customer experiences, increase revenues and drive business success. As a seasoned global marketer, Galusha has worked for more than 20 years with teams and clients worldwide.

Outstanding Alumnus, Communication Studies – Lee Mayfield

Lee Mayfield is the Director of Forensics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Throughout his decorated coaching career, he has coached a national finalist in every one of the eleven events offered by the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET). He coached national champions in program oral interpretation, poetry interpretation and dramatic interpretation for James Madison University and dramatic interpretation for The University of Alabama. He is currently the chair of the AFA-NIET whose national tournament is being hosted for the third time by The University of Alabama this month.

Outstanding Alumna, Library and Information Studies – Inge Bruggeman

Inge Bruggeman is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) where she is area head of its new book and publication arts program. She also directs the activities of the Black Rock Press which has been a staple of UNR for almost 50 years. Additionally, Bruggeman acts as editor in chief of the academic journal for the College Book Art Association and occasionally writes for professional journals such as Parenthesis: The Journal for the Fine Press Book Association and Hand Papermaking.


Outstanding Alumnus, Public Relations – Bob Pierce 

Bob Pierce is Vice President for Advancement at The University of Alabama, a position he has held for the past three and a half years. Since his arrival at the Capstone, significant operational improvements have been made in the Division of Advancement and two record fundraising years have been completed, including the most recent fiscal year which saw more than $224 million raised, an increase of almost 80 percent over the previous record. He holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master of arts degree in advertising and public relations from UA where he was recognized with the outstanding graduate student award in advertising and public relations in 2003.

Outstanding Alumna, Journalism and Creative Media – Sharon Maze Tinsley

Sharon Tinsley has served as the president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association since 2005. She also serves as president of the National Alliance of State Broadcast Associations (NASBA)—a group comprised of her counterparts from across the country. Before coming to the ABA, she served as a board member of the broadcasters’ associations in Florida, Louisiana and West Virginia. She is a board member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) chapter of the mid-South and is vice president for the Alabama region. She also serves on The University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences board of visitors, including a term as president from 2012-2013.

From Left: Leah LeFebvre, Becky Britt, Scott Parrot, Robin Boylorn, Brian Britt and Matt VanDyke

C&IS Launches Grant Writing Institute

From Left: Leah LeFebvre, Becky Britt, Scott Parrot, Robin Boylorn, Brian Britt and Matt VanDyke.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) at The University of Alabama prides itself on championing creativity and intellectual curiosity. This semester, C&IS launched the Grant Writing Institute designed to position faculty for success in writing grant application proposals and securing grant funding.

The Grant Writing Institute is designed to provide participants with the tools necessary to complete an application for research funding and submit the application to a federal or state agency or a foundation within 12 months of the start of the program. Led by Dr. Kim Bissell and Dr. Anneliese Bolland, the program works through a partnership between the Institute for Communication Research (ICIR) and the departments within C&IS to provide a semester-long course release for each of the participants.

“With all the aspects grant writing includes, it’s common to spend at least 60 to 80 hours working on a grant proposal,” said Dr. Kim Bissell, Associate Dean for Research at C&IS. “The idea with the Grant Writing Institute is to buy out the time professors would take to teach a course and have them utilize that time to work on a grant instead.”

Over the course of the semester, participants meet for six scheduled sessions designed to lead them through the process of writing and submitting a grant application. The sessions cover topics such as how to justify budgets in grant proposals and how to prepare for a meeting with a program officer from a funding agency. Each session assigns specific tasks to be completed by the next session to assist the participants with staying on schedule.

Members of the Grant Writing Institute board a plane to Washington, D.C. to meet with grant program officers.

As an added bonus, The University of Alabama Office of Proposal Development reserved one of its flights to Washington D.C. specifically for the C&IS grant writing fellows to discuss their grant proposals with program officers. According to Bissell, these meetings provided valuable feedback to grant writers and helped secure advocates for their grant when the time comes for the review panel to award funding.

In addition to teaching about the grant writing process, the program guides all participants through submitting their own grant. By the end of May 2019, each participant will have a finalized grant application in excess of $100,000 for review, with a submission deadline of December 2019.

“Grant writing is tedious. It’s time consuming, and it can be frustrating to make the numbers work. This experience and process will help our participants be more confident each time they apply,” said Bissell. “The goal of the Grant Writing Institute is to give faculty the tools and resources they will continue to use long after their time in the program.”

The 2019 C&IS Grant Writing Institute participants are:

  • Dr. Robin Boylorn (Communication Studies), $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to hold a summer teaching institute on the stories of the South.
  • Dr. Becky Britt (Journalism and Creative Media), up to $500,000 from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to investigate oral health disparities in rural communities and develop an oral health intervention to improve adherence to health practices and education about the role of oral health.
  • Dr. Brian Britt (Advertising and Public Relations), $400,000 – 600,000 from the National Science Foundation to study internal processes of organizational evolution.
  • Dr. Leah LeFebvre (Communication Studies), $100,000 Mind & Life Prosociality, Empathy, Altruism, Compassion and Ethics Grant to identify mindfulness and compassionate strategies used to reduce suffering from ghosting, a contemporary breakup strategy that ceases communication in an effort to withdraw access through emerging media.
  • Dr. Scott Parrott (Journalism and Creative Media), $200,000 from the National Science Foundation to launch a science communication program for undergraduate students.
  • Dr. Matt VanDyke (Advertising and Public Relations), up to $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to investigate public and decision-makers’ perception of drought, and to develop an interactive decision-making tool that forecasts drought and water availability.

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

The 2018 Alabama Forensic Council team at last year's Forensics National Showcase.

The University of Alabama to Host 58 Schools at National Forensics Tournament

The 2018 Alabama Forensic Council team at last year's Forensics National Showcase.
The 2018 Alabama Forensic Council team at last year’s Forensics National Showcase.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) and the Alabama Forensic Council will host the 2019 American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (NIET) this week in Tuscaloosa. The tournament, which runs from April 4-7, will feature 700 students from 58 schools, including the University of Texas, Ohio University and the University of Florida. The NIET headquarters will be located in the Ferguson Center, with Lloyd, Bidgood, ten Hoor, Morgan, Reese Phifer and North Lawn Halls all hosting individual events.

“It’s a great honor to host the NIET. We have always prided ourselves on our competitive successes at the NIET. Our students compete hard and represent our university with grace,” said Bobby Imbody, director of forensics at C&IS. “To be able to compete on our own campus and show the nation what UA is like only adds to the pride we feel in the Capstone. It will be great to have friends, family and alumni in attendance while we strive for even more national championships.”

The University of Alabama will send 25 students to NIET, competing in 66 events, which is the maximum number of events in which a team can participate. The Alabama Forensic Council is competing to finish as one of the top five teams in the nation for the third consecutive year.

“We are so proud of the Alabama Forensic Council and its national success,” said Dr. Mark Nelson, dean of C&IS. “The coaches and students consistently do great work to ensure that our forensics team carries on the tradition of excellence for which the University is known.”

Founded in 1946, the Alabama Forensic Council is the oldest co-curricular organization at The University of Alabama. Student members of the council participate in the University’s forensics program & attend both the regional and national intercollegiate forensic competition.

Brooke Bailey

APR Senior Spotlight: Brooke Bailey

The following is a repost from UA News Center featuring APR senior and 2018 Susan Colvin Prize winner, Brooke Bailey. 

Maybe it’s the alliteration.

Brooke Bailey, a UA public relations major, cites a home-towner’s help in sparking her career choice. That professional located in Bailey’s native Daphne, Alabama? Jennifer Jenkins, president of JJPR, a public relations agency.

The alliterative effect found in their names isn’t their only commonality.

Bailey, who interned at JJPR in the summer of 2017, and Jenkins, a University of Alabama alumna, also seem to share a mutual admiration.

“Brooke was definitely one of our shining stars when it comes to interns,” Jenkins says. “She was very well-versed. Her writing skills were wonderful. That is one of the hardest things to find when we are taking on interns and training them. We don’t always have a lot of time to teach those skills.”

Jenkins also cites Bailey’s professional drive.

“One of the things we look for first and foremost is initiative,” Jenkins says. “She had a lot of experience coordinating events, and she was great on the phone. She didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and make calls to vendors or media contacts.”

Jenkins leads an award-winning agency; Bailey, though still a student, oversees 40 student art directors and copywriters in her role as assistant creative director with UA’s Capstone Agency, a student-run communication firm. She was named recipient of the Susan Colvin Prize, awarded annually to the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ most outstanding student.

Jenkins, a Fayette, Alabama native, also knows a thing or two about looking up to role models. She says it was her own hometown hero, Jackie Waldon, a PR professional at the local hospital, who first showed her the potential a path in public relations offered when she was a teenager.

“Jennifer is one of the most amazing women I have had the opportunity to know,” Bailey says of her mentor. She describes Jenkins’ work ethic as inspirational and says she successfully balances her professional drive alongside commitments to family and community.

Bailey is a recipient of the Susan Colvin Prize, awarded annually to the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ most outstanding student.

“She’s on top of her game as a parent, and at the agency and in her community,” Bailey says. “That showed me that you can be in the industry and work really hard and also have a home life and be influential in your community and give back.”

During her internship, the UA student helped develop social media content calendars for the firm, wrote blogs for its clients and weighed in on PR issues during the firm’s weekly staff meetings.

“We had so much fun that summer,” says Bailey, a 2015 Daphne High School graduate. “I don’t think there was any point that summer where I felt like just an intern.”

President of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences Ambassadors, Bailey is scheduled to graduate in May. With minors in studio art and computing technology and applications, Bailey says she wants to focus on the visual side of public relations. She is applying for fellowships and positions with some of the larger public relations agencies in Washington D.C., Chicago and New York.

“I think Brooke is going to be one of those people who makes the University really proud,” Jenkins says. “We will see her in big places doing great things upon graduation.”

Bailey says it’s the variety of opportunities, both big and small, that she relishes most about her chosen profession.

“I think I most enjoy the flexibility of public relations and the nature of how it changes from day to day. You never know what you are going to be doing.”

And, you never know who you will encounter along your path who might prove pertinent to your profession.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.


C&IS Senior Alana Doyle is the PRWeek PR Student of the Year

C&IS Senior Named PR Student of the Year

C&IS Senior Alana Doyle is the PRWeek PR Student of the Year
C&IS senior Alana Doyle is the PRWeek Public Relations Student of the Year.

PRWeek has named Alana Doyle, a senior in the department of advertising and public relations (APR), its Public Relations Student of the Year. Doyle was one of two students from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) on a national shortlist of only five students selected for the award, along with Gabby DiCarlo. The winner was announced on March 21 in New York City at the annual PRWeek Awards.

Doyle, of Scottsdale, Arizona, is the University’s second PRWeek Student of the Year winner. Maret Montanari received the Public Relations Student of the Year in 2018 and Katie Gatti was runner-up in 2017.

“Over the last few days, I have been blown away by the love and support I have received from The University of Alabama. I am so grateful to this school and the APR department for preparing me for success,” Doyle said. “The faculty and staff in the department are some of the most talented, inspirational and dedicated individuals I have ever met.”

This year’s campaign prompt challenged applicants to create a campaign for Levi Strauss wide-leg jeans that targeted Gen Z consumers. Doyle’s campaign, #ComfortIsBack, suggested that comfort was the way to the Gen Z consumer’s heart and that social media influencers on platforms such as TikTok could serve as brand ambassadors showcasing the new fit of Levi jeans.

PRWeek judges highlighted Doyle’s “smart research” and “easy to remember messaging.” They also issued the following feedback about her campaign, #ComfortIsBack:

“The campaign showed terrific understanding of how to marry a solid strategy to actual results – the primary reasons clients turn to PR experts.”

Doyle serves as a senior copywriter for Capstone Agency, UA’s nationally affiliated, student-run, integrated communications firm and was awarded the agency’s Star Client Team Member Award, Star Department Member Award and the Copywriting Challenge Award last year. For the last two years, Doyle has also served as Co-Vice President of Projects on the Board of the student chapter of PRCA (Public Relations Council of Alabama).

She was also selected as Viacom’s only intern to interview celebrities on the 2018 VMA’s red carpet. As graduation approaches this spring, she is determining her career aspirations, but she is interested in working in media relations or brand strategy for a global agency.

“Alana’s path to being the 2019 PR Student of the Year was paved by her never-stop work ethic. Her drive, and the skills she developed in our program, are going to be incredible assets for the organization fortunate enough to hire her,” said Dr. Joseph Phelps, chair of the department of advertising and public relations. “Alana’s win is also special as she helped The University of Alabama to continue its streak with both the 2018 and now 2019 Outstanding PR Students coming from our program. I am extraordinarily proud of the great work our students are doing and of my colleagues that are teaching and mentoring these outstanding students.”

“I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the caliber of applicants from across the country in this competition as to be ranked among them is an honor in itself. I’m so grateful for the friendships this experience has brought me,” Doyle posted to her Instagram account. “Beyond these acknowledgements, I’d like to thank my family, my friends, the Alabama APR department, former mentors and employers, @bamadeltagamma@capstoneagency and @ua_prca for your love and continuous support. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. Thank you, again, to everyone at PRWeek!”

The Department of Advertising and Public Relations is a part of the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama. For more information about the College, please visit

SLIS gives over $20,822 in new free books to Black Belt School Libraries

During March 2019,  The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) will award $20,822 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 from January to February. We received applications from 30 highly deserving schools. The judges chose 6 school libraries in the Black Belt Region of the state to receive on average $2600 each in brand new children’s and/or young adult books. The judging of the applications was rigorous, as every school exemplified a significant need.

We have selected 2 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.

Please join us in congratulating the following winning school libraries:

2019 Book Bonanza Black Belt Winners:

Banks School, serving grades PreK-8  (Pike County), Librarian Kim Head
Dallas County High School, serving grades 9-12 (Dallas County), Librarian Amy Reeves
Mt. Olive Intermediate School, serving grades 3-5 (Russell County), Librarian Cyrone Overton
Pike County High School, serving grades 7-12 (Pike County), Librarian Kimberly Dunn
Sophia P. Kingston Elementary School, serving grades K-5 (Dallas County), Librarian Krystal J. Dozier
Sweet Water High School, serving grades PreK-12 (Marengo County), Librarian Patricia Jones

2019 Book Bonanza Beyond Winner:

Thorsby High School, serving grades K-12 (Chilton County), Librarian Vanessa Langston
Woodstock Elementary School, serving grades PreK-4 (Bibb County), Librarian Terri Woodruff

Note: County listed is the county in which the school resides and not necessarily the name of the school system.

Established in 2009 by Dr. Jamie Naidoo, the SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (& Beyond) is an annual program that provides free new books to school libraries in the Black Belt region of state. Schools in the Black Belt region are encouraged to apply again in January next year for a chance to receive free books for their school libraries during the next SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt & Beyond Program. Low-income private schools in the Black Belt Region or schools in economically disadvantaged areas of the state outside the Black Belt are encouraged to apply next year (in January 2020) to be a Beyond Winner.  If you need additional information about the program, please contact Dr. Jamie C. Naidoo at or SLIS at 205-348-4610. Information is also available on the program website:

First Informers Documentary Showcases Local Broadcasters During 2018 Hurricanes

Dr. Chandra Clark with students and faculty from The University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma standing with a bear statue.
Dr. Chandra Clark and Professor Scott Hodgson from the University of Oklahoma with students from The University of Alabama and Oklahoma.

Assistant professor of journalism and creative media Dr. Chandra Clark just released new videos about covering Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which struck North Carolina and Florida in 2018. They’re part of a larger documentary series named “First Informers” which highlights the role of broadcasters during disasters.

A collaborative effort with the University of Oklahoma (OU), the award-winning series documents the valuable role broadcasters play in times of emergency following severe weather events. Viewers hear directly from news anchors, field reporters, meteorologists and local officials who live and work in communities affected by the weather events.

“With the spotlight on journalists right now, it’s very dear to my heart to highlight the crucial role that they’re playing and how many of them are affected by these disasters, too,” said Clark. “They’re experiencing the same pain and going through the same adjustments as the people they serve.”

The First Informers videos are shared with regulators at the Federal Communications Commission, the White House, members of Congress, and state broadcast associations, to demonstrate the unique role broadcasting fulfills during times of emergency. To that effect, the Omnibus spending bill, which passed into law in March of 2018, included an allocation of $1 billion dollars for radio and television broadcasters for the spectrum repack, and it broadened the definition of “first responders” to include these broadcasters. This provides special consideration for broadcasters in times of emergency, including access to necessities such as emergency generators crisis areas.

“These videos served as a reminder to Washington lawmakers and regulators of the enduring ‘first informer’ role that can be played by local broadcasters in times of crisis,” said Dennis Wharton, Executive Vice President of Communications, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). “In the final analysis, it is generally the local radio and TV station that ‘gets the word out’ and saves lives in Tornado Alley, in California wildfires, during Superstorm Sandy and when there is an Amber Alert. NAB is proud of our partnership with Chandra and University of Alabama students who have performed exceptional work capturing the depth and breadth of local broadcasters’ work during ‘life or death’ situations.”

The First Informers project series has documented local broadcasting in several notable severe storm events over the past 8 years. Together with Clark, Prof. Scott Hodgson of the University of Oklahoma and a collective of students from Oklahoma and Alabama have partnered with the National Association of Broadcasters and the Broadcast Education Association to produce 31 videos (or mini-documentaries). These include the 2011 EF4 tornado in Tuscaloosa, the 2011 EF5 tornado in Joplin, the 2012 hurricane known as “Superstorm Sandy,” a 2013 EF5 tornado which struck Moore, Oklahoma, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017 and Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018.

“There is no way projects of this magnitude can be done without a team effort,” says Hodgson, who serves as director for these projects that Dr. Clark produces.  “The time from when the weather emergency hits until boots hit the ground from our crew is incredibly short.  It takes an exceptional producer to pull off what Chandra is able to do. Her vast wealth of industry experience combined with her innate storytelling ability and leadership skills is the only reason we can do these projects.  Chandra is extremely unique and one of the best nationwide in academia today.”  The effect of these documentaries goes beyond their intended target audience.  Hodgson notes, “The impact Chandra has had on the students working on these grants has been immense.  There’s a group of exceptionally successful alumni from both our schools that point to Dr. Clark as a key Influence in their educational experience.  She has such a reputation at OU that I have students fighting for who will get to work with her.”

The National Association of Broadcasters is the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters. As the premier trade association for broadcasters, NAB advances the interests of its members in federal government, industry and public affairs; improves the quality and profitability of broadcasting; encourages content and technology innovation; and spotlights the important and unique ways stations serve their communities. For more information, visit

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama 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

Emerging Media Entrepreneur Headlines 10th Annual C&IS Diversity Symposium

Justin Ching, Keynote Speaker at the 2019 Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium
Justin Ching, Keynote Speaker at the 2019 Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), in partnership with the Alabama Program in Sports Communication (APSC), welcomes Justin Ching, one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” Millennials Changing Media to campus for the 10th Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium February 28-March 1.

Ching, 29, is the founder of j-school, a production company dedicated to empowering underrepresented communities to tell their own stories in their own voices.  As part of his keynote presentation, Ching will screen some of his projects such as the sports shows “Ritual,” “@TheBuzzer” and “Deportes @TheBuzzer.”

“He’s definitely the youngest keynote presenter we’ve had in the 10-year-old history of the symposium,” said George Daniels, assistant dean for administration. “We’re excited to have him on campus to inspire our students to see their potential to make an impact very early in their careers.”

In addition to his keynote presentation,  Ching will participate in a special keynote panel discussion on “Constructing the Narrative of the Activist Athlete,” along with Rashad Johnson, former NFL Player and UA alumnus and others. The panel will be moderated by Caryl Cooper, who originally launched the Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium in 2010.

“One of the symposium’s objectives was to create an intellectual environment that appreciates, advances and supports scholarly research and creative activities that focus on the communication of stories, experiences and issues that impact diverse populations,” said Cooper. “As senior faculty, I believed that it’s our duty to visit with our new colleagues, find out their research interests and goals, and demonstrate how diversity intersects with teaching and research productivity.”

Cooper’s panel on the activist athlete exemplifies the sports-focus of this year’s event, which is being co-sponsored with the APSC. Other sports-related research projects are among the more than 30 diversity-related research paper and poster presentations slated to be made during the symposium that feature both undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

Over the years, the symposium has continued to attract presenters from other universities.  This year, scholars from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Mississippi will appear on the program.

The symposium begins at 8 a.m. on Feb. 28 and continues through 4:45 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Attendee registration info to follow.

Contact: Dr. George Daniels,

C&IS Faculty and Student Team Produces Nationally Recognized Music Video

Led by Nick Corrao, a team of University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) students produced a music video for singer-songwriter Tim Higgins and his song “Blight.”

Corrao, who served as a producer for the video, and Higgins have been friends for years, so when Higgins wanted to create a music video to promote his new album, he approached Corrao. However, Corrao wasn’t sure his schedule would allow for him to fully commit to the production as much as was necessary, so he turned to one of his students, Reagan Wells, a senior journalism and creative media student from Galesburg, Illinois. For Wells, the project was an example of great timing.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take on, artistically, everything that the project was going to demand,” Corrao said. “I like to get my students involved in whatever I’m doing, whenever possible. Reagan and I had worked together earlier in the summer, and we had a really good working relationship, and I knew that he would be up to the task.”

“It was funny to me, because we went out to eat one night, and I said, ‘I’d like to do a music video,’” said Wells. “He said, ‘Well, I’ve got one for you.’”

The opportunity presented a new challenge to Wells, who had never directed a film before, but wanted to add portfolio experience before graduating.

One Day in Greensboro

“Blight” is an ode to Higgins’ affinity for antiquated things, as well as a lament for the destruction of those same things. The video captures that feeling and was mostly shot in an antebellum mansion owned by a friend of Higgins.

Filmed in various locations around Greensboro, Alabama, south of Tuscaloosa, Wells said he wanted to capture Higgins’ vision for the video more than anything else. While the shooting only took one day, brainstorming began two months before the cameras ever were rolling.

“If it looks cool, it will probably work. This was not just a directing thing, this was coming up with a concept. The sky was the limit, but you just didn’t know where to start,” Wells said. “We had three very talented shooters and an assistant director. We had 40 gigabytes of footage, and it was just like, ‘What do you do with this, where do you start?’”

Like a Rolling Stone

“I wanted to give Reagan the freedom to sort of explore creatively and give feedback on the cut,” Corrao added. “This is what we want to do in the (JCM Media Production) program. We want our students leaving here with work that has received some kind of professional recognition and exposure.”

In November, the video was highlighted in “Rolling Stone” magazine as one of its 10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week alongside country and Americana mainstays such as Jerrod Niemann and The Revivalists.

Wells said he could not have made this project work without his team, made up of fellow University of Alabama students: Alex Cherry as an assistant director and Jeb Brackner and Rhianna Israni behind the cameras. He also cited the importance of “trusting all ideas” in the process and knowing how to delegate duties.

“It feels so good to walk away with those videos in hand, and I can say to potential employers, ‘I was here doing work, I wasn’t just sitting in a classroom for four years,’” Wells said. “It’s this thing where I can say, ‘Here’s this, here’s what Reagan can do.’”

The music video for “Blight” can be viewed below.

Retired Marine Lt. Colonel Greg Ballard to Speak at UA on Alternative Energy

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Retired Marine Lt. Colonel and former Mayor of Indianapolis Greg Ballard will be speaking to students at The University of Alabama on February 18.

In conjunction with a special topics class in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) Department of Communication Studies, COM 295: The Forum, Ballard will be speaking to students about national security and the need to invest in alternative energy. This debate is the subject of his new book, “Less Oil or More Caskets: The National Security Argument for Moving Away from Oil.”

“We are thrilled to have Lt. Colonel Ballard speak to our students,” said Dr. Darrin Griffin, C&IS assistant professor and instructor for COM 295. “In The Forum, we focus on debate and communication, and this is a great opportunity for the students to learn.”

“Today, when we send our young men and women off to war, we pat them on the back and thank them for their service,” said Ballard about his book and presentation. “We throw parades and homecomings upon their successful return. We sadly salute the caskets as they go by. Then we drive down to the neighborhood gas station and fill up – and nobody makes the connection; nobody sees the irony.”

The presentation is open to the public and will begin at 2 p.m. in Doster Hall Room 104. Ballard’s visit is sponsored by the Department of Communication Studies, a part of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. For more information, please contact Dr. Darrin Griffin at