Category: CIS News

SLIS to move to McLure building, renovations underway

McLure building
1705080, Campus

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

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

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

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

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

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

C&IS completes ACEJMC reaccreditation

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Rebecca Britt Receives Alabama Water Institute Grant

Dr. Rebecca Britt, associate professor of journalism and creative media, was recently awarded the Alabama Water Institute (AWI) Innovation Grant for her project titled “Addressing water contamination threats using entropy and network theory via capacity building: Utilizing big data to develop an architecture for engineering and the social sciences.” The grant is a collaboration between the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) and the College of Engineering and is funded by AWI.

Britt and her team will use social entropy and network analysis to examine discussions on social media about health hazards related to water contamination. They will focus on conversations involving citizens and various organizations, including those related to health, citizen engagement and politics. The goal is to identify key global discussion points on this issue.

“Organizations, local citizens, scientists and the mainstream media all contribute to the conversation of the risks associated with water contamination,” Britt said. “This has an impact on informal learning. It’s a global conversation that happens in many ways, from the use of slang to more scientific conversation.”

Information from Britt’s research will be used to create a Big Data repository that includes a social graph and predictive techniques for tracking the progression of discussions on social media regarding water contamination. This valuable resource will cater to the needs of both engineers and social scientists, providing comprehensive data sets that can be utilized and leveraged by researchers from various fields.

The study lays the groundwork for how environmental health risks are understood, including the perceived severity and their scope. Britt and the research team aim to identify the sources of communication for these events, particularly by examining the role of opinion leaders, and track how they evolve over time. This comprehensive research will span a period of five years, analyzing contributions from global social media platforms to assess the risks associated with these issues.

“We hope other scholars will benefit from the data sets produced,” Britt said. “We anticipate scholars from many epistemological and methodological traditions will be able to use this data and invite them to converse with us.”

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

To learn more about research at the Alabama Water Institute, click here.

C&IS Student Named 2023 Most Outstanding Sophomore

The University of Alabama celebrated the achievements of many students, faculty and staff last month at the annual Tapping on the Mound ceremony. Kenneth Kelly, a student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), received the University’s Most Outstanding Sophomore award, an honor given to one sophomore student each year.

Kelly, a news media major with a sports media concentration, is involved in numerous campus organizations, showcasing his passion for C&IS and his dedication to making a positive impact on the University. He is the president of Capstone Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) and a member of the C&IS Student Executive Council, C&IS Social Media Ambassadors and Capstone Men and Women. Additionally, Kelly is a sports reporter for WVUA 23, delivering on-air reports about UA’s athletics teams.

Kelly said he was honored to receive the award and is excited to continue making an impact through his leadership and campus involvement.

“The award means a lot because it shows that I was recognized for all the hard work that I’ve put in during my two years on campus. I am truly grateful for this recognition, and it has fueled my determination to give back to the community even more and become an example for incoming students.”

As he looks toward his next two years as a C&IS student, Kelly hopes to invest in his organizations even further and lead other students to do the same.

“For the next two years at UA, I want to bring people closer together, especially the African American community, both on campus and in C&IS. In CABJ, I want to pave the way for incoming journalism students and help the organization grow and expand.” Kelly said. “I also want to continue representing UA to the best of my ability so that I can lead others towards achieving even greater success beyond my time at the University.”

Kelly’s exceptional accomplishments and unwavering dedication make him a role model for his peers. The Outstanding Sophomore award not only recognizes his contributions to the University, but also highlights his potential for future success as a student leader. As he continues his academic journey in C&IS, Kelly continues to prioritize inclusivity, leadership and unity within the University community.

View the full list of award recipients from the 2023 Tapping on the Mound here.

22-23 SEC Emerging Scholars, LaTonya Taylor and Joshua Jackson

C&IS PhD candidates named SEC Emerging Scholars

22-23 SEC Emerging Scholars, LaTonya Taylor and Joshua JacksonTuscaloosa, Ala. – C&IS doctoral students Joshua Jackson and LaTonya Taylor have been named as SEC Emerging Scholars Program Fellows for the 2023-2024 academic year.   

In being named an SEC Emerging Scholars Program Fellows, Jackson and Taylor join a cohort of exemplary doctoral and post-doctoral students from across the Southeastern Conference. 

“To say receiving this award is an honor is an understatement,” said Jackson. “I’ve spent my entire life in the SEC working toward my goals. To have that work pay off, stand alongside other future scholars and advance in my career is exciting. I plan to use this funding to pay for my dissertation research, as well as attending a conference in my field.” 

“I’m honored to be recognized among this group and proud to represent the College of Communication and Information Sciences and the University,” said Taylor. “I appreciate this affirmation of my scholarship and investment in my professional future. As I seek to continue my academic career, I’m particularly energized by the opportunity to network with scholars at [The University of Alabama] and other SEC institutions. This recognition is an encouraging boost as I work toward completion of my doctoral studies.” 

The SEC Emerging Scholars Program was established in 2021 with the goal of encouraging top scholars, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups, to seek out employment and mentorship at SEC institutions. 

Holle Awards

2023 Holle Awards Celebrate Nationwide Student Achievement

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The College of Communication and Information Sciences has announced the winners of the 2022-23 Holle Awards for Excellence in Creativity and Communication.

The awards celebrate national student achievement in the areas of book arts, filmmaking, media writing, screenwriting, public speaking, sports media and forensic competition. Each of these awards includes a $10,000 prize.

Sports Media

The Holle Award for Excellence in Sports Media was awarded to a group project conducted by Yucheng Zhang and Bryan Baker from the University of Texas-Austin. Their project Judges said Baker and Zhang tell Vargas’s record-breaking story with exceptional passion and emotion.


Ava Kanthack

The Holle Award for Excellence in Filmmaking was awarded to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student Ava Kanthack for her project “On Mother’s Shoulder I Rest,” a short film about a young girl and her mother trying to carry on everyday life while grieving the loss of her father. The judges found Kanthack’s visual style distinctive and consistent throughout, giving the film a tone that felt both nostalgic and somewhat bleak—a difficult balance.

“As someone working in the arts, it can be difficult to find continued belief in yourself and your artistic endeavors, but this award has helped grow my confidence in my filmmaking and storytelling ability. The story told within my film, On Mother’s Shoulder I Rest, is one that is very close to my heart because it weaves my own mother’s experience into a display of the complex relationship between a daughter and mom in emotional distress. I feel that it is a vulnerable experience for an artist to put their work out there, especially if the subject matter is quite personal to them, and consequently I had some resistance to promoting and sharing my film. That said, I am so glad I pushed myself to submit to the Holle Award because it has been an incredibly affirming experience,” said Kanthack.


Riley Michlowitz

The Holle Award for Excellence in Screenwriting was awarded to The University of Alabama’s Riley Michlowitz for her project “The Bad Date Blog.” Judges stated that the screenplay is a fun, engaging script that employs a clever concept in updating a familiar genre and makes for an entertaining read.

“Winning the 2023 Holle award for excellence and creativity in screenwriting means so much to me. Not only is it incredibly validating for my work to not just be recognized but enjoyed, but also with the prize money, I will now be able to focus on furthering my screenwriting career without financial stress,” said Michlowitz.

Media Writing

Chaney Scott McCorquodale

The Holle Award for Excellence in Media Writing was awarded to UA News Media and Communications student Chaney Scott McCorquodale for her features titled “The Star of Dixie: Being Jewish in Alabama,” “Women in Business, or Lack Thereof” and “Coming to America: International Students Experience American Culture Firsthand at the University of Alabama.” When asked what writing meant to her, McCorquodale said “I am passionate about the truth… [in Journalism] you are able to be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves.”

“I care deeply about diversity,” she said, “so I knew in my submissions I wanted to shed light on the experiences of minority groups in the South.”‘The Star of Dixie’ took me the longest to write. What began as a short article about Holocaust Remembrance Day quickly grew into a whole feature as I began to realize how poorly Jews are still being treated in America. I am filled with immense gratitude for the Holle Family Foundation. When I accepted the award, I told the audience the award will change my life and that still holds true.”

Book Arts

Thad Higa

The Holle Award for Excellence in Book Arts was awarded to Thad Higa for “This Land is My Land,” a fictional narrative from the imagined headspace of online White supremacists, nationalists and their sympathizers. Judges noted that the striking imagery and text, combined with an innovative structure, effectively and cohesively presents this disturbing content without overwhelming the reader.

“I feel complicated about trying to push [“This Land is My Land] out into the world, but also feel a deep obligation to enter the American education and reading comprehension dialogue with this topic,” said Higa. “Artists’ books should have a place in primary and general higher education courses of all types, and I hope this book can be one flowering example of that. So the validation from this award definitely bolsters this argument in my mind, and it’s personally encouraging to see it resonates with the Holle committee.”

Forensic Competition

Ja Quacy Minter

The Holle Award for Excellence in Forensic Competition was awarded The University of Alabama’s Ja Quacy Minter.

“Winning the Holle award meant a lot to me simply because I was able to show other queer Black kids that you can look different and still succeed,” said Minter. “It was a milestone for the University, the Alabama Forensics Council and most importantly, me. With the award I hope to be able to help other competitors that come after me, to believe that they, too, can be queer, Black, genderfluid or anything else that goes against the norm and still be a champion.”

The  Holle Award for Excellence in Public Speaking was awarded to The University of Alabama’s Sarah Mason Avery.

Avery is a Junior Public Health major on the Pre-Optometry track from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She, along with 6 other finalists, competed on Saturday April 29. The finalists were selected from more than 1,000 students who then competed against more than 70 of their peers to make it to the final round. Avery’s speech addressed the need for UA to require Narcan training for students, faculty and staff to address the epidemic of opioid overdoses on college campuses.

The Holle Awards are named for Brigadier General Everett Hughes Holle, a 1950 graduate of The University of Alabama who served as an announcer, director, writer and producer during his 40-year career at NBC 13. Holle was a member of the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ board of visitors where he passionately invested in the success of University of Alabama students for years.

For more information about the Holle Awards, visit

Industry Immersion Leads C&IS Alum to Career at NBA

Industry Immersion is a professional development program that takes motivated C&IS students to meet some of the College’s most inspiring alumni and industry professionals in leading job markets across the country. The program takes students to cities including Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Nashville, allowing them to see and feel what it’s like to live and work in a particular city.

The program builds skills in interpersonal communication, interviewing, salary negotiation, personal branding and strategic networking, giving C&IS students an advantage in the internship and job market.

For C&IS alumnus Billy Murray, an Industry Immersion trip to New York City was the opportunity he needed to launch his career with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

As a student, Murray pursued a degree in news media with a sports media concentration. He knew early in his academic career that he wanted to work in the sports industry, and through Industry Immersion, he was equipped with the resources to accomplish this goal.

“My degree was in news media but my passion was basketball, so I did everything I could to get a career in sports,” Murray said. “One of my first trips with Industry Immersion was a virtual trip via Zoom where we met with the Golden State Warriors. It was such a great opportunity, and after that, I decided I wanted to go on every trip because you never know who you might meet next.”

Murray continued to attend Industry Immersion trips and later became a member of the Industry Immersion Leadership Team. Through his position, he had the opportunity to encourage other C&IS students to attend trips, and he planned the program’s May 2022 trip to New York City. What he didn’t know was that this trip would propel his career in basketball.

During the trip, C&IS students had the opportunity to visit the NBA headquarters to network with staff and learn about the basketball industry. Murray’s conversations with staff left an excellent impression, allowing him to get a job offer two months later.

“It sounds cliché, but the trip really changed my life,” Murray said. “I met my current boss there, and we just started talking about basketball. A few months later, after I graduated, he messaged me about an open position and encouraged me to apply. I applied and was offered the job, and the rest is history.”

Murray is now a YouTube publisher for the NBA where he manages the organization’s YouTube channel. He credits Industry Immersion with providing him with the life-changing opportunity to pursue his dream career.

“I don’t think that anybody was more affected by a club or organization than I was by Industry Immersion. Without this program, I have no idea what I’d be doing, but I know I would not be in New York working for the NBA, that’s for sure,” Murray said. “Every single resource that goes toward Industry Immersion is helping students progress professionally and make connections that will last a lifetime. This program directly affects you after college and helps you develop so that you’re always going to be ready for your next step.”

Through Industry Immersion, students are given the opportunity to elevate themselves personally and professionally. The program’s benefits are unmatched, and alumni like Murray go on to build successful careers in top companies in the nation.

During Industry Immersion’s next trip to New York City this May, Murray will host C&IS students at the NBA headquarters, helping students find their path after graduation like he did just one year before.

As the Industry Immersion program continues to grow each year, C&IS asks for your support in connecting more students to life-changing career opportunities. During the Bama Blitz fundraising campaign this week, your gift will support the program in offering scholarships for students and covering program costs. Click here to learn more.

Assistant Professor Receives Research Award for Emerging Scholars

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Dr. Jessica Maddox, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Creative Media, will be honored with the 2023 President’s Faculty Research Award for Emerging Scholars. The ceremony will take place at the Bryant Conference Center at 4:45 P.M. on Wednesday, April 19.  

Dr. Maddox’s research focuses on social media platforms, internet culture and how content and trends are created, circulated and amplified in digital spaces. “I spend a lot of time studying influencers, content creators, and the decisions that go into how and why they make posts and videos in certain, specific ways,” she said.  

Dr. Maddox is also the co-director of the office of Politics, Communication and Media and a graduate faculty affiliate in the College of Communication and Information Science’s doctoral program.  

Sponsored by the offices of the President and Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the President’s Faculty Research award goes to outstanding researchers within the faculty of The University of Alabama. The awards span across the focuses of Arts and Humanities, Physical and Biological Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering and Social and Behavioral sciences. For each category, there are awards presented to emerging, a mid-career and a senior scholars.  

“The faculty at UA do incredible things and make highly valuable contributions to better society and to advance the flagship. We are so grateful to them and the work they do,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, UA’s vice president for Research & Economic Development. 

The awards ceremony is the cornerstone of UA’s Faculty Research Day, a showcase that celebrates excellence in research, creativity and scholarship; recognizes leaders at the University and inspires the next generation of faculty researchers. 

Dr. Damion Waymer to Receive President’s Faculty Research Award

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Dr. Damion Waymer, Senior Associate Dean of the Department of Journalism and Creative Media, has been awarded the 2023 President’s Faculty Research Award for Senior Scholars. He will receive the award on April 19 during a ceremony at the Bryant Conference Center. 

Dr. Waymer is the first senior award recipient from the College of Communication & Information Sciences since 2018. His work explores culture, social class and race across a variety of fields, including public relations, crisis communication and strategic communications. 

“This award means the world to me, as I’ve spent nearly two decades conducting research,” said Dr. Waymer. “This recognition is external validation that my work is valuable and respected both within my discipline and beyond its boundaries.” 

Dr. Waymer said that the award has inspired him to push his work further with graduate students and junior faculty. “Legacy endures through others, and I’d like to see those that I have worked with and mentored receive this very award in 10-15 years.” 

Sponsored by the offices of the President and Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the President’s Faculty Research Awards are among the highest honors bestowed to active faculty at The University of Alabama (UA). Nominations are sourced internally by faculty, departments and colleges, and one award is given, per level, within the areas of Physical and Biological Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Arts and Humanities. 

“The faculty at UA do incredible things and make highly valuable contributions to better society and to advance the flagship. We are so grateful to them and the work they do,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, Vice President for Research & Economic Development. 

The awards ceremony is the cornerstone of UA’s Faculty Research Day, a showcase that celebrates excellence in research, creativity and scholarship; recognizes leaders at the University and inspires the next generation of faculty researchers. 

The Success of the Speaking Studio – One Year After Bama Blitz Campaign

The Speaking Studio at The University of Alabama is a one-of-a kind program that helps students, faculty and community partners develop their public speaking skills and build confidence.

The studio is led by Angela Billings, instructor in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) and is staffed by talented C&IS and UA students who serve as Speaking Studio consultants. These trained student consultants help clients clarify and craft their message, cultivate dynamic delivery and calm public speaking anxiety through expertise, observation and coaching.

Annually, The Speaking Studio supports over 1,500 students from 63 different majors, and thanks to last year’s Bama Blitz fundraising campaign, the Speaking Studio is achieving great success this year.

The Bama Blitz campaign is a two-day fundraising initiative that aims to support various programs at UA, and The Speaking Studio was the C&IS fundraising initiative in 2022. The studio received an overwhelming amount of support from alumni, faculty, staff and students.

Through the generous gifts made during the campaign, the Speaking Studio was able to expand its offerings through state-of-the-art video and audio equipment that improves the studio’s ability to film, screen and record client speeches. Additionally, the campaign allowed the Speaking Studio to reach more students through appointments and workshops and invest in the professional development of current Speaking Studio consultants through formal training with Billings and Dr. Adam Brooks, director of the public speaking program at UA.

The impact of formal training is felt by Speaking Studio consultants like Max Lowery, who see training as an opportunity to build community and benefit the University as a whole.

“Training shows us how the studio operates and how to communicate with clients, but most importantly, it shows us that we have a community within the Speaking Studio,” said Lowery. “Consultants quickly become your friends and Mrs. Billings and Dr. Brooks quickly become not only your bosses, but also mentors that collaborate with you to inspire change in the University.”

CamiLee Downey also serves as a consultant and credits her Speaking Studio training with developing her communication and leadership skills.

“There are constant opportunities in the studio to grow and become the best consultants we can be,” said Downey. “In training, I learned how to adapt to different people’s needs in a professional environment. Being able to take that information with me into appointments and meet clients’ needs is something I will value through the rest of my time at UA and in my future career.”

The Speaking Studio has become a vital resource for students, faculty and community members, helping them to succeed in their academic and professional lives. The impact of the 2022 Bama Blitz campaign propelled the program forward in producing successful public speakers.

“When I visited the Speaking Studio this year, it gave me space for a one-on-one experience. For individuals, like myself, who have anxiety speaking in front of a large group, this experience makes it much more comfortable to successfully communicate your topic,” said Haylee Pack, a double major in dance and nursing who attended a Speaking Studio appointment this year.

Clients of the Speaking Studio consistently report feeling more confident and prepared for public speaking opportunities, and many have gone on to win awards and recognition for their presentations and speeches.

“One of the most impactful moments as a consultant for me was working with a client that faced public speaking anxiety,” said Lowery. “In our first meeting, the client wasn’t comfortable delivering any of their speech in front of an audience, but by the end of the semester, they had one of the highest performing speeches in their class.”

The success of the Speaking Studio is a testament to the consultants and faculty’s commitment to excellence, and it demonstrates the power of community support and philanthropy on impacting C&IS programs. Thanks to the generosity of donors during the 2022 Bama Blitz campaign, the Speaking Studio is making a significant difference in the lives of UA community members this year, and it will continue to do so for years to come.

To learn more about the Bama Blitz fundraising campaign or for more information about the College’s 2023 Bama Blitz passion project, click here.