Category: CIS News

UA Student Films About Justice & Injustice in Alabama to Debut April 23

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama (UA) department of journalism & creative media will host the 13th annual Documenting Justice film screening at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, at the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa. The screening is free and open to the public.

The event will feature short documentaries created by students who dedicated a year to learning how to document and analyze culture and social experience — and communicate about issues of justice and injustice in Alabama — through nonfiction filmmaking.

The students, who are pursuing degrees in a wide range of fields, produced the documentaries as part of a two-semester course co-taught by award-winning filmmaker Andrew Grace, director of the Documenting Justice program and instructor in the department of journalism & creative media, and Rachel Morgan, creative director for Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival.

“Documentary filmmaking gives out students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a world they might not otherwise come into contact with,” said Andy Grace, director of Documenting Justice. “To deeply research an issue or a problem, to go out and meet subjects, to develop relationships, to have frank and open conversations about the lives of other people, this kind of work required to make a documentary film is a unique experience in empathy that is hard to replicate in the classroom.”

UA has offered the Documenting Justice course since 2006.

Jason Senkbeil (left) and Darrin Griffin work with Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Interpreter Gary Crook to prototype test their American Sign Language interpreting system.

When Messages Matter Most

Jason Senkbeil (left) and Darrin Griffin work with Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Interpreter Gary Crook to prototype test their American Sign Language interpreting system.


Three C&IS researchers receive grants to discover new ways to communicate weather alerts

Severe weather emergencies affect millions  of people around the world every single year. In the past decade, storms like Irma, Sandy, Harvey, Florence and Michael have left lasting impacts from the damage they caused in local communities. Tuscaloosa, Alabama is no stranger to severe weather, still bearing scars from its tornado super outbreak in April 2011. Whatever the issue—flash flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes or hailstorms—communicating severe weather alerts is at the core of ensuring public safety and saving lives.


Understanding how weather alerts work and the varying levels of impact they have on different populations provides a challenge for meteorologists and municipalities alike. What is the most effective medium for their given constituency? And how do they reach less-represented, vulnerable populations within their citizenry? These are the kinds of questions researchers are asking at the College of Communication and Information Sciences, and now they have secured the funding to find the answers.

Dr. Darrin Griffin of the Department of Communication Studies is one
such researcher. In collaboration with The University of Alabama’s Dr. Jason Senkbeil (College of Arts and Sciences) and Mississippi State University’s Dr. Kathy Sherman-Morris (Department of Geosciences), Griffin’s team received a grant of more than $250,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct research on the accessibility and comprehension of tornado warnings among Deaf, Blind and Deaf-Blind populations in the southeastern United States.

“Ultimately, what makes Blind and Deaf populations
different is their ability to receive messages,” said Griffin. “At the end of the day, our study is about effective messaging—determining what messaging is working and what isn’t working, and improving that messaging.”

Griffin works with professionals in the C&IS digital media center to pull together the multiple camera feeds

Because these populations receive messages differently, communicating severe weather forecasts presents a unique challenge. Visual charts and diagrams, as well as language commonly employed during broadcasts,
do not translate effectively. Griffin’s team wants to change that, making broadcasts more effective for all people.

Drs. Cory Armstrong and Chandra Clark (Department of Journalism
and Creative Media) are tackling a similar issue. Funded by the Alabama-Mississippi Sea Grant Consortium, their research is investigating the effectiveness of different types of weather alerts and how those messages motivate citizens to action in rural and urban communities.

In both of these studies, it is the way messages are communicated
that matters most. The difference between being in harm’s way or being sheltered and secure may come down to the ability of forecasters and
media representatives to understand how people receive messages and
what makes them take action.


Determining how to communicate in ways that best inform particular
audiences can be difficult. For each of these studies, the challenges begin
with understanding how the audiences process the information and discovering how to change the message in ways that improve their comprehension.

“The first thing we want to know is how people receive severe weather notifications—are they watching television, are they talking to their friends or are they checking social media?” said Armstrong. “Then we want to try and determine what specific words and visuals motivate them to action and what steps they take to prepare for severe weather.”

Clark developed six different visual elements of weather broadcasts that were shown to cross-sections of the population in Biloxi and Pearlington, Mississippi, and Mobile and Magnolia Springs, Alabama. From there, Armstrong asked the subjects to evaluate which models would most likely motivate them to seek shelter from a severe weather event, namely tornadoes and hurricanes. Now, Armstrong is analyzing this data to develop guides for broadcasters, media personnel and meteorologists about effective ways to reach rural populations during severe weather outbreaks.

“If we can point out the key words and methods for how to announce severe weather then ultimately we can help save lives.”

Armstrong (right) and Clark (left) reviewed multiple models and selected six different weather alert methods to gauge public response and their motivation to act for each model

For Griffin, the ultimate hope is to create a system that can utilize existing technology and provide live interpreting in American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a complex language, grammatically different from English and not directly translatable in the way that many English-speaking people assume. During severe weather broadcasts, closed captioning can be unreliable and, even when it is reliable, still fails to appear in ASL users’ primary language. Added to that struggle, weather broadcasts often include scientific language common to English speakers, but less common
to ASL users.

Griffin’s idea would help bridge this gap between English-speaking meteorologists and ASL users during severe weather events, saving lives by creating better access to urgent weather updates for Deaf populations. The idea came to Griffin after viewing a video of a hearing ASL interpreter
who used Facebook Live to relay an ASL interpretation of
an audio weather broadcast to followers.

“I thought, ‘We could actually design that. Why not have
that in place for real?’” said Griffin. “At the end of the day, it will increase [NOAA’s] tools for communicating with a vulnerable population.”

The concept features a picture-in-picture broadcast that enables the Deaf population to view the broadcast alongside an ASL interpreter. However, the benefits for this study go far beyond building and testing this system. Researchers will conduct interviews with people in the Deaf community in the Southeast and use the information to offer valuable feedback to on-air meteorologists as to what language is most effective in communicating with a variety of audiences.

According to Griffin, the concept of universal design, or making the world more accessible to all kinds of people, benefits everyone. Hotels that place the thermostat in arm’s reach of the bedside do not sacrifice design aesthetics in the process, and make a big difference for people with limited mobility. All guests end up gaining an increased usability. In the context of Griffin’s research, universal design would mean keeping the video feed that can be understood by hearing audiences while at the same time dramatically increasing the accessibility of the message
for Deaf audiences.

“Can we tighten up the bolts on the verbal message?
That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Griffin. “We want to do universal design, to look at the Deaf, Blind and Deaf-Blind communities to increase effective messaging that benefits everyone whether or not English is their second language.”


Saving lives and improving their quality are important parts of any scientific discipline. Whether the issue at hand is communicating effectively about severe weather to rural and vulnerable populations or any number of other life-changing advancements in communication, researchers at C&IS are a crucial element in the scientific process.

And the College is growing in its impact. In 2018, C&IS had 17 funded Research Grants Committee (RGC) proposals making it the top RGC-funded college at The University of Alabama. These numbers reflect the disciplines’ significant influence as well as the role communication plays as a part of the greater research culture on campus.

“If you follow the philosophy and logic of science, you can use the same paradigm in communication as you can in biology, physics and chemistry,” said Griffin. “If I’m working alongside meteorologists, computer scientists and geographers to find a way to tackle common problems and showing that my methods are just as sound as theirs, that’s a benefit to the scientific community from an interdisciplinary perspective.”

Right now, C&IS researchers have active relationships with their colleagues across campus in the College of Engineering, College of Social Work, College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Human Environmental Sciences. These relationships fuel creative, multi-disciplinary problem solving to improve lives in the community for generations to come.

The research culture is evolving at C&IS and at its core is a group of dedicated scientists who are asking big questions, tackling global issues and securing the
funding to discover solutions.

The Alabama Forensic Council celebrates a fourth-place finish at the AFA-NIET in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama Forensic Council Finishes 4th at 2019 NIET

The Alabama Forensic Council celebrates a fourth-place finish at the AFA-NIET in Tuscaloosa.
The Alabama Forensic Council celebrates a fourth-place finish at the AFA-NIET in Tuscaloosa.

The Alabama Forensic Council finished in fourth place at the 2019 American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (NIET) this past weekend in Tuscaloosa. This marks the third consecutive year that the Alabama Forensic Council has placed in the top five teams in the nation and UA’s third time hosting.

The tournament featured over 400 students from 60 schools and is centered around facilitating and celebrating speech education excellence at the intercollegiate level. The NIET is held every April and brings students from across the nation to compete for national championships in 11 events. Students reach the NIET through a rigorous at-large and district qualification system verified by organizational officers.

“It was a great honor for our program to serve as the hosts of this event and for our students to succeed the way they did. Most importantly, every student competing this past weekend earned points toward our team finish,” said Bobby Imbody, director of forensics at The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS). “Being able to host our colleagues from around the country, show them our beautiful campus and earn fourth place as a team is a feat we will cherish for years in our program. This group is special and accomplished a great deal this season.”

In addition to placing fourth overall, the Alabama Forensic Council had its most successful tournament yet in terms of students advancing to elimination rounds 14 of 25, the number of overall events advancing to elimination rounds, 28, and the overall number of events in final rounds, 12. Among University of Alabama top finishers, senior Alexis Simmons (Montgomery) earned the National Championship in Poetry Interpretation, and senior McLean Stewart (Montgomery) earned the national championship in After Dinner Speaking and was named to the AFA-NIET All-American Team. Additionally, Danielle Pacia (Morristown, TN) finished second in Informative Speaking.

“With instruction from some of the most outstanding coaches, the speech I presented at the National Tournament was the culmination of months of research, draft edits and performance improvements,” said Stewart. “Preparing for the tournament was a challenging and rewarding process. Delivering my speech one last time in the final round, hearing my name announced next to the words ‘National Champion,’ and receiving such warm support from the crowd are moments I will never forget.”


Individual results:

Alexis Simmons          3rd Place Overall speaker

Danielle Pacia            11th Place Overall Speaker

McLean Stewart         13th Place Overall Speaker



National Champions through 6th place = National Finalist

Semi-Finalist = top-12

Quarter-Finalist = top-24



Pearce Barringer – Montgomery, AL

6th Place Extemporaneous Speaking


Currie Blackwell – Petal, MS

Quarter-Finalist Poetry Interpretation


Danielle Pacia  -Morristown, TN

2nd Place Informative Speaking

4th Place Communication Analysis

4th Place Duo Interpretation with Alexis Simmons

Semi-Finalist Communication Analysis

Quarter-Finalist Impromptu Speaking


Alexis Simmons – Montgomery, AL

National Champion Poetry Interpretation

3rd Place Informative Speaking

4th Place Prose Interpretation

4th Place Duo Interpretation with Danielle Pacia

Semi-Finalist Dramatic Interpretation


McLean Stewart – Montgomery, AL

National Champion After-Dinner Speaking

5th Place Informative Speaking

Semi-Finalist Extemporaneous Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Impromptu Speaking



Madison Hall – Montgomery, AL

6th Place Dramatic Interpretation

Semi-Finalist Persuasive Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Program Oral Interpretation


Caitlin Lofton – New Orleans, LA

5th Place Dramatic Interpretation

Quarter – Finalist Prose Interpretation


Jordan Taylor – Charlottesville, VA

Semi-Finalist After-dinner Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Program Oral Interpretation


Sydney Terry – Bulls Gap, TN

Quarter-Finalist Duo Interpretation with Isaiah McDermott

Quarter-Finalist Persuasive Speaking



Emma Capitanelli – Collierville, TN

Quarter-Finalist Communication Analysis


Isaiah McDermott – Morristown, TN

Quarter-Finalist Duo Interpretation with Sydney Terry


Cortland Stone – Poland, OH

5th Place Communication Analysis


First-Year Students:

Anna Kutbay – Morristown, TN

Semi-Finalist Persuasive Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Extemporaneous Speaking


Elizabeth Tagg – Tyler, TX

Quarter-Finalist Program Oral Interpretation


Founded in 1946, the Alabama Forensic Council is the oldest co-curricular organization at The University of Alabama. The Alabama Forensics Council boasts 21 forensic national championships and is housed by the College of Communication and Information Sciences and is open to UA students of all academic disciplines.  

Kiley Lord, C&IS Senior, Awarded Top Undergraduate Honors Conference Paper

Kiley Lord (fourth from left) received the Franklin Shirley Award for the Top Undergraduate Honors Conference Paper at the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) Convention.
Kiley Lord, pictured fourth from left

Kiley Lord, a senior in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), was recently awarded the Franklin Shirley Award for the Top Undergraduate Honors Conference Paper at the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) Convention this past weekend in Montgomery, Alabama. The convention’s purpose is to promote the study, criticism, research, teaching and application of the artistic, humanistic and scientific principles of communication. SSCA is a nonprofit organization that exists for educational, scientific and literary purposes only.

Lord’s research specializes in a popular Youtube series titled “S— Southern Women Say” and examines gender roles and expectations for women in the south. She postulates her research on the idea that gender is something that people perform and points to examples in the Youtube series as being representative of cultural norms compared to other regions in the United States. Lord grew up in Connecticut but spent her summers with family in Mississippi. This upbringing sparked an interested in the duality of cultural norms in the south vs the east coast.

Lord first explored this topic in the Spring of 2018 in Dr. Jessy Ohl’s class and was encouraged to develop her research about ideological arguments more. Over summer, Lord spent time researching communication theory, reading both fiction and nonfiction accounts that documented women in the south and connecting how the Youtube series reflected expectations of the region. Her paper concluded that the series is not inclusive of the entire spectrum of southern women. It is limited to the life experience of wealthy, white, Christian women and does not account for other races, religions or genders.

“This conference was a great fit for my area of research, and I am grateful for Dr. Ohl’s assistance in editing back and forth,” said Lord. “So much of my enthusiasm for this research has come from Dr. Ohl’s encouragement and feedback. I was intimidated by the idea of doing undergraduate research, but now I am considering doing research at the master’s level.

Lord received a monetary award and a plaque in addition to presenting her research in the undergraduate research forum on April 6.

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

Bama Blitz 2019

In striving to develop global leaders who do the extraordinary across the full communication and information spectrum, the C&IS passion project for Bama Blitz 2019 is the inaugural C&IS Student Leadership Retreat.

Starting with the central student leadership groups in C&IS, the College will launch the first-ever C&IS Student Leadership Retreat in Fall 2019. The C&IS Student Leadership Retreat will empower students through leadership programming that encompasses communication, diversity and collaboration. At this two-day retreat, students will become part of a network of peers who will understand their individual and group impact on the C&IS community and beyond.

To support student leadership development efforts, C&IS wants to fund 50 students to be part of the C&IS Lead Retreat and future student leadership workshops open to all C&IS students. The goal for Bama Blitz is $10,000.

Bama Blitz 2019 will kick off on April 10 at Noon and conclude on April 11 at 8:31 p.m. Students, Alumni and friends of C&IS can help by making gifts at the link below and using #BamaBlitz on social media to share the differences C&IS has made in their lives and careers.

Click here to give!

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