Category: CIS News

Dr. Robin Boylorn Receives NCA Mid-Career Award

Dr. Robin Boylorn, professor of interpersonal and intercultural communication in the department of communication studies, received the Mid-Career Scholar Award from the National Communication Association (NCA) Ethnography Division. The award is one of the inaugural career-oriented awards of the Ethnography Division.

Established in 2022, recipients of the Mid-Career Scholar Award from the Ethnography Division of the NCA are selected based on outstanding contributions to ethnographic scholarship and artistry, with a consideration of teaching, mentoring and service related to ethnography. Mid-Career scholars are those who received their most recent degree in 2001 or later.

Boylorn received the award at the NCA Annual Convention in New Orleans in November. She said the award was especially significant because she received it exactly 20 years after attending her first NCA convention in 2002.

“I didn’t realize at that time that 20 years later I would have carved out a space for myself, my stories, and my career in the academy, or that the impact of my work would be so far-reaching,” Boylorn said. “This award is meaningful because it reminds me of where I come from, but it also reminds me that I have more work to do. The middle of my career is not the end.”

Boylorn’s main research areas include diversity and identity studies and representation, focusing primarily on the lived experiences of Black women in the U.S. American south. Ethnography aims to fully understand a social or cultural group, and autoethnography is a form of ethnographic research seeking to connect personal experiences to wider cultural, political and social meanings and understandings.

“I am proud to have work in the world that helps Black women feel seen,” Boylorn said. “I am proud of my book, Sweetwater, and the way it humanizes rural Black women through their stories. I am also proud of the ways I have established a scholarly, critical and creative voice that is recognizable, credible and accessible within and without the academy.”

Moving forward, Boylorn said she is excited for the next chapter of her career as Holle Endowed Chair of Communication Arts and director of the Holle Center for Communication Arts.

“My new roles will allow me to continue and expand my cultural studies research, imagine and influence the future of storytelling, and initiate and participate in important conversations in the field – bridging communication and the larger community,” Boylorn said.

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

Meet One of the Creative Minds Behind Aflac Football Commercials

Each year, football fans of any school can look forward to the Aflac commercials featuring Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and other notable characters. During seasons riddled with stressful games, fans can find a little comedic relief from these ads, thanks to the creative work of C&IS alumna Melanie Groover Malone, associate creative director at Dagger, a creative agency in Atlanta, Georgia.

At Dagger, Malone works with clients such as Allē, Krystal, Buffalo Wild Wings, The American Cancer Society, SpoonfulOne, The Home Depot and Aflac.

Malone said she loves that her job gives her the opportunity to make beautiful things and share stories about the results of her work. As a proud Alabama football fan, she was especially proud to share the work she did in creating the Aflac football commercials with Coach Saban.

“The thing I enjoy most about my job is getting to make beautiful things I see out in the world as well as the fun I get to have,” Malone said. “I was recently at a particular game in Knoxville where a fan in orange asked me ‘What did you do with that degree from Bama exactly?’ and I got to smile at him and say ‘Oh I make the commercials for Aflac.’ Not to say that bragging rights are the reason I’m in this, but in that particular situation, I enjoyed it immensely.”

C&IS offers a variety of opportunities and majors and students can explore several career paths before honing in on their specific interests. However, some students, like Malone, know exactly what they want to do before they even step foot on a college campus. Choosing a university is mainly a matter of finding the best program.

“I was one of the rare individuals who knew what major they wanted going into school,” Malone said. “So, when I went to Alabama, I was aware of the national reputation of C&IS. Admittedly, I’ve been an Alabama fan my whole life, so while that initially drove me to T-Town, enrolling in a top advertising and public relations school in the nation was equally as intriguing.”

Malone believes graduating from C&IS gave her an advantage when looking for jobs after graduating, and remembers Professor Mike Little, a senior instructor in the department of advertising and public relations, as one of her most influential mentors.

“I distinctly remember my social media classes and the labs that taught me the powerhouse Adobe programs,” Malone said. “I knew I wanted to be a creative in the industry thanks to a life changing lesson from Professor Little, but having those foundational skills in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign actually gave me a huge leg up.”

In her career today, Malone says her best advice is to persist through the feelings of imposter syndrome or inadequacy. Even the most successful creative minds face these feelings, and Malone believes the best way to deal with it is to keep persisting and remember everyone may feel the same way from time to time.

“I think one of the most challenging aspects of most careers that people don’t talk about enough is imposter syndrome,” Malone said. “No matter how great you are, or how long you’ve worked in the industry, imposter syndrome will always sneak up on you when you least expect it. My advice is always to know that there is a light at the end.”

Her optimism and confidence have positioned her for success in the creative advertising industry, especially as she creates some of the most prized commercials for Alabama fans to watch during football season.

To check out more of Malone’s work or connect with her, view her portfolio at

C&IS Student Selected as Member of AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Student Class

A senior in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) was selected as one of the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) Most Promising Multicultural Students of 2023.

Trinity Hunter, a Montgomery native, is one of 50 college students from across the country chosen to participate in the Most Promising Multicultural Students program, a premier event put on by the AAF to give traditionally underrepresented, multicultural students an opportunity to network with and learn from top advertising, marketing and media professionals.

The program is part of an AAF initiative to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the advertising industry.

“It is an incredible opportunity for marginalized groups to engage in the industry, and its existence encourages a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive field,” said Hunter, who is a double major in public relations and political science. “Though it can be overwhelming at times, one of the best parts of the entire communications landscape—public relations, advertising, news media and more—is that there is a universe of possibilities.”

Students were selected for the program by a panel of leading industry professionals, including representatives from Nissan Motor Corporation, The Trading Desk and Ally Financial among others.

Hunter credits her success to C&IS senior instructor Susan Daria for encouraging her to pursue the opportunity.

“I wholeheartedly credit Susan Daria with telling me about the program, and It was through her guidance and support that I decided to apply for the opportunity,” Hunter said

The four-day event will be held in New York City and run Feb. 13-16, 2023.

“I am most excited to learn from industry professionals and engage more with the advertising world,” Hunter said. “I am forever grateful to be a member of the Communication & Information Sciences family, and I am especially thankful to have support from our leadership in Reese Phifer. I hope to be an adequate representative for the college in February as I travel to New York City.”

During her time at UA, Hunter has been highly involved with the Capstone Advertising Federation, UA’s chapter of AAF, Public Relations Student Society of America, the Public Relations Council of Alabama and Kappa Alpha Tau. Additionally, Hunter was a 2022 recipient of the Jennifer Kitt-West Scholarship, granting her entry into The Oakley Society, the College’s professional mentorship program.

Previously, Hunter has interned with The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, as well as the Diversity Action Alliance. This summer, she plans to intern with strategic communications firm, Confidant, to grow her skill set prior to graduating from the University.

Hunter is set to graduate from UA in May 2023 with two bachelor’s degrees. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in public relations and communications, particularly looking through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

For more information and to view the full 2023 Most Promising Multicultural Students Class, click here. 

SLIS Launches Fully Funded Social Justice Archivists Cohort

The School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) within the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) recently selected its first cohort of social justice archivists.

The cohort is led by Dr. Bharat Mehra, SLIS professor and EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice, and Dr. Robert Riter, Marie Drolet Bristol-EBSCO endowed professor. The SLIS faculty members began recruitment efforts for this cohort upon receiving a grant entitled “Training of Community-Embedded Social Justice Archivists” (SJ4A) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) last year.

Their goal was to recruit and train 12 Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) paraprofessionals working in community‐based archives settings to earn a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies (MLIS) from The University of Alabama Online.

“BIPOC librarians and archivists are extremely underrepresented in the LIS field. UA SLIS is proud to welcome this cohort into our program where we can empower them to better serve the informational needs of their diverse communities while also benefitting from their individual and collective expertise. This is truly a momentous occasion,” said Dr. Jamie Naidoo, interim director of SLIS.

Through a combination of recruitment efforts made by the SLIS faculty and vast interest across the country in this specialized and unique program, the initial goal was surpassed. 18 BIPOC students will join the program this semester with 12 SJ4A Fellows fully funded by the IMLS grant and 6 SJ4A Scholars fully funded by The University of Alabama. The cohort represents 11 states across the nation.

“We are delighted to share that since we received such an impressive set of applications, the University awarded us additional internal funding to support 6 extremely well-deserving students. We are truly grateful to the College and School in this regard,” Mehra said.

The SJ4A experience includes a structured, individually tailored social justice curriculum with formal and informal professional mentoring by educators and practitioners.

Mehra and Riter hope that the growth of the cohort will allow the group of archivists to make an even larger impact on the archives and libraries profession and their local and regional communities in the future.

“While enrolled in this program, each student will partner with different community-based organizations, institutions, schools and nonprofits, amongst others, in an internship to nurture community-embedded, action-oriented project development of progressive change,” Mehra said. “Through this project-based education and experiential learning, they will each generate an impact of fairness, equity and justice that they will operationalize in their workplace during their graduate program and after graduation.”

The 18 students have demonstrated their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion within archival and library studies, and they each will integrate underrepresented points of view and experiences, incorporating social justice initiatives into their current place of work and the organizations they are part of throughout the SJ4A program. These future leaders in archival and library studies are setting the tone for a more inclusive future for the professions moving forward.

“The SJ4A Program is a learning community rooted in values of honesty, openness and co-mentorship; we anticipate critical and generative discussions to shift the pendulum of racial justice and community impact in the professions to a new level,” said Riter. “The incoming SJ4A Fellows and Scholars bring with them demonstrated records of impact within their communities and institutions, and commitments to justice-oriented information practice. We look forward to working with and learning from these emerging professionals as they pursue their professional goals.”

The inaugural group of students will graduate in December 2024, and they will become part of the SJ4A Alumni Committee to help recruit more outstanding BIPOC students into future cohorts.

See below for a list of the inaugural Social Justice Archives Fellows and Scholars.

Social Justice Archives Fellows:

  • Iris Afantchao: Marilyn Blackwell 69 Post-Baccalaureate Fellow and Public Services Assistant, Smith College Special Collections, Northampton, Massachusetts.
  • Jehoiada Zechariah Calvin: Archives Assistant for the Johnson Publishing Company Archive with the J. Paul Getty Trust, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Wayne Coleman: Head of Archives, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Shady Radical: Founder, The Radical Archive of Preservation; Visiting Assistant Professor,Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Sabrina Robinson: Library Associate, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Dartricia Rollins: Assistant Director, Charis Books and More/Charis Circle, Decatur, Georgia.
  • Su Lan Sheehan: Archives Apprentice, Denver Public Library’s Special Collections and Archives, Denver, Colorado.
  • Maria Smyer: Hispanic Resource Specialist, Special Collections Department, Pueblo City County Library District, Pueblo, Colorado.
  • Kelly Walker: Library Night Supervisor, Reed College, Portland, Oregon.
  • Lerin Williams: Archivist, Cultural and Oral Historian, Backstreet Cultural Museum; Archival Assistant, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Sandy Yang: Archives Specialist, RAND Corporate Archives, Santa Monica, California.
  • Zonia Zena:  Archives Assistant at Women Artist Archive Miami, Florida.


Social Justice Archives Scholars:

  • Melissa Carrasco: Circulation Supervisor, Clifton Public Library, Clifton, New Jersey.
  • Sierra King: Founder & Principal Archivist, Build Your Archive, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Mia McNair: Social Media Intern, Durkeeville Historical Society, Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Néstor Rave, Senior Library Associate, Bowling Green State University Firelands & Reference Library Assistant, Sandusky Public Library, Sandusky, Ohio.
  • Tsinnijinnie Russell: Archival Assistant, Western History and Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado.
  • Charles Woods: Education Programs Manager, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham, Alabama.

For additional information, visit the SJ4A website here.

Dr. Leah LeFebvre Ranked as Prolific Scholar in Communication Studies

Dr. Leah LeFebvre, associate professor in communication studies, was recently named one of the most prolific scholars in communication studies based on a study published this month in Communication Education.

The study measured the publication rates of authors from a sample of 24 journals published between 2017 and 2021. LeFebvre published 11 articles within the time frame, ranking her as the 10th most published communication studies scholar.

LeFebvre’s exemplary publication rate demonstrates her commitment to research, and her focus on studying romantic relationships fills a gap in contemporary scholarship.

“Dr. LeFebvre’s studies of relationship formation in dissolution in the age of social media provide insight into an important aspect of everyone’s life,” said Dr. Brian Butler, dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. “Her impressive collection of work exemplifies our mission to provide ground-breaking communication research that enhances health and well-being.”

LeFebvre and the 39 researchers included in the list represent the top 1 percent of prolific communication studies scholars, making this an even more impressive feat.

As the study mentions, research output is an important measurement of academic productivity and scholarly effectiveness. A prolific scholar’s individual accolades can support their ability to teach students and promote the institution they represent.

LeFebvre’s accomplishment makes a significant impact on positioning C&IS as a leader in communication and information research.

Her work, and the work of all C&IS faculty, lead the College toward its goal of providing life changing education, transformative partnerships and ground-breaking research, scholarship and creative work.

To view the research article, click here.

Communication Education is a peer-reviewed publication of the National Communication Association. Communication Education publishes original scholarship that advances understanding of the role of communication in the teaching and learning process in diverse spaces, structure, and interactions, within and outside of academia.

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

C&IS Students Join Mock Press Conference with Alabama Public Safety Officers

Six students in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) participated in a mock press conference with public safety officers from across the state of Alabama last month.

Hosted by the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa, the event provides an opportunity for students to gain valuable live-interview experience while public information officers from the Alabama Public Safety Leadership Academy (APSLA) simultaneously receive a test in having to answer their questions.

“This is the seventh year I’ve taken a group of students who volunteer their time to help train public information officers about the role of the media,” said Dr. Chandra Clark, assistant professor of journalism and creative media. “It also helps the students learn about the role public servants have in providing information to the public following a disaster or a crime. Since I’m observing them doing four mock news conferences with real-life scenarios, I am able to witness them in action before they go do this in the real world.”

The students who participated in this event are Carleigh Clark, Maxwell Donaldson, Jayda Russell, Ryan Ivey, Benjo Verge and Winter Steele.

“The reason we chose to attend this program and be a part of The University of Alabama was to become people who can effectively serve our community,” Ivey said. “These men and women in law enforcement and fire and rescue are our partners in that endeavor. Having the opportunity to help them and in turn help our community is such an important experience and rare opportunity that I feel truly blessed to be a part of, especially within my local community.”

Carleigh Clark, a senior public relations major, was excited to bring a non-journalism perspective to the exercise.

“As a student in PR, I was able to give advice to local officials about how to give strategic information to the media and the public,” Clark said. “The experience was extremely valuable for myself and members of the APSLA, and I am thankful for the educational opportunity.”

The Alabama Public Safety Leadership Academy exists to broaden and enhance the management and leadership skills of select members of Alabama’s public safety agencies through a directed program exposing members to key strategic elements relevant to public safety organizational success.

C&IS Students Volunteer as Election Workers During 2022 Midterms

C&IS faculty aim to provide students with real-world opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills that they learn in the classroom. Dr. Jessy Ohl, associate professor in communication studies, teaches COM 341: American Political Rhetoric and saw this year’s midterm election as an opportunity to show his students the important role election officials play in making elections possible.

Throughout the semester, Ohl’s students learned about American political rhetoric, and particularly about the increased hostility and threats directed at election officials. Then, on November 8, the students traveled across Tuscaloosa to make an impact on the election process, volunteering in several capacities across the city.

“Conspiracy theories and misinformation have painted a grossly false representation of the people who make our elections possible,” Ohl said. “So, students were asked to directly participate in the democratic process by volunteering as poll workers and canvassers.”

Nicholas Braswell, a sophomore communication studies major and COM 341 student, volunteered as a poll worker on election day and felt that his experience was challenging, rewarding and eye-opening.

“Election Day on the front lines of working the polls was unlike anything I have ever experienced,” Braswell said. “It was a long, draining and repetitive process, but I am grateful for the encounter and have developed a profound respect for those that step up and do this mandatory job every single election year.”

Another COM 341 student and senior public relations major, Cat Gibbs, spent the election day canvassing a neighborhood in Tuscaloosa. She went door to door meeting residents within the neighborhood and talking to them about their knowledge of climate change. Through her experience, she developed a newfound admiration for Tuscaloosa residents and the role of canvassers in government elections.

“I don’t normally get the chance to talk to residents of Tuscaloosa since I spend most of my time on campus, so being able to listen to the residents was inspiring. I heard so many stories about how weather has impacted their lives, especially the 2011 tornadoes,” Gibbs said. “I was able to learn so much from the stories that residents shared with me, and I would love to canvass again and continue meeting Tuscaloosa residents.”

The work of these C&IS students was noticed and admired by Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Rob Robertson, who thanked the students for their commitment to the election process.

“Elections are crucial for the democracy of our county, state and country, so It was encouraging to see more young people and students involved in the electoral process,” said Robertson. “This cycle we had classes study the election which resulted in more involvement at the high school and college level. It is imperative we continue to educate our youth on the importance of elections and those who fought and died for our right to vote.”

As the United States nears another political election season, C&IS faculty prepare their students to identify political dynamics that surround elections. Because of Ohl’s COM 341 course and his commitment to experiential learning, C&IS students had an opportunity to make a positive impact on the election process.

Alumni Represent UA on a National Stage

At the College of Communication and Information Sciences, students are encouraged to create their story and dream big. For many C&IS and UA alumni, these dreams become reality, and they go on to do extraordinary work in the communication, information and media fields. This especially holds true for four graduates, who have all gone on to serve as anchors and correspondents for major news networks across the country.

Kaitlan Collins – CNN Television Host

Kaitlan Collins earned her bachelor of arts degree from C&IS in 2014 with a major in journalism and a minor in political science. Today, she serves as a co-host of CNN This Morning alongside Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow.

Previously, she served as CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent based in Washington, D.C. and covered critical stories for both the Biden and Trump administrations, including stories about major staff departures and policy decisions.

After graduating in 2014, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work for The Daily Caller as an entertainment reporter. Her coverage of the 2016 presidential election earned her a position as The Daily Caller’s White House press correspondent in 2017. She was invited to appear on CNN several times, and in July of 2017, she was hired to join the White House team at CNN.

On January 11, 2021, Collins was promoted to chief White House correspondent for the incoming Biden administration. At 28 years old, she was the youngest chief White House correspondent in CNN’s history, and one of the youngest chief correspondents for a major media network.

Jan Crawford – CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent

Jan Crawford earned her bachelor of art’s degree from C&IS in 1987 with a news editorial major. Today, she serves as the chief legal correspondent for CBS News, and a recognized authority on the U.S. Supreme Court. Crawford regularly appears on popular news shows such as the CBS Evening News, Face the Nation, CBS This Morning, and CBS News Sunday Morning, and led CBS News coverage of the 2012 presidential election.

While at UA, Crawford was on “Debate Squad Alabama.” After graduating in 1987, she became a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. She graduated from the University of Chicago law school in 1993, and then began covering legal affairs for the Tribune, including covering the Supreme Court. While at the Chicago Tribune, Crawford was awarded their top reporting award for her work on a 13-part series documenting the south a generation after the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1998, Crawford began providing legal analysis of the Supreme Court for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and served as the Supreme Court analyst for Face the Nation on CBS. In 2007, Crawford served as senior legal correspondent for ABC. In 2010, she began working for CBS with a blog, “Crossroads,” before assuming the position she holds today.

Rece Davis – ESPN College GameDay Host and Play-by-Play Commentator

Rece Davis earned his bachelor of arts degree from C&IS in 1988 with a major in broadcast film and a minor in communication. Today, he is best known as the host of ESPN College GameDay, the longest-running and most-celebrated college football pregame show on television.

While a student at the University, Davis worked as an intern doing freelance television play-by-play announcing, studio hosting, and working as a radio personality for media outlets throughout the state. Davis began working as a reporter for WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa in 1987 before graduating in 1988.

After graduation, Davis moved to Columbus, Georgia, and served as a sports reporter, lead weekend news anchor, and sport’s director at WRBL. He then moved to Flint, Michigan, in 1993 where he worked as a sports anchor and reporter at WJRT-TV. While in Michigan, Davis gained the attention of ESPN and moved to Bristol, Connecticut, where ESPN is headquartered, in 1995.

Davis held several roles within ESPN before serving as an anchor on SportsCenter, covering sports including basketball, horse racing and soccer. In 2015, Davis signed a multi-year contract with ESPN to take over as host of College GameDay, the longest-running and most-celebrated college football pregame show on television.

Joe Scarborough – MSNBC Television Host

Joe Scarborough earned his bachelor of art’s degree from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1985 with a history major. Today, he is an American television host, attorney, political commentator and former politician who is the co-host of Morning Joe on MSNBC.

After graduating in 1985, Scarborough went on to earn his juris doctor from the University of Florida College of Law in 1990. Beginning in 1994, Scarborough served four terms in Congress as a member of the House of Representatives for Florida until 2001.

Upon leaving Congress, Scarborough worked as an environmental lawyer in Florida. He first began his television career in 2003 with the launch of Scarborough Country on MSNBC. In 2007, he began hosting Morning Joe.

The three C&IS alumni, along with UA alumnus Joe Scarborough, showcase the presence of The University of Alabama on a national stage. Each serves as a host, anchor or correspondent for well-known news shows presented by leading networks across the country. They each prove that experiences and opportunities available at UA and within C&IS prepare students to create and live their story.

C&IS Faculty Receive Research Institute Fellowships

Dr. Rebecca Britt
Dr. Matthew VanDyke

C&IS faculty conduct groundbreaking research across the full spectrum of communication, media and information. For two C&IS associate professors, their commitment to research has awarded them each a research institute fellowship at The University of Alabama.

Dr. Rebecca Britt and Dr. Matthew VanDyke are consistently bringing new knowledge and insight to the communication field, but the impact of their work spans far beyond communication. The two faculty members were competitively selected from faculty across the University for their respective fellowships and now conduct interdisciplinary research, develop grant proposals and represent their respective research institutes regionally and nationally.

Britt, associate professor in journalism and creative media, began a fellowship with the Alabama Life Research Institute (ALRI) last year. Now, she collaborates with faculty across campus to study problems that directly affect the health and well-being of individuals and communities in Alabama, the nation and the world

Britt’s expertise in health communication and computational social science is crucial to ALRI’s mission. She uses large scale web data to inform health communication research and address issues associated with health equity in rural and underserved communities.

“A core part of my mission as a scholar is to understand and address problems related to rural health and disparities, and the ALRI provides outstanding resources and facilities that allow me to do so,” Britt said. “I’m particularly excited about bringing my skills and experience in data science to the ALRI. I look forward to working with director Dr. Sharlene Newman and the excellent faculty who have outstanding expertise.”

VanDyke, associate professor and interim department chair in advertising and public relations, was selected for a fellowship with the Alabama Water Institute (AWI) beginning this semester. The program recognizes UA faculty for outstanding research, extension and education programs that significantly advance UA’s interdisciplinary water-related communities of science.

As an expert in science and risk communication, VanDyke uses his research with the AWI to understand the public’s attitude toward water security and water quality technologies. His research showcases the importance of communication in science-related scholarship.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to demonstrate the value of communication and public relations research to others who do water science research,” VanDyke said. “Whether using research to understand the public’s attitudes toward water quality technologies or how we can better design forecast products to help decision makers find relevant information, communication research is important in making sure science and information can be acted upon by the people who need it.”

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

C&IS Students Continue to Do the Extraordinary at Lead Retreat

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) develops global leaders who do the extraordinary in communication, media and information. During a weekend in the fall 2022 semester, a group of C&IS leaders traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida to participate in leadership development training and experiential learning workshops at the third C&IS Lead Retreat.

The group of 49 established and emerging student leaders was led by five C&IS faculty and staff members and two upperclassmen students who served as on-site coordinators. The students completed a curriculum of leadership programming that encompassed lessons on communication, diversity and collaboration.

“As a junior in the College, I was super happy to attend the trip,” said news media major Victor Hagan. “I learned and experienced so much that I can bring back to my organizations now, and it was the perfect opportunity to build relationships with my peers.”

Throughout the weekend, students connected their experiences in C&IS and developed into a network of peers who understand their individual and group impact. Group workshops, team building exercises, breakout sessions and personal reflection united the students, all while enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Emerald Coast.

“I truly enjoyed the substance of LEAD Retreat. We had great conversation and discussion, and all of the exercises taught me new knowledge about teamwork and leadership,” said freshman news media major, Samantha White.

The mission statement of the Lead Retreat is to develop leaders who do the extraordinary in C&IS and beyond. The retreat’s final activity challenged the students to make a statement of how they would be extraordinary moving forward, and all 49 students accepted the challenge to become impactful leaders in the College moving forward.

“We focused a lot on figuring out who you are as a person so you could become the best version of yourself, which determines what kind of leader you are,” said sophomore communication studies and public relations double major Alex Williams. “I left feeling more secure in who I am than I’ve ever felt before.”

Financial support for the Lead Retreat was provided by the generosity of C&IS alumni and friends. This retreat would not have been possible without the support of the extended C&IS network.

“C&IS really prioritizes community building and provides us many opportunities to develop our skills, but this opportunity has been one of my favorites during my time at UA. I’m so grateful for this experience to grow and develop into the best version of myself,” said sophomore creative media major, Jocelyn Claborn.


To learn more about the 2022 Lead Retreat, click here.