Texas Tech University

Converging News

February 2018

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Dear CoMC Friends:

At the College of Media & Communication, we are currently preparing our Strategic Plan, building on the successes of the previous one that closes this year. We are looking ahead to 2025, when Texas Tech celebrates the 100th anniversary of the matriculation of its first students. Our own discipline was, as the saying goes, "present at the creation," since speech communication classes, now taught in our Department of Communication Studies, were among the first curricula of the new Texas Technological College. Speech and rhetoric, of course, are among the oldest courses of study in the academy - the latter word itself referring to an olive grove where the ancient Greek philosophers taught their students to be effective communicators.

We have always believed, thus, that communications is both a scholarly and a practical, applied discipline. We want our students not only to ask big questions and recognize theories that explain patterns and trends but also to practice communications, whether in government, non-profits, or industry, in traditional or revolutionary new media enterprises or with any endeavor that needs effective communications. That is why you will find our graduates, new and senior, working for as varied employers as the U.S. Congress, a local non-profit, an advertising agency, an airline, an energy company, and a baseball team.

In this issue of Converging News, you will hear about one of our premier showcases for the intersection of learning and doing, training and exploring: the Dallas Career Development Conference, run in partnership between our local alumni and the CoMC. It represents a huge amount of work put in by a central team of alums, from people who have been only a few years in the workforce to veterans of industry. Alumni and other professionals gathered in January at the Richards Group in Dallas to discuss, with current students, diverse career pathways and individual methods to improve the students' professional skill sets and encourage their ambitions. I am proud of the high level of engagement I witnessed and that all the participants reported. The CDC is an example of the best of what one can gain from a CoMC education. 

David D. Perlmutter

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean


CoMC hosts Career Development Conference in Dallas

By Liz Inskip-Paulk

CoMC co-hosted a career development conference in Dallas for seniors preparing for their next step.
(Above image)- Some of the conference participants listen closely to one of the invited speakers.

Presented by the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) alumni and sponsored by Texas Tech University's CoMC, the 2018 Career Development Conference was well attended by participants during the event on Jan. 8.

Hosted by the Richards Group, the goal of the event is to encourage students, especially seniors, in their transition from college to the real world through panel discussions of hot topics, alumni chats and a keynote speaker.

Students also engaged and interacted one on one with fellow Tech alumni throughout the conference, which led to great connections for their future  professional lives.

Sessions included the latest information on job hunting, career decisions, trends and much more from various industries including: gaming, music, nonprofits, sports media, news media, entertainment and government relations.


CoMC welcomes new personnel to team

By Liz Inskip-Paulk

Dusty Bedwell, Director of Development, CoMC.
(Above image)- Dusty Bedwell, Director of Development, CoMC.

As the CoMC continues to grow in student numbers, the college has been focused on hiring some new team members to continually improve the level of excellent service that we provide.

Dusty Bedwell has been hired as the director of development for the College of Media & Communication, a role in which he is charged with implementing a development strategy and fundraising efforts that will aid in supporting the college's priorities for the future.

Bedwell previously served as the interim chief advancement officer for Texas Tech where he was responsible for fundraising operations for the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Education, the College of Human Sciences, the College of Media & Communication, the College of Architecture, the Honors College, the Graduate School, the Burkhart Center for Autism and the Libraries. Prior to his interim role, Bedwell held the position of senior director of development for the College of Arts & Sciences at Texas Tech.

Building on two years of media sales experience, Bedwell began his career in higher education philanthropy as the assistant director of the Annual Fund at Texas Tech University, and after 18 months, he was invited to return to his alma mater, West Texas A&M University, as director of annual giving to help implement a new student calling center.

In 2009, he joined Baylor University as the assistant director of development for the Hankamer School of Business and the School of Engineering and Computer Science. During his six years in that position, Bedwell was part of the small fundraising team that secured seven- and eight-figure gifts leading to the construction of a $100 million building for the business school and a $260 million stadium.

Bedwell holds a B.B.A. from West Texas A&M University and an M.B.A. from Baylor University. He and his wife Amanda have two children, Emma and Holden.

CoMC Academic Adviser Stacy Elliot, M.Ed., L.P.C.
(Above image)- CoMC Academic Adviser Stacy Elliott, M.Ed., L.P.C.

Stacy Elliott, M.Ed., L.P.C., joined the College of Media & Communication advising team in December as an academic adviser. A Lubbock native, Elliott has experience in education at many levels, including having taught health education at both Monterey and Coronado high schools and having served as a counselor for South Plains College prior to joining Texas Tech. She returned to Texas Tech as a learning specialist in the learning center and most recently has been with university advising.

Elliott obtained her master's degree from Texas Tech in educational psychology and is a licensed professional counselor with the state of Texas. Her undergraduate degree in education sets the foundation for her teaching, learning skills, strategies and supporting others in their journey to learn, and her passion as an adviser is generated from a student-centered approach to guiding, to teaching and to promoting self-awareness, personal growth and personal enrichment through the university experience.

As a licensed professional counselor, she has experience in both clinic mental health settings and in private practice counseling and this, combined with the training and education that Elliott brings to this position, enables her to offer a holistic focus to our students as they journey through the process of self-discovery and of educational/professional development.

During Elliot's tenure with university advising, her primary role was working on retention and success efforts with students returning from suspension. Working with students who struggle and partnering with them to find successful learning strategies and behaviors has been a passion for Elliott. In her new role as an academic adviser, she will be providing support for CoMC students who may be dealing with the stressors of time management, balancing work and education while establishing boundaries of outside influences and other issues that may impede them from reaching their goals here at Texas Tech.

Elliott is married and has two adult children and one granddaughter. She is active in her church with Habitat for Humanity, Family Promise and other community organizations and she plays Bunco and loves board games.

Ian Wilkinson is the CoMC's new Technology Manager.

Ian Wilkinson has been hired as the CoMC's new Technology Manager.
(Above image)- Ian Wilkinson has been hired as the CoMC's new Technology Manager.

After a childhood spent taking apart all available electronic devices and helping his musician father set up sound systems, it was natural for Wilkinson to seek a career in technology. Over the years, he has operated and maintained all manner of devices and media formats, from analog audio tape to IMAX to interactive museum exhibits and the latest in 3D digital projection.

Wilkinson holds strong convictions about the value of education and so the majority of his career has been with institutions that are focused on education, including seven years at Texas Tech.

Some of Wilkinson's professional goals are to maintain a reputation for friendliness, integrity, reliability and excellence, to learn something new in his profession and to solve problems every day.

Wilkinson is married to an artist and has three young children. He plays guitar and harmonica with his family folk band and serves the Galactic Empire as a stormtrooper with the 501st Legion. A dedicated comics and sci-fi fan (and repatriated Lubbock native), Wilkinson helped to found and organize Lubbock-Con, an annual event for fandom groups to gather and celebrate their love for pop culture, comics, gaming, sci-fi, anime and more.  

Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication hosts Distinguished Lecture Speaker

By Alexa Rosas 

Nicolas Kanellos, Ph.D., invited speaker for the Harris Institute
(Above image)- Nicolas Kanellos, Ph.D., invited speaker for the upcoming Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication's Distinguished Lecture dinner.

In the fall of 2017, Texas Tech University became eligible for Hispanic-serving Institution status, with the enrollment of Hispanic students reaching 27%, reported professor and director of the Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication, Kent Wilkinson.

On March 1, the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic & International Communication will continue to serve these students with a Distinguished Lecture Dinner featuring University of Houston professor, Nicolas Kanellos, Ph.D.

"Dr. Kanellos has 40 years' experience in teaching, researching and publishing related to Hispanics in the United States," reported Wilkinson. "He is founder and publisher of the oldest and most established Hispanic publishing house in the U.S., Arte Público Press in Houston."

Additionally, Kanellos is the director of a research program, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, where he hopes to bring forth information that will allow Hispanic students and communities to continue to build upon the achievements of the past.

"When I was coming up through the educational system, there was virtually nothing available or in classrooms or the curriculum that dealt with Hispanics' long presence and considerable contributions to American history and culture," said Kanellos. "My team and I, as well as scholars across the country and abroad, are driven to fill in these gaps in our education and national culture. Our mission is to provide not only the original texts to further this mission but also to create the scholarly context to understand them and accord them their due place in American culture."

While visiting Texas Tech, Kanellos will focus his presentation on the history of his research program, the methods he and his team use when recovering the past and the Inter University Program for Latino Research that he will be conducting in June of this year. Kanellos hopes to see students leave with two ideas in mind. The first is that knowledge is socially and politically built and the second is that students can play a role in building it.

"Faculty in the College of Media & Communication want our students to thrive, professionally and personally, in an increasingly diverse U.S. society and in international contexts," Wilkinson said. "Harris Distinguished Lecturers are experts in various aspects of Hispanic and international communication and have ample professional experience as well. The lecture series, which is endowed by the late Thomas Jay Harris, dovetails nicely with Texas Tech's current Quality Enhancement Program: 'communicating in a global society.'"

CoMC students gain industry experience with TTU athletics

By Alexa Rosas 

(Above image)- CoMC student, Jack Ciampi, an intern with the Texas Tech University Athletic Department.
(Above image)- CoMC student, Jack Ciampi, an intern with the Texas Tech University Athletic Department.

On senior Jack Ciampi's first day on the job as a writer for the Texas Tech athletics department, he completed a feature article on two TTU golfers set to compete in the South American Amateur Championship. Each day after that has been a unique experience, according to Ciampi.

While Ciampi has spent time at tennis as well as track & field events, he has spent most of his few months with TTU athletics at basketball games. During the games, Ciampi and his fellow interns run stats for the games and work on distributing them to the coaches and media. Following each game, the interns attend coach and player interviews, collect quotes and update the TTU athletics website.

"I like the atmosphere," said Ciampi. "The players, the coaches and the media people. You can just learn so much from them because they are so good at what they do. It's really hands-on and they rely on you for so much."

Ciampi, admittedly, has an affinity for sports and hopes to work as a public relations person for the Olympics one day.

Another CoMC student, senior Casey Buscher, also holds a similar position as intern with the university's athletic department.

"When it comes to sports, she's way more impressive than me," Ciampi reported.

According to Buscher, the experience that she gained in her time at TTU athletics is what allowed her to secure a communication internship with the Washington Redskins in the Summer of 2017. Additionally, Buscher believes that her experiences will aid her in accomplishing her dream of becoming a sports reporter.

"Through my internship, I have learned how to work in a communications office for college athletics," said Buscher. "I work games from all different sports and have learned how to efficiently work in a PR department."

Junior Derrick Spencer, an electronic media & communication major and current photography intern with TTU athletics, also believes that his time as an intern will serve him well as he moves closer toward beginning a career.

"I create content for the athletics department, primarily photos currently, as well as help with ideation and brand direction. I feel my experiences at athletics will help tremendously with my future regarding jobs," Spencer said. "I have learned an immense amount of skills and information on how a professional entity such as an athletics department runs and operates. I have also learned how to interact with people of interest at large-scale events." 

Although Spencer continues to gain confidence in his skill set, he is also careful not to settle and remained humble when the Sports Illustrated magazine's website used one of his photos.

"It has always been a big goal of mine to have an outlet of that size use a photo of mine in some way," Spencer admitted. "So it was definitely a cool feeling. With that being said, I try not to get content with anything I do in photography so I am always looking forward and trying to build on my past success and not linger too much on past accomplishments or milestones."

The fast-paced days and long post-game nights may seem grueling, but these CoMC students only see a well of real-world experience.

"The thing I like most about working with Texas Tech athletics are the relationships and connections I have made over the past couple years, as well as just flat out getting to work and do what I love," said Spencer. 

Professor finds a career in his childhood hobby

By Alexa Rosas

John Velez, Ph.D., CoMC.
(Above image)- CoMC's Assistant Professor John Velez.

Assistant Professor of journalism & electronic media, John Velez, Ph.D., has always been a 'gamer,' and today, gaming is central in his career at Texas Tech.

"Video games have always interested me for many reasons, not just how they're entertaining – although that is part of my research," reported Velez. "I've been fascinated with their endless potential to provide people with different experiences and, particularly, how they provide social experiences that are common and uncommon in the real world."

In his most recent research project, Velez, with the assistance of master's student Casey Smith, explored players' social interactions with Non-Player Characters, or characters that are run by the game's artificial intelligence.

"Essentially, I'm interested in how we socially process AIs when we interact with them and how that differs from how we process regular social interactions with other humans," said Velez. "We learned that people react differently to NPCs compared to characters controlled by other real players, actually in more positive ways. We're still figuring out why this occurs and what is going on in players' heads when they are playing cooperatively with or competitively against NPCs."

Smith, who assisted Velez in his latest research, explains that video games are a very complex form of entertainment that leave no room for generalizations.

"Dr. Velez is a great mentor because he wants you to get involved," Smith reported. "Dr. Velez, from day one, had me fully involved in the research process. I would be in meetings with little to no research understanding and they would teach me as well as let me contribute to the conversation."

Smith met Velez in EMC 4301 Special Topics: Understanding Video Games. From then on, Smith was transformed from a student who simply wanted to graduate and go to a committed graduate student.

"I grew through the experience of working in a lab. By the time I got into grad school, I already had a leg up since I had been working in the lab for some time. Specifically, to date, I have run the lab as the manager, created game content and instructional videos, created custom game servers for the stimuli, made code books, trained confederates and much more," said Smith. "There have been several research studies Dr. Velez has included me on and I am grateful for all the opportunities."

Today, Velez is focusing on developing an app, with the help of Dr. Melinda Corwin at the TTUHSC and Stacy Elko, associate professor of art, that will work to help stroke survivors understand information surrounding their diagnosis and prognosis.

"Some people develop a condition called aphasia, in which they have difficulty communicating, and many of them have trouble understanding health information from their doctors," Velez said. "This can lead to a lot of negative outcomes that we feel interactive technologies can address. This application is similar to a game with an interactive narrative that patients can use to learn about their condition and what they need to do to recuperate."

Elko, who focused on the art component of the app's prototype, understands that communication for stroke survivors is the key to recovery.

"Communication for the elderly is critical, and frustration with the inability to communicate hampers progress. There is a need for educational games and interactive environments to be developed, assisting post-stroke aphasia patients in thoroughly understanding their condition, aiding their rehabilitation," reported Elko.

According to Velez, aphasia patients are typically less social, as well as less participatory at work and in pursuing their education, thus making essential the technology accompanying this app.

Velez added, "This project will research and develop informational games to be used, which will both facilitate the education necessary for neurocognitive recovery while engaging the patient so that they can enthusiastically pursue their own therapy."




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