Texas Tech University

Converging News

October 2016

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

Dear CoMC Friends:

To quote an old Frank Sinatra song: “It was a very good year.” The twentieth day of class is the last day that our students can add or drop a class, so we can now take an official snapshot of the metrics of student attraction to and engagement with the College of Media & Communication.

College of Media & Communication Snapshot Fall 2016

CoMC Enrollment & SCH Trends, Fall 2013-Fall 2016

Program Fall 2013 Fall 2014 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 20th Class Day % Increase from Fall 2013
*Note: Based on 20th Class Day Enrollment, IRIM, Preliminary Enrollment Database, Accessed 10/4/2016. All enrollment totals are (undergraduate, graduate, total college) are highest in College's history.
**Based on 20th Class Day Enrollment. Cognos Database shows 1644 total. With 1644 undergraduates, this would be a 21.6% increase and the total enrollment (1830) would represent a 26.2% increase.
Undergraduate Enrollment 1351 1330 1460 1642** 21.5%**
Undergraduate SCH 14,054 14,469 23,449 25,413 80.8%
Graduate Enrollment 99 122 160 186 87.8%
Graduate SCH 794 949 1144 1221 53.7%
Total College Enrollment 1450 1452 1620 1828 26.0%
Total College SCH 14,848 15,418 24,593 26,634 79.3%
David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Specifically, our enrollment -- that is, the number of students who are signed up for one of our six majors -- hit the highest numbers in the history of communication programs at Texas Tech University. Our semester credit hours -- the number of hours all students, not just majors, take from us -- are also at their highest level ever. Our graduation rate -- efficiently moving students through classes to graduate -- and our retention rate – students who stay enrolled and don't drop out -- are also at the highest or among the highest in all TTU colleges. Overall, we were the fastest growing college at TTU this fall.

I think these are patent indications that we are teaching great classes that students want to take and that we have worked very hard to rebrand our programs so that more and more parents, guidance counselors, and high schoolers see us as an exciting pathway to their future.

Stay tuned for more good news to come!

Best wishes,

David D. Perlmutter

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

CoMC Hosted Minecraft, Debate and Sports Media Summer Camps


Minecraft logo

The College of Media & Communications hosted three camps in Summer 2016 for middle and high school students interested in the computer game Minecraft and computer programming, speech and debate, and sports media.

John Velez, an assistant journalism & electronic media professor, was in charge of the Minecrafter Camp, which hosted more than 50 students ranging from sixth graders to high school seniors.

“The camp was five days during which campers were introduced to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics lessons through the digital computer game Minecraft,” Velez said. “Lessons in Minecraft were supplemented by offline activities that built on what campers previously learned.”

Velez said examples of lesson topics included circuitry and programming, while the use of Minecraft fostered campers critical thinking and teamwork skills.

Adam Testerman, director of forensics at CoMC, worked with representatives from the Texas University Interscholastic League to host the annual Texas Tech Speech and Debate Camp for high school students. He said the camp experienced significant growth from 30 campers last year to nearly 80 campers this year.

“Students spent a week practicing, researching, and speaking over a variety of topics,” Testerman said. “The speech component of the camp allowed students to learn about events such humorous and dramatic interpretation and oratory. The debate component exposed students to topics ranging from U.S. trade relationships with China to whether justice is maintained in our criminal justice system.”

High school students interested in learning more about sports media had the opportunity to attend a Sports Media Camp led by Erica Taylor, an assistant journalism & electronic media professor. She said the students who attended had the opportunity to gain experience in various aspects of the field.

“Throughout the whole week they were able to receive great information from experts in the sports media field, participate in video production, practice interviewing and writing scripts,” Taylor said. “The students also had the opportunity of experiencing what it's like to be on an anchor desk while delivering their own stories in the CoMC studio.”

Taylor said one of her favorite moments from the camp was teaching mobile storytelling techniques, which involved the students venturing around campus and taking pictures.

“I was amazed that the students applied a lot of techniques that were demonstrated during the workshop,” Taylor said. “I think the most important lessons they were able to take away from the Sports Media Camp were the key elements in developing and telling an impactful story.”

Velez, Testerman and Taylor all agreed that their camps received positive responses this year, and they are looking forward to bringing them back next summer.

CoMC Alumni Honored at Hall of Fame and Outstanding Alumni Event


Bill Marcy
Bill Marcy

Four Texas Tech University alumni were honored by the College of Media & Communication on Sept. 16 at the college's annual Outstanding Alumni and Hall of Fame Dinner.

Bill Marcy, who has three engineering degrees from Texas Tech, was inducted into the college's Hall of Fame. Marcy, who was the university's provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at the time, recommended and supported the creation of the then-College of Mass Communications. The Board of Regents subsequently approved the proposal.

Dean David Perlmutter said he is glad the college was able to publicly recognize Marcy's impact on the CoMC faculty, staff and students.

CoMC's Outstanding Alumni for 2016 are Donna Huerta, Sheri Mudd and Joel West.

“Our Outstanding Alumni recipients are living testaments to the robustness and versatility of the communications degree within our college,” Perlmutter said.

Huerta earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Tech in 1984 and has spent the bulk of her career working in communications for various municipalities and transportation entities in Texas. She served as the first public information officer/communication director for the North Texas Tollway Authority. Currently, Huerta is the public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Mudd earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from Texas Tech in 2001 and a Master of Arts in Mass Communications in 2002. She began her career in broadcast media as an account executive at KLBK-TV and KAMC-TV in 2007, becoming the KAMC local sales manager in 2012. Mudd is also an active community member, working with non-profits including the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish North Texas, and March of Dimes.

West graduated with his bachelor's degree in public relations in 1989 and with his Master of Arts in Mass Communications in 1993. He began his career in the commercial printing industry. West also worked for the college, aiding in academic and commercial communication research. Now, West is the national sales manager for KAMC-TV and KLBK-TV in Lubbock.

CoMC's Outstanding Alumni Awards program began in 1981 to recognize alumni who have made significant contributions to the field of communication. The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have contributed to quality education in the college. They may or may not be alumni of the program.

Award recipients were selected by a committee of students, faculty, and alumni appointed by Perlmutter.

University's Communication Training Center Launched


President Schovanec cutting the ribbon

The Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication launched the university's new Communication Training Center on Sept. 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said that CoMC's role in creating the CTC will help with the new initiative to improve students' communication skills and multicultural awareness.

“The CTC will play an essential role in helping Texas Tech meet the objectives of our recently adopted Quality Enhancement Plan,” Schovanec said. “Through the CTC, and supported by the expertise in the College of Media & Communication, students and faculty will be better trained and informed about this new initiative.”

David Perlmutter, dean of CoMC, said he sees the CTC as a tool that will help increase the quality of various aspects of communication throughout the university and beyond.

“The Communication Training Center is at the core of the 10-year Quality Enhancement Plan at Texas Tech,” Perlmutter said. “We are deeply honored to propel forward the mission of improving oral and visual communication skillsets for teaching, public and policymaker engagement, and workplace preparedness.”

Todd Chambers, associate dean for undergraduate affairs in CoMC, said the process for creating a new QEP started about two and a half years ago as part of the university's accreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges.

“We were charged with developing a new quality enhancement plan that we felt was beneficial for every student at Texas Tech,” Chambers said. “A campus committee came up with the theme ‘Communicating in a Global Society.' Part of that plan was to create a center for global communication that would help coordinate global communication issues that are happening already across campus.”

President Schovanec giving the guns up

Gary Smith, budget director for the College of Architecture and head of the committee that created the CTC, said that with the theme of “Communicating in a Global Society” in mind, they wanted students to be able to use new software and social media in appropriate ways to communicate globally.

“The Communication Training Center was created to help faculty learn ways to incorporate these tools into coursework and to help students learn how to use the tools effectively,” Smith said.

Genevieve Durham DeCesaro, associate vice provost for academic affairs, said she believes the CTC will work to enhance the value of communication throughout various academic disciplines.

“The Communication Training Center is poised to augment the university's focus on the critical nature of communication and how communication is valued, commonly and distinctly, across academic disciplines,” Durham DeCesaro said.

Luke LeFebvre, director of the CTC, said he hopes to see the CTC become a hive of activity on Texas Tech's campus.

“I foresee workshops occurring at the center as well as CTC staff venturing out to work with scholars across the institutional landscape at Texas Tech University,” LeFebvre said. “Our purpose will be to help scholars bring their ideas to life through content development, competent and confident oral communication, and powerful visual presentations.”  

Senior Journalism Major Interns with CNN Atlanta


Leigh Waldman
Leigh Waldman

When Leigh Waldman submitted her application for an internship with CNN Atlanta for the Spring 2016 semester, she said she never thought she would be chosen.

Originally from Keller, Texas, Waldman said she chose the CNN Bureau in Atlanta after she discovered the internship on one of the daily “Info to Know” emails from the College of Media & Communication's Center for Success, Outreach & Engagement.

“I looked on the website, and there were tons of internships available,” Waldman said. “I knew the Atlanta area well because I lived there for two years. I decided to apply. I didn't think I was going to get it, but they offered me a video interview, and then the manager called and offered me the job.”

Waldman said she had the opportunity to take a semester off for the internship, which began in January and was extended until August. She said interning with CNN has given her a wealth of experience as the bureau covers all news in the southeastern region of the United States.

“If any news breaks, from Texas to Virginia, we cover it,” Waldman said. “I have gotten to do a lot, and I have been very fortunate. I get sent out with reporters and producers and video journalists all the time to go and cover stories. Every day is different.”

Waldman said one of the most memorable moments of her internship was meeting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when she visited Atlanta and riding on her press bus.

Waldman said she was also working when a series of terrorist attacks occurred in Brussels, on March 22. Her assignments included a trip to a company in Alabama two days later, where she learned how to make bombs such as the ones used in the attack.

“I was at CNN the day of the Brussels attacks, which was a very humbling experience,” Waldman said. “CNN is the leader in news, so we have the most coverage in the United States and around the world, and getting to see everything stop for a second when the attack happened was really humbling.”

Lea Hellmueller, former associate professor of journalism, described Waldman as a very engaged and creative student.

“Leigh had great and creative story ideas for our video project and was definitely a go-getter,” Hellmueller said. “It did not surprise me that Leigh was accepted for an internship with CNN. That was always her dream, and she is definitely going to make a difference in whatever she does.”

While she initially wanted to pursue a career in sports reporting, Waldman said her time with CNN has inspired her to look into a career as a general assignments reporter. She said she was inspired to become a journalist by her Principles of Journalism professor, the late Robert Wernsman.

“I came into college not knowing what I wanted to do, and then I took Professor Wernsman's Principles of Journalism class. That's when I decided I wanted to be a journalist,” Waldman said. “He really showed me what it means to be a journalist and the kind of impact you can have.”

Rob Peaslee, chair of the Department of Journalism & Electronic Media, described internships as an essential part of any student's entry into media industries because of the real-world experience they provide.

“That intrepid students like Leigh are aiming high for outlets like CNN and branching out to major media markets around the country is a great indicator of the confidence our amazing journalism faculty are instilling in their students,” Peaslee said. “This confidence is only enlarged by the many opportunities they have to publish and broadcast content in professional circles before they even apply for internships, something on which we have been explicitly focused for several years now."

Waldman returned to Texas Tech in Fall 2016 for her senior year. She said her internship with CNN Atlanta made her even more passionate about her career choice.

“My time at CNN taught me what it means to be a journalist,” Waldman said. “It taught me to speak for those without a voice, to be hungry for information, and to never settle for good enough — always strive for greatness.”

Waldman said she would recommend that current students pursue internships with local and national media outlets because both offer unique opportunities that turn into networking opportunities and experience.

“Take the chance. Apply for an internship, even if you don't think you're qualified, and you never know,” Waldman said. “They could call you and want to hire you, and then you have those amazing connections with people who are where you want to be.”

Welcome New Faculty — Fall 2016

Sherice Gearhart
Sherice Gearhart

Dr. Sherice Gearhart (Ph.D., Texas Tech University, 2013; Assistant Professor of Public Relations) teaches principles of public relations, applied public relations research, and public opinion.

Dr. Gearhart's research interests include the examination of mediated messages and media effects, especially in regard to civic engagement and political participation. Specifically, her work aims to understand how opinion formation and expression are influenced in a dynamic media environment. Other areas of interest include social media, news presentation, public opinion, and media framing.

James Hodgins
James Hodgins

Mr. James Hodgins (M.A., Texas Tech University, 2016; Instructor of Advertising) teaches advertising writing, Internet and new media advertising, and advertising design and layout.

Hodgins is also the director of the Think Tank, a new collaborative workspace under the Department of Advertising dedicated to inspiring deeper creative thinking in the students of the College of Media & Communication. He also has 10 years of professional experience working in the advertising industry, from agency to in-house offices.

Wonseok (Eric) Jang
Wonseok (Eric) Jang

Dr. Wonseok (Eric) Jang (Ph.D., University of Florida, 2016; Assistant Professor of Advertising) teaches media planning, advertising campaigns, and sport advertising.

Dr. Jang's research focuses primarily on visual communication in advertising. In addition, Dr. Jang is interested in exploring the role of media consumption on people's energy and subjective well-being. Other areas of interest include sport advertising and new media.

Gordana Lazić
Gordana Lazić

Dr. Gordana Lazić (Ph.D., University of Denver; 2013; Instructor of Communication Studies) teaches courses in culture and communication, intercultural communication, fundamentals of communication, and communicating in a global society.

Dr. Lazić's research interests include cultural studies, critical theory, and rhetoric in the context of resistance and social movements. More specifically, her work focuses on notions of difference and power in non-democratic contexts.

Luke LeFebvre
Luke LeFebvre

Dr. Luke LeFebvre (Ph.D., Wayne State University, 2010; Assistant Professor of Communication Studies) is the Director of the Communication Training Center established through TTU's 2015 QEP: Communicating in a Global Society.

Dr. LeFebvre is recognized as an innovative scholar and teacher of the basic courses in communication and communication centers, having authored in outlets such as Communication Education, Review of Communication, Basic Communication Course Annual, and the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. He has received early career awards from the Central States Communication Association, National Communication Association, and International Communication Association.

Magdalena Saldaña
Magdalena Saldaña

Ms. Magdalena Saldaña (Ph.D. candidate, University of Texas at Austin) teaches Hispanic Media and Multimedia Journalism.

Her research focuses mainly on digital media and public opinion, observing how new media platforms have an impact not only on journalistic practices, but also on how the news affects public opinion. Her work combines traditional quantitative and qualitative methods (like surveys and textual analysis) with innovative computer-assisted techniques, such as topic modeling. Her other research interests include political communication and Latin American studies.

Phil Terrigno
Phil Terrigno

Mr. Phil Terrigno (M.S., Columbia Journalism School, 2014) joins the Texas Tech College of Media & Communication after two years as the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's high school sports editor. Under Terrigno, the Avalanche-Journal's coverage expanded to local television and radio stations, as well as Fox Sports Southwest. 

Terrigno will be the Director of Multimedia Writing, and will oversee The Hub @ TTU, facilitate podcasting within the college, and teach Intro to Multimedia Writing. Terrigno has freelanced for The New York Times, Associated Press, Vice, Billboard and a dozen newspapers nationally. His reporting has won awards from the Associated Press in New York and the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors. 

He will graduate in December 2016 with an MBA from Texas Tech. 

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