Texas Tech University

Converging News

April 2017

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

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

Dear CoMC Friends:

In this Month's Converging News you will find a story about the success of one of our doctoral students within a field outside of our own. It's a significant example of something that is almost unique about us: One of the founders of the study of communications and media famously called us a "platform discipline." He meant that there was no field of human endeavor that was not touched or influenced by communications. Within the world of academic research that means that everyone from health practitioners to engineers to sociologists can benefit from collaboration with an understanding of communications theories and methodologies. Within the applied world of professions that means that our graduates have something to contribute, no matter what a government agency, private company, or nonprofit concerns itself with. We literally can speak to every problem and challenge that humans and humanity face. Congratulations to Mr. Derrick Holland, our CoMC Ph.D. student, for embodying the best of what we can do for the world!

David D. Perlmutter

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

CoMC Graduate Student Wins Award at Geographical Society of America South-Central Conference


Derrick Holland
Derrick Holland

College of Media & Communication graduate student Derrick Holland won the award for Best Graduate Student Oral Presentation at the 2017 Geographical Society of America South-Central Conference in San Antonio on March 13.

Holland's presentation, co-authored by Coy Callison, CoMC's associate dean for graduate studies, was titled “Hashtags and Likes: An Analysis of the Social Media Conversation Surrounding Water Scarcity.” It detailed the almost 70,000 tweets that were related to water issues in California and Texas in January and February 2017.

“I am very honored to have received this accolade,” Holland said. “Dr. Callison and I are not geologists by trade, so going to a conference dominated by another field of study and winning this award speaks to a number of things.”

Callison said Holland's strong work ethic and his ability to tie information from different fields back to their work in strategic communications, are significant factors in what led to the award. He said he sees this recognition as evidence of the progress he and Holland have made after 18 months of diligent research.

“Derrick Holland came into our Ph.D. program wanting to do work that he could feel was benefiting the people of the state,” Callison said. “I was very glad to see that he was interested in water scarcity and message factors in strategic communication aimed at addressing the problem.”

Holland said the award shows that his work with Callison is not only appealing to different fields, but also that those fields understand the importance of working together across disciplines.

“It shows that faculty and graduate students within the College of Media & Communication are not complacent with staying in our ‘safe-place,' meaning we are not afraid to branch out of our comfort zone and collaborate with other fields,” Holland said. “This cross-disciplinary collaboration is extremely important, and it is one of many reasons this department excels.”

Holland said this line of research began when Callison received a grant from the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, which was focused on understanding and examining attitudes and behaviors surrounding water issues.

“These issues include water scarcity and water pollution,” Holland said. “This conference presentation is separate from the grant, but its overall goal is very much joined with that of the grant study. The presentation topic was the conversation surrounding water scarcity on social media.”

Trent Seltzer, assistant dean for graduate affairs, said Holland has proven to be a great collaborator and student to work with during his time at the college.

“I've been consistently impressed with Derrick,” Seltzer said. “He is persistent, intellectually curious, and constantly strives to produce outstanding work. He approaches his graduate studies in a professional, ‘roll up your sleeves and get to work' manner—an approach that I admire.”

Communications Studies Alum Serves as Texas State Representative


Justin Holland
Justin Holland

Once a student in the Department of Communication Studies at Texas Tech University, Justin Holland is now serving his first term as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Holland also works as a real estate broker and co-owns an independent, boutique firm in his hometown of Rockwall, Texas. He said his passion for real estate and community involvement was inspired by the life and career of his late father.

“Real estate is not just a transaction to me,” Holland said. “It's connecting people to their neighbors, schools and churches. My favorite part is helping new residents get plugged-in. My father got into the real estate business in 1984 and I grew up in and around what eventually became my professional passion.”

When it comes to his work, Holland credited his degree in communication studies for success in every opportunity that has come his way, from business development in community banking to serving on boards and commissions.

“When I am complimented on my public speeches, I always joke that I have a degree in giving speeches,” Holland said. “But it was the preparation time and diversity of the coursework that made me grow.”

Justin Holland

In addition to gaining a valuable education from Texas Tech, Holland said it was also the place where he met his wife of nine years. They now have two daughters.

Mark Gring, assistant graduate director of the Department of Communication Studies, said that he has watched Holland and his wife grow into the professionals they are today—and it all started when they met in his classroom.

“Justin and his wife met in my Persuasion class years ago and it has been very encouraging to see their lives unfold over the years,” Gring said. “He and his wife have been involved in the real estate business, local politics and now state politics. I never saw Justin as the ‘political type' but have seen that his personal values and convictions have led him and his wife to step up, volunteer, get involved in local issues and now in politics at the state level.”

Justin Holland

Holland said that with a great-grandfather who was the chief of police, a grandfather who was a county constable, and a father who was a deacon and a board member of the church and served in various community capacities, he always knew his time to serve his community would come.

During his time at Texas Tech, Holland said he gained organizational and leadership skills as a member of Kappa Sigma, and as a representative for the College of Arts & Sciences in the Student Government Association.

After he graduated in 2005, Holland interned for Rep. Randy Neugebauer in Washington, DC. In addition to establishing his real estate career, he also went on to become the youngest person elected to public office in Heath, Texas, with a seat on the local city council.

Holland then set his sights on an open seat in the Texas House of Representatives.

“After 465 days, three elections and much time and effort as a full family, we won that seat and I'm proud to be serving my first term and session in Austin right now,” Holland said. “My committee assignments are fitting—Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee and Investments & Financial Services Committee.”

Holland said he would advise current students to never give up on their dreams, and to go the extra mile.

Justin Holland

“Do what others won't work to do to get there,” Holland said. “Work a job that stretches your limits and comfort level for at least two years, and choose your circle of friends wisely. You become who you hang around. Pick a spiritual mentor, a family mentor and a professional mentor.”

When it comes to Communication Studies, Holland encouraged students to plug in now, while they are still in school.

“Set attainable goals and revisit them often,” Holland said. “COMS is so versatile. It has so many opportunities for you after school. It's OK if it takes a few years to find your niche. It took me seven years to land where I finally knew God wanted me to be, and I'm not quick to make plans about what He has in store for the rest of my life. I'm only 33.”

Journalism Alum Pursues Career as Author, Motivational Speaker


Linda Swindling
Linda Swindling

After graduating from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in 1988, and a law degree from the Texas Tech School of Law in 1991, Linda Byars Swindling went on to become an author, motivational speaker and the CEO of Journey On.

While working as an employment, corporate and insurance attorney, Swindling published her first book, “The Consultant's Legal Guide.”

“I left the law practice of Withrow, Fiscus and Swindling to devote full-time efforts to start a professional development firm called Journey On,” Swindling said. “I create corporate programs on communications and negotiations. In addition, I speak at conferences, association functions and organizations.”

Swindling has spent five years as a facilitator, coach and advisor for CEOs and executives. She was also elected to the national board of the National Speakers Association and has served as the president of the National Speakers Association-North Texas.

She is the author or co-author of more than 20 books such as, “Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers” and “the Manager's High-Performance Handbook.” Swindling noted that while her bio says she is “a recognized expert on workplace influence, negotiations, and helping professionals get what they really want,” she calls herself “a ‘recovering' attorney, a business owner, and former tap dancer.”

Linda Swindling

Swindling encourages current students to enjoy the journey and to make the most out of their education while at Texas Tech.

“Media professionals have to be flexible and ready for change,” Swindling said. “With [Texas] Tech's journalism and broadcast training, I learned to write tight and meet legal deadlines and later create books and articles. When on a podcast or at a radio or television station, I feel more comfortable on set.”

Bill Dean, executive vice president and CEO of the Texas Tech Alumni Association, worked with Swindling on the Student Foundation, now called the Student Alumni Board. He described Swindling as an individual with a “can do” attitude, who demonstrated strong leadership abilities.

“I have followed Linda's career over the years,” Dean said. “I have read her books and we have kept in touch via e–mail. She is definitely a highly talented professional writer and speaker. It didn't just happen—she has worked hard at improving her writing. I think we gave her the foundation and she definitely built on it over the years.”

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