Texas Tech University

Converging News

January 2018

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

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

Dear CoMC Friends:

Fall 2017 marks several milestones in my life: my 20th wedding anniversary, my oldest child a senior in high school readying for college, and now almost 30 years of my working in higher education. When you are a teacher, sometimes it feels as though you are in a reversal of the classic story by Oscar Wilde, "The Picture of Dorian Grey." In the tale, the titular character stays young and vigorous while his portrait gets older and drearier. In my case, while I have visibly aged, each new cohort of students is perennially 18, eager and excited about their future.

Colleges go through stages of life just as people do; fortunately, we can, with generous support, with new ideas, and with faculty, staff, and students who always want to excel, continually rejuvenate ourselves. I believe that the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech is a prime example of a forever-young institution.

As you will read in the pages to come, we marked our best year ever in terms of every single measurement and metric that a university holds to assess how an academic unit is faring: This is our "Golden Age." For example, we now boast a record number of undergraduate majors, graduate majors, credit hours taken by majors and non-majors alike, research productivity, and grant applications. Our students, whether they are undergraduates or Ph.D. holders, are instantly becoming leaders in the media revolutions sweeping across all industries, government agencies, and non-profits.

Moreover, the Provost of Texas Tech, when he recently addressed the annual meeting of our National Professional Advisory Board, stated that he felt we were "the most innovative and flexible college" currently at TTU. Besides numbers, indeed, this last year has seen the inception of several major new initiatives, including:

All pre-nursing students at Texas Tech have started taking a required Health Communication class from us. This means that eventually every nurse who graduates from the Health Sciences program will take a class from our college. We believe this partnership to be unique in the country.

We have signed agreements so that, by fall 2018, all students in the Rawls College of Business Administration will be taking a business writing class from us, in addition to the business oral communication class they are already taking. Current Rawls faculty who teach the former class will be transferring to our college. It is an educational win-win for both CoMC and RCBA students.

The Communication Training Center, which the University helped create in our college, has spent the last year developing new workshops to empower faculty and graduate students, especially those in science, technology, and mathematics fields, to be more effective communicators, both in the classroom and to the public.

The list really goes on and on, as it must. As I mention to my students, the first car I drove was an Oldsmobile, the first visual media I created were with Kodak film, and one of my first jobs was at a Blockbuster. The lesson is fairly straightforward: adapt, innovate, and evolve...or disappear. I have never been so blessed as now, to be among people, my colleagues of all ages and disciplines here in our college, who understand and implement that credo. We are proud of the achievements of the past year; we hope you will stay tuned for more to come!


David D. Perlmutter

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


CoMC December commencement Banner Bearer: Traci Couch

By Alexa Rosas

Traci Couch, December 2017 CoMC Banner Bearer
(Above image) - Traci Couch, December 2017 commencement banner bearer, stands with Dean David D. Perlmutter.

The highest GPA in the College of Media & Communication, fall 2017, went to Traci Sue Couch, a senior from Idalou, Texas who graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor's degree in Electronic Media & Communication. Couch was the college's banner bearer at the December 15 graduation ceremony.

Couch was able to experience media of every form during her time in the College of Media & Communication. "I have learned so much about the topics I am passionate about, and it has helped me to significantly improve my skills in these areas," Couch reported.

Outside her studies, Couch was highly involved in extracurricular activities, including Raider Vision, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and the Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society.

"I loved that the CoMC has endless opportunities for students to get involved with, such as the radio and TV station, Raider Vision, and even multiple faculty-led study abroad trips," said Couch. "I was fortunate to participate in the London Study Abroad trip, and it was one of the best experiences of my life."

Couch will not be leaving Texas Tech after her graduation as she will be continuing on in the college's graduate program. Couch hopes to focus on photography, video production, and writing.

New College Recruiter joins CoMC Team

By Alexa Rosas

Ariana Martell joins CoMC as college recruiter.
(Above image) - Ariana Martell joins CoMC as college recruiter.

Earlier this fall, Ariana Martell, a recent TTU CoMC graduate with a degree in Public Relations, became the new College Recruiter for the College of Media & Communication.

The role of the college recruiter is to give students insight on what to expect when they attend college, said Academic Adviser for the College of Media & Communication, Kim Bergan. "For our college, it is especially important for us to have a great recruiter because we have so many different things to offer."

"The hardest part about my graduation was knowing that I wasn't going to be able to do what I love, which is getting to know people, and talking about the College of Media & Communication," Martell said. "So when I was told that this position was opening up, I knew that this was the job that I wanted."

Martell did not originally attend Texas Tech University with the intention of studying PR. She began her college career as a Vocal Performance major, but after taking some more classes, Ariana moved to the CoMC where she planned to pursue journalism. However, in 2015, Martell participated in the London Study Abroad program [see related story in this issue], and the experience solidified her plan to change course to become a Public Relations major.

Although Martell's college experience included moving from one major to another, she was still able to graduate in four years, and now feels confident in guiding other potential students as they embark on their journey here at TTU.

"I think that, for prospective students, it is easier to relate to someone who wasn't so sure about what they wanted to do when they got to college," Martell reported. "Somebody who changed their major a lot, somebody who has experience, and who is a recent graduate – someone like me."

Having a recent graduate in the position of college recruiter gives the college an edge in the recruiting process, said Dean of the College of Media & Communication David D. Perlmutter.

"It is not absolutely necessary that everyone who works here has been a student here," Perlmutter said. "But it is always extremely helpful that someone can talk about their own personal experiences, questions, ideas, and what they see as the student perspective."

Martell also suggested that the outstanding programs offered to her by the college made her into the student that she was, and the employee that she is now, especially the CoMC Dean's Student Ambassadors, a group that allowed her to meet new people, to make new connections, and that overall enabled her to create a more enriching college experience during her undergraduate years at TTU.

"I think that when you are a student in college, you feel like you have to just go to class, study, and do your homework, but it's so important to get involved and look for the opportunities in your college," said Martell. "I know that if it wasn't for Dean's Student Ambassadors, I wouldn't have this job and I would not have enjoyed my time at the College of Media & Communication as much as I did."

"If the opportunity comes for you to throw yourself into something and to get involved, I say you do it, because [it will] enhance your experience as you fall in love with the school and with the college," she added.

As a Dean's Student Ambassador, Martell gained an understanding of both effective communication skills and of the valuable information about the College that has benefited her tremendously as she settles into her newest role.

Perlmutter added, "I have known Ariana for quite some time now from her days as an undergraduate. She has always established herself as a thorough professional, and somebody who is absolutely 100% committed to the good of our college, its programs and our students." He continues, "[Ariana] will be able to explain who we are, what we are, and what we can do for individuals and to all sorts of groups of people all over Texas – guidance counselors, parents, and high school students most prominently."

According to Bergan, part of the interview process for the role of College Recruiter required the interviewee to give a 10-minute presentation on the CoMC, a difficult task for most people. However, the only real struggle that Martell faced was trimming her 25-minute presentation down to the required length.

"[Martell] got tremendous training to be an effective communicator to heterogeneous audiences, and especially to [potential students] who are trying to answer the very important question about what kind of college, major, and university will help them to propel their lives and careers forward," Perlmutter added.

Martell is looking forward to the next few years of working as the recruiter for the college that she has called home, while at the same time pursuing a master's degree in Higher Education.

"I really enjoyed the education that I received here," said Martell. "I learned the importance of communication, and it is what has set me up for what I want to do. I know that public relations has been a really firm foundation for any education that I may continue to build on. I loved being a student in the CoMC."


Panamerican University Dean visits CoMC to further university collaboration

By Alexa Rosas

Panamerican University Dean visits CoMC to further university's collaboration.
(Above image)- Panamerican University Dean José Rafael Santana Villegas visits CoMC to further the universities' collaboration.

College students in Mexico view the United States in many of the same ways that American college students view Mexico: as a party destination, or perhaps as a place to spend a fun few days before returning to school. José Rafael Santana Villegas, Dean of the College of Communication at Panamerican University, Campus Guadalajara, Mexico, visited Texas Tech with the hope of changing that party perception.

"As neighbors, we've seen each other as countries to travel in, to have fun, and to enjoy vacations, but when thinking about studying abroad, both look to Europe," said Villegas.

Kent Wilkinson, professor of Journalism & Electronic Media and director of the Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication, is also aware of the way that American students view the neighboring country. 

"Clearly the political, economic, and socio-cultural relationships between the U.S. and Mexico are important. This is especially true in border states like Texas and the states in northern Mexico," Wilkinson stated. "Too often, complex societies and multi-faceted international relations get boiled down to a few stereotypes and/or soundbites. The media play a role in this unfortunate process, and a key responsibility of higher education is to provide citizens with the knowledge and tools to counter such oversimplifications."

However, both schools are convinced that there is a lot of potential in the future relationship between the two universities. Villegas suggested that beginning with "baby steps," such as short courses offered by both universities, could lead to longer exchange programs moving forward.

"We have explored different possibilities, so TTU students and faculty can have the opportunity to come to Guadalajara, and our students and faculty members can go to Lubbock and get the experience of working with an American university," said Villegas.

Collaborative research between the two universities is already taking place, according to Wilkinson.

"Partnerships like the one between CoMC and U.P. can help people in positions of influence in both countries see the other more broadly and clearly," he said.

According to the Dean of the College of Media & Communication, David Perlmutter, the learning from which students will benefit in Mexico and in the U.S. will extend far beyond the classroom.

"It's extremely important for our students to have as much exposure to different societies, cultures, and peoples as possible," Perlmutter said. "This will help them with their careers because you never know who you're going to work for or where you will work. Second, international exposure helps them become better citizens, able to make decisions about foreign policy based on experience and not just the testimony of others."


CoMC students visit London 

By Alexa Rosas 

CoMC's Study Abroad in London 2017.
(Above image) - CoMC runs a number of Study Abroad programs, including one in England.

In June of last year, a group of College of Media & Communication students embarked on a two-week Study Abroad program in London. Led by Assistant Professor Justin Keene, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Katie Langford, Ph.D., students toured the capital city and met with representatives from Ink, the world's leading travel media company.

After the group had met with the two editors, it was clear that students then found it an easier proposition to envision their future careers on a global scale.

"I really understood that I could actually work there -- or somewhere like it," said Rachel Pereboom, a junior public relations major from New Braunfels, Texas.

Study Abroad is a valuable learning experience for students, said Keene. "[Students] get to put themselves in the shoes of someone else who is of a similar age and maybe even a similar background, but they just happen to live in a different country."

"The world has become much smaller in [both] a figurative way [and] in a symbolic way," said Roger Saathoff, Ph.D., associate professor in Journalism and Electronic Media. Introducing students to a nation that is different from their own can both widen the students' worldview, and make them more comfortable with differences, he added.

To help immerse the students during their visit, students were enrolled in two classes while abroad: Visual Storytelling with a Smartphone and the Rhetoric of War and Remembrance. For each of the classes, the students would individually submit a 15-photo essay with captions suitable for social media every two days, as well as completing longer blog posts telling a story about what they had learned in the days prior. Finally, the students were required to turn in two longer editorial pieces, both of which were focused on the students' overall experience in London.

In addition to grading the students' writing, Langford also engaged with students as they traveled across the city, asking them to reflect on what they had learned throughout the day, and what they had learned from their preassigned readings.

While the agency tour was a significant learning opportunity during the program, students also experienced a new perspective of history as they traveled around England.

"London is very old, and I think, in America, we get this skewed vision of history," Keene said.

As students visited the places where much of America's political and legal systems were conceived, they began to develop a more well-rounded view of history, according to Saathoff.

While the students took numerous photographs and wrote about their experiences, they explored the 900-year-old halls of Windsor Castle and the ancient alleys of Oxford. They experienced a different take on democracy in the Houses of Parliament, they gained a new perspective on history with tours of Westminster Abbey, Stonehenge, and the Roman Baths, and then they completed a scavenger hunt through the British Museum.

Keene said he enjoys watching the students of various backgrounds bond in a way that is unique to the Study Abroad program. "Your roommate is probably someone you didn't know prior to the trip," Keene said. "You definitely see [students] grow as a group where they start to cross these boundaries that exist within college."

The London Study Abroad trip was certainly an eye-opening experience for Pereboom.

"Before I went to London, I [had] always just assumed that I would live in Texas (or at least the United States) after college," she said. After spending two weeks in London, Pereboom now plans to broaden her post-graduation job search to include more of the world that surrounds her.

EMC major has photo selected by Sports Illustrated

Panamerican University Dean visits CoMC to further university's collaboration.

CoMC EMC major Derrick Spencer has had one of his photos selected by Sports Illustrated. Mr. Spencer works as a photographer for the TTU Football team this year.


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