Texas Tech University

Converging News

February 2014

Subscribe to Converging News

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

Dear Friends of and Colleagues in the College of Media & Communication:

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

February is the shortest month, and because it comes soon after we have made New Year's resolutions, we tend to focus on “time” and what it means in our lives. There's no doubt that the revolutions in communications technology and venues have radically increased the volume of and accelerated the rate at which we share information with others. Indeed, I just sent my 6,500 email from my TTU address! I met a student the other day who told me she sends “about a hundred texts” a day. Taking the time to focus on one thing in depth becomes harder and harder.

That's why I was so pleased by a revealing comment made by a young alumna I met in Dallas recently. She was working at a top public relations agency, very happy in her job. She mentioned how she felt she had been well prepared for her career by the college, but particularly emphasized her gratitude to Trent Seltzer, Ph.D., chairperson of our Department of Public Relations. She stated that although she did not take a class from him, he took extra time to meet with her, advise her, mentor her.

I know how busy he is, so that he dropped everything to focus on her is significant…and yet routine. He did what I see our staff and faculty doing every day in classrooms, offices and hallways: taking the time to help our individual students.

Ours is a modern, sophisticated place with the latest technology and curricula, but I know many CoMC majors feel they also are neighbors in a "small town" where people know their names and care about them. We plan to keep it that way!

David D. Perlmutter

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


Minute to Mentor: Andy King, Ph.D.
video by Ben Jarvis

Andy King, Ph.D., takes a minute to tell you why it's important to be media literate.

Click here to view an archive of our Minute to Mentor series.


MD Anderson Center's annual HPV & Cervical Cancer Summit
by Alicia Thomas, photo by David Vaughn

Autumn Shafer, Ph.D., was invited to present information on HPV vaccination campaigns at MD Anderson Center's annual HPV and Cervical Cancer Summit on January 22, 2014. Shafer's presentation was titled "HPV Vaccine Campaigns Targeting Mothers of Adolescent Girls."

HPV, the genital human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

"My focus was on rural mothers of diverse backgrounds," Shafer said after discussing the benefits of immunizations against HPV and concerns mothers have about vaccinating their daughters.

"It's about giving people information about how they can make a decision," Shafer said. "It's not about necessarily persuading them. Our main goal was to get parents to talk to their daughter's doctor, and then, between them, they can make that decision."

Rebecca Ortiz, Ph.D., and Autumn Shafer, Ph.D.

Rebecca Ortiz, Ph.D., and Autumn Shafer, Ph.D.

Shafer and research partner Rebecca Ortiz, Ph.D., have worked on related health projects together after taking a health communications course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon the course's completion, both had a further interest and remained working with a team in North Carolina on HPV awareness and immunization rates.

Although commonly known by students for teaching political public relations and strategy courses, Shafer says she's actually very interested in health communications because she can make more of an impact in this area.

When Shafer started school, the HPV vaccine was new, and she couldn't believe that in her lifetime we were seeing a cure for cancer.

"I thought that was amazing," Shafer explained. "I was surprised it [HPV vaccine] wasn't more widely celebrated and accepted. I love working on projects where people are resistive to new messages, and I like to investigate why that is."

Ortiz did not attend the summit, but is currently the program manager for a social media study working toward understanding why people do or don't choose to vaccinate.

"We're now working on a project where we have adolescents enrolled in our Facebook page," Ortiz said. "We provide them with interesting information that includes HPV- related facts, and try to see if providing information in a fun and interesting way through social media, which they're already engaged in, will increase knowledge and ultimately vaccination rates."

Shafer and Ortiz go back and forth as the leader of projects related to HPV research, but both hold similar values and goals.

"The ultimate goal is for them [adolescents] to get vaccinated," Ortiz said. "There's so many steps along the way; you have to make sure people have the correct information so they're making the decision based on accurate information, not misconceptions."


Faculty Profile: Eric Rasmussen, Ph.D.
video by Ben Jarvis

Assistant Professor, Eric Rasmussen, Ph.D., discusses his educational and professional experience as well as his teaching style.


Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication Ambassadors
by Alicia Thomas, photo by David Vaughn

Student Ambassadors selling tshirts

Student Ambassador Melissa Brisco selling t-shirts featuring the College of Media & Communication logo and the "We Are" campaign.

The College of Media & Communication recently recruited 16 student ambassadors to promote the college with on-campus recruiting initiatives.

Emily Balke, student recruiter and alumni relations coordinator, saw a need for ambassadors after recognizing successful recruiting models from other colleges on the Texas Tech campus.

"It's a good opportunity for prospective students to talk to current students who are in our program," Balke said. "They like to hear from students who are currently in the college experiencing different things."

Balke is confident in this group of undergraduates' ability to connect with prospective students and recruit strong individuals.

Melissa Brisco, president of the college's ambassadors, said she hopes the program can grow to be prestigious and beneficial. Her goal for the semester is to increase visibility and set the stage for the future of the program.

"We're looking to define the ambassadors program." Brisco said. "This is the first year we've been in existence so we're trying to establish the role and what's manageable for students."

Recently, ambassadors have helped with the College of Media & Communication Career Fair, Majors & Minors Fair, and multiple Connect Tech events.

Balke said the program is continuing to grow and become a valuable resource for the college's recruiting efforts.


Previous Issues