Texas Tech University

Converging News

November 2015

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

Dear CoMC Friends:

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

Last month I described how enrollment and class hours for our students jumped sharply this fall. This month you will meet some of the people behind the undergraduate chapter of our success. If you are driving the roadways of Texas, New Mexico or Colorado, or stopping by a high school parking lot, keep an eye out for the “Masked Communicator” – the signature, blinged-up Nissan Armada of our college, kindly lent to us by McGavock Nissan.

Read their story

At the helm will be Emily Balke (BA public relations, 2011), our senior recruiter, and Candace Trevino (BA public relations, 2014), our recruiter. They are truly a dynamic duo, traveling some 12,000 miles this year presenting about CoMC and TTU at high schools as well as recruiting fairs and high school competitions (like ones in debate) that we have sponsored.

They represent a vastly increased, reorganized and improved recruiting effort by the college. For example, they visited more high schools in January 2015 than they did in all of 2014. Trevino has been working for us for only a year; her hire was an investment in our college by TTU President M. Duane Nellis.

Their recruiting message is one that resonates with high schoolers, guidance counselors and parents alike: TTU is a big university with a small community feel and personal attention.

CoMC trains students for thousands of careers – in the business world, government and non-profits – many of which are new or have not been invented yet. Our alumni, from the recently graduated to those 50 years out, are versatile and able to nimbly pursue new ventures, whatever happens to the economy or technologies.

Balke and Trevino are the perfect spokespeople for us, often joined with other staff and faculty. Whenever they return from a trip, they talk about how grateful the folks are at high schools, from Denver to Houston to all the smaller towns in between, that TTU wants to get to know them and their students' interests, needs and aspirations.

So look for them on the road and honk your approval to our amazing team.

Best Wishes,

David D. Perlmutter

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

CoMC Debate Team Launches Record-Breaking Season with New Director of Forensics


Adam Testerman
Adam Testerman - Director of Forensics

The Texas Tech Debate Team, housed in the College of Media & Communication, started the 2015-16 season by breaking university records with the help of a new director of forensics.

Adam Testerman (BA communication studies, 2012) returned to Texas Tech to work as the director of forensics in July, after earning a master's in communication studies from Portland State University in May.

“I have been debating for a long time,” Testerman said. “I started my freshman year of high school, and I've been involved in some capacity ever since.”

Originally from Springfield, Missouri, Testerman was recruited to the debate team at Texas Tech as an undergraduate student. He helped the team win its second national championship and was the first Texas Tech student to be named the top individual debater in the country at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence in 2010.

Texas Tech's debate team competes in parliamentary style, which Testerman said he enjoys because it presents the contestants with a unique challenge and requires them to think on their feet.

“It's a really unique style because the topic changes every single debate round,” Testerman said. “We get a topic and then have 20 minutes to prepare for it, so it's a very intense way of doing it. It really brings in a lot of the elements that I think make debate great.”

Currently, the teams has 13 members, and Testerman said that while anyone is welcome to join, being a member requires commitment, and the team's schedule can be very demanding.

“Anyone who wants to figure out if it's for them is encouraged to come hang out with us,” Testerman said. “But we have fairly high standards for what it takes to remain a member of the team. There are a lot of expectations for tournament travel, for attending practices, and for researching material that needs to be produced every single week.”

Fall 2015 debate team
The Debate Team

When it comes to his vision for the team, Testerman said it relies on two main things: hard work and utilizing university resources. He said he encourages students to take the information they learn in class and to find ways to apply it in a debate context.

“We expect to be the team that is ready for any kind of argument, and we expect to be the best researched team in the nation,” Testerman said. “Other teams might beat us in an individual round, but no one gets to outwork us.”

Testerman said the debate team is one of the oldest programs on campus, and since the Department of Communication Studies merged with the College of Media & Communication, it has flourished with support from the administrative level.

The teams attended three tournaments during Fall 2015, and Testerman said he is very pleased with the results. At the first tournament, two teams made it to the top 16, and Texas Tech finished in fourth place, which Testerman noted is the best performance the team has had in at least 10 years.

At the second tournament, one team reached the final round, and Texas Tech won the award for top speaker after three of the team's speakers reached the top 15. The third tournament of the season took the team to Lewis & Clark College, where Testerman was previously a debate coach.

“We did really well at the Lewis & Clark College debate tournament,” Testerman said. “We had two speakers in the top 15, and both of our teams cleared to elimination rounds. One of our teams made it to quarterfinals, securing a finish in the top eight, and our other team made it all the way to semi-finals, securing a finish in the top three teams.”

Testerman noted that this season's accomplishments have placed three teams from Texas Tech in the top 30 in the country.

College of Media & Communication Departments Host Series of 'Explore CoMC' Events


Speaking to classroom at Explore Advertising
Explore Advertising

Students interested in finding out more about the College of Media & Communication had an opportunity to “Explore CoMC” with a series of events in Fall 2015 highlighting the different departments and programs the college has to offer.

The Department of Advertising hosted an “Explore Advertising” event on Sept. 30, which invited undecided students to hear more about the curriculum from current faculty and students.

Shannon Bichard, Ph.D., chairperson, said the event started with a panel of faculty and a panel of students and then closed with a Q&A session.

“I thought it was successful because we were able to have an open dialogue with students and address their specific concerns/questions,” Bichard said. “It was also nice to interact on an informal level and mingle as we enjoyed some pizza!”

The Department of Journalism & Electronic Media hosted National News Engagement Day on Oct. 6 with special guest Dahlia Lithwick, an award-winning writer and the senior editor at Slate Magazine.

Rob Peaslee, Ph.D., chairperson for the department, described Lithwick as an individual who has spent several years crafting cogent, timely and precise writing on issues related to media, law and society.

“We were very pleased to invite her to speak to our students as part of National News Engagement Day,” Peaslee said. He also noted that Lithwick was an ideal guest for this year's NNED because the event focused on the effect the news media have on the democratic process.

Public Relations students taking a selfie
PR students and professors take a selfie at Explore PR

For students interested in learning more about a degree in electronic media & communication, the department also hosted a screening of the documentary film “Frame by Frame,” followed by a panel discussion with CoMC professor Jerod Foster, professional photographer and National Advisory Board member R.J. Hinkle, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice, on Nov. 12.

Select students were also invited to help produce an episode of MCTV, the college's newscast. Josh Robinson, CoMC's media production manager, said it gave undecided students a unique, hands-on experience to find answers to questions they had about broadcast journalism or television production.

“MCTV is one of the best opportunities students have in the college to experience what it's like to produce an in-studio live broadcast,” Robinson said. “Students can come in with little to no experience and have a chance to be a part of the process on day one.”

The Department of Public Relations hosted a meet-and-greet on Oct. 15, where students had an opportunity to talk to faculty and fellow students and to learn more about obtaining degrees in public relations and media strategies.

Trent Seltzer, Ph.D., chairperson, said he was impressed by the number of students who were interested in learning more about the programs and their electives.

“We were excited to have so many students stop by our event throughout the day,” Seltzer said. “Not only did we have an opportunity to speak with undecided students interested in a public relations or media strategies degree, but we also met with current students considering PR and media strategies minors—or changing their majors to PR and MST. Some students simply stopped by because they were curious to learn more about the elective courses we offer.”

Baron Batch speaking
Baron Batch speaking at Explore COMS

The Department of Communication Studies hosted “An Evening with Baron Batch” on Oct. 29, which featured a meet-and-greet with Batch, a CoMC alumnus, artist, entrepreneur and former college and professional football player.

In addition to talking to Batch, students also had an opportunity to network with current professors and students and to find out more about the department.

Brian Ott, Ph.D., chairperson, described Batch's experience as the perfect example of the many opportunities available to COMS students.

“Baron Batch embodies the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our majors,” Ott said. “He's a perfect example of the endless possibilities open to students with degrees in communication studies.”

EMC Graduate Accepted to USC Film and Television Production MFA Program


Mikaela Addison
Mikaela Addison

College of Media & Communication graduate Mikaela Addison (BA electronic media & communication, 2012) has been accepted into the MFA program in Film and Television Production at the University of Southern California and will begin work on her master's degree in January.

Originally from Dallas, Addison said she learned about USC's film program while working as a producer on the set of the documentary “Sweethearts of the Gridiron.”

“Right before I graduated from Texas Tech, I found out that someone I knew was starting a documentary. I asked if I could work with him on it, and he took a chance and hired me,” Addison said. “I ended up getting to meet his group of filmmaker friends, and among those were two USC graduates who attended the film and TV production program.”

While working on the documentary was a great learning experience, Addison said she applied to USC because she wanted to expand her network of contacts in the film industry, and she was inspired by the program's alumni.

“Through the university, you have to fill out a general application, and then for the program, you fill out a special application for the School of Cinematic Arts,” Addison said. “You have to have a creative portfolio list, a personal statement, a writing sample, three letters of recommendation, and a visual sample. I've read that it's harder to get into the USC film program than it is to get into Harvard.”

Producing “Sweethearts of the Gridiron” worked to Addison's advantage when she needed samples of her work and notable references. And she said that it was a project that had personal meaning.

“‘Sweethearts of the Gridiron' is about the Kilgore College Rangerettes,” Addison said. “They were the first drill team in the nation, started in Kilgore, Texas. After I graduated from high school, I actually tried out and was a part of the organization for two years, and that's how I met the director of the documentary.”

Mikaela Addison with Best Editing award
Mikaela Addison & Chip Hale with the "Sweethearts of the Gridiron" Best Editing award at the Tenerife International Film Festival

Addison said the film follows the stories of five girls who are trying out for the team, while incorporating 75 years of the organization's history. She explained that while the perception of the Rangerettes might be that they are just a dance group, there is a lot more to the organization.

“There are a lot of life lessons,” Addison said. “You go through your first year, which is kind of like basic training. You earn your privileges your first year, and then your second year you are in the same position as the sophomores who taught you how to do everything.”

The film has been screened at 14 festivals in Texas, Georgia, Florida, England and Madrid and has won nine awards thus far. Addison said the film received the award for “Best Editing” at the Tenerife International Film Festival in Madrid, which, in addition to being a prestigious award, also meant a lot to her because she contributed to producing, editing and filming.

Looking at her future, Addison said she would love to be a cinematographer and to work on independent films. She said she is passionate about creating beautifully artistic visual storytelling, and she advised current students to search for their passion and pursue it.

“Keep creating, keep making your own projects,” Addison said. “Find what you love to do, and continue to do it. If you stop, you forget a lot. But if you keep going, you keep improving.”

CoMC's National Advisory Board Honors Award Recipients During Annual Meeting


Students and mentors sitting in a large circle talking
Students and board members discuss issues and trends in advertising during a breakout session

The College of Media & Communication hosted its annual National Advisory Board meeting on Nov. 13, which gave students an opportunity to network with professionals and also recognized the 2015 Outstanding Alumni and Hall of Fame recipients.

Greg Asher (BA advertising, 1987), vice president of Asher Media, said being a member of NAB has been a great experience, and he has enjoyed reconnecting with old classmates.

“I've learned a lot about what other people are doing and how I can apply some of that to what I do on a daily basis,” Asher said. “I think it's important for all of us to give something back, and so for me it has been a small way to give today's students some of the same opportunities I was given. And a lot of it is all about opening doors.”

Matt Wilson (BA public relations, 2001), director of sports at the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he is inspired by how advanced today's students are and how much the college has grown over the years.

“When we were doing our mentoring sessions, I was really impressed with the students,” Wilson said. “They're a lot more well-rounded and prepared for the real world than I was at their age, and that's exciting. I have two little girls – they both want to come to Texas Tech – and I view this as my opportunity to make it a better place for them too.”

Steve McCutcheon (BA advertising, 1986), managing partner at the consulting and outsourcing firm Channel Religion, said he enjoys networking with NAB members who have expertise in a variety of areas.

Jeff Balter (MA mass communications, 1986), associate director at AT&T, said he enjoys being part of NAB because it gives him a way to stay connected with the college and to meet new students and faculty.

“The best part about being on the board is getting to see everybody and getting to meet up with the people you went to school with or that you've met through the years,” Balter said. “When meeting with the students, it's fun to see how they're changing.”

Trudi Boyd (BA journalism, 1981) works in public relations as the executive director of Story Partners in Washington, D.C. She said being a member of NAB has given her a chance to return to West Texas.

“I think what I enjoy is the student aspect part of it,” Boyd said. “In my career, I feel like you learn a lot as you go along, but being able to impart some of that knowledge to students here at the college, and to have interaction with faculty, is great.”

The 2015 CoMC Hall of Fame inductee is Steve Beasley (BA advertising, 1972). After graduating from Texas Tech, Beasley worked as a retail advertising representative at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. He was later promoted to retail manager and then advertising director.

Beasley's career included advertising leadership experience at publications in Leesburg, Florida; Amarillo, Texas; and Savannah, Georgia. He returned to the Lubbock AJ as a publisher in 2004, where he stayed until he retired in 2015.

Beasley, who was added to CoMC's list of Outstanding Alumni in 2005, has also served as the president of professional newspaper organizations, such as the Texas Newspaper Advertising Managers Association and the Midwest Newspapers Advertising Executives, and as an active member of civic organizations such as the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce board and Lubbock Area United Way board.

David Perlmutter, Ph.D., the dean of CoMC, described the Hall of Fame Award as the supreme honor the college can bestow on an educator or professional.

Students and mentors sitting in a circle talking
Advisory Board Member Bob Condron speaks with PR students during a breakout session

Perlmutter said the award is given to an individual who has, in the opinion of the leadership of NAB and the management committee of the college, contributed a lifetime of professional success married with advocacy and engagement for the college's students and educational mission.

The CoMC Outstanding Alumni Awards were created to recognize alumni who have made significant contributions to the fields of media and communication.

Perlmutter described this award as one that is earned through respect for one's achievements, character and integrity.


CoMC's 2015 Outstanding Alumni include: Kent Best (BA journalism, 1987), the executive director of news and communications at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; Joel Brandenberger (BA journalism, 1982), the president of the National Turkey Federation and an associate publisher and co-owner of FORWARD Florida; Robert Giovannetti (BA telecommunications, 1992 and MA mass communications, 2013), the senior associate athletics director for external operations and strategic communications at Texas Tech University; Mark Hayden (BA advertising, 1987), the founder of Breakfast at 12, a marketing firm based in Houston; and Terry Leonard (BA marketing, 1972 and journalism, 1975), a former foreign correspondent with the Associated Press and the current editorial director of Stars and Stripes.

CoMC Master's Student Selected For Fast Track Video Game Innovation Fellowship in D.C.


Noelle Vela speaking
Noelle Vela

One master's student in the College of Media & Communication is catching the attention of professionals in Washington, D.C., as she works to establish her career promoting a product that is close to her heart.

Noelle Vela (BA public relations, 2015) was one of 20 fellows selected to take part in the Entertainment Software Association and Hispanic Heritage Foundation Leaders on the Fast Track Video Game Innovation Fellowship in Washington, D.C., in October.

Candidates for the fellowship are selected based on their vision, creativity and positive impact on their community.

“My favorite part of the conference was being able to connect with professionals who encourage innovative and entrepreneurial endeavors,” Vela said. “It was encouraging to know that there is a pool of support by the Hispanic national community for this type of innovation.”

As part of the program, which challenges minority youths, ages 15-25, to develop video games and apps addressing social issues impacting their communities, Vela received a grant to continue the development of her creation, Vozra.

Vozra is an app that seeks to engage Hispanics in the 2016 presidential election. Vela said she envisioned the idea for the app when she was part of CoMC's Media Entrepreneur & Innovation Group as an undergraduate student.

“My vision for Vozra is to educate teenage Hispanics or anyone interested in learning about the 2016 political candidates,” Vela said. “Vozra will break down and organize each candidate's views and plans on the economy, social issues and foreign policies, and will offer quizzes and polls for each category to encourage users to read a candidate's content and learn about the issues in the country and some possible solutions offered.”

Vela began to develop the idea in the spring and entered it into competitions. As a result, she won second place in CoMC's 2015 Student Startup Competition, and placed in the top four in the 2015 Ohio State SCRIPPS International Competition.

While in Washington, D.C., Vela had the opportunity to present her creation to professionals and to network with congressional and White House officials. She said it was a great opportunity to bring national attention to the app, which she said she hopes will help the community in her hometown.

“As an entrepreneur, I would like to change the world with my idea,” Vela said. “Although, as a realist, I know that that isn't very likely. However, I would like to give back to the Hispanic community, especially my hometown of Penitas, Texas. It may not change the whole world, or even the country, but I hope to change my world and my community.”

Day in the Life: Our College Recruiters

See what of our team of recruiters, Candace Trevino and Emily Balke, do in their day to day routine for our college. Start by clicking on the arrow on the first picture to view the slideshow!

College recruiters Candace Trevino (left) and Emily Balke (right) travel about 50 percent of the year. They make their way across Texas and Eastern New Mexico visiting classrooms and making contact with high school students and teachers.Emily and Candace getting in the ArmadaCandace and Emily in the ArmadaCoMC sticky note blockWelcome to New Mexico signEmily and Candace walking into a schoolCandace writing a note to the teachersClose up picture of the sticky notesLooking out the windshield while Emily drivesCandace and Emily checking in at Denver CityCandace talking to the receptionistEmily and Candace in front of Plains High SchoolEmily and Candace writing more thank you notesEmily talking to a high school student about our collegeCandace talking to a high school student about our collegeCandace talking to a high school student about our collegeEmily sitting and typing at her computerCandace writing down her next appointmentCandace writing thank you letters to send to teachers

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