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2020 Fall Baylor JPR&NM Newsletter

Message from the Department Chair

Without a doubt, this semester has been the most challenging in all my 19 years of teaching  in the Baylor University Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media. Kudos to our majors for making it through the term, despite the many obstacles they faced. I extend a sincere thanks to our faculty and staff who worked tirelessly to keep the department going. Although adjusting to the “new normal” wasn’t easy, they made sure students had the resources needed to succeed. Teaching, research and on-campus operations all continued—whether in-person, online or in a hybrid format. Undergraduate  and graduate studies remained important; and our department continued to grow—as indicated in this article by senior lecturer Kevin Tankersley.

This semester was marked by a number of other outstanding highlights. In August, we welcomed two new faculty members: Alec Tefertiller, Ph.D., and Matthew Brammer. Tefertiller has been named a Fellow for the 2020 Baylor Summer Faculty Institute, which allows participants to explore elements of teaching, research and collegiality. Brammer shares highlights of his first semester at Baylor in this article.

Baylor JPR&NM faculty also continued sharing their talents with newspapers and magazines. Professor Robert Darden, BSED ’76, published several articles last year, in addition to working on a book scheduled for publication in 2023. Likewise, senior lecturer Kevin Tankersley had a productive publishing year, with dozens of articles featured in the Wacoan, the Baylor Arts & Sciences Magazine and Baylor Business Review, a publication of the Hankamer School of Business.

Our Alumni Engagement Committee was extremely busy. Committee members planned various activities throughout the year to connect with alumni in meaningful ways MORE. A high point for our department was the re-establishment of the Baylor, Journalism, Public Relations & New Media Advisory Board and the addition of the Friends of the Department Council. Members of both groups are journalists, PR professionals, attorneys, entrepreneurs and educators, who are committed to giving back to the next generation of writers, reporters, and communicators MORE. 

Despite not being able to travel this semester, our faculty had some amazing research accomplishments in 2019-2020. Faculty and graduate students participated in a number of conferences and published books, book chapters and journal articles MORE. In addition, Dr. Marlene Neill was named a 2020 PRSA Fellow. The College of Fellows is the gold standard of public relations professionals. College of Fellows is an active, honorary organization comprised of more than 350 leading practitioners and educators, each of whom has made a significant footprint on the public relations profession MORE.

Our graduate program evolved this semester. We will launch a new online program this spring. The online degree in public relations and advertising will equip graduates with courses in the areas of leadership, social media, data analytics and research to meet the needs of communication professionals who aspire to rise to management roles in advertising and public relations. Courses begin in January of 2020. The deadline to apply is January 9. Apply now: https://www.baylor.edu/journalism/onlinema/

The award-winning Department of Student Media did not skip a beat this fall. “Editor & Publisher” named The Baylor Lariat the best college campus website in the nation. The  award comes on the heels of The Lariat winning the coveted Pacemaker Awards from the Associated College Press for our website and also the 2018-19 Roundup Yearbook titled, “Light the Way.”

Despite the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department’s goals to assist current students and reach prospective students have remained the same. Undergraduate Program Director Elizabeth Bates offers more details in this article. Baylor’s JPR&NM undergraduate and graduate students participated in the first One World Symposium in November. The collaborative project featured work from students from four universities: California State University, Fullerton; University of Oregon, Texas Christian University and Baylor University.

After having to cancel last year’s Baylor in Budapest trip due to COVID, we are excited to make plans for the Summer 2021 program. In its fifth year, the program allows students to focus on all aspects of multi-media journalism and public relations to produce an online publication built around travel writing. The picturesque settings of Prague, Budapest and Bratislava provide ample material for inspirational writing and photography MORE.

During these difficult times, we heard from students throughout the semester who needed additional financial help. It was with great pleasure that our department awarded 91 scholarships to students.  Meet some of the recipients. We are privileged to award more than $200,000 a year in financial scholarships to our majors. Last year, we endowed a scholarship in honor of Dr. Sara Stone. This semester, we hope to launch a campaign to raise funds for a scholarship in honor of former Chair Dr. Doug Ferdon MORE.

In this newsletter, we are excited to feature a new column titled, “In Memoriam,” by alumnus David McHam. McHam graduated from Baylor in 1958 and taught in the journalism department from 1961 to 1974. In this issue, we also feature an article by alumnus Jon Platt about the Baylor Line Foundation’s new flagship podcast, “Direct Line.” We are proud of Platt and his accomplishments as a young alum. We are also proud of these two JPR&NM graduates, Grace Valentine and Kimberly Willingham, who recently published books.

The Baylor Journalism, Public Relations and New Media newsletter comes out each fall and spring. If you missed the opportunity to be included in this issue, please email us.

As I reflect on the fall semester, I can truly say that we are blessed as a department—despite the obstacles we’ve encountered as a nation. Please stay in touch. We are looking forward to hearing from you all! Have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D.

💚💛🐻 #Baylor #JPRNM



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