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Spring 2021 Chair’s Update  May 21, 2021

Posted by Mia Moody-Ramirez in : Uncategorized , trackback

Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D.

Professor & Chair Baylor

Hello and welcome to the Spring 2021 Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media newsletter. As you all might imagine, our department has been busy this year. The pandemic brought with it numerous challenges, but we persevered through another semester of what many people labeled “impossible.”

We continued to make strides with the following updates to report:

I am grateful to work with such a hardworking and collegial group of colleagues. This newsletter highlights other achievements by students, staff and faculty in our department.

Outstanding Faculty 

We are excited to have several faculty members in our department who received teaching awards. This issue highlights Maxey ParrishBob Darden and myself.


Dr. Marlene Neill, APR, presented at this year’s International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) and won a top paper award. Neill also had a paper accepted for the International Communication Association Conference.Three members of Baylor JPR&NM department presented their research at this year’s virtual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Midwinter Conference, Drs. Alec Tefertiller, Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez and graduate student Emily Guajardo. Guajardo has been named Outstanding graduate student by the department twice.

Student Media Department Updates

The Baylor Student Media department celebrated another successful year in state, regional and national journalism competitions. The Lariat, Lariat TV News, Roundup and Focus have nabbed 147 awards for 2020-2021 so far, despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic “This was also the year we shifted our focus to almost 100 percent digital with only a dozen special print issues, and our students really stepped up to the challenge.  I’m proud of their work,” said Director of Student Media Bruce Gietzen.

Alumni Updates

Sara Dodd, Ella Prichard, Kay Wheeler Moore and Brittany Burcham

In this newsletter, we hear from several alumni, including Sarah Dodd, a new Advisory Board member, alumna Ella Prichard (‘63), who reflects on her experiences as a Baylor Lariat editor. We also learn what it was like for trailblazer Kay Wheeler Moore, one of the first women to cover the Kentucky Derby. Alumna Brittany Burcham explains how TikTok helped her spread messages of hope for teenagers in the foster care system.

Alumni Accolades

Clair St. Amant, Flora Peir, Alexis Cubit and  Parmida Schahhosseini

Alumni kudos are extended to Baylor journalism, public relations and new media alumna Claire St. Amant, whose latest project is a true crime investigative podcast about the mysterious disappearance and death of college wrestler, Dammion Heard. Sports reporter and former NABJ president Alexis Cubit recently accepted a new reporting position after two years of covering sports for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. She will soon join The State Newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, where she will cover Clemson Athletics. Flora Peir, ’03, recently joined the “19th,*” a newsroom focusing on gender, politics and policy, as its first news editor. After spending six years in the agency world, Parmida Schahhosseini recently became the communications manager Central Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Susan Duty, Grace Valentine and Lauren Kinney  , shown above, are authors on the move.

Congratulations to the 2021 class of Hall of Fame honorees highlighted at the Baylor Line Foundation’s 56th Annual Hall of Fame Festival: Shehan Jeyarajah (’16); Prichard (’63Michelle Andrews Smith (‘90, MIJ ‘91). Congratulations to award-winning author Preston Lewis, (’72), who has been elected to the Texas Institute of Letters. Preston Kirk  discusses tips for journalists who are covering protests. David McHam shares insight on Baylor’s extensive connection to United Press International UPI.  Baylor alumnus Robbie Rogers describes the many  challenges he faced during the Covid-19 pandemic as Baylor’s director of photography.

In other alumni news, Baylor JPR&NM sponsored its first annual meeting on April 16 as part of Baylor’s 2021 Alumni Week. The event featured a state of the department update, an update on student media programming and awards by Student Media Department Director Bruce Gietzen and an introduction of faculty and staff by Alumni Engagement Chair Bob Darden. The virtual event was well-attended by alumni, advisory board members, faculty and friends of the department.

Guest speakers were Cody Soto, a JPR&NM graduate student, and Emmy award-winning Melissa Wilson, anchor for FOX 26 Morning News weekdays and a medical reporter for FOX 26. Baylor JPR&NM alumnus Derwin Graham concluded the Academy Speaker Series, also held during alumni week.

On a sad note, in his memoriam column, David McHam pays homage to several of our noteworthy alumni who have passed away, including Lee FulbrightBill HartmanLouise Later Wood and Harry Marsh.

Lee FulbrightBill HartmanLouise Later Wood and Harry Marsh

Farewell to a JPR&NM Icon

On another sad note, in May, Baylor JPR&NM said farewell to Office Manager Margaret Kramer, who prior to her retirement had worked at Baylor for 33 years. Kramer will spend more time traveling, reading and with her beautiful family. Baylor faculty, staff and students will miss her.

Donor Support 

Thank you all for your continued support of Baylor JPR&NM!  With your support,  the department awarded around 69 scholarships to students who are majoring in journalism, public relations and new media this year. Scholarship funds are made available thanks to generous contributions from donors.

The department launched the Doug Ferdon Scholarship campaign this spring, raising more than $3,500. Any donor wanting to support this fund should visit http://www.baylor.edu/give. In the search funds text box, type “Dr. Doug Ferdon.” Ferdon’s endowed scholarship fund for JPR&NM will appear as an option to select for the giving form; then complete the requested donor details and payment information selections for gift processing.

In other endowment news, JPR&NM funded the Sara Stone scholarship in record time last December. Another $50,000 was donated in honor of Sara Stone. In addition, many donors graciously gave to the Journalism and Public Relations Excellence Funds.

Kristyn Miller, assistant director of development at Baylor University, has been meeting with various donors on our department’s behalf to raise funds for student scholarships and building improvements. Christie Harper, assistant director of Affinity Groups, is also an invaluable resource for our department. We are thankful for them both.

Baylor JPR&NM friends please stick with us and stay in touch. We have some exciting programs and projects on the horizon. We are grateful for your support of our department, students, faculty and staff!

I hope you enjoy this newsletter. If you have suggestions or anything you would like to contribute to future issues, please email Mia_Moody@baylor.edu or Administrative Associate Lanisa_Tovar@baylor.edu.

Thank you and God bless! Have a wonderful summer!

Congratulations Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media 2021 graduates! We are proud of you all!


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