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Greetings from Department Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez January 1, 2022

Posted by Mia Moody-Ramirez in : Uncategorized , trackback

Greetings and welcome to the Fall 2021 Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media newsletter. We are excited to debut “Castellaw Connect,” the new format of our alumni newsletter. In this inaugural issue, we spotlight the accomplishments of faculty, alumni and students. We also share reaccreditation, facilitates and fundraising updates. We’ve been busy, and we have lots of exciting news to share!

Click this link to view Castellaw Connect

In the fall, Baylor JPR&NM completed a site visit for reaccreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). The reaccreditation process began with a rigorous self-examination by faculty and staff of nine standards that include curriculum, outcomes assessment, diversity, facilities, oversight and several other areas.

Following the self study, a team of educators and professionals visited our department in October. The team talked to us, our current students, alumni, administrators, and our colleagues in other departments to further assess our program. I am excited to report that we have been recommended for reaccreditation.

This is an outstanding accomplishment for our department, since there are only 117 schools accredited by ACEJMC in the country; 114 are fully accredited, and three three are on provisional status. We are fortunate to have dedicated faculty, supportive administrators, outstanding staff, great students, a low teacher-student ratio, excellent retention and job/graduate school placement rates, and generous scholarship funds.

Updating our facilities continues to be a challenge. We have been able to make some changes to give Castellaw a more modern look. Since 2018, we have converted three classrooms into collaborative learning environments. Our classrooms feature new seating, moveable tables, additional monitors, and whiteboards that are more conducive to collaborative work and discussion. We added sofas, rugs and tables to two outer hallways on the second floor to make them common spaces where students can relax and/or study.

We also highlighted the work of students, alumni and faculty. A faculty scholarship wall features books written by faculty members, and numerous exhibits spotlight the photography of faculty members, alumni and students. We also have been updating our bulletin boards frequently to better highlight upcoming events, scholarships and trends in diversity. 

On the horizon, we’re updating our breakroom/mailroom, automating second-floor toilets, updating the carpet in our largest classroom and adding cabinets to our photo equipment check-out room. We’ll continue to make improvements and renovations as our budget allows.

Baylor Homecoming 

This year’s homecoming was extra special. During the event, we:

Advisory Board

Advisory Board members help the department by hiring alumni, speaking to classes, reviewing student projects and portfolios, fundraising, and offering feedback on our department’s curriculum.

We are excited to welcome four new advisory board members.

Alumni Updates

In this issue, we have numerous updates to share, which is one of the reasons we decided to expand our newsletter.

Faculty Accolades 

During the summer of 2019, Dr. Clark Baker taught photography to 20 migrants and refugees through Centro Interculturale di Aiuto ed Orientamento (CIAO) in Syracuse, Sicily, and plans to continue this work in 2022. His work is highlighted in the exhibit, Migrant Journeys. CIAO offers services to help participants adapt and integrate into Italian society.

Baylor University celebrated the opening of the Baylor Black Gospel Archive and Listening Center, which celebrates the hard work of JPR&NM faculty member, Professor Bob Darden. Located on the garden level of Baylor’s Moody Memorial Library, the archive and listening center marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, which was launched in 2006 and is the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, digitize, catalog and make available America’s fast-vanishing legacy of vinyl from the “golden age” of gospel music.

Dr. Cassy Burleson received the inaugural Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication Award. She was selected for her innovative teaching practices and exceptional commitment to her students’ education and post-graduation placement.

The Baylor Line’s Editor Jon Platt interviewed Professor Curtis Callaway in his Direct Line Conversation series in this podcast titled, “Curtis Callaway has the World by the Frame: The Man, the Myth, the Legend.” It highlights his mother’s love of art and how it led to his career in photography. He talks about close connections with students and even serving as the best man for an alumnus.The end offers a glimpse at Kaye Callaway’s near-death experience after she fell while on a photo shoot with him.

Research Update 

President Linda Livingstone announced that Baylor University has achieved Research 1 status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, joining the nation’s top research institutions as a doctoral university with high research activity and as a preeminent Christian research university. This achievement came two years earlier than expected.

Our department helped contribute to that achievement with numerous books, book chapters, almost $40,000 in external grants and 41 journal articles since our prior accreditation site visit. Our faculty presented research this fall virtually for the European Public Relations Education and Research Association, and served as panelists for the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference. Our department also was well represented at AEJMC 2021. Dr. Marlene Neill served as a panelist for two sessions and presented two coauthored papers. Dr. Alec Tefertiller served as a panelist for two sessions and presented three research papers. Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez served as keynote speaker for a session, served on four panels and co-presented a paper. She is serving as guest co-editor of the Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly special issue on the Black Lives Matter Movement. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (JMCQ) is AEJMC’s flagship journal.


JPR&NM Fundraising & Development

Thanks to generous donations of friends of JPR&NM and the hard work of our department’s development officer Kristyn Miller, the increased level of alumni engagement has resulted in a growth in donations. In 2019, a little more than $50,000 was raised, made up of 98 gifts from 83 donors. In 2020, that number nearly doubled to a little under $100,000, and funds were from 119 gifts and 102 donors. And in 2021, the department raised more than half a million dollars–$587,534.98 to be exact.

Earlier this year, JPR&NM was blessed to fund the Moody-Ramirez Belden Endowed Scholarship for Diversity. This scholarship is a collaborative effort between Tom Belden and Janice Miller, Ella Prichard and myself that we began discussing with Professor Bob Darden in the fall of 2020.

We wanted to create a scholarship for journalism students similar to Baylor’s Trailblazer Scholars Program, which was designed to recognize the  importance  of  fostering  diversity  and  mutual  respect  at Baylor University.

The scholarship will be awarded to a student who is a member of NABJ. Other major gifts include a $50,000 scholarship endowed by a retired Air Force Colonel whose career as a public information officer for the military was shaped by her time as a journalism student. She said Dr. Sara Stone was so influential in her life that she dedicated the scholarship in her honor.

Financial aid is a critical part of most students’ education. Currently, about 70 percent of Baylor students are on financial assistance or scholarship aid. Our department offers nearly $200,000 in annual scholarship funds to students. An additional $40,000 is set aside for incoming freshman and transferring journalism majors. The amount offered in scholarships is more than any other department in the College of Arts & Sciences. Current journalism majors must submit applications with all required material by March 18.

Incoming freshman and transfer students have until March 6. For more information, contact me or click this link: https://www.baylor.edu/journalism/index.php?id=859640.

In Memoriam

Sadly, we highlight here the lives of the following distinguished alumni/faculty who have passed away since September:

JPR&NM Graduates 

Congratulations to this semester’s graduates. Baylor Journalism, Public Relations & New Media had 15 students earn their diplomas! All, except five, have jobs or are planning to go to graduate school!

I am excited to report I was given the thumbs up from faculty members to serve three more years as chair of JPR&NM. I look forward to taking the department to greater heights. In this episode of the KWBU Central Texas Leadership series, Nan Holmes and I discuss leadership:tinyurl.com/y2cgzkz4..

Thank you for your continued support.

I wish you all good health, success and many blessings in 2022!


—Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D.



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