From Dr. Scott Eldredge, Communication Department Head

Hello From the Communication Department here at Western Carolina University! While the last couple of years have proven challenging during our COVID pandemic, the Communication Department Faculty and Students continue to do amazing things! As we come to the end of the 2021-2022 Academic Year and close out the Spring semester, I want to share a few of the exciting things the Communication Department has done in the last year, and thank you for your continued support.

WCU Department of Communication Fast Facts

  • Number of Students majoring in Communication: 180
  • Number of Students minoring in Communication and Journalism: 58
  • Number of courses offered during Fall 2021 & Spring 2022: 119
  • Number of students enrolled in Communication Courses for the 2021-2022 Academic Year: 2412
  • Number of Communication Majors Graduating during the 2021-2022 Academic Year: 40

Student Accomplishments

The Communication Department is extremely proud of our students and the work they do. The following lists a few of the awards and accomplishments our students have achieved:

  • Sara Stanley was recognized as a finalist for the Society of Professional Journalist’s Mark of Excellence student awards for her work in data journalism and food insecurity.
  • Jessica Posa received the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Scholar Award
  • Nicholas Childs received the Roy A. Taylor Communication Scholarship
  • Brandon Rice received the Patrick Lee Carmody Communication Scholarship
  • Tara Syverson received the Kathleen Wright Communication Scholarship
  • Liam Bridgeman received the Curtis and Enid Meltzer Endowed Scholarship
  • Sarah Lavway received the Curtis and Enid Meltzer Endowed Scholarship
  • Two student groups from Dr. Betty Farmer’s Public Relations Campaigns class were awarded the Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement’s award for Outstanding Student Achievement
    • For their work on Center for Service Learning Lily Award – Josie Campbell, Payton Cross, Caitlin Finley, Annalise Hicks, and Austin Medford
    • For their work on the Center for Service Learning Silent Auction – Kennedy Capps, Samantha Cline, McKenzie Farris, Megan Howes, and Josie Spence

Faculty News & Accomplishments

The Communication Department Faculty continue to be the heart and soul of the work we do to connect and provide meaningful educational experiences for our students, setting them on the path to professional success. Our faculty continue to win awards, conduct important research and community engagement projects, and continue their own education! The following lists just a few of the faculty’s accomplishments:

Faculty Awards & Continuing Education

  • Candy Noltensmeyer received the Student-Nominated Faculty of the Year Award
  • Betty Farmer received the 2021 UPCEA South Region Professional, Continuing, and Online Education Instruction Award
  • Scott Eldredge received the university’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award for the 2021-2022 academic year
  • Andy Gambill earned his second Master’s degree, a Masters in Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Betty Farmer completed the Institute of Social and Emotional Intelligence’s coaching certification program
  • Lindsay Mathis, our department Administrative Associate earned her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Western Carolina University
  • Kevin Mallary earned his Ph.D. in Communication and Information from the University of Tennessee

Faculty Presentations and Publications

Our faculty continue to impact the field of communication through their scholarly activities, consulting work, and community engagement programs. Here are some of those highlights:

  • Betty Farmer conducted over 50 workshops and coaching sessions for a variety of organizations with topics centered on Women and Leadership, Supervisory Communication, Change Management Communication, Work-Life Balance, and Diversity & Cultural Awareness
  • In collaboration with Dr. Dan Pierce of UNC-Asheville, Mr. John Walsh continued his work developing a documentary film on the Railroad Incarcerated Laborers (RAIL) project recognizing black laborers who constructed the western division of the Western North Carolina Railroad.
  • Candy Noltensmeyer and Dr. Scott Eldredge published a book chapter looking at the use of humor as a communication strategy in therapeutic mental health counseling.
  • Scott Eldredge published a book chapter exploring the health experiences of HIV-negative partners of HIV-positive men.
  • Vincent Russell published a book chapter and a journal article, as well as presented at the National Communication Association’s conference on his work in communication, free speech, social justice, and communication activism.
  • Katerina Spasovska, working with her students Patrick Clemmons and Sara Stanley, presented their work on data journalism and issues of food insecurity at the Society of Professional Journalists national conference.
  • Don Connelly continued revisions and updates to the fourth edition of his national textbook, Digital Radio Production.
  • Matt Binford published several journal articles looking at issues of trust, visual attention, message design, and news credibility in the field of digital journalism.
  • Scott Eldredge and Mr. Matt Binford will also travel to Paris, France after the end of the Spring semester to present papers on trust in information sources of COVID-related information (Eldredge) and news credibility (Binford) at the International Communication Association’s annual conference.

Faculty Personnel Changes

  • New faculty members
    • Vincent Russell joined us as an Assistant Professor teaching courses in Intercultural and Interpersonal Communication
    • Matt Binford joined us as an Assistant Professor of Practice responsible for managing our TV Studio and equipment.
  • Faculty Leaving – We are also saying goodbye to three of our COMM 201 Instructional faculty as they move on to new opportunities:
    • Shelby Broberg will be moving to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia to run their Center for Communication.
    • Susan Schall has taken a new position in the private sector doing communication work in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    • Kevin Mallary has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position with Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

WWCU Radio – New Frequency

The Communication Department re-launched WWCU at a new FM frequency, 95.3 in January 2021. WWCU now boasts the largest coverage area and potential audience of any radio station in the far western counties of North Carolina. To support their classwork, Radio Production students produced 28 public service announcements for 14 different local off-campus clients that are currently airing on 95.3 WWCU.  Additionally, they produced 13 different public affairs programs featuring local off-campus Jackson County non-profits and government agencies that have aired or are scheduled to be aired in the coming weeks.

As you can see, the students and faculty have been busy! It’s been a great year, and we are proud to share all these accomplishments. If you would like to help support the department as we continue to develop and offer these kinds of opportunities to our students, visit the links below.

To support the overall work of the department and donate to the general department fund, visit

To support the specific mission of the Shannon Christy Memorial Scholarship Fund and help us get the scholarship fully endowed here.

For more information about Shannon Christy and the scholarship established to honor her, watch the video here.

ALUMNI: We’d love to hear from you! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and send us a note at to let us know how you’re doing!

Thank you for supporting the work of the Department of Communication and our students here at Western Carolina University.

Dr. Scott Eldredge
Associate Professor
Department Head – Department of Communication