From Dr. Scott Eldredge, Communication Department Head
Greetings from the Communication Department here at Western Carolina University!
We are now coming to the end of the Spring semester and the 2022-2023 Academic year. One of my favorite things about this time of year is that I get to reflect on all of the hard work and accomplishments of our students and faculty and share it with you. Throughout the year, it can be easy to get caught up in the details of classes, assignments, deadlines, and other things competing for our time and attention. However, I continue to be so proud of what we are doing here at WCU, and I think it’s important for all of us to take a few minutes, look back and congratulate ourselves for the many exciting things the Communication Department has done in the last year.
WCU Department of Communication Fast Facts
- Number of students majoring in Communication: 166 (180)
- Number of students minoring in Communication and Journalism: 47 (58)
- Number of courses offered during Fall 2022 & Spring 2023: 137 (119)
- Number of students enrolled in Communication Courses for the 2022-2023 Academic Year: 2743 (2412)
- Number of Communication Majors Graduating during the 2022-2023 Academic Year: 54 (40)
*A quick note on these numbers. As a comparison, I’ve included last year’s numbers in parenthesis. While we have less Communication majors and minors, we graduated one of the largest classes we have ever had last year. I’d also like to call your attention to the other numbers. We offered 18 more sections of classes this year, enrolled 331 more students in communication courses, and we have 14 more students graduating with a degree in communication.
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:
- Liam Bridgeman received the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Scholar Award
- Liam Bridgeman received the Roy A. Taylor Communication Scholarship
- Sara (Eliza) Lavway received the Patrick Lee Carmody Communication Scholarship
- Maci Cooper received the Kathleen Wright Communication Scholarship
- Liam Bridgeman received the Curtis and Enid Meltzer Endowed Scholarship
- Phuong Vo received the Arthur Anderson Scholarship
- Cora Haste and Sarah Pruitt each received the Curtis and Enid Meltzer Endowed Scholarship
The following students were recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards:
- Nick Childs and Liam Bridgeman were finalists in the category Best Use of Multimedia for their story, WCU fees change amid student confusion and concerns on the Western Carolina Journalist
- Hailey Pait – Won the category Television – General News Reporting for her story, WCU students fight for gender neutral bathrooms
These awards are truly significant as these students were competing against students from much larger programs a UNC – Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth University, American University, and Appalachian State University among others.
The following student was recognized with an Award of Excellence in the Broadcast Education Association’s Media Arts Festival:
- Spencer Lee – Student Audio Competition, Specialty Program Category for his program, Through the Lens: The History of Photography
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 educations! The following lists just few of the faculty’s accomplishments:
Faculty Awards & Continuing Education
- Dr. Candy Noltensmeyer received the College of Arts & Sciences Board of Governor’s Teaching Award
- Dr. Betty Farmer completed the Appreciation at Work’s online Train-the-Trainer Certification and the Emotional Intelligence Master Class from PositivePsychology.com
- Dr. Vincent Russell received the Outstanding Dissertation award from two divisions of the National Communication Association. One from the NCA’s Ethnography Division and the other from the Critical and Cultural Studies Division.
- Dr. Grace Cheshire earned her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Western Carolina University
- Ms. Tamera Cole completed the training, Helping Faculty Navigate Top Challenges in this New Blended Learning Environment
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:
- Dr. Betty Farmer
- Conducted over 40 workshops and coaching sessions for a variety of organizations from various industries including a tribal gaming regulatory commission, a large hospitality and tourism corporation, a public health district, a regional city government, and our regional university. Topics centered on Emotional & Social Intelligence, Giving and Receiving Performance Feedback, Time Management, Stress Management, Active and Empathic Listening, Public Speaking, Conflict Management, Crisis Communication, Change Management, and Leadership Strategies for Women.
- Dr. Candy Noltensmeyer
- Was part of three different panel presentations on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at the SOTL Commons Conference in Savannah, Georgia. Topics included Student Learning in Online Courses, Faculty-Driven Professional Development, and Student Feedback Preferences.
- Mr. Don Connelly
- Completed the 4th Edition of his textbook, Digital Radio Production.
- Received an Award of Excellence from the Broadcast Education Association’s Media Arts Festival for his Public Service Announcement, Big Al’s Runnin on Radio Waves.
- Dr. Katerina Spasovska
- Published two different articles in The Sylva Herald and Ruralite: “NC 119 Hopefuls Offer Differing Visions” and “Conference Continues to Inspire Future Generations of Gardeners.”
- Taught a workshop, “Verification of information from social media; Data journalism and Visualization” for the Institute for Communication Studies at Skopje, North Macedonia. The workshop was part of a program to train faculty in media literacy.
- Dr. Kelsea Schoenbauer
- Published the article, “Propagating Superior-Quality Singleton Children as Anticipatory Modernization: Contextualizing Western Perspectives on Chinese Transnational Adoption” in the Journal of Family Communication.
- Mr. Matt Binford
- Published the article “You are a disgrace and traitor to our country”: Incivility against the ‘squad’ on Twitter” in Internet Research.
- Presented “Designing for trust: How online news consumers view and interpret informational transparency boxes” at the 72nd International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Paris, France.
- Gave a lecture to the Institute of Communications Studies USAID Media Literacy Project at the Institute for Communication Studies at Skopje, North Macedonia.
- Worked with the WCU School of Music and students from the Communication Department to produce a video for Velocities, an electronic music show.
- Dr. Scott Eldredge
- Published the article, Information-seeking barriers and strategies in maternity care: A framework analysis of nurses’ goals, plans, and actions in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare: Strategies, Media, and Engagement in Global Health.
- Presented Building Key Leadership Communication Skills. Workshop given as part of a 5-part Leadership Certificate Program for Western Carolina University Educational Outreach.
- Presented Kindness, Collaboration, and Community: The Role of Communication in Navigating Our Way Out of the COVID Pandemic. Panel presentation at International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference, New York, New York.
- Presented Between the Facts and a Hard Place: Trust Judgments and Affective Responses in Information-Seeking Processes during Early COVID-19. – Panel presentation, Information System Division, International Communication Association’s 2022 annual conference, Paris, France.
- Presented Do Women Desire more from Postnatal Communication? Voice, Partnership, and Opportunities for Accountability in Patient-Provider Communication. – Panel presentation at the University of Kentucky’s biannual 2022 Kentucky Conference on Health Communication, Lexington, Kentucky.
- Dr. Vincent Russell
- Published the article, Socializing for social justice: The role of communication activism in graduate student socialization and identification in Communication Education
- Presented “Communicating about social justice in participatory budgeting: “Coming together” to benefit communities,” Activism and Social Justice Division, National Communication Association, New Orleans, LA.
- Presented “Preparing students for political action through public narrative,” National Communication Association, New Orleans, LA.
- Presented “The Asheville Reparations Commission: Discourses of reckoning, race, and justice,” Activism and Social Justice Division, National Communication Association, New Orleans, LA.
- Mr. Gabe Wisniewski-Parks
- Published the book chapter New media masculinities: How YouTube influencers incubate masculine ideologies and mentor men through gender role conflict/stress. In D. Pompper (ed.), Rhetoric of Masculinity: Male body image, media, and gender role stress/conflict, Lexington Books.
- Ms. Nora Radway-Moore
- Presented Honoring Place: People, Liberation, Advocacy, Community, and Environment, “Navigating PhD Obstacles: Finding Healthy Ways to Cope with Doctoral Disappointment,” National Communication Association, New Orleans, New Orleans, LA. (November 18, 2022).
Other Faculty Projects
- Dr. Vincent Russell was mentioned in The era of ‘stay and fight’ Twitter is here. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/11/musk-restores-trump-twitter-liberal-resistance/672208/?utm_medium=offsite&utm_source=flipboard&utm_campaign=all
- Dr. Vincent Russell was mentioned in Making participatory budgeting work: Experiences on the front lines. Brennan Center for Justice. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/making-participatory-budgeting-work-experiences-front-lines
- Working with a colleague from Pepperdine University, Dr. Katerina Spasovska developed the concept, guidelines, and topics for a Newsroom to Newsroom Mentoring program offered by the Society of Professional Journalists Journalism education committee.
- Dr. Katerina Spasovska and the Society of Professional Journalists held a fundraiser for Homebase, Cullowhee, North Carolina. HOMEBASE is for students who have aged out of foster care and/or residential services, are orphaned, homeless, emancipated or have little to no support. Ultimately, HOMEBASE is open to all students- no one is turned away. HOMEBASE is a collaboration between Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina and Western Carolina University. It’s purpose is to provide resources and support to all students seeking physical, emotional or spiritual support.
- Cythnia Wray developed the “Fairview Elementary/Middle Public Speaking,” a beginning public speaking class for grades 7 and 8.
- Mr. Gabe Wisniewski-Parks and Ms. Nora Radway-Moore served as mentors for the Fall 2022 Commencement Speakers.
Faculty Personnel Changes
- Faculty Transitions
- Mr. Matt Binford will be transitioning into a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Broadcasting position
- Faculty Leaving – We are also saying goodbye to the following faculty as they move on to new opportunities:
- Mr. John Walsh left the university after the end of the Fall 2022 semester.
- Dr. Kelsea Schoenbauer has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position with the University of Minnesota at Duluth.
- Open Positions
- The department is currently accepting applications for the following positions:
- A tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor of Communication teaching interpersonal and health communication courses.
- An Assistant Professor of Practice responsible for managing our TV Studio and equipment.
95.3 WWCU-FM – 75th Anniversary
As you may know, 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. This year, we are also celebrating 75 years of radio at Western Carolina University! The department is developing plans for a 75th Anniversary Celebration, the weekend of Homecoming during the Fall 2023 semester. Make sure you follow the department social media on Facebook and Instagram to get updates, and plan to be in Cullowhee for the event. We are hoping to have a Communication Day, inviting alumni to come back and share their advice and experiences with our current students and have some of our alumni do a radio station “takeover” for the weekend! If you are interested in participating or speaking with students, please contact Dr. Scott Eldredge at email@example.com.
As you can see, the students and faculty have been busy! It has 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:
To support the specific mission of the Shannon Christy Memorial Scholarship Fund and help us get the scholarship fully endowed:
For more information about Shannon Christy and the scholarship established to honor her:
ALUMNI: We’d love to hear from you! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and send us a note to Dr. Scott Eldredge at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the information at the link below 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.
Department Head – Department of Communication