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Morgan named fellow at Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics

Posted on: February 8th, 2022 by ldrucker

Dr. R.J. Morgan, an award-winning teacher and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, has been named a Fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss, according to chairman Charles Overby.

His role at the center will focus primarily on scholastic media, journalism education and related topics. He will also coordinate scheduling and operations for the center and function as a liaison between it and the School of Journalism and New Media, where he is an instructional associate professor.

“R.J. has the practical experience, enthusiasm and engaging personality that students love,” Overby said. “He will help energize the Overby Center, and he will help promote First Amendment values for our next generation.”

R.J. Morgan speaks at a podium.

R.J. Morgan.

Morgan is a nationally-recognized speaker, judge and scholar in the field of high school journalism. He has served as MSPA director since 2013 and recently launched the Integrated Marketing Communication Association, a national high school media/marketing organization housed at the University of Mississippi.

He sits on executive/advisory boards for multiple scholastic media organizations, serves on the national certification committee for the Journalism Education Association, and was named Awards Chair for the Scholastic Media division of the Association for Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication last fall. He received the Elizabeth Dickey Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Interscholastic Press Association in 2018 and earned Master Journalism Educator status from JEA in 2020.

“I’ve been involved in student media in one role or another since I was in the eighth grade,” Morgan said. “The time I spent on my high school and college newspaper staffs was easily the most influential and rewarding experience of my educational career, so being able to help create those same powerful learning environments for successive generations of students has become my life’s work. As a lifelong Southerner and a strong First Amendment advocate, I am beyond excited to continue these efforts through the Overby Center.”

Among other university appointments, Morgan is a member of the School of Journalism and New Media’s executive committee and leads the school’s Talbert Fellows honors cohort. He was elected to the University of Mississippi Faculty Senate in 2021.

Morgan has a Ph.D. in K-12 education leadership from the University of Mississippi. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Mississippi State University and began his teaching career at Starkville High School, where he received several honors including STAR Teacher, Third Congressional District Teacher of the Year and the Paul Cuicchi Innovative Educator Award.  He also advised the school’s newspaper, yearbook and broadcast programs and was thrice named MSPA Adviser of the Year.

Morgan spent 16 years covering college sports for The Associated Press and has written pieces for Religion Unplugged, Sporting News magazine, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and the Memphis Commercial Appeal, among others. He is currently working on his first book-length project about the folk and civil rights movements of the early 1960s.

Tupelo Regional Airport employee soars to new heights with IMC degree

Posted on: February 4th, 2022 by ldrucker

Students at regional campuses are recognizing the value and versatility of IMC and journalism programs

The sky’s the limit for Justin Lee Gary, an integrated marketing communication (IMC) student who attends the University of Mississippi’s Tupelo campus and works as a media intern for Tupelo Regional Airport.

The New Albany native is just one example of students at UM’s regional campuses who are using the versatile IMC degree to pursue their dreams.

Gary, a junior, has a knack for writing and film that began while attending a community college.

“I started working with the film class and really gained a niche for filmmaking,” he said. “My classmates worked on professional film sets with famous actors and professional film crew from all over the country. It was exciting to take someone’s story, turn it into a script, and then watch it on the big screen.”

Justin Gary stands in front of a plane at Tupelo Regional Airport.

Justin Gary stands in front of a plane at Tupelo Regional Airport.

Gary said an instructor there told him about the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s IMC major to further his studies.

“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said.

Some of his favorite classes have been IMC 205: Writing for Integrated Marketing Communications and IMC 306: Internet Marketing Communications.

“While there is a lot of writing with some of the classes, it is by no means difficult,” he said. “The instructors on campus are amazing at teaching the concepts in a way that you can understand them. They really help you explore your creative side so you can find your own writing style. So, don’t be afraid to express yourself. It not only helps you to stand out, but also find an awesome job.”

Gary has two jobs at Tupelo Regional Airport. While one is in airfield operations, he also works as a media intern for the airport.

“I also help coordinate Ole Miss’s sports teams when they are traveling with Delta, United, or another airline,” he said. “Believe it or not, the job actually has a lot to do with marketing. In aviation, public perception is everything. It involves a lot of research and planning to understand what market the airport caters to, and my IMC classes have definitely taught me how to carry the airport’s mission statement through social media and other mediums.”

After graduating, Gary said he hopes to work as a media manager or art director for a marketing firm.

“My dream job would be marketing a major airline like Delta or United,” he said, “but I would honestly be happy working for any company that tries to benefit others.”

His advice for anyone thinking about majoring in IMC is to develop an interest in writing, and never stop being you.

Patricia Overstreet-Miller, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications with the School of Journalism and New Media who is focused primarily on the regional campuses, said regional IMC graduates have entered a wide variety of job fields, including digital and data management, marketing for nonprofits and local companies, sales, entrepreneurship, public relations for small and large firms, and have even worked for the U.S. Army.

“Because the skills they gained with an IMC degree are highly transferable, they are able to move within a number of different fields, even as they stay local,” she said. “The IMC degree is one of the most flexible and adaptable offered at the university level and is well suited for individuals who want to stay within the state, as well as those able to move nationally and internationally.”

Overstreet-Miller hopes more students who are considering pursing a degree like Gary will visit the regional campuses.

“At the regional campuses, we have some students who are the first in their families to graduate from college, who often come from more rural areas of the state, and who are deeply Mississippi-based,” she said. “They are also highly diverse and representative of many of the minority populations of the state.

“By reaching beyond Oxford, Ole Miss has benefited communities and individuals they might not otherwise have reached and thus helped ensure a stronger future for the state as a whole.”

Debora Wenger, Ph.D., interim dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said regional campus students are doing amazing things.

“Our regional campuses give us an opportunity to work with students who make our integrated marketing communications program richer, more relevant, and more inclusive,” she said. “These students are inspiring — often balancing full-time jobs and families — yet, they have the drive to earn a degree and make a difference in their communities. Kudos to them.”

Overstreet-Miller said Tupelo Regional Airport will be one of the UM program’s IMC 455 clients this year and probably next year as well, largely because of Gary.

“They are looking to brand themselves and become more connected to the community,” she said. “This will be one of the most interesting and challenging clients we’ve had so far.”

University of Mississippi integrated marketing communications program turns 10

Posted on: December 5th, 2021 by ldrucker

Young program, one of university’s largest, thanks to passionate faculty and alumni

Scott Fiene remembers watching the first handful of integrated marketing communications students walk across the commencement stage in 2013, completely unaware that in less than a decade, he would be watching hundreds of IMC graduates cross the stage each year.

The University of Mississippi‘s IMC program began with 51 students in the School of Journalism and New Media in 2011, and has since boomed to just under 1,200 enrolled.

The unprecedented growth is thanks in large part to the passion of the faculty members and IMC professionals who take students out of the classroom and into the ever-changing world of marketing and communications.

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.Passion for the Work

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the journalism school, was the administrator tasked with being the “paper pusher,” as she describes it, shepherding the program through the creation and approval process, but she credits Fiene with being IMC’s greatest advocate and promoter on campus. Fiene was assistant dean of curriculum and assessment for the program during its unprecedented growth.

“Scott really nurtured it,” she said. “The program grew because of Scott’s passion and dedication. He has incredible enthusiasm for the program and his passion is infectious. Students would take his class and then switch majors because he made it so engaging for them.”

Fiene passes that credit on to the faculty the program has been able to assemble over the past decade.

“Our faculty really care and put students first,” Fiene said. “I don’t recall sitting down and saying, ‘This is how we’re going to grow, and this is the experience we’re going to deliver to these kids.’

“A lot of it is simply the attitudes of the people we hired who have had very successful careers and now want to teach because they have an absolute passion for this.”

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

The passion for students is evident. Even on sabbatical, Fiene finds himself following his graduates as they enter the job market and move into leadership positions around the country.

Jackson Sepko, a senior IMC major from Collierville, Tennessee, first encountered the IMC faculty’s enthusiasm the spring before his freshman year. After his tweet about Ole Miss baseball went viral within the Ole Miss sports online community, he received a direct message from IMC professor Debbie Hall asking if he was an IMC major.

Sepko had already signed up to be an IMC major, but it was a series of continued positive, affirming and proactive interactions like the one he had on Twitter that gave him the confidence to pursue more and more competitive opportunities. During his freshman year, Hall encouraged Sepko to pursue a PGA internship reserved for juniors and seniors.

“Every single professional opportunity I’ve had has been because of an IMC professor,” Sepko said. “Once a professor understands a student’s passions, they plug them into the classes and experiences and introduce those students to the people who are doing it in the real world.”

This semester, Sepko is applying his IMC experience as a digital media marketing assistant for the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Clare Combs, a 2021 IMC graduate from Austin, Texas, is a community manager at Likeable Media in New York. Combs recalled the way Hall, her professor and academic adviser, made her feel welcome on the first day of class. Running late, Combs rushed to class through the rain and then slipped and fell the moment she arrived in class.

“I was so embarrassed,” Combs said. “But Mrs. Hall immediately directed the class’s attention to herself so I could quietly make it to my seat. After class I thanked her, and she told me, ‘I never want my students to feel anything other than great in my class.’”

After that, Combs took one of Hall’s classes every semester and relied on Hall as a mentor and sounding board while looking for her first job after graduation.

Dennis Irwin teaches students. n 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Dennis Irwin, associate director of marketing and brand strategy for the University of Mississippi, teaches students. In 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Real-World Application

In its early days, the IMC program took a few plays out of the journalism school’s playbook. The faculty frequently invites successful practitioners to campus to expose students to real-world work while providing networking opportunities with the industry’s best.

Similarly, the faculty places an emphasis on turning classroom theory into practical application.

“We send students out to work with clients in the community,” Fiene said. “We’ve taught campaign classes and we partner with organizations in the community so our kids can put together a full IMC campaign and pitch to clients.”

IMC faculty members also encourage students to engage in the many media opportunities on campus, including the Student Media Center and the program-run HottyToddy.com, where many students get daily multimedia publishing experience.

“These students are very well-rounded – they learn writing, design, market research, campaign building,” Fiene said. “But it’s those real-life experiences students get that matter, so that when they get a degree it’s not just academic. It has real-world relevance.”

Bright Future

Jason Cain, who succeeds Fiene as the program’s leader, is excited about IMC because the future of business, media and communications is all intertwined.

Whether preparing for careers in advertising, journalism or PR, graduates are finding themselves more and more in integrated roles, Cain said.

“This is where the action is in a lot of ways,” he said. “While more traditional departments are grappling with how to address the future within their silos, IMC is ready-made for straddling all these different channels.

Cain, who joined the faculty in 2016 as an assistant professor of IMC, said he hopes to continue to emphasize the practical side of the program by bringing graduates back to campus so that students can see how they are using their degrees in a professional environment.

The program continues to expand its intersectional role, offering specializations in fashion, health communications, magazine publishing, media sales, public relations, social media, sports communications and promotions, and visual design.

“I think we have a good core group of faculty with a cool skill set,” Cain said. “I know that we can take a healthy program and start diving in a little deeper. We can take a decade of wisdom and filter that back into the course work.”

Talbert Fellows are an elite cohort at the UM School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: November 3rd, 2021 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media Talbert Fellows are journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) students from Mississippi and beyond who are part of an elite program launched last year.

Members include Carleigh Holt, Davan Reece, Emma Harrington, Grace Massengill, Lily Sweet King, Brittany Kohne, Virginia White, Travis Coopwood, Justice Rose, Chloe Calo, Kelby Zendejas, Rabria Moore, Erin Foley, Shayna Saragosa, Summer Keith, Brady Wood, Sahara Portlance, Zoe Keyes, Paleif Raspberry, David Ramsey, Julieanna Jackson, Ava Johnson and Layton Lawhead. We will be sharing their photos and stories on social media.

From left, Grace Massengill, Paleif Raspberry and Chloe Calo attend the latest Talbert Fellows meeting. They listened to a guest speaker who talked about a New York internship program.

From left, Grace Massengill, Paleif Raspberry and Chloe Calo attend the latest Talbert Fellows meeting. They listened to a guest speaker who talked about a New York internship program.

“We are really happy you have joined our school, because in order to be a member of the Talbert Fellows, you have to have shown something exceptional,” Dr. Debora Wenger, interim dean, said during the Talbert Fellows first meeting of the semester.

Dr. R. J. Morgan, instructional associate professor of journalism and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, said investing in the Talbert Fellows will be a good investment for the school.

“The other vision is that it would also give you the opportunity to invest in each other,” he said.

Talbert Fellows are selected based on a portfolio of their best work in journalism, integrated marketing communication, video, photography, and other media skills, rather than their GPA or ACT scores. Applicants submit work in the fall and follow the UM scholarship application process.

The Talbert Fellows program offers a scholarship, access to special events, personalized attention and coaching from faculty, among other perks.

“Students have a lot of choices when it comes to finding the right university, and we think the Talbert Fellows program might be just the little extra incentive some need to choose the School of Journalism and New Media,” Wenger said in an earlier interview. “From scholarship money to unique experiential learning opportunities to networking options, the students accepted to become Talbert Fellows will find themselves positioned to become future leaders in the fields of journalism and integrated marketing communications.”

There are many high school students across the country who are proving they are skilled thinkers and innovators at a young age, Morgan said.

“Students like that need to be honored, but more than that, they need to be challenged to reach their full potential,” he said. “This program will help us better identify those students from the outset so that once they arrive on campus, we can focus our best resources on pushing them to an elite level of success.”

The Talbert Fellows program is named after Samuel S. Talbert, Ph.D. The versatile administrator and author wrote three academic books on journalism, several plays and a column published in more than 100 newspapers. He chaired the UM Department of Journalism from 1951 until his death in 1972.

Talbert Fellows selections will follow the university’s annual calendar with new students notified in April and admitted each fall semester. New, transfer and current students are also eligible to apply. Awards are renewable for up to four years.

Applicants must submit a link to their online portfolios and the information required through the University of Mississippi scholarship application portal.

To learn more, contact Morgan at morgan@go.olemiss.edu.

University of Mississippi Internship Experience leads Ayers to New York City

Posted on: October 6th, 2021 by ldrucker

Memphis native Molly Ayers, 21, is a senior integrated marketing communications (IMC) major with a minor in general business. She recently gave a presentation during the University of Mississippi Internship Experience. We asked her a few questions about the event and her goals.

Q. What is the UM Internship Experience for those who don’t know? What story did you share about yourself during this event?

A: The Internship Experience is a preparatory class that provides a support system and resources to help with the internship search. For the first semester, we spent the majority of our time on resume work and LinkedIn. We researched the cities we aimed to work in and began compiling a list of possible companies to work for.

When applications opened up, the IE staff helped us with cover letters, interview prep and sent opportunities our way. It was actually Dr. Kristina Phillips who sent me the application for the internship I ended up getting. Additionally, the IE program already had housing picked out in each city, so it took a ton of pressure off me while I was working on my applications. I was the only student who chose NYC as a location, so I was a bit nervous about living up there for a couple of months on my own.

Dr. Laura Antonow, Gabby Coggin, and Dr. Phillips kept in constant contact with me as I was making decisions and planning my trip. Dr. Antonow stayed up in the city for several days to help me get adjusted, which was such a lifesaver.

Molly Ayers leans agains a brick wall.

Molly Ayers

Q. What have been some of your favorite journalism and IMC classes?

A. My favorite IMC class I’ve taken is 104 with Scott Fiene and 306 with Brad Conaway. As a freshman in IMC 104,  Scott Fiene introduced the concept of IMC to me in a way that made me absolutely sure this is the major I wanted to pursue.

IMC 306 with professor Conaway was about internet marketing. We used a social media marketing simulator all semester, and I consider it to be one of the most valuable projects in my college career so far. Jour 273 Creative Visual Thinking was by far my favorite in that department. Professor Joe Abide’s class gave me a completely new set of skills including design and Photoshop. His class is definitely the reason I still pay for an Adobe subscription two years later.

Q. What are your plans or goals for the future? Dream job?

A: When I graduate, I’d love to continue my work for GAPPA (Global Alliance of Partners for Pain Advocacy). I think they have such a strong, important mission and so much room to grow as an organization. Something I learned about myself this summer is that I love talking to people with unique stories and being able to share them. That being said, I think I’d consider promotional marketing for nonprofits my dream job. My goals for the future mostly involve traveling the world (which is where a remote job would be convenient) but eventually, I know I want to move to NYC.

Hitson Reports for America on the rural South for the Montgomery Advertiser

Posted on: September 28th, 2021 by ldrucker

We recently caught up with Hadley Hitson, former Daily Mississippian managing editor, to see where her career has taken her. Hitson, 22, graduated from UM last May earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in Spanish and digital media studies.

The Birmingham, Alabama native now resides in Montgomery, Alabama, covering the rural South and Black Belt communities for the Montgomery Advertiser. Her official title is “rural South reporter,” and she is a Report for America Corps member.

Q. Tell me a little about your career path after college and your current job and responsibilities? 

A. Report for America is a national service program that places journalists with local news outlets to cover under-served topics or communities, and after applying to the program while I was a senior at UM, I was matched with the Advertiser. Due to the collapse of local journalism over the past decade, news coverage has become limited in some of the poorest counties in the nation, including many in the Black Belt region. Report for America operates with the goal of filling these gaps in national coverage.

Through the program’s partnership with the Montgomery Advertiser, my job is to examine access to health care, education and other services while providing news coverage for these rural Alabama communities — not just about them.

Hadley Hitson stands in front of the Montgomery Advertiser sign.

Hadley Hitson stands in front of the Montgomery Advertiser sign.

Q. How did the UM School of Journalism and New Media help you prepare for the real world?

A. Apart from the basic skills of learning how to write a lead and structure a compelling article, the UM School of Journalism and New Media taught me how to think like a journalist. Starting my freshman year, my teachers and advisers encouraged me to ask questions beyond the obvious and carefully consider the context in which every story is framed.

I also worked at The Daily Mississippian for all four of my years at UM, which played a huge role in preparing me for the real world. I had a public audience reading my work, and I had very real deadlines to meet. Moreover, the DM showed me everything that a newsroom is about — pitching stories, defending angles and asking for help when you need it.

Q. What are your hopes for the future?

A. My hopes for the future are to continue providing news coverage to communities that need it and emphasizing the importance of Southern voices that often get lost in national media. I’m also looking forward to making UM (and the DM) proud. Hotty Toddy!

Former CBS journalist to join University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media as visiting professor

Posted on: September 9th, 2021 by ldrucker

A veteran, award-winning journalist, who has worked as a White House correspondent for CBS and as a reporter in Mississippi and throughout the U. S., will soon join the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media faculty as a visiting professor.

Randall Pinkston will teach a course in international reporting after his arrival in January.

“Prof. Pinkston will bring a level of expertise and experience to our school that only someone who has operated at the highest levels of the profession can contribute,” said Interim Dean Debora Wenger. “He has covered plane crashes and presidents, wars and severe weather — the skills he developed as a reporter and anchor — from Jackson, Mississippi to the CBS Evening News, Randall is just the guy that some of our most talented students need to learn from. We are delighted to have him in our classrooms.”

Pinkston was born in Yazoo County. He grew up in Jackson and attended public schools. He was also an active member of Mt. Helm Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, and he participated in school organizations at Rowan Junior High and Lanier Senior High.

Randall Pinkston

Randall Pinkston

He attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and transferred to Millsaps after the death of his father.

“I majored in history, intending to go to law school,” he said. “My father’s minister, the Rev. Wendell P. Taylor of Central United Methodist Church, suggested that I apply for a news trainee position at WLBT-TV. I was not accepted as a trainee, but did receive a job offer as a part-time announcer on WLBT’s sister station, WJDX-FM.”

Pinkston’s work at the radio station, while attending Millsaps, eventually led to a part-time job in the news department, as a weekend and 10 p.m. anchor and reporter.

After graduating from Millsaps, he attended a summer training program for minority journalists at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He later returned to Jackson and was promoted to 6 p.m. anchor at WLBT, becoming the first Black anchor of a major newscast at the #1 station in Mississippi

Today, Pinkston is a widely respected journalist who has worked in local and network news for more than four decades. He joined CBS as a White House correspondent and later was a general assignment reporter covering national and international stories. Along the way he also earned a J. D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Since retiring, Pinkston has taught journalism at Stony Brook University in New York, City University of New York and Morgan State University in Maryland.

Pinkston has also taught classes at UM. Throughout his career as an educator, he has taught media performance, communications law and ethics, financial reporting and international reporting.

“As a journalist and a Mississippian, I consider it an honor and privilege to be invited to serve as a visiting professor at the state’s ‘premier university’,” he said. “Based on my professional background and my experience as an instructor, I think I can assist students in preparing for careers in journalism and related fields. My goal is to provide students with instruction and exercises that will give them tools they use on the job. Overall, I hope to enhance their educational experience.”

Pinkston will also serve as an advisor for NewsWatch Ole Miss, the student-run TV news program produced from the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center, and he has been named as a fellow in the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

To learn more about the School of Journalism & New Media’s programs, please visit  jnm.olemiss.edu or email jour-imc@olemiss.edu

Thank you for joining us for the School of Journalism and New Media’s birthday event

Posted on: August 26th, 2021 by ldrucker

Thank you for joining us on Thursday for the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s birthday event.

This year, our school is celebrating its 75th Journalism and 10th IMC birthdays, and we hosted a welcome event Aug. 26 in front of Farley Hall.

Our Ambassadors helped organize the event that featured carnival games, prizes, a cornhole tournament, an involvement fair and CAKE!

If you missed the event, but you want to learn more about our journalism or integrated marketing communications (IMC) programs, email us at jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

We also encourage you to get involved with our student organizations on campus. And if you aren’t certain, but think you might be interested in journalism or IMC, take a class!

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media welcomes four new professors

Posted on: August 26th, 2021 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has four new faces.

The faculty and staff has welcomed Dr. Amanda Sams Bradshaw, Ike Brunner, Brad Conaway and Dr. Marquita Smith to new positions.

Amanda Sams BradshawDr. Amanda Sams Bradshaw, assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, conducts research that focuses on how social network interactions impact maternal health decision-making, specifically childhood vaccine hesitancy. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Alabama, Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, and Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida.

Her professional experience includes three years as the public relations manager of Preferred Medical Group, a multi-disciplinary, multi-location medical practice, where she rebranded the company, co-led a merger, wrote and produced 18 television commercials, and generated $875,000 in potential revenue.

She later held the role of director of sales and brand growth for Chick-fil-A in Lawton, Oklahoma, resulting in an outside sales increase of 600 percent over one year. Simultaneously, she owned and operated a social media consulting firm for more than two years before beginning her Ph.D.

Ike BrunnerIke Brunner, instructional assistant professor of social media and data analytics, is part of the IMC faculty specializing in social media, data analytics, and influencer marketing. He has over a decade of industry experience in market research and digital/social media marketing and has worked with all types of businesses, from local SMBs to top international global companies. He has expertise in digital marketing and social media training, strategy, research, and evaluation.

Ike received his Ph.D. in communication studies from Bowling Green State University and previously taught at Wright State University and Texas Tech University.

Brad ConawayBrad Conaway, instructional assistant professor of social media and data analytics, earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Texas – one in radio/TV/film and one in English literature, with a history minor. Following a 15+ career in television content producing, now he studies and specializes in emerging forms of digital communication, especially social media.

As a digital manager, he created a social media strategy that was named “Best in Company” in terms of “engagement” analytics. As the corporate digital content manager, Conaway led Raycom’s push to think “digital first” using social media.

Conaway has covered several events from a local shooting at a courthouse, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia upon re-entry in 2003, and the morning of Super Bowl 45 in 2011 that blanketed Dallas for two days caused by a super freeze resulting in injuries. He was an Emmy nominee, Best Morning Newscast-Large Market and TAPB winner, and Best Morning Newscast-Large Market winner in 2010.

Marquita SmithMarquita Smith, Ed.D., is the assistant dean for graduate programs. Smith earned her doctorate from the University of Arkansas focusing on curriculum and instruction and faculty leadership. She believes graduate education is a privilege and opportunity for students to gain outstanding communication and research skills.

Her vision for the school’s graduate programs is for students to acquire advanced and enhanced knowledge of journalism and integrated marketing communications. The goal is for each degree program to provide a unique experience for those interested in professional practitioner development, media production expertise and leadership, or the generation of new knowledge in the field.

Smith has a background in journalism and has worked in various newsrooms in Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia for 16 years. Her last newsroom position was the Virginia Beach bureau chief at The Virginian-Pilot.

In 2008, Smith went on leave from The Pilot to complete a Knight International Journalism Fellowship in Liberia. During her time in West Africa, she created a judicial and justice reporting network. Both networks continue to operate in the post-war country today. Smith, selected as a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana for the 2016-2017 academic year, is passionate about teaching and researching in West Africa.

In 2012, Smith, an associate professor, was named to the JournalismDegree.org list of Top 50 Journalism Professors. Prior to moving to Oxford, Smith served as the Communication and Fine Arts Division Chair and Coordinator of Diversity Relations at John Brown University. She is a past chair for AEJMC’s Commission on the Status of Minorities and a past member of the national organization’s board of directors. Her research interests focus on media development, public health communications and topics on diversity and inclusion.

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors offer student advice

Posted on: August 19th, 2021 by ldrucker

Students will be returning to the University of Mississippi campus in just a few days, and UM School of Journalism and New Media professors are sharing student advice for a successful semester. Much of it comes down to planning.

Rachel West, adjunct instructor of integrated marketing communications, said students should create a plan and schedule, and stick to it throughout the semester.

“Sounds so simple, but with so many classes being taught remotely for so long, it’s a change and a new routine for a lot of students who have not been in the habit of coming to class,” she said. “Budgeting time to find a place to park, walk to class, and so forth, is part of the process as well.”

Robin Street, a former senior lecture who is now an adjunct professor, said her best student advice is to always follow the public relations mantra of planning ahead.

“I suggest, especially in my online classes, that the student sit down with the syllabus, then enter all the important dates from it on his/her calendar,” she said. “My syllabus already has all the due dates for assignments, quizzes and exams. Then, they should go back a week so, and put on that calendar something like ‘Assignment due in seven days. That way, dates don’t sneak up on you.”

A graphic with Post It Notes that says Make Things Happen

Ellen Kellum, adjunct instructor of media design, said she learned in grad school that if she had several smaller deadlines built into projects, she would be much more successful.

“That was a huge factor in taming those procrastination tendencies we all have,” she said. “It made my work more polished and kept me a whole lot less stressed.”

Chris Canty Sparks, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said preparation is key.

“Be well prepared for each and every class,” she said. “Read. Be curious. Ask questions. ‘Luck favors the prepared,’ from Edna on ‘The Incredibles.'”

Kristie Alley Swain, associate professor of journalism, said don’t be shy about asking your professors lots of questions about assignments.

“The earlier the better after the assignment is given,” she said. “Also, share your preliminary drafts with professors to see if they can provide more guidance and other feedback before you turn it in for a grade.”

Mike Tonos, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, advises students to turn in every assignment and avoid the automatic zero.

“Even a few points are better than none,” he said.

Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, said it’s also important to take care of yourself physically and mentally during this time.

“Get outside,” he said. “Go for walks. Work on or find a new hobby.”

LaReeca Rucker, adjunct instructional assistant professor, said don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas during class discussions.

“We live in a politically polarized world, but we should be able to share our ideas about news and media issues in classes that are about these topics even if we disagree,” she said. “Students are encouraged to share their thoughts when we discuss current events, as long as they do it respectfully.

“I welcome diverse opinions. I’m interested in getting to know each student, and I like hearing differing viewpoints. The world would be boring if we all thought the same way about every issue.”

Since many of the classes are writing classes, Rucker also advises students to think about the impact they can have with their work.

“Take your work and your words seriously,” she said. “You never know who you might touch in some small, yet important way through your writing.”

Debora Wenger, Ph.D., interim dean and professor, said make time to introduce yourself and communicate with your teachers.

“Come early or stay a few minutes late to say hello and to tell us something about you,” she said, “ — where you’re from, why you picked our school, what you’re looking forward to doing with your degree, or anything that helps us know you better.

“If you’re shy — send an email with similar details. And don’t forget to ask questions and engage with your instructors throughout the semester — we’re here to help you learn and grow.”