School of Communications honors outstanding students, faculty

The school hosted its annual awards ceremony on April 25 to recognize high achievement from faculty and students in the last year.

The faculty, staff and administrators of Elon University’s School of Communications hosted the school’s annual awards ceremony April 25, which recognized both students and faculty for their achievements during the past year.


Seventeen outstanding students were selected from among more than 1,000 communications majors to be honored for their exceptional contributions in and out of the classroom. Those honored meet the highest academic standards, have been active in on-campus media and student organizations and have achieved great success in challenging internships.

“The School of Communications has so many good students that it gets harder every year for the faculty to select the outstanding seniors in each major and to award scholarships to returning students,” said Communications Dean Paul Parsons. “I was in awe this year hearing the successes of the students we honored.”

Outstanding Senior Awards

Several Communications seniors were recognized with awards during the School of Communications awards ceremony April 25. From left, Rachel Southmayd, Alexa Sykes, Julie Morse, Hannah Nelson, Kara Johnson, Dean Coots, Michael Soucy and Ali Harden.

These six awards recognize outstanding personal and professional achievements by graduating seniors who have demonstrated through consistent performance extraordinary knowledge and ability in their areas of specialization, and have made significant contributions to the School of Communications and the major.

RACHEL SOUTHMAYD, Journalism (Print/Online) Award. Presented by Glenn Scott.
JULIE MORSE, Journalism (Broadcast) Award. Presented by Rich Landesberg.
ALEXA SYKES, Strategic Communications Award. Presented by Lee Bush.
MICHAEL SOUCY, Broadcast & New Media Award. Presented by Gerald Gibson.
DEAN COOTS, Cinema Award. Presented by Paul Castro.
ALI HARDEN, Sport and Event Management Award. Presented by Tony Weaver.

Student Scholarships

D’Angelo Family Scholarship in Honor of Bill Leonard

Established by Drs. Lawrence and Dolores D’Angelo (P ’02), the D’Angelo Family Scholarship in honor of Bill Leonard recognizes the achievements of an outstanding rising senior in the field of broadcast communication. The late Bill Leonard, former president of CBS News, was influential in the creation of “60 Minutes,” “CBS Sunday Morning” and a host of other landmark news programs. Presented by Rich Landesberg.

Several students were honored with scholarships at the School of Communications awards ceremony April 25. (Front row, from left) Abbey Riesett, Rachel Taff, Mia Watkins, Katherine Blunt and Baron Smith. (Back row, from left) Ryson Porter, Jason Puckett and Joe Bruno.

Dubois Legacy Scholarship

This endowed scholarship recognizes a junior or senior who demonstrates a consistent commitment to their course of study, and shows great promise through their participation in foreign study, internships, and holds great promise. The scholarship honors Courtney Dubois Needham ’95, and her family, Charles and Keith Dubois, for the many contributions they have made to Elon, and to the field of communications. Presented by Paul Castro.

Anthony & Olga Duke Communications Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in communications who has verified financial need and strong academic record. Presented by Lucinda Austin.

James F. Hurley Legacy Scholarship

This endowed scholarship is named in memory of James F. Hurley Sr. and James F. Hurley Jr. and in honor of James F. Hurley III. All three were influential as publishers of The Salisbury (N.C.) Post. The scholarship is awarded to a junior, with preference given to communications students with priority to journalism majors, and it carries through to the student’s senior year if the student remains at Elon for four years. Presented by Janna Anderson.

Priestley Scholarship

This scholarship assists a female student who is a rising sophomore, junior or senior majoring in print journalism and is preparing for a career as a writer for public circulation newspapers and magazines. The scholarship was established by the late Dr. Mary Ellen Priesley, a former professor of English and Journalism at Elon and adviser to The Pendulum, and her husband, Gerard. Presented by Colin Donohue.

Sport & Event Management Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a student who exhibits great potential for professional success through a demonstrated record of academic achievement and contributions to departmental, institutional and/or community organizations. Presented by Cara McFadden.

Times-News Scholarship

This scholarship will provide financial aid for a participant in journalism at Elon University who has demonstrated leadership, scholarship, service to the community and exemplary character traits. Presented by Anthony Hatcher.

James Wesley Willard II Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is named in memory of James Wesley Willard II, a student in the School of Communications, who died in 2005. It is awarded to a student in the school who has demonstrated a strong academic record. Presented by Naeemah Clark.

The A.J. Fletcher Award

This award recognizes the achievements of an outstanding undergraduate corporate, broadcast or film major who reflects a wide-ranging interest within the field, has a GPA above 2.75, has demonstrated leadership in campus or personal life, and has been involved in some area of community service. Presented by Nicole Triche and Amanda Gallagher.


Tony Weaver (left), Janna Anderson and David Copeland were all given Faculty Excellence Awards at the School of Communications awards ceremony April 25.

Following the student awards, three faculty members in the School of Communications were recognized for their outstanding work this academic year.

Parsons presented professor David Copeland and associate professors Janna Anderson and Tony Weaver with the faculty awards.

Faculty Excellence in Teaching

The award recognizes a faculty member who is excellent in the classroom, current in the discipline and committed to student learning at a high level. The selection committee looks for a teacher who embraces fresh ways to engage students in active learning, who is known as a good academic adviser, and who displays a willingness to teach when and where needed.

Anderson has the distinction of receiving the Outstanding Educator Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Newspaper Division and twice being Elon University’s nominee for U.S. Professor of the Year. She is the leader of the School’s Imagining the Internet center, an online global-good project that focuses on the future of the Internet and has involved more than 300 students in global communications research. Anderson is also the lead author of the Pew Research “Future of the Internet” surveys and book series. She teaches several courses, including Media Writing, Reporting for the Public Good and The Future of the Internet. She came to Elon in 1999, and she previously won the School’s Faculty Excellence in Scholarship award in 2011.

“The recipient of this year’s Teaching Award is someone who easily could have received this award long ago,” Parsons said. “Professor Anderson is famous among students for making the classroom come alive. In an age when young people can be more technologically savvy than their elders, Janna is different. She relentlessly stays abreast of new trends and communicates with students and alumni through multiple forms of social media.”

Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award

The award recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly work has a significant intellectual impact. The selection committee looks not only for publication and presentation of the highest quality, but work that advances the School’s reputation, along with the mentoring of students in undergraduate research.

Weaver, who teaches in the Sport & Event Management department, spent 10 years in athletics administration, and his scholarship relates to his professional experience. He has authored peer-reviewed work in the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics about the prestige factor for universities that gain Division I reclassification. He has also co-authored a chapter in a textbook on facility planning and design. Additionally, he writes online for College Sports Business News and Ultimate Sports Insider. Weaver is an active member of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators, the North American Society for Sport Management and the College Sports Research Institute. He came to Elon as an adjunct in 2004.

“Tony, your scholarship and professional activity are deepening your discipline and extending Elon’s reputation on a national level,” Parsons said.

Faculty Excellence in Leadership Award

The award recognizes faculty members who richly contribute to the ongoing welfare and betterment of the school, the university and the professions. The selection committee looks for clear, positive outcomes of leadership on the campus and national levels, as well as an ability to bring new ideas to reality that reflect well on Elon and the School of Communications.

Copeland, the A.J. Fletcher Professor Communications and director of the Interactive Media master’s program, has been elected to Academic Council and served as chair on numerous university task forces. At a national level, Copeland has served as the president of the American Journalism Historians Association and the editor of Media History Monographs. In his career, he has written more than 11 books, 21 journal articles 15 book chapters. He has also been a series editor for 26 books. In 2001, he was honored with the Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History from the Journalism Historians Association. He came to Elon in 2001 and previously won the Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award in 2004 and the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011.

“He is a true university leader,” Parsons said. “Within the school, he is a superb mentor to colleagues, and he added a new role four years ago as director of our M.A. in Interactive Media program. Now he mixes his conversation about colonial newspapers with talk of media analytics and search engine optimization. School, university, national discipline: People choose David to lead.”

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