School of Communications recognizes outstanding students, faculty

The school hosted its annual awards ceremony May 6 to honor high achievement from faculty and students in the last year.

The faculty, staff and administrators of Elon University’s School of Communications hosted May 6 the school’s annual awards ceremony, which recognized both students and faculty for their achievements during the past year.


Twenty-three outstanding students were selected from among more than 1,100 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.

Outstanding Senior Awards

(l-r) Heather Harder, Rebecca Iannucci, Joe Bruno, Brian Mezerski, Phoebe Lee Kot and Jason Waterman (Michael Tahan not pictured)
(l-r) Heather Harder, Rebecca Iannucci, Joe Bruno, Brian Mezerski, Phoebe Lee Kot and Jason Waterman (Michael Tahan not pictured)[/caption]These seven 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.

REBECCA IANNUCCI, Journalism (Print/Online) Award. Presented by Colin Donohue.
JOE BRUNO, Journalism (Broadcast) Award. Presented by Rich Landesberg.
HEATHER HARDER, Strategic Communications Award. Presented by Vanessa Bravo.
BRIAN MEZERSKI, Broadcast & New Media Award. Presented by Gerald Gibson.
MICHAEL TAHAN, Cinema Award. Presented by Paul Castro.
JASON WATERMAN, Communication Science Award. Presented by Qian Xu.
PHOEBE LEE KOT, Sport and Event Management Award. Presented by Tony Weaver.

Student Scholarships

Staley Albright and Grace Lillian Cook Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in journalism. Presented by Anthony Hatcher.

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.

<p>Back row (l-r): Alex Zubak '14, Michael Bodley '16, Tommy Hamzik '17, Mia Watkins '16, Laura van Drie '14 and Rachel Garrity '15<br /> <br /> Front row (l-r): Rachel Diver '15, Iris Sullivan '17, Eric Halperin '15, Al Drago '15, Simone Jasper '15, Juan Lavalle '15, Mercedes Riofrio '14</p> <p>(Not pictured: Hal Rhorer, Tony Weaver and Peter Walpole)</p>
<p>Back row (l-r): Alex Zubak ’14, Michael Bodley ’16, Tommy Hamzik ’17, Mia Watkins ’16, Laura van Drie ’14 and Rachel Garrity ’15<br />
<br />
Front row (l-r): Rachel Diver ’15, Iris Sullivan ’17, Eric Halperin ’15, Al Drago ’15, Simone Jasper ’15, Juan Lavalle ’15, Mercedes Riofrio ’14</p>

<p>(Not pictured: Hal Rhorer, Tony Weaver and Peter Walpole)</p>
[/caption]Dubois Legacy Scholarship

This endowed scholarship recognizes a junior or senior who demonstrates a consistent commitment to academic study, and shows great promise through participation in informational study and internships. 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 Max Negin.

Anthony & Olga Duke Communications Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in communications who has a strong academic record. Presented by Naeemah Clark.

James F. Hurley Legacy Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a junior, either a Communications or Journalism major, who has demonstrated excellence in the field. 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 of whom served as publishers of The Salisbury Post. Presented by Randy Piland.

Priestley Scholarship

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

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 Tony Weaver.

Times-News Scholarship

This scholarship provides financial aid for a student studying print journalism in the School of Communications who has demonstrated leadership, scholarship, service to the community, and exemplary character traits. Presented by Colin Donohue.

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 of Communications who has a strong academic record. Presented by Paul Castro.

The A.J. Fletcher Award

This award honors an outstanding student majoring in Strategic or Broadcast Communications who demonstrates a wide-ranging interest in the field, service to the community and leadership in campus or his/her personal life. Presented by Hal Vincent and Frances Ward-Johnson.

James Michael Elzar Foreman Scholarship

This scholarship, awarded to a  promising minority student in television production, is named in memory of James Michael Elzar Foreman, a student in the School of Communications who died in 2007. The Scholarship is to be used for an Elon Experience. Presented by Gerald Gibson.

Brad Hamm International Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a rising junior or senior enrolled in the School of Communications who is either an international student or had demonstrated strong international interest. Presented by Randy Piland and Frances Ward-Johnson.

William F. Neff Experiences Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a student within the School of Communications to complete one of the Elon Experiences. Presented by Naeemah Clark.


(l-r) Associate professors Naeemah Clark, Rich Landesberg and Amanda Sturgill
(l-r) Associate professors Naeemah Clark, Rich Landesberg and Amanda Sturgill[/caption]Following the student awards, three faculty members in the School of Communications were recognized for their outstanding work this academic year.

School of Communications Dean Paul Parsons presented associate professors Rich Landesberg, Naeemah Clark and Amanda Sturgill 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.

Landesberg teaches courses in the School’s broadcast journalism curriculum, including Broadcast News Writing and the innovative “60 Minutes” Master Class. He also serves as faculty adviser of “Elon Local News,” which won second place in the nation this year for alternative programming for “ELN Morning.” Previously under his stewardship, the newscast (then named Phoenix14News) won the collegiate Emmy as the best student newscast in the nation. His teaching and mentoring reflect his 20 years as a professional journalist before coming to Elon. He also teaches the school’s initial course, Communications in a Global Age, along with Elon 101 and a study abroad course on the European Union. Students have praised his intensity, professionalism and engaged style of teaching.

“Professor Landesberg has catapulted our broadcast journalism program to national distinction, and each year our seniors receive impressive job offers from television stations around the country,” Parsons said. “That’s because he prepares them so well. Thank you for your commitment to creating the best possible learning environment for our students.”

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.

Clark edited a book released in 2014 titled African Americans in the History of Mass Communication: A Reader, which offers stories from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Era and beyond, while analyzing how African-Americans use the media to educate, advocate, empower and serve others. That book followed Clark’s co-authored book titled Diversity in U.S. Mass Media, released in 2012. She has also co-authored journal articles with faculty colleagues on topics such as communitarian ethics. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Magazine and New Media Research. And she has appeared on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” as an expert on the economic viability of stereotypes on television and on Huffington Post Live about women and news shows, She also writes op-ed pieces through the Elon University Writers Syndicate that are widely published.

“We’ll soon have a new book cover on the wall of our conference room,” Parsons said. “Naeemah, your scholarship has meaning and impact in our day and age. Congratulations.”

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.

Sturgill chaired the School’s Teacher-Scholar Committee and drafted its peer-review scholarship statement so well that, Parsons said, departments across campus have adopted it. She’s served on multiple search committees, assisted with the Religion and Media conference, is an elected member of the School’s Curriculum Committee, and exhibits strong leadership in the Interactive Media master’s program. Across the university, Sturgill is active in Elon’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and serves on the board that guides the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center. Nationally, she is vice head of the Communication Technology Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and each year leads a team to cover the International Collegiate Programming Contest—last summer leading six Elon faculty, students and alumni to St. Petersburg, Russia.

“In her four years at Elon, Professor Sturgill has been a leader on many fronts,” Parsons said. “She has a calm, thoughtful and participatory leadership style. Amanda, we honor you with this year’s Excellence in Leadership Award.”