School of Communications celebrates outstanding students, faculty

The school hosted its annual awards ceremony on April 23 to recognize high achievement from students and faculty in the last year.

The faculty, staff and administrators of Elon University’s School of Communications hosted the school’s annual awards ceremony April 23, recognizing both students and faculty for their achievements during the past year.

“This is one of the most enjoyable hours in the life of the School of Communications,” said Communications Dean Paul Parsons at the ceremony held in Studio B of the McEwen Communications Building. “We have a lot to celebrate in our school.”

Photos from the ceremony are available on the school’s Flickr page.


Eighteen outstanding students were selected from among more than 1,200 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.

Pictured (from left) are Jasmine Turner, Marisa Moody, Natalie Beach, Ben Stringfellow and Katherine Blunt.
Outstanding Senior Awards

These five 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.

KATHERINE BLUNT, Journalism (Print/Online) Award. Presented by David Copeland.
JASMINE TURNER, Journalism (Broadcast News) Award. Presented by Rich Landesberg.
MARISA MOODY, Strategic Communications Award. Presented by Dan Haygood.
BEN STRINGFELLOW, Cinema Award. Presented by Paul Castro.
NATALIE BEACH, Television Arts Award. Presented by Max Negin.

Student Scholarships

Staley Albright and Grace Lillian Cook Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in journalism. Presented by Janna Anderson.

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.

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 Nagatha Tonkins.

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.

Pictured (front, from left) are Melissa Hanke &rsquo;15, Meredith Stutz &rsquo;16, Caroline Fernandez &rsquo;17, MacKenzie Murray &rsquo;16 (back) Brian Mezerski &rsquo;15, Lindsey Lanquist &rsquo;16, MaryClaire Schulz &rsquo;17, Christopher Edwards &rsquo;17 and Aneesha Smith &rsquo;18.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Absent from photo are Michael Bodley &rsquo;16, Leena Dahal &rsquo;17, Matthew Mallian &rsquo;17 and Courtney Sola &rsquo;16.
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 Staci Saltz and Lucinda Austin.

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 David Copeland.

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 Vanessa Bravo.

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 Harlen Makemson.

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 Hal Walker.

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 Julie Lellis.

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 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 of Communications who has a strong academic record. Presented by Vanesso Bravo.

The Sport & Event Management Scholarship and Outstanding Major in Sport and Event Management honors will be presented at the Sport & Event Management Department’s banquet in May.

Pictured (from left) are School of Communications professors Harlen Makemson, Julie Lellis and Hal Walker.

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

Parsons presented professor Harlen Makemson and associate professors Julie Lellis and Hal Walker with 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 recipient will be 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.

Harlen Makemson’s teaching and scholarship explores journalistic practice, media history, political coverage and visual communications. Likewise, his course load is equally vast, teaching Media Writing (100 level), Media History (200 level), Editing & Design and Web Publishing (300 level), Design & Information Graphics and the Great Ideas capstone (400 level), and Contemporary Media Issues and Multimedia Storytelling at the graduate level. In addition, he has taught the “Gutenberg to the Web” study abroad course with Associate Professor Anthony Hatcher multiple times, and a popular Honors seminar on media, politics and the public during the Cold War, leading to student projects presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Makemson has served on Elon’s faculty since 2002.

“Professor Makemson is just the kind of teacher that every school would like to have. He teaches a vast array of courses, and teaches each one excellently,” Parsons said. 

Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award

The award recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly work has a significant intellectual impact. The recipient will be an individual whose publications and presentations are of the highest quality, helping advance the school’s reputation. Likewise, the recipient will excel in mentoring students in undergraduate research.

Julie Lellis’ scholarly work resides at the intersections of health, disability, diversity, strategic advocacy and public communication. She authored two book chapters published in 2014 – a chapter on strategic advocacy during the civil rights movement in Associate Professor Naeemah Clark’s edited book “African Americans in the History of Mass Communication,” and a chapter on organizational identity in the book “Communication and Language Analysis in the Public Sphere.” Lellis’ work has been published in journals ranging from Disability & Society to Public Relations Review to a recent peer-reviewed work with Associate Professor Barbara Miller in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, on topics ranging from communitarian ethics (the importance of the common good in a society) to the values communicated by organizations that deal with disability. She serves as a founding editorial board member of the journal Case Studies in Strategic Communication. She came Elon in 2010.

“Julie, your impressive work benefits our understanding of the role of communications across our culture. Thank you,” said Parsons.

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 recipient will be an individual who displays 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.

Over the past five years, Hal Walker has expertly navigated a major academic transition. When the School of Education decided to focus solely on teacher preparation, a department then called Leisure & Sport Management needed to affiliate with another school. With courses already in sports media, the School of Communications became the department’s home in 2010. However, a new name was decreed, and Sport & Event Management came to life. As department chair, Walker has guided SEM to almost 200 majors, making it now the ninth-largest major on campus. The faculty has grown by 50 percent. The department completed an extensive curriculum revision last year that brings SEM and COM closer together. In addition, he advises the Premier Sport & Event Society that has built a $150,000 endowment over the years for student scholarships. Walker joined Elon’s faculty in 2002.

“Hal, your calm demeanor and leadership have built a quality department, and we honor you with this year’s Excellence in Leadership Award,” Parsons said.