School of Communications celebrates excellence at end-of-year ceremony

During its annual awards ceremony, hosted May 6 in Turner Theatre, the school acknowledged high achievement from students, faculty and staff.

This year’s Outstanding Senior Award recipients stand with Communications Dean Ford following the May 6 awards ceremony. Pictured (from left) are Cameron Wolfslayer (Cinema and Television Arts), Cameron Wilson (Strategic Communications), Rachel Cifarelli (Communication Design), Jack Norcross, (Journalism), Emmanuel Tobe (Media Analytics) and Ford. Natalie Cummins (Sport Management) is not pictured.

The School of Communications recognized the achievements of students, faculty and staff during the past academic year at the school’s annual awards celebration held on May 6 in Turner Theatre. The end-of-the-year awards ceremony featured several heartfelt moments. There were anecdotes, inside jokes, a lot of masked smiles, elbow bumps, and a few fully vaccinated hugs.

Communications Dean Rochelle Ford commended the in-person audience and individuals watching via livestream for their perseverance during the 2020-21 academic year, thanking them for their hard work and success. “We did it! No pandemic can stop us from being excellent,” she said.

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

Student Achievement

Twenty-one outstanding students were selected from among more than 1,500 School of Communications students 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

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.

  • Natalie Cummins, Sport Management Award. Presented by Shaina Dabbs.
  • Emmanuel Tobe, Media Analytics Award. Presented by William Moner.
  • Jack Norcross, Journalism Award. Presented by Rich Landesberg.
  • Cameron Wolfslayer, Cinema and Television Arts Award. Presented by Naeemah Clark.
  • Cameron Wilson, Strategic Communications Award. Presented by Hal Vincent.
  • Rachel Cifarelli, Communication Design Award. Presented by Ben Hannam.

Student Scholarships

Times-News Scholarship
Jacob Kisamore’24

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

William F. Neff Experience Scholarship
Miles Dinou ’23

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

Stanley Albright and Grace Lillian Cook Scholarship
Kyra O’Connor ’23

This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in journalism who exhibits great potential in the field. Presented by Tommy Kopetskie.

D’Angelo Family Scholarship in Memory of Bill and Kappy Leonard
Maeve Ashbrook ’22

Established by Drs. Lawrence and Dolores D’Angelo P’02, the D’Angelo Scholarship 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, and Kappy Leonard was the unofficial first lady of the news division. Presented by Rich Landesberg.

Dubois Legacy Scholarship
Jeremy Palladino ’22

This scholarship recognizes students who demonstrate 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 Vic Costello.

Anthony & Olga Duke Communications Scholarship
Nick Asprea ’23

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

Foreman Scholarship
Joey Gentile ’23

This scholarship, awarded to a promising 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 Bryan Baker.

Brad Hamm International Communications Scholarship
Jake Twer ’23

This scholarship is awarded to a student enrolled in the School of Communications who is either an international student or has demonstrated strong international interest. Presented by Vanessa Bravo.

James F. Hurley Legacy Scholarship
Emery Eisner ’22

This scholarship is awarded to a student in journalism or communications who has demonstrated excellence in the field. The 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 Susan Ladd.

James Wesley Willard II Memorial Scholarship
Tiffany Huang ’23

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 Jenny Jiang.

Priestley Scholarship
Miranda Ferrante ’23

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 Glenn Scott.

Founding Dean Scholarship
Catherine Nester ’22

This scholarship was established in 2018 by School of Communications advisory board members, faculty, staff and alumni in recognition of the 17 years of service by the school’s founding dean, Paul Parsons. The scholarship is awarded to a rising senior with a strong academic record in one of the school’s majors. Presented by Ben Hannam.

Don Bolden School of Communications Dean’s Scholarship Fund
Jordan Young ’22

This scholarship assists students to understand the links between learning in the classroom and applying that knowledge to explore and report on the world around them. It is named for Don Bolden, a noted historian and community figure in Alamance County, who worked at the Times-News for more than 50 years. Presented by Naeemah Clark.

A.J. Fletcher Award
Emily Holland ’22 and Baylor Rodman ’22

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 Vanessa Bravo and Colin Donohue.

Faculty Achievement

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

Associate Professor Qian Xu (from left), Lecturer Staci Saltz and Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill were all award recipients at the May 6 celebration.

Excellence in Teaching Award
Qian Xu

The award recognizes a faculty member who is outstanding in the classroom, current in the discipline, a quality academic adviser, and committed to student learning at the highest level.

From the dean’s introduction: “Teaching is the hallmark of all we do at Elon. Qian consistently demonstrates excellence in teaching core courses, media analytics, strategic communications and interactive media classes. She also does all this with a smile and gentle spirit.”

Excellence in Scholarship Award
Amanda Sturgill

This award recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly and creative work is of high quality and brings distinction to Elon.

“Teaching is to be formed by our faculty’s own scholarship and Amanda probably doesn’t sleep much because she is an excellent teacher, as well as ridiculously productive scholar. She has been quoted on television, websites and articles for her work. She’s conducted TED Talks and has become the resident expert on ‘fake news.’ This year, she published the book ‘Detecting Deception: Tools to Fight Fake News.’ She also remains active in the profession with her service to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. What I love about Amanda is her humility and endless energy. Like on her website, she says, ‘And in my free time, I am the director of news for the ACM Intercollegiate Programming Contest.’ For these professional activities, we recognize Dr. Amanda Sturgill,” said Ford, during her presentation.

Excellence in Leadership Award
Staci Saltz

The award recognizes a member of the School of Communications who richly contributes to the betterment and reputation of the school and the discipline.

During her introduction, Ford commended Saltz for her work leading the Cinema and Television Arts Department’s curriculum committee, which passed “significant changes that transformed its curriculum to address weaknesses found through assessment, incorporating more DEI and business and analytics concepts.” Saltz is instrumental in shaping the television experience at Elon, serving as the lead, and often sole, adviser to Elon Student Television, which produces five student-run programs. Additionally, Ford lauded Saltz for providing a “critical voice” in developing the school’s COVID-19 production guidelines.

Bryan Baker, director of technology, operations and multimedia projects, received this year’s Outstanding Staff Member Award for his work to help the school “navigate” the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outstanding Staff Member Award
Bryan Baker

The award recognizes a staff member of the School of Communications who contributes to the betterment and reputation of the school and its initiatives.

From the dean’s introduction: “Bryan spent all of 2020 and spring 2021 helping the school navigate COVID-19 with technology and facilities. He worked closely with faculty and staff to create school-specific production guidelines. He created video tutorials, taught undergraduate courses and more – like hosting a professional film company. For these and many more reasons, we recognize Bryan Baker.”

Special Recognitions

At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Bravo and Ford recognized John Doorley, who is retiring, and presented him with a framed version of his “Reputation Management” book cover. Additionally, Ford acknowledged the recent retirements of Don Grady and George Padgett.

Ford also thanked several individuals for their service to the school and university, including Lee Bush (outgoing academic council chair), Kenn Gaither (outgoing associate dean), and outgoing department chairs and directors Julie Lellis, Randy Piland and Vic Costello.

Lastly, Ford noted the upcoming retirement of David Copeland, Elon’s A.J. Fletcher Professor and founding director of the Interactive Media master’s program. A reception to celebrate his tenure is planned for Monday, May 10, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Laurie Lambert Garden outside of Steers Pavilion.