Letter from the Director: Spring 2024

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Katy Culver, Incoming Director and Associate Professor at SJMC

As my first year as director comes to a close, I feel immensely proud of the community we have built here in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Our students brought home a whopping 65 awards for their excellence from prestigious associations, including the American Advertising Federation, Society for Professional Journalists, Association for Women in Communication and the National Center on Disability and Journalism, to name just a few. Our graduate students continued to push their research forward and published papers in a variety of journals, including Journal of Health Medicine, American Journalism, Digital Journalism, and more. Alumni like yourself helped us to raise $66,903 collectively during Fill the Hill and Day of the Badger. Who wouldn’t burst with pride to be part of all this excellence every day?

But it is our faculty who have struck me most this past year. Our students’ successes are due in very large part to the commitment of our faculty members to continually push them to new heights. Their passion for mentorship fuels this department and makes it one of the best places in the world to study communication. This year alone, two faculty members received some of the university’s most prestigious awards for their excellence. Professor Doug McLeod received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, one of the university’s highest teaching honors, for his teaching excellence and dedication to his student success. Additionally, Professor Mike Wagner was named the William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea, in recognition of his contributions to outreach and service and his commitment to fostering the next generation of scholars and leaders.

On top of teaching, my colleagues have continued to dedicate themselves to their research and to making the school a research and doctoral training powerhouse. The Center for Communication and Civic Renewal, led by professors Mike Wagner and Dhavan Shah, recently received a $3 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which will enable CCCR to embark on groundbreaking research to significantly broaden our understanding of 21st century communication and civic life. Additionally, several professors have been awarded competitive fellowships: Associate Professor Lindsay Palmer was selected as a 2023-24 Fellow for the Institute of Research in the Humanities in the College of Letters & Science; Professor Sue Robinson received the 2023-24 Klein-Carnell Distinguished Fellow Award from her alma mater, Temple University; and Assistant Professor Jing Wang was selected for the prestigious UW-Madison Center for the Humanities’ First Book Workshop, which provides support for junior faculty members revising their first academic books. Finally, last fall, professors Sue Robinson, Hernando Rojas and Dhavan Shah were named to the 2023 Top 2% Scientists’ List by Stanford University and Elsevier and professors emeritus Sharon Dunwoody, Albert Gunther and Jack McLeod were also recognized for their lifetime research achievements.

My colleagues inspire me deeply each and every day. They help make this community strong, vibrant and close knit – the kind of place where people feel a true sense of belonging.

On, Wisconsin!

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