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Alumni Updates

Falon Kartch (BA, 2007; MA, 2009) and Kathleen Valde have published a book chapter:

Kartch, F. & Valde, K. S. (2016).  "A cat fight in the office:" The use of gossip as a mean of resource control.  In E. S. Gilchrist-Petty & S. D. Long (Eds.), Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication.  New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Our alums Katie Finlon and Ryan Pumroy are working at WNIJ.

Our alum Sunny Serres (M.A. 2009) has been awarded tenure at Harold Washington College in the City Colleges of Chicago system.

Our MA alum Kacy Abeln has been elected Vice President of the Illinois Communication and Theatre Association.

The presentation that Michael Butterworth delivered for our colloquium in fall 2013 is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Communication this coming fall.  The essay is already available through early view.

Michael L. Butterworth, "Nate Silver and Campaign 2012:  Sport, the Statistical Frame, and the Rhetoric of Electoral Forecasting." Journal of Communication.  3 September 2014. 


Joyce Ester (NIU forensics team 83-86) was named the new President of Normandale College (Bloomington, MN) where she joins Michael Kirch (BA) who is the Dean of Business and Social Sciences.

Jeff Przybylo (BS) was named as Interim Dean of Liberal Arts at Harper College.

Dr. Dave Naze (BA/MA) was named Dean of Health & Industrial Technology at Prairie State College.

Our MA alum Jeffrey Bennett has published "'Born This Way': Queer Vernacular and the Politics of Origins," Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 11.3 (2014): 211-30.

Our MA alum Lisa Flores has published:
Bryant Keith Alexander et al., "Online Discussion Forum: Engaging Key Intercultural Urgencies in Today's World," Journal of International and Intercultural Communication 7.1 (2014): 4-99.  Authors are Bryant Keith Alexander, Lily A. Arasaratnam, Roberto Avant-Mier, Aisha Durham, Lisa Flores, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, S. Lily Mendoza, John Oetzel, Joyce Osland, Yukio Tsuda, and Jing Yin.

Our MA alum Brian Ekdale has published:
Brian Ekdale and Melissa Tully, "Makmende Amerudi: Kenya's Collective Reimagining as a Meme of Aspiration," Critical Studies in Media Communication 31.4 (2014): 283-298.

Our MA alum Maria Boynton has been hired by WNIJ-WNIU as Director of Community Engagement.

Our MA alum Jennifer Shelton is the winner of the 2014 Marion Thauer Brown Audio Drama Scriptwriting Competition.  Shelton received the prize for her entry Newsflash.  The award was presented at the HEAR Now Audio Fiction and Arts Festival in Kansas City.

Our alum Ashley Michels has earned shared credit for a national Edward R. Murrow Award.  A newscast she was involved in won the award for Breaking News in small market TV.  It was for tornado coverage in Washington, IL, last November, while Ashley was a reporter at WMBD-TV in Peoria.  She is now a freelance reporter for KDVR-TV in Denver.

Thomas Bukowski (COMS MA) has just been promoted to the position of "Social Media Specialist" with the Advocacy Department at the National Safety Council.

Our MA alum Jeremy Adolphson has published "'Mad as Hell': Democratic Dissent and the Unpatriotic Backlash on the Dixie Chicks," Journal of Popular Music Studies 26.1 (2014): 47-63.

Our MA alum Kyle Christensen has published "'Amelia' and Trilogy of Terror: Mother-Daughter Identification and the Oscillation of the Abject-Matrophobic" in Reading Richard Matheson: A Critical Survey, Eds. Cheyenne Mathews and Janet V. Haedicke (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), 129-142.

Our Alum Mark Valadez (BA, 1992) has a new television show, "Gang Related," premiering on Fox Television May 22nd at 8 p.m.  Mark says he has had an uncredited hand in writing just about every episode, but Episode 9 is solely credited to our Calumet, Indiana Alum.

Phil Dalton is Chair of the Department of Rhetoric at Hofstra University and is moderating a public debate that includes forensics alum and CLAS Distinguished Alumni honoree Kevin Folta, who is Interim Chair of the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida.

Dean Rolley (who graduated in radio and television production from NIU in 1983) has been named the Telluride Foundation's 2013 Outstanding Citizen.  The award is given in honor of individuals who unselfishly have made extraordinary contributions to the community around Telluride, Colorado.
After graduating from NIU, Rolley worked briefly in Chicago television before moving to Telluride.  He worked for the local public access station for nearly two decades, recording the town's events, mentoring students, and creating programming.  He also founded Dragonfire Productions (an audio and video production company) and has worked on a number of local documentaries, including "YX Factor" and "We Skied It."
In recognition of the Outstanding Citizen award, Rolley will receive a plaque and a grant of $5,000 which will be given to a local nonprofit of his choice.

Bailey Gordon (2013 BA in Communication Studies, emphasis Organizational-Corporate, and in Journalism) has been accepted into the Masters in Communication Management program at the University of Southern California. Her emphasis will be entertainment management.

Michael Kirch (BA in Communication Studies – Organizational/Corporate in 1987) is currently Dean of Business, Social Sciences and Library at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN. Prior to joining Normandale, Michael was an award winning faculty member in Speech Communication at Lone Star College-CyFair in Cypress, Texas. While at LSC-CF, Michael received a Faculty Excellence Award, a NISOD Award and was nominated for both a Minnie Stevens Piper Award (for Texas Educators) and a U.S Professors of the Year Award. Michael is a also former Director of Individual Events at Illinois State University where he coached numerous national champions as well as his team to a 1995 NFA National Championship.

Our alum Mark Valadez (B.A. 1992) has been hired as a staff writer on Fox Television's new series "Gang Related" which will premiere in January.  He will be working for Scott Rosenbaum, who is one of the original writers for "The Shield."  Below is a YouTube link to Fox's original trailer for the show.


Ken Young (who received his MA in Communication Studies from NIU in 2007) is currently the Director of Forensics at Bradley University.  In April, his team won the National Forensic Association competition at Huntington, West Virginia.  It was the team's fourth consecutive tournament title.  Ken was interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday about the Bradley University forensics dynasty:

Miles Pfefferle (BA in Communication - Media Studies, 2009) has just accepted the position of Lead Web Developer at Mad Fish SEO in Portland, Oregon.

Lynn Kear (MA in Communication Studies, 1983) has just released a new crime novel called "Relative Innocence."  Kear is an award-winning novelist, playwright, and biographer who, after leaving NIU in 1983, earned her doctorate from Georgia State University.  She taught communication courses at a number of colleges and university before turning her attention to crime fiction.  This is her 10th book and third novel.  She currently lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Winnie Okafor (MA 2012) is currently an intern on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (FRC).  She works for the minority office, led by Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.  She says, "I am starting to pick up the Southern drawl and it's quite a fine accent."  She attaches a picture of herself with Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker from an event on the Hill known as "Tennessee Tuesday."
This summer, Winnie will be a coordinator for a summer institute program on Catholic Social Thought in Washington, D.C. Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo.  It will be a three-week long trip and she looks forward to being able to visit her family while in Nigeria.  Winnie has also been accepted for the Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland for the fall.

Dr. Gregg Chenoweth has just been appointed president of Bethel College in Indiana.  Dr. Chenoweth received an MA in Communication Studies from NIU in 1993.

Matthew Ropp (B.A., Communication) has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to co-teach English to non-native speakers in Malaysia for the upcoming academic year. From January-November 2014, he will be one of 100 U.S. Fulbrighters placed in K-12 schools throughout West Malaysia. Fulbright ETAs help teach English language while serving as a cultural ambassador for U.S. culture.

We were very happy to see that Michael Steudeman (MA 2010) has just published an article in Rhetoric & Public Affairs.
Michael Steudeman, "Entelechy and Irony in Political Times: The Preemptive Rhetoric of Nixon and Obama," Rhetoric & Public Affairs 16 (2013): 59-96.
Michael is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland.

We were very happy to receive an update from Dr. George E. Smith (BS in Journalism/Broadcast from 1972; MA in Speech Communication/Radio-Television-Film in 1973; and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy in 1978).  In 2011, Dr. Smith received a national faculty advising award from the National Academic Advising Association for his work as director of the Teaching & Learning Center at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.  In 2012, he was honored by UW-Platteville with the Faculty Teaching Award.  He retired in 2012 (but he continues to teach part-time).
As an undergraduate at NIU, Dr. Smith was part of the production team in the broadcast journalism program. He helped to produce a nightly half-hour news program for the local cable TV system. He taught for us at NIU as an instructor from 1973 until 1977 before moving to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.  At UW-Platteville, he taught courses in speech, journalism, broadcasting and other areas.  He also served as general manager of WSUP Radio at UW-P for 25 years.
In his email, Dr. Smith says, "I know Art Doederlein and Mary Larson retired within the last few years; I actually had Art for one of my first graduate courses in 1972, and Mary came on board as an instructor around the same time I did."

 Brittany Samson (Dean's Award Winner from Media Studies, BS and BA 2008) has moved to Los Angeles and has just recently appeared in her first national commercial.  (Brittany plays the waitstaff person at the end of the new Red Lobster commercial.  She's the one who says "my favorite entree is the lobster lover's dream.")
In addition to her acting, writing, and producing career, Brittany is also the assistant forensics coach for another of our former students, Marianne Gellar Rosen (MA, 1983), at Chaminade College Prep in California.  Their team has been the Catholic League champions in both debate and individual events.  For the past six years, Chaminade College Prep has sent some of their students to Northern Illinois University's summer speech camp.

David Stoneberg (a journalism student who graduated in 1977) just sent us a note to let us know that he was recently named the editor of the St. Helena Star in St. Helena, California.
David has been in the newspaper business since 1977. He moved to California in 1979.  He has worked mostly at weekly, community newspapers in Napa County and in Lake County. He's been at the St Helena Star for the past six years.  Prior to being named editor, he was the wine and business editor, which--as he says--"is not a bad gig in the Napa Valley."  He coordinated a monthly tasting of Napa Valley wines for the local wine community in conjunction with the Napa Valley Vintners.  They held tastings at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena and generally had 20 or more so people attending each month, mostly winemakers.
In his note David says, "Of my time at Northern Illinois University, I well remember Hallie Hamilton and Monte Gerlach in the photo department and Joe Marsh, who was a skilled writer, who taught us all about ledes – that they should be no longer than 25 words and include the 5 Ws and 1 H."  David goes on to say that he's been married to Joni Stoneberg for 30 years.  They live in Hidden Valley Lake, and they share their "home with a succession of much-loved dogs and cats."

We were very happy to hear from Lindsey Bier recently. Lindsay graduated with a MA in Communication Studies in 2003.  She received an MA in History in 2008.  Currently she lives in Nashville and is a full-time lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University, where she teaches intercultural communication and organizational communication.
Patrick Van de Wille (MA 2006) was recently promoted. He is now Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations at InterDigital, Inc. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/10/31/interdigital-announces-key-appointments-to-managem/

Dr. Michael Butterworth

(MA 1996) has recently published "Militarism and Memorializing at the Pro Football Hall of Fame," in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 9 (2012): 241-58. Dr. Butterworth was also recently interviewed by Adelle M. Banks for the Washington Post (September 25, 2012). http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/qanda-on-tim-tebows-gridiron-faith/2012/09/25/9e0c9eb2-074b-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_story.html?wpisrc

John Butler (MA 1994, former faculty member, current member of the NIU Board of Trustees) has recently written a tribute to Dorothy Bishop and M. Jack Parker for Northern Now.


Lisa Roth (BS 2010, MA 2012) has been named the 2012 winner of the L. E. Norton Outstanding Higher Education Graduate Speech Student Award given by the Illinois Communication and Theatre Association. The L. E. Norton Award recognizes an outstanding higher education student enrolled in any Illinois college or university who is majoring in speech communication and/or theatre. The recipient must have demonstrated outstanding leadership and significant service within his/her department in particular, and to the college or university and community in general. The award will be presented to Lisa during the 2012 convention on Friday, September 28 at the Hilton in Lisle/Naperville.

Matt Solomon (BA, 1986; MA 1988) has just co-authored Deck Z: The Titanic: Unsinkable. Undead. (Chronicle Books, 2012). http://snakebitehorror.weebly.com/5/post/2012/7/deck-z-by-chris-pauls-and-matt-solomon-reviewed-by-nathan-robinson-rating.html Matt taught public speaking and speech writing at NIU and Scott Community College. He then spent about twenty years writing commercials and videos for Miller-Coors, Coca Cola, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Oscar Mayer, and Lands' End. His comedy writing has been featured in The Onion and in Huffington Post Comedy.

Nancy Meyer (BA, 1978) is an artist manager at BATES MEYER, a music arts management company in southern California. The company's main focus is artist management for jazz and blues artists (including, two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts, New York trumpet legend Lew Soloff, and Chicago Blues guitarist Lurrie Bell). In addition, the company manages royalties for several estates, as well as music clearance and licensing for documentary film projects. She says, "Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with a variety of very talented musicians, namely Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Billy Cobham, Charlie Haden and others. Additionally, I founded The Open Sky Music Foundation, Inc. a nonprofit organization that conducts music workshops in public schools and programs the music for special events that feature culturally important artists from the jazz, blues and folk genres. ... For five years I was an instructor in the Music Business Program at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA." Nancy says that she has fond memories of NIU: "In addition to my academic studies, working at WKDI, The Northern Star, and on the student concert committee gave me skills that I still use today."http://www.batesmeyer.com/index.html

Deborah Nelson (BA, 1975) recently received a distinguished alumnus award from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. Nelson received her associate degree from CLC in 1973 and a bachelor's in journalism at NIU in 1975. She graduated from DePaul University with a law degree in 1988. Nelson co-authored and co-edited Pulitzer Prize winning news stories for the Seattle Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. She is the author of The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth About U.S. War Crimes (2008). She is currently a senior lecturer and director of the Carnegie Seminar at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

Karli Johnson (BA, 2011) won third place in the Toyota Video Contest. https://www.toyotagradcontest.com/

Dave Naze (MA 2002) just passed his dissertation defense at Indiana University. Congratulations Dr. Naze!

Paul Booth (MA, 2005) recently published Time on TV: Temporal Displacement and Mashup Television (Peter Lang Publishing, 2012). He is an Assistant Professor at DePaul University. He is also the author of Digital Fandom: New Media Studies (Peter Lang, 2010). http://www.amazon.com/Time-TV-Temporal-Displacement-Television/dp/1433115697/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334460466&sr=1-1

An article was recently written about alumni Steve Mazan in Northern Now regarding his life-long and successful quest to appear on David Letterman. You can read the article and watch a clip at http://www.pageturnpro.com/Northern-Illinois-University-Alumni-Association/36812-Northern-Now--Spring-2012/index.html#20.

Former NIU Media Studies student Amanda (Stevens) Gilszmer (BA, 2009) recently visited COMS 357: Introduction to Studio Production. She highlighted the value of getting exposure to both studio and field production, the necessity of learning industry software, and the importance of getting internships. She detailed her climb from television master control operator at Channel 23 WIFR Rockford to a production position in that station's creative services department where she made news teasers and local business commercials. She also talked about her current work at Oak Brook Productions (part of Chicago's Tribune Company) where she is a television producer for clients of shows like WGN's "Chicago's Best."

Karli Johnson, (BA, 2011) submitted her After Effects animation produced in COMS 496M to the Victor E. and Me Find Your Match contest. Karli won a $1000 scholarship for her entry. You can watch her winning entry here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmK5Ce-MAzk&feature=youtu.be

Brian Sikorski (BA 1999) recently wrote in to say "hi" and thanks for sending the new department newsletter. He is currently the Director of the WCIU-TV morning show "You and Me This Morning" in Chicago. http://www.wciu.com/youandme_home.php

Chris Carpenter (MA 2006) has been getting national and international attention for his recent study of narcissism and Facebook users: "Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior,” Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 52, issue 4 (March 2012), p. 482-486. For a summary, see: http://www.newswise.com/articles/facebook-s-dark-side-topic-of-study-by-wiu-communication-professor Chris is also quoted in an article for the Guardian: