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Department of Communication - image of Lincoln Hall exterior
 
 

Message from Department Head John Caughlin

 
 
 
John Caughlin, Department Head 
 

Greetings from Urbana-Champaign!

After a year of department activities occurring digitally, we decided it was a good time to introduce our first Department of Communication e-newsletter. Welcome! 

If you have enjoyed our paper newsletters, don’t worry; we will continue sending those each fall semester. The spring e-newsletter is an additional way to increase our connections with alumni, not a substitute for what we are doing already.

We hope you will play a role in increasing connections. There is information about contacting the department at the bottom of this newsletter. Also, please feel free to email me directly if you have questions or just want to reach out (caughlin@illinois.edu).

All of you are aware that this has been an unusually challenging year, and that certainly has been true at the university. Still, I am extremely proud of the creative efforts that our instructors made to ensure students received a high quality experience, and I am even more impressed by the resilience and accomplishments of our students. In particular, congratulations to the Class of 2021! 

I hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable summer!

 
 
 
 

Student News

 
 
 
 
Congratulations, Class of 2021!

Although we couldn’t gather in our usual way for a departmental convocation, we still wanted to celebrate our 2021 graduates. This year’s convocation video features brief speeches by graduating senior James Fort, senior instructor and campus teaching award winner Kate Ditewig-Morris, and alumni speaker Lindsey Dunn Burgstahler (B.A. Communication '04, M.A. Communication '08). Burgstahler is currently Vice President at the American Hospital Association’s Center for Health Innovation. She is also vice chair of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Council. The video also features a personal recognition slide for each participating graduate. Watch and enjoy!

 

 
 
 
   
 
 
 

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the department’s internship program continued to provide opportunities for students to achieve real-world work experience throughout 2020 and early 2021. Read on for internship office director Kate Ditewig-Morris’s report on our students’ internship and employment successes.

 
 
 

Department News

 
 
 
Barbara Wilson 
 

In April, former Department of Communication head Barbara Wilson was named the 22nd president of the University of Iowa. Wilson is also a former dean of the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and, most recently, served as Executive Vice President of the University of Illinois system. A pioneering scholar of children and media, Wilson was the first woman to serve as head of the Communication department, serving in that role from 2002-2009. Read on for more about Professor Wilson’s Illinois legacy.

 
 
 J. David Cisneros
 

Associate professor J. David Cisneros was the 2020 winner of the Cordova-Puchot Scholar of the Year Award given by the Latino/a Communication Studies Division and La Raza Caucus of the National Communication Association. The award honors a scholar who has achieved a high level of excellence in the areas of research, teaching, service, and advocacy.

 
 
Brooklyne Gipson 
 

Postdoctoral scholar Brooklyne Gipson was named a “Rising Star in AI [Artificial Intelligence] for Social Good” by the Harvard University Center for Research on Computation and Society at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Dr. Gipson was recognized for demonstrating “exemplary research on topics related to AI for social good.”

 
 
 
 

Associate Professor Lisa Guntzviller and department doctoral alumna Ningxin Wang won the 2019 Article of the Year Award from the Journal of Family Communication for their essay, "Mother-adolescent communication in low-income, Latino families during language brokering: Examining the theory of resilience and relational load." (Journal of Family Communication, 19(3), 228–242, https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2019.1628764.)

 
 
John Lammers 
 

Professor John Lammers is retiring after twenty-one years as a faculty member in the department. He will also be relocating to Iowa City, where he will join his spouse Barbara Wilson in her new role as president of the University of Iowa. Among his many contributions to the department, Professor Lammers served as the first director of the Health Communication Online master’s program (HCOM), serving in that role for ten years. He will be missed!

 
 
 Mary Strum
 

Mary Strum, an invaluable member of the department’s administrative staff since 2001, retired at the end of this academic year. Among Mary’s many roles in the department was her work in the graduate program office, where she coordinated all aspects of the graduate student experience in the department. She will be missed!

 
 
Charee Thompson 
 

Assistant Professor Charee Thompson was named a Helen Corley Petit Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for 2021-22. The Petit Scholar award is given annually to a select group of newly tenured and promoted faculty to recognize their outstanding records thus far and to support their future research and teaching.

 
 
 
 

This year the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences created the LAS Impact Award to recognize teams and individuals who “demonstrated a spirit of service and sacrifice that went beyond expectations to serve our community during the COVID-19 crisis.” Among the more than 500 recipients of this award college-wide were 16 members of the department, including staff, faculty, and graduate students. The full list of awardees can be viewed here: LAS Impact Award | College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Illinois

 
 
 
 

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment at the University of Illinois has recertified the Department of Communication as a gold-level Certified Green Campus Office this year. The Green Campus Office program is designed to showcase the value of energy conservation and sustainable actions that improve campus life. The department first achieved this certification in 2018. Read on to learn more about how the department works to create a sustainable office environment: Department of Communication is Certified Green | ILLINOIS)

 
 
 
 

Faculty Research Spotlight

 
 
 
 
 
 

Professor Cara Finnegan published a new book, Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital, with University of Illinois Press. Read on for an Illinois News Bureau feature about the book.

 
 
 
 

Professor Leanne Knobloch and collaborators received two grants to support their interpersonal communication research on military members and veterans. The first grant, “Long-Term Consequences of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Wartime Deployments,” is funded at $1.47 million by the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research program. The second grant, “Rising Up: Engaging Women Veterans in Mental Health Research on Military Sexual Trauma,” is a two-year, $250,000 project coordinated by the Chez Veterans Center here at the University of Illinois.

 
 
 
 

Assistant professor JungHwan Yang and colleagues authored a study of partisan media sites, published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. Their study tracked more than 1,000 internet users during the 2018-19 U.S. midterm elections and discovered that while online partisan media sites did not appear to directly sway people’s political beliefs, the use of more partisan media may erode people’s trust in the mainstream media. Read on for an Illinois News Bureau feature about the study. 

 

 
 
 

Alumni

 
 
 
 
 

The Department of Communication advising office presented several virtual career events that allowed current students to connect with CMN alumni. The alumni speaker series this year featured Madeline Burbach (B.A. ’19), communications coordinator at Nielsen Global Connect; Rachel Kent (B.A. ’17), a consultant at Arcalea; Olivia Hopkins ('16), talent acquisition at Amazon; Shivani Bhagat ('18), account executive at Amazon; and Richard Hunsaker (B.A. ‘82, M.A. ’83), shareholder/managing partner at Heyl, Royster, Voelker and Allen, P.C., St. Louis. We are grateful to these alums for making the time to connect with our students and share their career experiences.

 
   
 

The department was thrilled to welcome Lindsey Dunn Burgstahler (B.A.  ‘04, M.A. ‘08) back to the department, at least virtually, as this year’s Department of Communication Alumni Convocation speaker. Burgstahler is currently Vice President at the American Hospital Association’s Center for Health Innovation. She is also vice chair of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Council.

 
   
 

Do you have your own alumni news to share? Would you like to participate in department alumni events? We would love to learn what you’re doing or make arrangements for you to meet with or speak to current students. Drop us a note and/or update your contact information here.

 
 
 
 
 
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