Organizations and administration have recognized Illinois State University’s School of Communication (SoC) faculty and staff for great leadership and excellence year after year. This year, several faculty and staff were recognized for their great work.
Lance Lippert, professor and coordinator of the communication studies program, received the Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement at the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Conference in June in Anaheim, California. The award recognizes faculty leadership in advancing the civic learning and engagement of undergraduate students. The award also highlights the work of American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project.
“I feel very proud to represent ISU and to work with the people I work with because without the president’s support, the provost’s support, and Steve Hunt’s support in the School of Communication, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing here,” said Lippert.
Lippert’s work over the last 10 years has highlighted the need to prepare students as civically engaged, responsible people while promoting active learning. What started as a civic initiative has turned into the civic engagement and responsibility interdisciplinary minor—the first ever within a state university.
Elizabeth Chupp, director of advising in the school, received the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award. The peer-determined award is among the highest honors that is awarded to an administrative professional. It recognizes the recipient’s extraordinary record of teaching in the past three calendar years.
“I truly value the collegiality of my colleagues in the School of Communication and across the college, and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that they value your contributions to student success,” said Chupp.
Chupp said she is humbled and honored to receive this award, and she truly enjoys helping with students and working with them to help them succeed.
Brent Simonds, professor and coordinator of the mass media program, continued to gain recognition for his documentary Sweet Dreams Do Come True: Verlon Thompson, a Musical Memoir. The latest honor was the nomination for Best Music Documentary at the Franklin International Film Festival. “Sweet Dreams Do Come True” tells Thompson’s life story as a highly influential artistic force in the music business.
“I am grateful that Thompson’s story has struck an emotional chord, from critics and fans,” said Simonds. “As a filmmaker, receiving strong responses from outsiders is particularly rewarding.”
Simonds said he knows the greatest result from the nearly 94-minute documentary Sweet Dreams Do Come True is not an award, but a long-lasting friendship with Thompson.
Megan Hopper, associate professor of journalism, won the Distinguished Early Career Achievement Award in Media Psychology and Technology from the American Psychological Association (APA) Society for Media Psychology and Technology. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of media psychology and technology during the first seven years post doctorate.
“I was extremely honored when I heard I was selected to win the award. It truly was an honor just to be nominated in the first place, so I was elated to hear the outcome,” said Hopper.
Professor Chrysalis Wright, the chair of the APA Presidential Task Force on the Sexualization of Popular Music where Hopper served, nominated Hopper for the award.
“Without Professor Hopper’s expertise, the task force would not have been possible,” said Wright. “Her efforts and outstanding contributions to the field of media psychology are the reason I was pleased to nominate Professor Hopper for the Distinguished Early Career Professional Contributions to Media Psychology and Technology award from Division 46 of the APA. Imagine my delight when I learned that she won this award.”
John Plevka, general manager of The Vidette, received the College of Arts and Sciences Excellence Award for Outstanding Staff: Administrative/Professional for the 2017–2018 school year. The award recognizes the recipient for his or her significant contributions to the college.
“I am proud to be associated with a student-driven organization like The Vidette, which, after more than 130 years of existence, remains committed to honest, fair, and accurate storytelling on its print and digital platforms,” Plevka said.
With his long career in the industry, Plevka’s experienced and managed newspaper operations through many changes that have taken place in journalism—especially the influence of digital media on the business model of news organizations. Since 2012, as managing director of The Vidette and a journalism educator, he has demonstrated sound leadership, exceptional talent for teaching and strong commitment to our students.
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