Our Stories - August 2022
Our Stories - August 2022

Director's Note

As the summer comes to a close, and we enter a new academic year, I am excited to be the new Interim Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I have been a professor in SJMC since 2011 and served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies from 2018-2021. I am thrilled to continue to serve the School in my new role and look forward to working with our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and supporters.

This new monthly e-newsletter will our way of updating you on all the exciting news going on in the School. If you have a story to share, please send it to sjmc@uiowa.edu.

Melissa Tully, Interim Director

Welcome to New Faculty & Staff

We’re pleased to welcome Alex Scott, Brett Johnson, and Jeff Grisamore to the SJMC faculty.

Alex Scott, Brett Johnson, Jeff Grisamore

Alex (pictured left) recently graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with his Ph.D. in Journalism. He has a professional background in photography and photojournalism and will teach multimedia storytelling courses across our curriculum.

Brett (pictured middle) comes to us from the University of Missouri and will be teaching media law and ethics courses in SJMC and pursuing a law degree at the Law School. Brett has his B.A. and M.A. from Iowa and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. 

Jeff (pictured right) is joining us as a visiting instructor and will teach strategic communication courses. Jeff is the President and CEO of EGR International/BlackLab Media and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in engaged storytelling to the classroom.


Welcome to Michelle Sillman, our new Recruitment, Internship, and Placement Coordinator!

Michelle Sillman

Michelle is a J-School alum and is joining us after a successful career in journalism and strategic communication. Michelle will work with high school students, SJMC majors, and alumni to foster their success. She is also the new Executive Director of the Iowa High School Press Association. 




Congratulations to Travis Vogan who was recently promoted to Full Professor!

Congratulations to Jenifer Vick who was recently promoted to Associate Professor of Instruction!

Congratulations to Heather Spangler for winning the CLAS Outstanding Outreach and Engagement Award!

Congratulations to Paul Jensen for winning the SJMC Distinguished Service Award!

Congratulations to our 2022 Hall of Fame inductees, Peter Gross (M.A. 1977, Ph.D. 1984) and Seung Min Kim (B.S. 2007)!

Thank You!

Thank you to former SJMC Director David Ryfe for his leadership. David is the new Director of the School of Journalism at University of Texas-Austin.

Thank you to Paul Jensen who served the School as the Recruitment, Internship, and Placement Coordinator for more than a decade. Paul built an incredible student-support program, and we are so thankful for all he has done. Enjoy your retirement, Paul!

Thank you to Jennifer Cooper who worked in SJMC for nearly 20 years. Among other roles, Jennifer ran our Student Center. Jennifer and her family moved to Des Moines.

Undergraduate Student News

Coralville Media Collaborative Logo

The Coralville Media Collaborative, directed by Associate Professor Rachel Young, connects SJMC students and classes with community organizations and small businesses in Coralville, Iowa. The goal is to help our students learn professional media skills while supporting the transformative work already happening in Coralville. Last year, students in seven classes collaborated with six community partners in Coralville. This year, students will continue to work with community partners in class settings and through a new community-based internship program that we will be launching this fall. Stay tuned for more news on the CMC!

Last spring, we inducted seven students into the journalism honor society, Kappa Tau Alpha. These outstanding students were recognized in a spring ceremony and are off to do great things. Top Scholar Grace Wenstrom (B.A. 2022) is starting law school at the University of Virginia.

Graduate Student News


Current doctoral student, Michael Davis, is starting as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Augustana College, Rock Island, IL.

Current doctoral student, Katy Biddle, is starting as an Instructor at Christopher Newport University, Newport News, Virginia.

Xianwei Wu (Ph.D. 2020) is starting as an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, at the University of St. Michael's College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  

Congratulations to Michael, Katy, and Xianwei!


Patrick Johnson won the Second Place Moeller Student Paper Award from the Mass Communication and Society Division at the 2022 AEJMC conference.

Mir Ashfaquzzaman, along with SJMC Associate Professor Sujatha Sosale, won the First Place Top Faculty Paper from the Cultural and Critical Studies Division at the 2022 AEJMC conference.

Ryan Stoldt (Ph.D. 2021) won the 2022 Best Dissertation Award from the International Communication Association’s Division for Global Communication and Social Change.

Congratulations to Patrick, Mir, and Ryan!    

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