Jeffries Award for Excellence in Diversity-Enhancing Communication

In Dr. Jeffries’ honor, as a department, we are inaugurating an award, the Jeffries Award for Excellence in Diversity-Enhancing Communication. It is open to any graduate or undergraduate students who are champions of diversity-enhancing communication, promoting understanding across cultural divides, fostering dialogue to promote equality and care for others, whether on campus or the broader community. It will be awarded the first time in December, 2016.

If you would like to donate toward this award, please go to and in the “please provide any additional information regarding your gift,” indicate your intention.


Tribute to Dr. Tammy Jeffries


The Department of Communication suffered a great loss at the beginning of this year. Dr. Tammy Jeffries passed away on Friday, January 17th of natural causes. Dr. Jeffries was only with the department for a short time, but during that time, she was able to influence the lives of so many of her students. Her time in the Department of Communication was spent as an Assistant Professor and Minority Post-doctoral Fellow. She was able to bring a new style and light into the courses she taught for the department.  The passing of Dr. Jeffries has influenced the department and students but her time in the department was valued greatly by all.

When the Department of Communication announced that Dr. Jeffries had passed, students immediately took to the department’s Facebook page to post their condolences and share how much they would miss Dr. Jeffries. Emily Green shared, “When I think of Dr. Jeffries I remember the way that she was able to light up a room with a simple, casual conversation. She had a gift that she could make an entire class of different backgrounds feel comfortable discussing any topic, which isn’t always the easiest to do.” Talking about Dr. Jeffries with other students and hearing stories about her made me realize that I was truly one of the lucky students who had the opportunity to take one of her classes. From the first day of class, it was clear she was unique. On day one, she made the effort to learn about every student and make sure the entire class felt comfortable. As the semester continued, she made the same effort day after day to connect to her students and create an open dialogue with the entire class. I can personally say her class was one of my favorite classes because it was so different and full of the optimism Dr. Jeffries brought to everything she did.
The impact Dr. Jeffries made on her students was clearly enormous, but she also was able to benefit the university as a whole by founding the interCULTURAL Club. The interCULTURAL club was created to promote equality among races, religions, ages and abilities. This concept of a club including individuals from a variety of cultures was new to WKU.   Dr. Jeffries always believed in true equality and believed that communication was the key to resolving many of those issues.


Dr. Jeffries was more to her students than just a professor, she was more to her colleagues than just a member of the department, and she was more to the university than just another employee; she was a friend, a special individual, and a light to everyone’s day. The people she was able to connect with while at WKU for such a short time will remember her impact for a long time to come. The faculty and students that knew her will miss her presence and unique spirit being part of our Department of Communication. The department is setting up an award for excellence in Interracial Communication in her name.

~Sydney Bickett, Student


Message from Helen Sterk, Department Head


Every year, good things happen in the Department of Communication. This past year, Dr. Laura Brown joined the department, increasing our reach in research methods and health communication. Dr. Jennifer Mize Smith began her term as the University’s Institutional Review Board Chair. Dr. Holly Payne edited and published the Kentucky Communication Journal. We featured Dr. Blair Thompson’s research this spring through a well-attended campus presentation. We sent many faculty members and students to regional and national conferences where they presented top-ranked papers. And last fall, with the able support of office associate Laura Wagoner and our student workers, we hosted the annual national conference of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender. We also experienced losses and look forward to good new initiatives.

This school year, we marked the passing of two very important people, Dr. Regis O’Connor, long-time professor and also head of the Department of Communication, and Dr. Tammy Jeffries, our Minority Post-Doctoral Fellow. Dr. O’Connor passed away on August 21, 2015 and Dr. Jeffries on January 15, 2016. Both mattered to us.

Dr. O’Connor’s 29 year career at WKU featured many accomplishments, including “Debate Coach, Professor of Speech, supervisor of student teachers, as a member of the Graduate Studies Faculty, Department Head of Communication and Theatre (consisting of speech, speech pathology, broadcasting, theatre and dance) and Staff Assistant to the Dean of Potter College” ( Please read the obituary for some of the many other things he did, including parliamentarian for the WKU Academic Council from 1976 to 1996 and founding member of Bowling Green’s Habitat for Humanity . Drs. Kell, Winn and Sterk represented the department at his funeral and celebrated his life together. Dr. O’Connor helped to make the department what it is today. The wide range of his life interests befits the kind of broad engagement with life that Communication engenders.

Dr. Tammy Jeffries joined the Department in the fall of 2014. Even though she was with us for but a short time, three semesters, she left her mark. We held a Quaker style memorial service on January 26, honored to remember her in the presence of her mother and sister. At the service, attended by about 60 people—on a day that school was disrupted by a snowstorm—students, faculty, administrators and staff—testified to the impact she made on their lives. Here’s a link to a great story written by Communication major, Andrew Henderson, on Dr. Jeffries: Dr. Jeffries opened us all to significant conversations on race, gender, and class, particularly race.

Next year, we will begin the year with significant infrastructure improvements, thanks to successful proposals to the dean and provost and to monies earned through course fees and by faculty through online, summer and winter teaching credits channeled to the department by the Division for Extended Learning and Outreach (DELO).

The most noticeable improvement will be the addition of digital signage (aka a very large screen TV) located just outside the department’s office. On it, we’ll promote the department, our people, and events. Other improvements include new computers in every classroom, the Communication Success Center, and our conference room, plus new computers for our office staff. And we’ll have new projectors in several classrooms. Finally, three more faculty members will get new desks.

So, good things are going on in the department. We’re working hard to make our programs the best in the state!


2016 John Lyne Speech Contest


Dr. Gary Hughes was the contest director for this year’s 2016 John Lyne Speech Contest held at WKU Glasgow Campus. On May 7, 2016, forty competitors presented persuasive speeches prepared in their COMM 145 or “Business” COMM 145 courses. A first rate set of judges, including coaches from the world and national champion WKU Forensic team, evaluated and ranked the first and second round of speeches. Celebrity judges Drs. John Lyne (Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, department alumnus and award donor), Barbara Burch (Provost Emeritus & Faculty Regent), Lawrence Snyder (Dean, Potter College of Arts & Letters), Helen Sterk (head, Department of Communication), and Blair Thompson (Associate Professor/Former Basic Course Director, Dept. of Communication) chose the winners.

Representing the best speeches in COMM 145 were:
First place – Victoria Taylor. Instructor: Donna Schiess
Second place – Colby Clark. Instructor: Tyler Rife
Third place – Paul “Francis” Wilson. Instructor: Donna Schiess

Representing the best speeches in “Business” COMM 145 were:
First place – Ben Carroll.  Instructor: Bruce Crawley
Second place – Brent Beard. Instructor: Gayle Allison
Third place – Jackson Bennett. Instructor: Jessica McClanahan

John Lyne Awards of Excellence were given to winners; first place winners received $200.00 each. Second and third place winners were awarded $100.00 and $50.00 respectively. Congratulations John Lyne Speech Contest winners!

Photo Credit: Dr. Gary Hughes

Where Are They Now?

Every year, students from the   Department of Communication graduate with big dreams and high hopes of landing that first, real-life job. In the spirit of continued departmental connection and unity after graduation, I checked in with Diana Vela and Olivia Sharp, both former Department of Communication students and authors featured in previous Communiqué newsletters, to see how their new post-collegiate life is shaping out to be.

Diana Vela currently works at Sullivan University, located in Louisville, Kentucky, in their Human Resources department as a Human Resources Assistant. Ms. Vela works closely with other Human Resources professionals in the office and assists in the posting odiana velaf new positions and data management of potential Sullivan employees. She credits her success in finding a job so quickly after graduation to the excellent mentoring she received from Department of Communication professors, especially Ms. Charlotte Elder. According to Ms. Vela, the most influential class she took while at WKU was her Honors Business Public Speaking class, or Honors COMM 161, with Dr. Angie Jerome. “This class was the class I took while I was discovering what major I wanted to declare…it sparked my interest in the major,” said Ms. Vela. She suggests for the graduating senior, “Get involved and take internships, even if they are unpaid! These internships most definitely pay off when you are hired a few months out of college versus someone who graduated at the same time without any internships.”

Olivia Sharp also resides in Louisville, Kentucky working as the WE Day Program Education Coordinator at the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association. Her responsibilities include working on statewide YMCA events including Kentucky United Nations Association olivia sharp(KUNA) and the Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) as well as supervising service trips across the state. Ms. Sharp most enjoys as a YMCA employee watching today’s youth grow and develop into strong, civically engaged citizens. As for using her Corporate and Organizational Communication degree, Ms. Sharp says she often applies the strategies and theories taught in Persuasion with Dr.Jerome as one of her biggest responsibilities is to persuade schools that they need both Kentucky YMCA and WE Day programming for their students. Her biggest piece of advice for graduating seniors is to “Enjoy your senior year and use your professors as professional and personal resources.” She emphasized the high quality of professors in the department, and recommends, “taking in every moment surrounded by the best mentors and influences on campus!”

These recent graduates are prime examples of what hard work and perseverance can achieve as students enter into post-collegiate life. Though they are beyond their days of writing for this newsletter, both Ms. Vela and Ms. Sharp explained that the Department of Communication, the relationships forged, and their memories here will always hold a special place in their hearts.


Looking for an Internship?

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Internships benefit students because they provide “real world” experiences and opportunities. Internships can boost a resume and make you look better to future employers. For Corporate and Organizational Communication majors, completing an internship is a requirement for graduation; for Communication Studies majors, it can stand in for Capstone. Here are several great internship opportunities in Bowling Green.

Lost River Cave

This past summer, Afton Connor, a senior in the Department of Communication, completed an internship at Lost River Cave. She was responsible for handling the marketing and social media accounts. While interning, her biggest project was to coordinate the organization’s annual fundraising event, the “Scarecrow Trail.” In order to plan this event, she had to contact different businesses and organizations to try to get them to donate to or to participate in this event. From her internship, she says that she gained experience in event planning, marketing, communication, sales, and customer service. Afton stated that she would love to work for this organization or a similar non-profit organization in the future because, “I love the mission and passion behind a non-profit. The only downfall is that there is not a lot of money in these areas of work, but at least the people love what they do.” When asked if she had any advice for students who may be interested in interning at Lost River Cave, Afton says “You need to be passionate about the organization and the mission behind it. This position is an unpaid internship, therefore, it is crucial for you to love what you are doing.” She also added that it is a great internship for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in sales, marketing or public relations.


WKU student Ashlee Gregory recently interned for an organization called AroundCampus. As an intern for this organization, Ashlee was responsible for calling other businesses and organizations to ask if they would be interested in ad space for the WKU student planner. She was also responsible for helping put together the ads into the WKU student planner that is given away free from the Preston Center each year. When asked what she learned from this experience, Ashlee says “I learned how to get told “no” over and over again and still push through the day. I also learned that you have to be persistent in order to get sales.” Ashlee says that she would possibly consider working for a similar organization in the future. The ability to be able to cold call effectively and persevere if businesses tell you ‘no’ are skills that would be needed if you are interested in this internship.

Corvette Plant

The Corvette Plant is seeking interns who are deadline dependable, flexible, creative, and able to work in a very fast paced environment. The Corvette Plant has many internship opportunities available in the areas of Communications, Human Resources, Safety, and many more. Interns are responsible for doing a variety of jobs, one of which is leading tours through the plant. In order to be considered as an intern at the Corvette Plant, students must be available to work at least 11 hours a week, be available to meet a minimum of 4 tour times, and be fluent in English. For people specifically interested in a Communication internship, responsibilities include but are not limited to the following: writing and distributing the weekly newsletter to the plant, giving tours, designing banners and décor to boost plant enthusiasm, organizing and assisting with special events, and updating the plant website. Overall, interns need to be always ready and willing to work with various members of the plant leadership on all types of projects.

For additional information on internships in the Bowling Green area, contact Dr. Mize-Smith at for fall and spring internships, and Dr. Helen Sterk at for summer internships

Communication Student Organizations


The Department of Communication is full of a variety of student organizations and programs to get students involved. The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is available to all Communication majors through the Business College. Contact Stacey Gish at Communication Ambassadors is well-known as an undergraduate organization for students who wish to promote the Department of Communication. Contact Prof. Charlotte Elder at The interCULTURAL Club is for all students interested in promoting good communication across cultural boundaries. Consult with Facebook at

Among them, Lambda Pi Eta and the Communication Organization for Graduate Students are introduced in this article.

According to Dr. Kong, faculty advisor of Lambda Pi Eta (LPH), it is completely free to join and is mainly voluntary when it comes to involvement. The requirements include having an overall GPA of 3.0 and 3.2 for Communication classes. Dr. Kong states that the primary goal of LPH is to “prepare you for the academic profession, leadership, and to strive for excellence.” The students in this honors society benefit by hosting social and networking events, having different contests amongst each other, and it also boosts their resumes. Dr. Kong says, “Please attend events organized by these clubs upon seeing a flyer or email so you can ‘feel-out’ if you like the people or the programs. All of these clubs and organizations are open to new ideas.”

Dr. Jerome serves as the faculty advisor of the Communication Organization for Graduate Students (COGS). According to Dr. Jerome, Cody Norris started it for a leadership project several years ago in attempt to bring the graduate students together since some of them are busy working full-time. Some are new to the program. Some are international students who are not familiar with the American education systems. This program plans social events, special dinners, and other opportunities for graduate students to come together and be able to feel more comfortable around each other. This is also a great way to boost your resume and shows that you strive to be better connected to the departmental community. Dr. Jerome states that, “The Department of Communication is represented very well and there are wonderful opportunities to get involved regardless of interest or GPA. This club is also free to join, but is obviously restricted to those who are graduate students in our program.” She also goes on to say that she would like to see COGS get involved in educational seminars and volunteer work. Students who are interested in COGS, talk to Dr. Jerome.

Overall, there are plenty of ways for incoming and current students to get involved and have fun within the Communication Department. I have only highlighted a couple of programs but there are plenty of opportunities offered. The more students who get involved, the more fun the organization will be. Furthermore, students that utilize their opportunities are going to get more out of their educational experience. In the words of Dr. Jerome, “Get in here!”

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