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WKU Hosts 38th Annual OSCLG Conference

osclg flyer

Western Kentucky University hosted the 38th annual meeting for the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender on October 1-4, 2015. Activities and sessions were held at the Hyatt Place Hotel and the Augenstein Alumni Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky where 150 members and attendees participated. This purpose of this meeting was focused around Communication and Sexuality. Sessions included topics such as sexual assault, gender identity, culture, feminism, health communication, and much more.

On Thursday, October 1st, 2015, roughly 20 members and attendees participated in the first session of the conference – Sexual Assault and Safety hosted by chair, Ms. Jeanine Minge, Cupola 1 at the Hyatt Place Hotel. First, Dr. Diana K. Ivy from Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi, addressed the importance of “College students’ sexual safety: The verbal and nonverbal communication of consent.” Dr. Ivy first addressed consent (i.e., what is consent?). The session soon transferred into a roundtable discussion with participants and Dr. Ivy. It is no surprise that most individuals find it difficult to discuss sexuality and/or sexual assault. Ms. Elizabeth Madariaga, the Western Kentucky University director of sexual assault services, briefly discussed Title IX policies and other efforts made by the university to prevent sexual assault/misconduct on campus and for WKU students in general. Attendees and members in the discussion reviewed Texas Tech University’s effort to ease communication about sexual assault and safety through the use of Defineyourline.org where students can submit questions/answers on the issue. Dr. Ivy is concerned with the role communication and education plays on university campuses.

The first session set the stage for the rest of the conference, which was highlighted by dynamic panels on sexuality, same-sex marriage, reproductive politics, and sexual assault and prevention.



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The Department of Communication Alumni of the Year: Kay Coomes, M.A.

kay coomesIn recognition of her career achievements and service on the Communication Advisory Council, Ms. Kay Coomes, M.A., has been awarded the 2015 Alumnus of the Year on behalf of the of Department of Communication at Western Kentucky University (WKU). An accounting graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College, Ms. Coomes received a job at Atmos Energy in 1986 as a marketing analyst where she crunched data and numbers for two years. Needing a change, she went back to WKU to work towards a Masters in Communication. After receiving her Masters degree, she began managing the Public Affairs Department of Atmos Energy in Owensboro, KY.

Ms. Coomes credits the Department of Communication for helping her professional career, “My communication experience prepared in every way, from how to prepare for presentations to how to handle a corporate crisis or dealing with public officials.” Ms. Coomes claims that the most important advice she received in her professional career was to be flexible for anything. “In this world, things change so quickly and you must be nimble enough to move in that direction and learn quickly. It is a constant challenge.”

Like many members of the Department of Communication, Kay is active in her community. Ms. Coomes is very involved in children activities and community work with United Way in the Ohio Valley region. Also she gives her time to the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. Currently she serves the American Red Cross, Owensboro Community Technical College and Owensboro Health as a member of their foundation boards. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Kentucky Program.

Most recently Ms. Coomes, as the Public Affairs representative for Atmos, spoke to the media about how a rooftop-heating unit was to blame for an hour-long evacuation at Wal-Mart on February 27, 2015 She addressed the reason for the incident as faulty equipment.

When asked the best professional advice you can give to a recent college graduate, she came up with this: “Never stop learning and be as ready as much as you can for anything, as it has served me well. On behalf of the Department of Communication, we would like to congratulate Ms. Kay Coomes, M.A., as the 2015 Alumni of the Year!


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Welcome Back and #LOVEComm


As the Spring Semester of 2016 is officially underway, welcome back all of our students, faculty, and staff. Good luck with your semester. With a new semester comes new community social media projects. We need your help! The WKU Department of Communication is launching the 2nd Annual Love Comm Month. Tell us what you love about communication using the hashtag, #LOVEComm, and the department hashtag, #WKUComm. It could be that one of your professors has changed what communication means to you. Let us know! It could be that communication gave you the tools you need for your dream job. Let us know! It could be that the one communication course you were required to take to graduate gave you the skills you need to ace your presentation. Let us know! Check back on our social media platforms everyday to be a part of the conversation.

One thing that we treasure about communication is our students. Our department would not exist without our students. They ask innovative questions and inspire discussions. We wish them well as they venture out into the real world. It is through the eyes and minds of our students that #LOVEComm exists.

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WKU President Gary A. Ransdell to retire in 2017

WKU News

At the WKU Board of Regents first quarterly meeting on Friday (Jan. 29), President Gary A. Ransdell announced his intention to retire in 2017.  His last day serving as President will be June 30, 2017, and following a brief sabbatical, he will officially retire from WKU Dec. 31, 2017.

Dr. Gary A. Ransdell Dr. Gary A. Ransdell

“After considerable thought, Julie and I have decided that 20 years on the job is long enough to fulfill the commitment we made in 1997 to lead a transformation of our great University,” Dr. Ransdell said. “We have done our best to do just that. WKU is a dramatically different institution today than it was 20 years ago – financially, physically, intellectually and attitudinally.  Serving my alma mater has been a dream come true. This University has been my passion and has had my full focus and maximum energy. I will pursue the next 17 months with…

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Transitional Retirement: The Dr. B Story

dr. b

What does the “Key to Success” mean to you? For many of us in the Department of Communication, the answer is simple: communication. Communication is key, hence the symbol of a key for the Department of Communication. While a degree in Communication is our key to success, it would be unattainable without the help of such a phenomenal teaching staff. I cannot think of a more exemplary professor than Dr. Ellen W. Bonaguro.

If you have ever taken one of Dr. Bonaguro (or Dr. B’s) classes, then you know just how passionate and enthusiastic she is about communication. However, before getting her Ph. D. in Communication, Dr. B. earned her undergraduate degree in Biology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and a Master’s degree in School and Community Health Education from the University of Oregon in Eugene. She then went on to attend Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and earned her Ph. D. in Interpersonal Communication with an emphasis in health care.

In an interview, Dr. B. said “I became interested in communication as I was witnessing so many issues with patients communicating with health care providers.” It is for this reason that Dr. Bonaguro has a true passion for Health Communication. Dr. B also feels that Health Communication will continue to grow as an area of study in the Communication discipline.

Dr. Bonaguro has been teaching for thirty-two years, and continues to love every single minute of it. Starting in January of 2015, Dr. B went into transitional retirement. Although she is not fully retiring, she is not fully teaching either. Dr. B’s transitional retirement allows her to have the best of both. She now enjoys having more time to spend with friends and family. She is also an avid gardener and walker, and she loves to travel. In addition to enjoying her free time, Dr. B also finds that she has more time to spend on her students. She told me that she is “able to provide even more feedback to improve their understanding of the subject matter and their writing.” Teaching is something that she will never stop loving.

For the next five years, Dr. Bonaguro will continue to teach two online courses per semester for the Department of Communication, with the hopes that one of them will always be Health Communication. When you find something you are passionate about, it is really hard to stop. More than her love for teaching communication is Dr. B’s love for her students. When asked what is most satisfying about teaching, her response was “The students.” She went on to say, “It is rewarding to see students grasp concepts and apply them to their own personal life and work. I also enjoy preparing for classes and engaging with students.” After taking one of Dr. B’s classes, or even if you just talk to her, you know that she is more than just a professor. Dr. B goes the extra mile for all of her students both inside and outside the classroom. She has years of insightful experience that she shares with her students. She is always there to provide helpful advice about what to do and how to do it, in order to help all of us obtain the keys to success. Dr. B is more than just a professor in the Department of Communication, because she is a leader, a role model, a mentor, and above all, Dr. B is a friend.


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Dr. Carl L. Kell Retires After 43 Years of Service

dr. kellDr. Carl Kell started his career in the Department of Communication at WKU in 1972. Within Dr. Kell’s 43 years on the Hill he has done the extraordinary with his area of research, which focuses on rhetorical/historical and critical issues in the Southern Baptist Church. From his research he has published five books: The Exiled Generation, Against the Wind, In the Name of the Father, Exiled, and one novel, On Sacred Ground. For his publications, Dr. Kell received the Religious Communication of the Year Award from the Religious Communication Association. He was also rewarded for excellence in research and the Southern Communication Association chose him as the national winner of its 75th anniversary design award. Kell has published two communication books Let’s Talk about Business: Improving Communication Skills, and Fundamentals of Improving Group Communication Skills.

Dr. Kell has founded the WKU Spirit Masters group in 1980 and has served as its advisor for 22 years. Spirit Masters is a group of select students who represent WKU at public events. In 2007, President Ransdell presented him the President’s Spirit of Western Award. Dr. Kell has been honored by three Greek groups and in 2003 and he received the Potter College Award for Public Service. In 2015, Spirit Masters named their room in DSU after Dr. Kell. Dr. Larry Snyder, Associate Dean of Potter College and Letters said, “Spirit Masters has certainly become an important and unique feature of the WKU experience for dozens of students. Dr. Kell has helped to make this a very special place for students to study and colleagues to work.”

Dr. Carl Kell graduated with Ph.D. in Speech Communication from Kansas University in 1971. From the early stages of his college life, he knew he wanted to be a college professor and from his above achievements he made an excellent choice. Dr. Carl Kell has not only been successful in his own life, but has also helped students succeed in their lives through his courses. One of his main courses that have helped prepare students for success after graduation is COMM 489 which is an internship course. The first question he ask his students when helping them find an internship is, “What is something fun you would like to do and get paid for”? He strives to help the student find an internship matching their responses. Dr. Carl Kell will be greatly missed by everyone in the Department of Communication.

Some wisdom Dr. Kell wanted to leave behind is this, “The last line in My Fair Lady was there is a difference between a lady and a flower girl; it is not who she is, but how she is treated. People will remember how you treat them.”


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Remembering the Life and Legacy of Dr. Tammy Jeffries

In a moving feature by Andrew Henderson of the WKU Herald, Dr. Tammy Jeffries is remembered for the legacy she has left on the hill and in our hearts.

Enter in peace: Family, students, colleagues remember life of professor




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