CAS in our nation's capital

Posted on: October 14, 2011

Two weeks ago, I made a trip to our nation's capital and met with a variety of alumni and friends from our college who are making an impact in many different ways. During these visits, we heard of our alumni successes and shared information about the college's new integrated media arts program, among other updates.

We also discussed opportunities to further engage with the college and our students. Here are some of the alumni I had the pleasure to meet:

  • Mary Parish (BA '67 Television and Radio, MA '71 Communication) has a built a highly successful consulting business with higher education and government clients. Mary has had an impact on our students in so many ways, including as a mentor. She enjoyed hearing about the college's continued success in the areas of health and risk communication and new technologies and communication. 
  • Vija Udenans (BA '74 Television and Radio) served as the former ABC White House Producer for three Presidents, including Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama. During her time as the ABC White House Producer, she received a Peabody Award for her reporting on September 11. Upon retiring from ABC, Vija became the current Director of Broadcast Operations for the National Press Club, an organization that broadcasts for celebrities and politicians.
  • Wes Heppler (BA '76 Telecommunication) is a partner with the law firm Davis, Wright & Tremaine and the board president for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. He shared with me memories of our beloved faculty Tom Muth and how he had served as an adjunct telecommunication faculty member in the ‘90s. We are excited to explore ways to involve Wes with our students and program in the future.
  • Tom Culligan (BA '83 Advertising), Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer for the Washington Times, has had a successful career in the media industry having held senior positions with Tribune Media and other media companies, including The Associated Press and Thomson Newspapers. In his current position with the Washington Times, he plays a leadership role with their integration of various media beyond traditional print to drive new sources of revenue. Tom discussed opportunities for involvement with the college and we began exploring opportunities for our students and college to be engaged with the Washington Times. 
  • Jennifer Carroll, Vice President of Digital Content and Outreach with Gannett. Jennifer shared with me how she works with the Gannett newspapers to develop strategy, content initiatives, and readership in new media, helping to transform the way newspapers disseminate news and drive revenue. She has had a successful career holding managing editing positions with the Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News. Jennifer recently returned to MSU for the J-School's 100 Years of Journalism as the keynote speaker. We discussed ways to engage journalism students with Gannett and look forward to continuing the conversation through our integrated media arts program and J-School.
  • Lee Thornton (MA '68 Speech and Theater) is Interim Associate Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity at the University of Maryland and an award-winning broadcast journalist. She has been recognized University of Maryland "Outstanding Woman of the Year" has received numerous recognitions during her tenure at the University of Maryland and in her professional career with CBS News. During our conversation, we talked about roles in higher education and her memories of Michigan State University and CAS. 

I also met with Susan Crandall (BA '82 Telecommunication, Honors College), Assistant Attorney General for Intelsat.  Susan shared her interesting perspective of integrating her undergraduate degree from Telecomm with a Law degree. Kathy Tolliver (BS '80 Retailing) has achieved success as the Vice President for Corporate Sustainability and Community Partnerships with Calvert Investments. Linda Blauhut (BA' 88 Journalism, Honors College) is doing important and challenging work as the Assistant General Counsel of Paralyzed Veterans).  And, David Hoover (MA' 96 Telecommunication), Director of Policy and Government Affairs of CTIA, has his finger on the pulse of key telecommunication policy and regulatory issues.  He is still engaged with a number of faculty members in the college’s Department of Telcommunication, Information Studies, and Media.

It's exciting to meet alumni around the country who are using their communication skills and CAS degrees to accomplish their dreams and who are staying connected to their alma mater. Keep connected with us. Email me at

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