MSU ComArtSci to honor alumni and industry professionals at annual awards ceremony

Posted on: January 16, 2017

While their careers vary, one word describes a group of alumni and industry professionals associated with the MSU College of Communications Arts and Sciences: extraordinary.

This spring, alumni, faculty and friends will be recognized for their exemplary achievements at "The Celebration”, the College’s annual alumni awards ceremony and strolling dinner on Saturday, April 8, in the WKAR Studios located in the ComArtSci Building, 404 Wilson Road, East Lansing, Mich.

UnknownSeven alumni will receive the Outstanding Alumni Award, an honor which recognizes
ComArtSci graduates who have obtained the highest level of professional or academic achievement and demonstrated service to the college and community.

A journalism graduate will receive the Rising Star Award, which honors an alumnus or alumna who graduated within the past 10 years and has a strong record of accomplishment and service to the community.

Recipients will also be recognized with the college's Honorary Alumni Award and Faculty Impact Award.

"These exceptional people are deserving of high praise and exemplify Spartans Will," said telecommunications alumnus and ComArtSci Alumni Board President Phil Bertolini. "Their ongoing achievements in communication arts and sciences engage communities, affect the lives of individuals, and make a difference in today's world through creative thought, innovation and research. We are proud of all they have accomplished, and look forward to showcasing their successes through this special celebration."

Selected annually by the ComArtSci Alumni Board, the 2017 alumni award recipients are:

Outstanding Alumni

  • Haz Alwattar, B.A. '86 Telecommunication, Vice President of Content, Univision Radio
  • Lois Bernstein, B.A. '73 Communication, Chief Community Executive, MultiCare Health SystemKathy
  • Kathy Foltner, M.A. '76 Audiology and Speech Sciences, President of Foltner Consulting; Adjunct Faculty, Rush University Medical Center
  • Rackeline Hoff, B.A. '65 Advertising, City Commissioner, Birmingham, Mich.
  • Amy McGraw, B.A. '89 Telecommunication, Vice President of Marketing, Tropical Financial Credit Union
  • Jeff Sinelli, B.A. '90 Communication, Founder, CEO, and Chief Vibe Officer, Which Wich, Inc.
  • Tim Staudt, B.A. '71 Journalism, Sports Director, WILX TV; Radio Host, Staudt on Sports

Rising Star

  • Jon Erickson, B.A. '08 Journalism and Finance, Honors; Reporter, ABC 15, Phoenix

Honorary Alumni

  • David and Sarah Taft, Ph.D. '63 Natural Science (Chemistry/Teaching)/ B.A. '62 Arts and Letters (English)

Faculty Impact

  • To be announced in late February

Online registration for the "The Celebration" will open in late February. For more information, go to

MSU Federal Credit Union is the premier sponsor of the event, reflecting their commitment to MSU alumni, the pursuit of excellence and community engagement.

"The Celebration" is one of several events during ComArtSci Awards Week, April 5-9. For a complete list of ceremonies honoring students, alumni, faculty and friends, visit

About the MSU Federal Credit Union

MSU Federal Credit Union, the world’s largest university-based credit union, offers a full range of personal — and business-related — financial services to Michigan State University and Oakland University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and their families worldwide, in addition to a variety of select employee groups. Founded in 1937 by MSU professors, MSUFCU has 17 branches, nearly 230,000 members, more than $3.3 billion in assets, and over 730 employees. In 2016, MSUFCU was recognized as the #1 Top Workplace in the large employer category by the Detroit Free Press, as well as one of Fortune’s 50 Best Workplaces for New College Grads. Also in 2016, MSUFCU was selected as one of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, receiving the Michigan Business Professional Association’s top honor of Elite Overall – Best of the Best award. MSUFCU has a national reputation for excellence, and was recognized in 2016 as fifth in the nation for its financial education program by the National Youth Involvement Board.

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Communication Professors receive ICA Fellow status

Posted on: June 10, 2016

William Donohue and Frank Boster, professors in the Communication Department, join a large group of ComArtSci faculty who have been acknowledged by the International Communication Association (ICA). Both Donohue and Boster were nominated and awarded Fellow status for their research and dedication to communication.

Department of Communication Professor and ICA Fellow William Donohue

Department of Communication Professor and ICA Fellow William Donohue

ICA welcomes scholars studying and teaching human communication. In order to become a Fellow, an individual must be a member of the Association and has to be nominated by another member. Then, it’s put to a vote.

Former Michigan State University professor Don Ellis nominated Donohue for his study of conflict management and resolution. Donohue’s ongoing research targets topics such as divorce mediation and hostage negotiation.

“It’s nice to have the recognition that my research has had an impact and that people have found the work made a contribution and is credible work. It’s nice to have peer recognition,” said Donohue.

Boster’s research studies social influence in groups. His current focus lies in something he calls “sticky messages.”

Department of Communication Professor and ICA Fellow Frank Boster

Department of Communication Professor and ICA Fellow Frank Boster

“(I’m) excited right now about the idea of sticky messages and how we design messages that are not only persuasive but stay that way for a period of time,” Boster said. “There’s a tendency for a persuasive message to change people and then (they) revert back to (the way they were) before they were exposed to the message.”

Boster was nominated by Malcolm Parks, a classmate from graduate school and now a professor at the University of Washington.

“I was honored that he took the time to not only write a letter for me, which he did very thoughtfully, but also arranged for others to write supporting letters,” he said. “And I was honored that the fellows that vote found me worthy of that designation.”

Donohue and Boster presented at the ICA Conference in Japan where they were officially awarded and recognized as Fellows.

They will receive plaques in acknowledgement of their new status and achievements.


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Media & Info Professor Shelia Cotten awarded for Gerontology research, career achievement

Posted on: June 2, 2016

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Shelia Cotten, a professor in the Department of Media and Information, has received a lot of good news lately surrounding her research in Gerontology. Cotten was awarded Fellow status in The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) in addition to earning the American Sociological Association’s Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology section (CITAMS) William F. Ogburn Career Achievement Award for her work in discovering how to help the elderly cross the digital divide and utilize technology to enhance their lives.

GSA, with over 500 Fellows, is the largest organization focused on studying older adults with a focus on trying to proactively improve their health and well-being.

“Most of the work I do is thinking about: How can we use technology to enhance people’s lives? Are there existing technologies that could be beneficial, or technologies that need to be modified or created that could enhance older adults lives?” Cotten said.  

Cotten and her research team have recently conducted focus groups with older adults around the state of Michigan. She looks at how older adults benefit from technology and what is most useful to them and their needs. Tablets are increasingly being used by this demographic, but some of these individuals still don’t see the device as the right fit for them.

“A lot of times older adults don’t want to use (tablets or other technologies) because they don’t see the relevance of them for their lives. If you can help them see the relevance then they’ll be more likely to learn to use the technology,” said Cotten. “Showing them how they can communicate and find information can be really powerful for them.”

The American Sociological Association's CITAMS William F. Ogburn Career Achievement Award is given to scholars with outstanding research that has contributed “to the advancement of knowledge in the area of sociology of communication, media, and/or information technology.”

Cotten, who has studied technology for nearly 20 years, said that the Career Achievement Award recognizes the larger body of her work with technology-use over the life course and, specifically, how we approach the idea of the digital divide.

“They’re both wonderful organizations and I feel very fortunate to be a part of both of those organizations,” said Cotten. “I hope I’m not done yet and have more to contribute to enhance people’s lives through the use of technology."

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Henry Brimmer receives Charles A. Gliozzo International Award for Public Diplomacy

Posted on: May 23, 2016

IMG_0838This year, assistant professor in AD+PR, Henry Brimmer, won the Charles A. Gliozzo International Award for Public Diplomacy. The award is given to a Michigan State University employee, who as a citizen diplomat has demonstrated a commitment to promoting intercultural relations, building relationships “one handshake at a time” and enriching international educational exchanges.

According to Charles Gliozzo, “students should be aware of the impact of global competition. An international dimension should be intrinsic to a student’s education-- if not, you will find yourself on the outside looking in.”  This view echoes the bold design of President Simon, who is focused on “transitioning MSU from a land grant to a global grant institution.”

IMG_0840Brimmer is an ideal fit for this award due to his ongoing efforts to unite the Chinese and American student populations in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. In 2014, Brimmer traveled to China with a team of eight students to compete in the OneClub China Youth Creative Festival, a competition for young advertising creatives throughout China. The festival consisted of lectures, presentations and the contest itself where students were assigned a problem to tackle by the main sponsor.

Inspired by the trip to China, Brimmer launched Minds (Wide) Open in 2015, a competition held for students in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Focused on communication problem solving between American and Chinese students, the competition successfully brought together a diverse group of MSU students, giving them the unique opportunity to work collaboratively together and to show their creative advertising skills to some of the industry’s top professionals.

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Bossen recognized with mentorship award

Posted on: April 12, 2016

uuraf-20160408-9818 (1)School of Journalism Professor Howard Bossen, was recognized with the Undergraduate Research Faculty Member of the Year Award, at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF).

The award, given annually, acknowledges two MSU faculty members who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers.

Bossen was nominated by journalism seniors Jordan Jennings and Marisa Hamel, who have worked with him on several projects and exhibitions. Their nominations highlighted Bossen’s commitment to mentoring his students and the lasting impact he has had in shaping their college experience.

“He continuously compels me to push beyond what I believe I’m capable of,” Jennings said. “His lofty expectations have always proven reachable, making me a profoundly more passionate, well-rounded and tenacious individual.”

Bossen has been working with undergraduate research assistants for more than a decade and is committed to helping his students grow and achieve their goals.

“When you are at a university it is important to get students involved in the research process early on,” Bossen said. “The skills that students learn are valuable and can be translated to different future opportunities.”

Hamel began working with Bossen as a freshman, and over the years has gained many unique opportunities and as a research assistant.

“Bossen taught me how to work with photographers, publishers, co-authors, and to create, edit, and produce works of art. With no experience in the field, Bossen was patient with me when work was frustrating and spent nights, weekends, and mornings to accommodate my schedule,” Hamel said.

Bossen accepted Research Faculty Mentor of the Year Award Friday April 8, 2016 at the MSU Union.

By Victoria Bowles, senior Journalism major and ComArtSci Editorial Assistant


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MSU instructor and veteran photojournalist inducted into renowned NATAS Silver Circle

Posted on: March 3, 2016


Bob Gould, MSU broadcaster in residence in the College of Communication Arts and
Sciences, hadn't intended to build a career in broadcast news. While a self-proclaimed "news junkie" as a kid, the MSU alum says he actually had his sights set on working in a production house, editing and shooting video.


But something changed after he graduated from MSU in 1990 with his bachelor's in telecommunications. He discovered he really did love news after shooting and editing stories for daily newscasts for WILX-TV in Lansing and later for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich. It was a path that led to a 17-year career as a revered photojournalist, earning more than 40 awards for his work from the National Press Photographers Association, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, and the Michigan Associated Press, and a combination of 10 regional EMMY nominations and awards. It was also a path that led to leadership, causing him to seek out roles with the NPA, the Michigan TV News Photographer's Association, and the organization that will honor him for his devotion to the industry.

In late February, the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Science will induct Gould into the Silver Circle—an honor reserved for individuals who have devoted a quarter of a century to the television industry, and who have made a significant contribution to the Michigan broadcast community.

Humbled by the news, Gould continues to find himself in disbelief.

"When I look at the list of people who have been inducted over the years, I have to pinch myself," Gould says. "These are people you look up to and watch on TV, and people who have reached the pinnacle of their career. I'm just the person shooting video and telling stories."

Gould left working in the field in 2007 to pursue his dream job teaching TV reporting, multimedia and media law/ethics courses at MSU. Part of his work includes executive producing the multi-award-winning, "Focal Point," a 30-minute student-produced newscast that has garnered nearly 60 awards. He also helps ensure the future of broadcast education as vice president of the Michigan Chapter of NATAS, as committee chair for the Broadcast Education Association, and as a member of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation board.

"I had so many wonderful experiences in the field, shooting and putting together stories that mattered to people," he says. "Now I get a chance to mentor students. That's pretty cool thing."

Lucinda Davenport, professor and director in the MSU School of Journalism, says that the knowledge Gould brings to the classroom helps students know what is expected of them to succeed and be leaders in the industry.

 "Our students can aspire toward the things that Bob reflects, and feel confident stepping out his classroom and into the newsroom," Davenport says. "We're very proud of Bob, and it's nice to see the rest of the world sees his successes."

Gould will be among five honorees inducted into the Michigan Chapter NATAS Silver Circle this year. The ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Mich.

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Six Alumni to Receive ComArtSci Alumni Awards

Posted on: April 8, 2015

The Celebration

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences will present this year's Outstanding Alumni Awards and the Rising Star Award at "The Celebration," the college's annual awards dinner and ceremony, on Saturday, May 9, at 6 p.m. in the WKAR Studios, located in the ComArtSci Building, 404 Wilson Road, East Lansing.

Five alumni will receive Outstanding Alumni Awards, which recognizes alumni who have obtained the highest level of professional or academic achievement and demonstrated service to the college and community.

The 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients are:

  • Nicholas D. Becharas, B.A. Advertising '84 , President and CEO of Becharas Brothers Coffee
  • Geoff Johns, B.A. Telecommunication '95, Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment
  • Angela R. Massenberg, Ph.D. Audiology & Speech Sciences '88, President of Massenberg & Associates
  • Diane Neal, B.S. Retailing '79, CEO of Sur La Table
  • Dale Petroskey, B.A. Journalism '78, President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce

Derek Wallbank, B.A. Journalism '06 , Editor of Bloomberg First Word-D.C. Breaking News Desk, will receive the 2015 Rising Star Award, which honors alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years and have shown a strong record of accomplishment and service to the college.

The Celebration is free to attend, but registration is required. Reservations will be accepted in the order received up to the capacity of the venue. Please RSVP by Wednesday, April 29.

To make a reservation by email or phone, obtain additional information or request accommodation for persons with disabilities, contact Rachael Ruis at or (517) 432-7207.

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Nominations for Faculty Impact Award Due Feb. 7

Posted on: January 14, 2014

FacultyImpactAwardLogoNominations are now being accepted for the College of Communication Arts & Sciences 2014 Faculty Impact Award.

The award, established by the CAS Alumni Board, is presented each year to a current faculty member of the college who has made a significant and enduring impact on the lives and careers of his or her students.

Previous Faculty Impact Award recipients have shown a high level of dedication to their students and student outcomes through their teaching and mentoring efforts.

Last year's recipient was School of Journalism's Karl Gude, Graphics Editor in Residence.

Nominations for the 2014 award are due Friday, Feb. 7. A nomination form and two (or more) letters of support will be accepted from current and/or former students and alumni of any of CAS' five academic units: Advertising + Public Relations, Communication, Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Journalism and Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media.

Nominations will be accepted via the online form. Additional letters of support and/or documentation can be emailed to or mailed to:

CAS Dean's Office
Attn: Rachael Zylstra, Alumni Relations Coordinator
404 Wilson Road, Room 205
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212

The 2014 recipient will be announced in March and honored at the college's annual awards ceremony, The Celebration, on May 3.

For more information, please email

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Cole Named Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar

Posted on: July 9, 2013

On Tuesday, June 25, Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF) welcomed Advertising + PR professor Richard Cole as a new PCF Scholar. Cole will be lending nearly 40 years worth of experience in public policy, health care and university administration, advertising, public relations, teaching and research to PCF initiatives. Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon launched PCF in 2006 as a part of her Boldness by Design initiative. Its role was to further engage MSU in the economic transformation in mid-Michigan by focusing on innovation, skill development and regional collaboration. As a PCF Scholar, Cole will provide advice on advertising, public relations and marketing. He will work with other PCF Scholars, project leaders and local leaders on several initiatives that include:

  • Digital Trails: a project designed to inspire development projects that highlight Michigan's great resources;
  • Gigabit Ready: a regional initiative launched in 2012 to encourage development and adoption of ultra high-speed or "gigabit" broadband throughout Greater Lansing; and
  • Design Michigan: a separate nonprofit entity involving leaders in academics and private capacities to help brand the state as a place for up-and-coming design.

While PCF is independent from MSU, it operates within the "MSU knowledge orbit," says Holly Hetzner, PCF Communications and Grant Coordinator. We utilize MSU knowledge resources, such as faculty expertise, student interns and economic tools for our various programs.” Cole has held a variety of executive-level positions including serving as the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of the Detroit Medical Center where he directed major corporate staff functions including human resources, public and media relations, marketing and advertising, development and philanthropy, international services and state and federal government relations. Before joining the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), Cole had retired as Senior Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan where he had been a corporate officer overseeing a number of divisions and subsidiaries since 1991. Prior to that, Cole had been Vice President for University Advancement at Ferris State University. Professor Cole has served as a member and officer in a variety of national, state and local governmental and civic organizations. He is a member of the national child maltreatment task force for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta. In 2005, Cole was named Chair of the Metropolitan Detroit Division of the March of Dimes, a position he held through 2008. He is also a founding board member of The Center for Michigan, a "bi-partisan economic development think and do tank" in Ann Arbor, Mich. Cole's writings have been published nationally. He is a contributing author to the "Handbook of Strategic Public Relations and Integrated Marketing," McGraw-Hill (1997) and the "Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education," Information Science Reference (2008).

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Pysarchik Selected for Visiting Professor Program

Posted on: June 25, 2013


The Advertising & Educational Foundation’s 2013 Visiting Professor Program (VPP) recently selected Dr. Dawn Pysarchik, CAS Advertising + Public Relations Professor and Associate Dean for International Studies, as one of only 13 professors nationwide for its annual two-week fellowship program.

Pysarchik was chosen by Leo Burnett (LB) in Chicago, where her host was an account director for Kellogg brands who ensured she was exposed to top-level executives, agencies and clients that are affiliated with the brands in the LB portfolio.

“As a faculty member who is not from an advertising background, I was able to get a look under the hood,” said Pysarchik.

Her connection to more cultural-oriented areas such as Lapiz, a Hispanic sector of LB, allowed Pysarchik to see her interest in a new context, outside of academia. She was also able to spend half days at Energy BBDO, R/GA, Oglivy & Mather and Burrell Communications.

“The broad base of exposure was helpful for detecting differences and similarities in organizational structure, philosophical approach and business foci,” said Pysarchik.

The objective of the Visiting Professors Program is to expose professors to the daily operations of an advertising agency, marketing or media company. This experience is a way to facilitate the exchange of ideas between industry and academia.

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