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Circle Park News: June 2020

A Message from the Dean

Dear CCI Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni and Friends,

I’m writing to add my voice to those expressing anger and concern at the most recent murder of an unarmed black man – George Floyd – in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unfortunately, Mr. Floyd’s murder is simply the latest injustice that has resulted in black men and women being much more likely  to be killed by the police than are white men and women (2.5 times and 1.4 times more likely, respectively).

There is no easy answer as to why this continues to happen, but one thing is certain, the time has come for us to stop talking and start being proactive so that individuals like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many more will not have died in vain. I am not black, so I don’t know what it’s like to drive down the street, take a walk in my neighborhood, go shopping in a store, birdwatch in the park, try to hail a taxi or do all sorts of other common, everyday things knowing that doing these things puts me in danger based on the color of my skin. As a white individual, I have the privilege of not thinking twice while going about my day.

The messages from Chancellor Donde Plowman and the UT Division of Diversity and Engagement express in no uncertain terms that we grieve for and with our black colleagues, students, alumni, friends and neighbors. We support and stand with them, and we pledge to take action to make things better. The College of Communication and Information will redouble our diversity and inclusion efforts by: expanding diversity and inclusion educational opportunities for CCI faculty, staff, and students; increasing the diversity of CCI faculty, staff, and students; improving our faculty mentoring program with particular focus on diverse faculty; and fully participating in campus-wide efforts to combat racism and promote mattering and belonging.

We are all part of the Volunteer family, and we acknowledge that we have many problems with which to deal. However, we are inspired by the fact that “Vol Means All!” We will not let the forces of racism and hatred defeat us. At such a time as this, we have the opportunity to come together as a diverse, complex family to confront difficult truths while working toward a future of enlightenment and hope!


Dean Mike Wirth

CCI Launches Online Master’s Concentration in Fall 2020

This fall, CCI is beginning its new, entirely online master’s degree concentration in Strategic and Digital Communication. All classes are asynchronous with new students admitted every semester, so you can fit lessons into your schedule. Read more about this new degree option.

2020 CCI Commencement

The University of Tennessee’s commencement celebrations were held virtually this year because of COVID-19. Congrats to our more than 300 CCI graduates! Read more about UT’s commencement.

Master’s Student Q&A: Diane Carr

Diane Carr began working at UT’s College of Nursing as a research information specialist in 2016, which rekindled her longtime interest in pursuing a master’s degree. She wants to continue working in communications and has a passion for environmental conservation and helping those less fortunate. Read Carr’s full Q&A.

Lexie Little (JEM ’18) Places Sixth in Hearst Awards

Lexie Little (JEM ’18), now a master’s student at the University of Georgia, placed sixth nationally in the 2019-20 William Randolph Heart Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program for her story on Hollywood director and UT graduate Clarence Brown. Read the full story.

2020 ICA Conference

Professors and students from the School of Advertising and Public Relations, the School of Communication Studies, and the School of Journalism and Electronic Media participated in the 70th Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, which was held virtually. Read more about the ICA Conference.

Meredith Goins (SIS ’00) Receives TLA Honor Award

Meredith Goins (’00), an SIS alum, doctoral student, and a new SIS lecturer, was recently recognized by the Tennessee Library Association with the TLA Honor Award. This award is given to people who have made significant contributions to librarianship at either a state or national level. Read more about Goins.

Students Earn Eight Tennessee AP Awards

Students in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media and members of UT student media earned eight awards from the Tennessee Associated Press Broadcasters and Media Editors’ 2019 college contest. Read more about these awards.

Vol Notes

Jonathan Perez (CS ’20) has accepted the position of VP of Corporate Accounts in Atlanta, Georgia with CB Auto Group.

Mary Beth West (PR ’94, CCI Honorary Board of Visitors Member) was named a founding member of the Global Ethics Council of the Public Relations and Communications Association based in London. She will serve with 17 other members to help raise worldwide public relations and communication ethical standards.

Submit a Vol Note.

Additional News Items

UT Announces Changes to the Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

UT’s Updated COVID-19 Information and Support Page

UT Sends Grad Boxes to Spring 2020 Graduates

2020 SIS Alumni Innovator’s Award: Wendy Cornelisen

2020 SIS Distinguished Alumni Award: David Johnson

2020 SIS Faculty Award Recipients: Associate Professors Awa Zhu and Devendra Potnis