Dr. Teddi Deka, honors director and professor of psychology; Dr. Jennifer Jackson, assistant professor of communication; and Dr. Jordan Atkinson, assistant professor of communication, presented “Building a Better Brand,” designed to facilitate creation of branding kits for use in honors programs to increase consistency in appearance and message, at the National Collegiate Honors Council National Conference. The submission was selected as a feature presentation in the virtual conference. The feature presentation began with a pre- recorded session filmed by Dr. Robert Nulph, associate professor of journalism, with contributing photos by students Chase Merwin and Adrianne Boma, and background research by student Annaka Kellogg. Afterward, Deka, Jackson and Atkinson engaged in a live Zoom session with conference attendees.

Courtanie Allwood, Leo Grantham, William McKern, Bayley Pickering and Katherine Yeacker earned their silver general studies honors medals upon graduation last fall. Students earning medals complete at least 24 credit hours of honors-designated general studies courses or honors colloquia, which are designed to bridge general studies skills and often involve applied learning experiences.

Jordan Jennings was selected as the 2020 Honors Student of the Year. She has earned her second medal in the honors program for achieving honors in psychology, building upon her general studies honors medal. She is finishing her honors thesis involving criminogenic thinking and parenting styles with Dr. Jon Mandracchia, associate professor of psychology. Jennings presented research from one of her psychology classes at the 2020 Alpha Chi National Convention, and she currently serves as the Missouri Western chapter president. She is also a soccer team captain, serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Mental Health Task Force and frequently volunteers in the community.

Dr. Shawna Harris, department of communication chair and associate professor, has been named 2020 Honors Faculty of the Year.

Annette Weeks ’87, executive director for the Center for Entrepreneurship, presented to the Multicultural Business Coalition Summit. Highlighting organizations and resource partners providing support and guidance for entrepreneurs of all diversity across the state was the focus of the virtual event. MBC’s mission is to connect, encourage and provide resources for a strong multicultural business ecosystem.

Dr. Dominic DeBrincat, associate professor of history; and Dr. Adrienne Johnson, department of education chair and associate professor, were awarded the 2020 Fall Advisor Shout-Out Award.

Dr. David McMahan, professor of communication and first vice president of the National Communication  Association, was the primary planner of the Association’s 106th annual convention, as well as chair of the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture, the Communication at the Crossroad Series and the NCA welcome and orientation. Dr. McMahan assumed the duties of NCA President following the conclusion of the conference. Dr. Jordan Atkinson, assistant professor of communication, presented three papers at the conference. One paper was co-authored by Joy Deatherage ’20 and current student Nicole Bilby. Atkinson also chaired the Top Panel of the Instructional Communication Division, and served on the Convention Committee as the Secretary of the Instructional Communication Division. Dr. Mei Zhang, professor of communication, presented a paper and a panel at the conference, as well as chaired the Top Student Papers in Public Address.

Alpha Chi inducted the following students academically ranking in the top ten percent of their junior and senior class: Brittany Addison, Rylee Aggus, Tori Barrett, Hannah Berry, Tennyson Clary, Whitney Davidson, Jennifer Dorris, Cassidy Edson, Mackenzie Grantham, Jordan Holkesvik, Nicole Jackson, Madyson Lytton, Tanner Merwin, Skyler Murphy, Madelyn O’Connell, Mackenzie O’Neill, Grace Slater-Pinnick, Callie Smith, Julia Stofus, Michael Thomson, Raechel Tittor, and Emily Weese. Professors receiving Compass Awards as the inductees’ most influential professors were Drs. Pam Clary, Todd Eckdahl, Grey Endres, Michael Grantham, Melinda Kovács, Jay Lemanski, Jon Mandracchia, Natalie Mikita, Mark Mills, Madeline Rislow, Kristen Walton and Corey White.

The American Association of University Women awarded a 2020-21 International Fellowship to Marlen Munoz Franco, currently pursuing her M.S. in Chemistry. Recipients will pursue academic work and lead innovative community projects to empower women and girls.

Dr. Jeff Woodford, associate professor of chemistry, has been appointed to the chemistry GRE Exam Committee. As part of his appointment, Dr. Woodford will review the current exam and develop content for the next iteration of the exam.

Twelve social work students were inducted into the Phi Alpha National Honor Society this past fall. This is the highest academic honor a student can receive in social work. The students inducted were Julia Stolfus, Tennyson Clary, Beth Crumpler, Marissa Jochem, Kristin George, Karson Keithley, Bodie McLin, Kaely Smith, Carnisha Scott, Dariane DeClue, Sydney Wuerfele and Valerie Hawk.

Dr. Melinda Kovács, associate professor of political science, and Our Revolution (Andrea Cole and Derek Evans, academic advisor) were awarded the 2020 Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice Award by the YWCA St. Joseph and St. Joseph branch of the NAACP.

Undergraduate biology student Bailee Romaker was featured in The Wildlife Society’s international newsletter. Bailee conducted research with biology professor Dr. Julie Jedlicka’s research team as part of the National Science Foundation grant to investigate the ecosystem services that birds provide to Kenyan coffee growers. Undergraduate Audrey Lindstead was also part of the research team.

Dr. Jordan Atkinson, department of communication, along with coauthors Mary Donato, Buena Vista University, Elijah Smith ’18, and Gannon Cornley III ’19, had a research article published in the Iowa Journal of Communication. The paper, “Investigating Relationships between Student Burnout and Classroom Communication Behaviors,” explores the three dimensions of student burnout and their relationships with student interest, engagement and oral participation. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2019 National Communication Association annual convention. This specific paper started as a class project in Dr. Atkinson’s Organizational Communication (COM 410) class.

“At Arm’s Length: A Rhetoric of Character in Children’s and Young Adult Literature,” a book by Dr. Mike Cadden, professor of English, will be published next July by the University Press of Mississippi. Written in accessible language and of interest and use to undergraduates and seasoned critics, “At Arm’s Length” provides a broad analysis of stories for the young child and young adult, in book, film and television. Throughout, Dr. Cadden touches on important topics in children’s literature studies, including the role of safety in children’s media, as well as character in multicultural and diverse literature.

An honors thesis completed as an undergraduate by McCown Leggett ’18 under the supervision of Dr. Jon Mandracchia has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Penal Law and Criminology. The thesis is titled “Examining the Relationship Between Criminogenic Thinking, Differential Identification, Motivation, and Risk-Taking Behavior in Emerging Adults.” Leggett is currently in the counseling psychology doctoral program at Texas Tech University where she is involved in various research projects and clinical experiences.