Faculty and staff honored for excellence in teaching, research and service
Six faculty members and two staff members in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications earned Deans’ Excellence Awards for their efforts during the past year.
“Their dedication and success provide a testament to the breadth and depth of talent in the Bellisario College,” Dean Marie Hardin said. “They represent Penn State well every day from internal interactions with colleagues and teaching students to national and international accomplishments for their research and scholarship.”
The Deans’ Excellence Award winners were:
- Teaching, Rod Bingaman and Jo Dumas;
- Research, Juliet Pinto;
- Service, Catie Grant;
- Integrated Scholarship, Bill Zimmerman;
- Part-Time Faculty, Steve Reighard; and
- Staff, Yu-Tai Chung and Emily Clevenger.
Bingaman, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Film Production and Media Studies, leads film production classes and consistently earns praise from students for his expertise, inspiration and mentoring.
“Semester after semester he is seen as a professor who encourages students to push themselves and who is open to their ideas and receptive to their struggles,” Hardin said. “As one student in the fall aptly put it, he creates and sustains a ‘healthy learning environment’ in his classes.”
Dumas, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Film Production and Media Studies, teaches first-year seminars, a 200-level course that focuses on gender, diversity and the media, and serves as the Bellisario College coordinator for the Schreyer Honors College.
Hardin praised her commitment to students, including a willingness to meet and mentor students at their convenience. Department head Matt Jordan said Dumas, who earned the University-wide Barash Award for Human Service earlier this year, was a model faculty member in many ways.
“She’s the kind of professor who exposes students to ways of seeing the world that expands their appreciation of it,” Jordan said. “Her dedication to giving students the opportunity to experience media beyond their comfort zones helps them connect to a larger, more global community — a connection grounded in Jo’s care for their well-being as people.”
Pinto collaborates across the University, including with the Institutes for Energy and the Environment. She earned the Knudson Latin America Prize from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for her co-edited book, “News Media Coverage of Environmental Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean.” She also published another co-edited book, “Climate Change, Media and Culture: Critical Issues In Environmental Communication.”
Pinto earned a grant as part of a team looking at communication among stakeholders around the Chesapeake Bay and serves on the editorial boards of two journals.
She teaches a 400-level advanced reporting course, a large-enrollment general-education course and has developed a World Campus version of the reporting course. She served in the Graduate Council last year and represents the Bellisario College on the University Committee for Penn State 2025.
Grant, a lecturer in the Department of Telecommunications and Media Industries, serves as director of CommAgency and teaches introductory production courses.
She has led the growth of CommAgency, the faculty-directed student-powered agency with divisions that provide videography, streaming, social media, photography and digital analytics support to on-campus partners. She also led the team that redesigned the production track of the telecommunications major, participated in the international documentary course and annually assists with the Short Doc Workshop.
Interim department head Krishna Jayakar praised Grant’s team spirit and enterprise. In recent months her service has included University-wide committees to address access and policies for video production equipment by students amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Zimmerman, a lecturer in the Department of Advertising/Public Relations, empowers students and engages in the University and community.
He integrates the latest tools and technologies to keep his classes cutting-edge, something students appreciate and notice. He has served on the board of directors for The Daily Collegian, and has spearheaded the launch of a new and popular division of CommAgency that focuses on social media and strategy.
In addition, Zimmerman has participated as a conference, panel and workshop speaker in his areas of expertise — including entrepreneurship, mindfulness and social media. He’s also known throughout the region for his outstanding weekly podcast, “Happy Valley Hustle.”
Reighard, a staff member who teaches audio production courses in addition to his work as a member of the support team at Innovation Park, consistently earns praise from students for his ability to help them improve. Faculty also appreciate his experience and insights that have helped enhance the radio reporting curriculum.
“He’s a fixture on our Innovation Park support team, and he’s also a key teacher and mentor of students.” Hardin said.
Staff members Chung and Clevenger were honored for the breadth, creativity and impact of their work.
Chung, the director of information technology, collaborates on many aspects of Bellisario College operations. His often behind-the-scenes contributions directly support faculty and staff and indirectly benefit alumni and students through creative solutions and operational efficiencies.
At the same time he brings an open-minded, upbeat approach to his efforts that sets a tone for the IT team.
Clevenger, the undergraduate recruiter, drives recruitment efforts for the Bellisario College by working with University admissions officials and programming. She leads Bellisario College efforts such as Spend a Summer Day and conducts individual sessions with prospective students and their families.
She collaborates internally with advisers and staff, making recruitment efforts more impactful and enhancing results for the number and diversity of students who have picked Penn State in recent years.
Along with the excellence award winners, three faculty members — Ann Major, Ford Risley and S. Shyam Sundar — were recognized for 25 years of service at the University.
The Deans’ Excellence awards recognize efforts during the 2019-20 academic year, and the announcement was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Award winners are typically announced during an end-of-the-semester program for faculty and staff in the Bellisario College.