Bellisario College faculty and staff recognized for excellence in 2020-21

May 14, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five faculty members and three staff members in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications earned Deans’ Excellence Awards for their efforts during the 2020-21 academic year.

The annual award winners were recognized during a special event that enabled faculty and staff in the Bellisario College to “toast” success of the winners as well as all faculty and staff for their efforts.

The Deans’ Excellence Award winners were:

  • Teaching: Ben Cramer and Stephanie Madden.
  • Research: Bu Zhong.
  • Service: Shannon Kennan.
  • Integrated Scholarship: Matt McAllister.
  • Faculty Affiliate: Michael Zelazny.
  • Staff: Leah Carraway-Justice and Chris Maurer.

In addition, Carlina DiRusso earned the Djung Tchoi Graduate Teaching Award, which annually honors a graduate student for their work as a teacher.

Nominators said Madden, an assistant professor of advertising/public relations, consistently demonstrated an exemplary performance in teaching and worked hard to build a system in which students could succeed. In an effort to create and enhance community during the pandemic-impacted year, she complemented Zoom course sessions with guest speakers and Twitter discussions. Students said she displayed compassion and empathy while providing individual attention.

Cramer, an associate teaching professor of telecommunications and media industries who receives consistently high ratings from students, teaches large-enrollment courses, senior capstone courses and graduate-level classes. He also serves on several master’s and doctoral committees. He taught in person during the pandemic because the thought the material in his class was best delivered with dialogue and discussion. He also developed a senior seminar on big data, privacy and surveillance this year.

Zhong’s research productivity included 12 journal articles in the past year, most focused on social media and the dissemination of health and mental health information — an area in which he has crafted an international reputation. He also presented at the International Communication Association and the International Academy of Business Disciplines. The associate professor of journalism’s book, “Social Media Communication: Trends and Theories,” will be completed this year, and he serves as a leader in organizations such as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Chinese Communication Association.

McAllister, a professor of film production and media studies, displayed his integrated approach and productivity with a mix of scholarship, service and teaching. Specifically, he published seven journal articles or book chapters, worked with units across the University on transdisciplinary scholarship, and consistently connected with students, on-campus colleagues and members of the field. His department head said McAllister “leads by example — and it’s an example we can all learn from.”

Kennan, an associate teaching professor of journalism, provided unwavering support for her Bellisario College colleagues as teaching approaches changed from in-person to remote in 2020 and then morphed again later in the year and in 2021. She worked with faculty, one-on-one, days, evenings and weekends — whenever was best for those she was helping — and her efforts were vital to the smooth delivery of instruction for communications students. In addition, Kennan helped incoming students adapt by pairing them with Bellisario Fellows, accomplished students already on campus. She also spearheaded an effort to connect World Campus communications students with the Bellisario College internship office.

Zelazny, the equipment room and lab coordinator, was honored for his teaching as a faculty affiliate. The film production department head said Zelazny’s efforts in the classroom — he has taught intermediate cinematography and editing techniques the past 13 years — were uncompromised by pandemic challenges during the past academic year. In addition, numerous other faculty members benefited because of Zelazny’s problem-solving and support, helping students with access to necessary equipment and supporting faculty to succeed in their classrooms as well.

Carraway-Justice, an administrative support assistant for the IT team, was recognized for her customer support efforts and ongoing commitment to process improvement. Her approach and demeanor provided a comforting bit of consistency and excellence amidst many changes in the past year. In addition, while she balanced her duties and own changes, she completed her master’s degree in organization development and change management in December 2020.

Maurer, a systems administrator for the IT team, was honored for his work supporting the college — faculty and staff, in big classrooms and at individual workstations in a variety of locations. His efforts made life easier for everyone that needed his help. Maurer's many award nominators used a variety of words to summarize his approach and personality, including calm, compassionate, dependable, innovative and humble.

Last Updated June 02, 2021