COMM notes

Keeping up with Drury's Department of Communication


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Faculty Spotlight: Q & A with Dr. Charles Taylor

Communication faculty and students welcome Dr. Taylor back to The Shew

charles_t670Dr. Charles Taylor, professor of communication, is transitioning back into life at Shewmaker after serving 14 years as the vice president of academic affairs at Drury. While technically on sabbatical during the Spring 2015, we tracked him down to discuss his return to the department. Effective Fall 2015, he will step up to serve as director of the M.A. in Communication program and will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the Drury CORE and communication department.

Who are you?

“Wow, that’s a tough question. Boy one of these days when I grow up, maybe I will figure that out. Well, I am a teacher at heart, a scholar in the sense that I am really committed to research that advances my ability to be a better teacher, former vice president of academic affairs (10 years), and somebody who is immensely happy to be back in Shewmaker. I left Shewmaker and moved over to Burnham around 2001. I feel very much at home in  Shewmaker. I’m also a husband, father, cardinals fan, and caffeine addict.”

You were talking about scholarship and being committed to growing as a teacher. What are your plans for getting back into writing? 

“I try to subscribe to the advice that is attributed to a lot people, but I believe it was Karl Marx who said that you have to write something every day. You can’t set it aside and figure that you will come back to it at some point. I suspect it’s like swimming or running or anything, if you get out of it, you will become soft. I have written a fair amount. While I was in my administrative position, most of my scholarship focused on broader higher education kinds of things. In order to jump back into my scholarship, I spent a little over a week at the British Library in London before the spring semester started where I spent a lot of time in the archives and working on rhetoric of science material. So if it all goes well, I should have a few articles to submit by the end of the spring semester.”

This is your first semester back in The Shew. What are you teaching?

“Technically, I am on sabbatical, but I am teaching CORE 103. This past fall I taught CORE 101 and I didn’t want to leave those students hanging because I have a really good group of CORE students. An unexpected vacancy occurred in the leadership of the communication master’s program, so I have agreed to step into that role. So, you could say I’m enjoying a semi- sabbatical. But in the fall, I am scheduled to teach Senior Seminar, COMM 211, CORE 101, and the first course in the graduate sequence.”

You have taught CORE  101 from its beginning. Is that true?

“The first class I ever taught at Drury was Alpha Seminar, which is sort of the forerunner for the CORE 101. I have been here 18 years and I think have taught Alpha or Core for 15 of those years.”

B2k7P8IIMAAIL2bYou took your CORE group on a trip last year? What was the point of the trip?

“Yeah, Dr. Maxson and I took our CORE 101 classes to Memphis. His class addressed social protests and music, and mine focused on politics and rock ‘n roll. Memphis is sort of one of those points of intersection, where race, politics and music all come together. It was great. Terrible weather, it rained the whole time. But it was good.”

Do you think your role as Vice President of Academic Affairs has influenced the way you approach teaching?

“Usually, that question comes in reverse. Does your role as a teacher affect your role as VPAA. But I think probably so. In that kind of institutional position, I have had the opportunity to see the remarkable variety of talented teachers we have on this campus and can borrow best teaching practices from all kinds of people. Another thing that I think is important about being over in Burnham is I got to see the department evolve over time. The field of communication has evolved significantly in the 14 years that I have been out of here. If nothing else, the explosion of media has changed the way we communicate and with whom we communicate. This whole thing with 140 characters, and tweeting, is not my forte. But I think integration into new media will make me better. I’m just feeling really excited about making the transition back to full time faculty status.”

You mentioned the whole 140 characters thing, but you do have a Twitter account?

“I do! I think it has probably helped me in being more succinct and cutting to the chase. If we as faculty want to connect with students, we have to meet them where they are — and that’s the digital world in which they live. I credit Regina Waters and Jonathan Groves for queueing me in to the meaningful aspects of Twitter and making it more than just 140 characters of whatever happens to cross your mind. Additionally, these new media can help me get important information in front of my students in a way that email cannot.”

Final thoughts?

“One other thing I should have said when you asked who I am. I am also an email addict. Caffeine and email are my two fixes. I tend to respond to emails anytime night or day.”


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Student Spotlight: Albert Lloyd

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Using LinkedIn to get LinkeDUp with the Drury network

Senior advertising and public relations major Albert Lloyd is just a few months away from launching his professional career. To prepare for life after college, Albert is updating his resume and brushing up on his interviewing skills. But that isn’t all. He is immersing himself in the world of LinkedIn so that he can help himself…and his peers…take the job scene by storm.

During the Fall 2014 semester in Senior Seminar, Albert developed a Signature Project to educate Drury students on the importance of LinkedIn and the benefits of having a strong presence on the professional networking site. A 2014 article by U.S. News and World Report points to the striking reality that “94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.”

“I wanted to help students prepare for their future after college. Dr. Waters suggested I look more into the role that LinkedIn can play in helping students establish a personal brand while building a professional network.”

As part of his project, Albert planned and facilitated a LinkedIn workshop for students. The event provided students with professional headshots and critiques of their LinkedIn profiles.

” I wanted to make sure students had the tools to create a powerful profile, one that is complete and stands out. I also wanted students to know that when they are on LinkedIn, they are investing their time in building their future, not just wasting time like they might do on other social networks.”

linkeduplogo%5b2%5d-1Given the positive response to his fall workshop, Albert decided he wanted to do more. This spring he volunteered to serve on a campus committee for the Drury University LinkeDUp initiative, a movement that seeks to empower alumni, students, staff, and faculty to create a strong LinkedIn presence around the Drury brand. The official roll out of the LinkeDUp initiative will take place in the fall 2015 semester, but Albert is hosting student-focused workshops this spring in order to spark student awareness of the power of LinkedIn.

“There are many features you can use to find jobs or establish connections. If you plan to move after graduation, you can see if there are alumni in that area who can help you with the transition or even assist you in tracking  down job leads.” 

In addition to his work on the LinkeDUp initiative, Albert is active member of Drury’s AD Team. He was recently selected by his peers to serve as one of the five team presenters at the National Student Advertising Competition (District 9 event) in Kansas City on April 17. The team will pitch its integrated marketing communication proposal for Pizza Hut. While at Drury, Albert was also a swimmer on the Swimming and Diving team where he earned the honor of NCAA All- American swimmer.

In order to gain additional professional insights, Albert is interning at Arc of the Ozarks as a public relations and special events intern. In this role he helped plan the annual Hunt and Fish Outdoor Show at the Springfield Expo Center where he acted as the master of ceremonies. The event raised much needed funds for this nonprofit organization.

“It is great to be a part of something that is doing such amazing things for people in the community.

What’s next for Albert? He just bought a one-way ticket to New York City. Connect with him on LinkedIn to find out the rest of the story.

Note:  The LinkeDUp logo was created by Danielle Linderman, a senior visual communication major and intern in Drury’s Marketing and Communications office.


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Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Weaverling ’05

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Nicole (Dunning) Weaverling proves the path forward doesn’t always require a plan

By McKensie Hodges, junior advertising and public relations major

Are you a freshman, sophomore, or even junior who is undecided on a major?  Nicole Weaverling ’05 doesn’t think this is a terrible problem. In fact, being undecided should be viewed as an opportunity to network and develop your personal brand.

Nicole came to Drury with aspirations of working in public relations and was not sure about much else.  “I was really focused in on what was going on around me in the college world.” While at Drury, she participated on the Speech and Debate team where she spent many long nights of running lines and working on stage prep with the team’s coach, Dr. Curt Gilstrap. During her senior year she joined AD Team and served as the Research Director on the Yahoo! campaign. As is the case with many communication students, Shewmaker became her home away from home.

As the late study nights, 3 a.m. coffee runs, and endless papers came to an end after four years in college, Nicole prepared herself for graduation day. She was not exactly sure of where she was going to go after walking across the stage to receive her diploma. This was an unsettling reality.

Nicole decided the best move she could make was to pack her bags and return home to live at her grandmother’s house in Texas to regroup, rest, and take the initiative to get her name out there.

“The first few years were rough.  If you don’t have experience, you can’t get experience.”

She accepted a job at the Midland Reporter in advertising and sales. From there Nicole worked a few different jobs in graphic design and communication and eventually became a stay at home mom in 2011, after giving birth to her son Eli. While working at home, Nicole discovered her love of cake decorating and party planning and ran her own business for a while.

Her true professional calling came during the oil boom when she decided it was time to dust off her high heels and dress pants and hit the business world. A connection helped her getweaverling a job at the Midland Chamber of Commerce as a public relations and communications assistant, a position she currently holds. This role allows Nicole to perform a variety of PR activities, including writing press releases and organizing events for the Chamber. This career is a perfect fit with her skills and interest.

Nicole is happy to reside in her home state of Texas. In 2008 she married Dirk and they started a life together in Midland, Texas, home of former President George W. Bush. Midland is the size of a community where Nicole’s husband has actually had the opportunity to meet the former president.

Now that Nicole has launched her career in public relations, she fully understands the importance of professional networks. Nicole’s best advice for students? “Start networking while you’re in college.” As Nicole story proves, you never know how a connection might shape your career path. Students, you’re encouraged to make a connection with Nicole on LinkedIn —  especially if you are undecided.


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Working abroad: Kaitlyn McConnell Grønli ’11

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Kaitlyn McConnell Grønli ’11 shares her story of finding love and a career halfway across the world.

I’ve always wanted to make an impact on the world. When I graduated from Drury with a degree in Integrated Media in May 2011, however, my plan was to make that difference from the safe, cozy confines of Southwest Missouri. I grew up in nearby Marshfield, and while I’ve always loved travelling, I never had any intention of moving elsewhere. The Ozarks region was my first love, and I never thought I’d leave.

Since then, I’ve learned that life occasionally has surprises in store – and that when you roll with the unexpected, many an exciting adventure is likely to ensue.

One of those adventures took place right after graduation when I decided to take a solo trip to Europe. While I was there, a chance encounter with a wonderful guy changed my life forever.

That story, however, is a tale in itself. I’ll just say that the guy, whose name is Espen, eventually convinced me to marry him – but first persuaded me to move to his home country of Norway so we could get to know each other better. It was a crazy idea, but I decided to take a leap. I quit my job as a staff writer at 417 Magazine to move abroad with no job, no knowledge of the language and no professional contacts.

In retrospect, this was stupid.

Not from the relationship side of things, of course. But looking back, this could have been professional suicide. Thankfully things worked out for me, but if you’re moving abroad for work-related reasons, take my advice: Do your research first. Don’t just sail (or, in most cases, fly) off into the unknown.

Getting started
After arriving in Norway, the first thing I did was enroll in immersive Norwegian classes. Although I didn’t like the classes, I now know that learning the language was a crucial step. I would strongly encourage anyone moving abroad to make this effort. Although English is widely spoken in Europe, it’s been my experience that there is always a barrier when communicating with people when you’re not speaking their native tongue. If you want to fully integrate, then connecting with people where they’re most comfortable is a necessity.

I began looking for jobs while I was still taking Norwegian classes. It wasn’t long before I came across a position with FMC Technologies, a company that engineers oil and gas extraction equipment for energy giants like Shell, BP and Statoil – and is American-owned. They were looking for someone, preferably an English-speaking journalist, to write, edit and quality assure their written material. Everyone else in the local communications department is Norwegian, so I was hired as a Communications Coordinator and given the task of making sure that everything we do sounds American.

Over the past two years, my position has evolved. Now I’m the company’s Internal Media Editor, and I spend most of my time working on various internal projects. I’m still responsible for quality assuring content, but I largely focus on executive communication, the development of internal campaigns, as well as the management our intranet site and information screens.

Norway in winterBe prepared to be unprepared
It’s safe to say that I’ve learned a lot while in Norway. Someone considering a move abroad should do a lot of research on their intended destination before he or she departs – but some surprises should be expected, too. Thankfully, some of these surprises can be good, like the five weeks of paid vacation that every Norwegian gets each year. Others, like homesickness and culture shock, aren’t so great.

If someone intends to stay in a country (or at least get a real feel for it), immersion is a necessity. Join clubs. Do the local activities and eat the regional food. Don’t be disappointed when things are different than in the U.S., because they definitely will be. And, as previously stated, learn the language. Make every effort to find the good things about where you are. Realize that each country, as a puzzle piece in this great big world that we live in, plays a unique role in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately know that you – yes, YOU – possess the ability to get out and make a global impact!

If you’d like more information about moving and working abroad, don’t hesitate to contact Kaitlyn (KaitlynMcConnell.Gronli@fmcti.com). 


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Alumni Profile: Dionne (Beaty) Reese ’02

Alumna Dionne (Beaty) Reese ’02 embraces the helping role of account services

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Dionne has been married to Casey for 11 years. They have a 5 year old son named Asher.

Right out of college, Dionne Reese ’02 accepted an internship position with the Willow Creek Association, a nonprofit Christian organization in the Chicago area. She loved nonprofit work, but the 9/11 tragedy led to a hiring freeze in many organizations and job options were limited. That’s when opportunity called her back to Springfield and she accepted a position as an assistant account executive at Noble Communications +.

“I used to struggle with not working for a nonprofit or other worthy cause, but soon I realized advertising lets me help people, too. I get to help my clients meet their objectives and hopefully make their lives a little easier. By helping my clients, I’m helping their customers which may mean customers see their dreams come true with the products or services my client offers.”

Dionne worked at Noble for almost 10 years and eventually made the move to the Marlin Network, an agency focused on food service,  where she is now an account supervisor.  She attributes her success to never thinking something was beneath her. Dionne reminds students “You never know who is watching and who will be impressed by the little things.”  As an account supervisor, she makes sure that everything on her client account is running smoothly. Dionne interacts with a variety of individuals each day to make sure that the account is staying on budget and on strategy. 

“No day is like the last. I have to stay flexible and ready to jump to the next thing.”

While launching a successful career in advertising, she has also created a family that brings her much joy. She has been married to Casey for 11 years and they are raising their 5-year old son, Asher. As evidenced in the accompanying photo, motherhood suits Dionne quite nicely.

For those students counting down the days to graduation, Dionne offers a valuable piece of advice:

“When you are right out of college, don’t be afraid to go to a new and different place. It’s one of the only times in your life where you don’t have commitments keeping you from following your dream.”