Campus News

UGA’s Grady College recognizes outstanding faculty, staff at spring celebration

UGA’s Arch Foundation adds two new advisory trustees

Athens, Ga. – The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia presented its annual recognitions for teaching, staff excellence and years of service during its annual spring celebration held April 28 at Dean Rusk Hall.

Recognized for excellence in teaching were Louise Benjamin, associate professor of telecommunications; John Greenman, professor of journalism; Kaye Sweetser, assistant professor of public relations; and Kirsten Strausbaugh-Hutchison, senior lecturer in advertising.

The Grady College’s Outstanding Faculty Award winners were chosen by a committee of their peers based on nominations from the college’s three academic departments.

The department of telecommunications selected Louise Benjamin as its top teacher. “Louise Benjamin is a tremendously gifted teacher and mentor,” noted Ann Hollifield, department head. “The breadth of knowledge and experience she brings to the classroom is reflected in the wide range of courses she teaches-from electronic media history to screenwriting to telecommunications policy. Louise is one of those rare teachers who has the ability to engage, challenge and inspire her students whether she is teaching a large lecture course or a small honors seminar.”

One student commented that “Dr. Benjamin combined real-life experience from her work in the field with textbook advice and examples to make the class interesting and fun.” The characteristic students mention most often about Benjamin, however, is her deep personal concern for them. “Professor Benjamin is one of the most understanding professors I have had at UGA,” commented one student. “Very qualified and greatly knowledgeable about her subject, she also cares about students and wants them to succeed,” noted another.

The department of journalism’s Outstanding Faculty Award winner was John Greenman, Carter Professor of Journalism Excellence. “The committee was absolutely impressed by the high quality of Greenman’s syllabi, and his stellar student comments and evaluations,” said Janice Hume, associate professor of journalism and chair of the review committee.

Greenman, the former publisher of the Columbus-Ledger Enquirer, teaches advanced reporting and a class he created in media credibility. He also initiated the McGill Symposium that brings together internationally acclaimed journalists and Grady students to illuminate issues of journalistic courage.

Kent Middleton, head of the department of journalism, noted that Greenman also is a sought-after teacher of journalism leadership and innovationat the Maynard Media Academy at Harvard, the American Press Institute and in newsrooms across the Southeast. Greenman and a colleague were recently awarded $15,000 from UGA’s Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach to begin making UGA the leading university for training journalists to cover poverty.

The department of advertising and public relations recognized two individuals with teaching awards-Kaye Sweetser, assistant professor of public relations, and Kirsten Strausbaugh-Hutchinson, senior lecturer in advertising.

A Lilly Teaching Fellow, Sweetser teaches public relations communications and public relations research. “Kaye Sweetser is an innovative instructor who excels at bringing course material to life in real public relations situations,” said Karen W. King, head of the department of advertising and public relations. “She introduces new technologies into the classroom and helps guide her students as they learn creative ways to solve communication problems using these technologies.”

Strausbaugh-Hutchinson teaches advertising campaigns, advanced creative strategy, advertising message strategy and graphic communications. She also serves as faculty advisor to the UGA AdClub and to the college’s student-run advertising agency, Hooper, Sanford, Baldwin, Thomas.

“Dr. Strausbaugh-Hutchinson is a very hands-on instructor who provides her students with a great deal of individual attention,” King noted. “Her enthusiasm for advertising is infectious and her classes are described as both fun and challenging by students.”

The 2008 Vera Penn Staff Award of Excellence went to Jane Worley, accountant in the Grady College business office. Worley, a resident of Nicholson, was presented with a plaque and $500.

Now in her third year at Grady, Worley was recognized for making improvements in processes and handling things quickly and with ease. She has grace under pressure and is a kind, considerate co-worker to all, noted the team who nominated Worley for the honor.

Before moving into her current position in Grady’s business office, Worley spent two years working in the college’s front office which she is credited with making more efficient and customer friendly. In the business office she has taken charge of the student supply fee funds and helped faculty provide important class resources to their students. Described as a wiz with travel and status reports, Worley’s importance to the business office was clearly demonstrated earlier this year when her supervisor had her reclassified to a higher level, just one year after joining the office.

Described as dependable, efficient and effective, Worley is “seen by many in the college as the go-to person for answers. And if Jane doesn’t know the answer, she is quick to find someone who does. She is professional, personable and patient, which is often a hard combination to find,” her nominators wrote.

Three finalists for the Penn Staff Award for Excellence also were recognized and received awards of appreciation. They included Brooke Rooks, assistant to the dean for business management; Sharon Shannon, academic advisor for telecommunication arts and broadcast news; and Donna LeBlond, administrative associate in the department of advertising and public relations.

Years of service recognitions were presented to four staff members. Brian Begnaud, supply and equipment room manager, and Diane Murray, director of public service and outreach, both marked five-year anniversaries as Grady employees. Debbie Sickles, administrative associate in the office of research and graduate studies, was recognized for 10 years of service, while academic advisor Louise McElroy was honored for 15 years of service. McElroy advises prospective students and minors in the office of undergraduate services.

Established in 1915, UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see