CCI Celebrates Faculty Promotions at Convocation
The College of Communication and Information honored seven of its faculty who earned promotions this year at the 2023 CCI Convocation. The work these faculty do, in their research, classrooms, and service work, will continue to make an impact on their fields and on future generations to come. Here’s a little bit about them:
School of Communication Studies
Associate Professor Jenny Crowley
As she moves into her tenured-role as an associate professor and her sixth year at CCI, Crowley said she is continuing work on her grant-funded research exploring how the role of interpersonal communication between romantic partners plays in the opioid crisis in rural East Tennessee. She is also stepping into a new administrative position this year as the director of undergraduate studies for the School of Communication Studies.
While she is excited to continue taking on leadership roles and making her name known as a nationally recognized scholar, teaching will always be a high point for the new associate professor.
“I am motivated to continue making CCI an engaged and diverse community and I am excited to keep doing my part to make CCI a fun place to learn and work; whether it’s doing TikTok dances in the classroom, rescuing kittens, celebrating grad student birthdays, or bringing in baked goods for faculty and staff,” she said. “CCI has supported me over the past six years, and I know I can continue to achieve new heights both personally and professionally with CCI’s support.”
“Jenny has been a great asset for the program. Her teaching has been outstanding, she has provided important service for the school, she has been active in mentoring our grad students, her research is outstanding, and she is a great colleague. Jenny’s work addresses important societal issues in health and relationships, and she has published in top-tier journals. Faculty colleagues who reviewed her scholarship described it as innovative, cutting edge, and offering important contributions. She is such a valuable member of our faculty!” – School of Communication Studies Professor and Director Jon Hess
School of Journalism and Media
Professor Nick Geidner
Geidner leads Land Grant Films, a Telly Award-winning and Emmy-nominated documentary production program at the college and University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Through Land Grant Films, he has created and produced the documentaries “The Library That Dolly Built” and “7 Days in America.”
In addition to these projects, both of which provided hands-on learning opportunities for students, Geidner is currently working on a documentary about the late-Senator Howard Baker and leading the production of an educational video series, JobPop!, for East Tennessee PBS. Geidner also serves as an administrative fellow in the College of Communication and Information, helping to develop a college-level media center.
“In the coming years, I look forward to creating more opportunities for our students to produce video products that add to our community. I also look forward to helping develop the college-level media center,” Geidner said.
“Dr. Nick Geidner is very deserving of his new full professor title. Dr. Geidner’s is dedicated to hands-on learning experiences, as reflected in the constant flow of students in and out of his office. His establishment of Land Grant Films continues to be a transformative initiative for the School of Journalism and Media and the college.” – JEM Interim Director Courtney Childers
Professor Erin Whiteside
Sports communication is one of the most popular concentrations at the School of Journalism and Media, and Whiteside’s contributions to the program have played a part in that popularity as she teaches classes on media and diversity, sports communication, and qualitative methodology. She conducts research around sports media sociology and feminist sports media studies, including how to create conditions that enable better and more just coverage of women’s sports, and issues important to women and nonbinary athletes.
Whiteside is looking forward to continuing that research as well as providing experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students and mentoring graduate students.
“Helping students realize their goals is a meaningful part of my job and I am excited to continue doing that. One aspect of my job is mentoring PhD students; I love working with all students, but in this job, you really get the opportunity to know doctoral students especially well and work with them as they transition from student to scholar. I am proud of all my past doctoral students and cannot wait to see what my current students will do!” Whiteside said.
“I could not be any happier that Dr. Erin Whiteside has been promoted to full professor as she continues to do a great job in preparing the next generation of sports communicators. She is a passionate mentor to both graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Whiteside leads important diversity-related conversations in and outside of the classroom. I have learned a lot from her in my short time working with her.” – School of Journalism and Media Interim Director Courtney Childers
School of Information Sciences
Professor Wade Bishop
As Bishop becomes a full professor, he is also taking over as the School of Information Sciences’ director of graduate studies, overseeing one of the largest graduate programs on the UT campus.
His area of research focuses on the creation and curation of geographic information, which includes all geospatial data and cartographic resources since humans began mapping places. While most people think of maps when they think of this type of information, geographic information is used in many ways.
“Geographic information is fundamental to science, industry, and our everyday lives. The curation of these unique objects determines who has access to rebuild the world around us and hopefully be better stewards of it for future Tennesseans. I look forward to teaching and sharing more on how the organization, access, and use of all research data improves and advances all scholarship through the growth of the Research Data Management Certificate (RDMC),” Bishop said.
“We are delighted by Wade Bishop’s promotion because it recognizes his strong leadership, track record, and accomplishments in research, teaching, and service. His scholarly contributions to geographic information, services, and resources significantly impact the body of knowledge, theory, practice, and education in this critical sub-field of information sciences. We are excited that he is also taking on the important role of SIS Director of Graduate Studies!” – School of Information Sciences Professor and Director Abebe Rorissa
Professor Devendra Potnis
A focus on vulnerable populations has driven much of the research that Potnis has focused on during his time at the School of Information Sciences. He explores how individuals and communities can use information and communication technologies to aid in the financial, digital, and information divide often seen in rural or other vulnerable populations.
“I will leverage this opportunity and position to address injustice in academia and society. I have recently completed the DEI Certificate from Cornell University. Under Dean Mazer’s and Director Rorissa’s leadership, I will continue applying my experience, position, skills, and knowledge to benefit students, staff, faculty, and administrators at CCI and beyond,” Potnis said.
He enjoys collaborating with students on his research, which in turn has bolstered their skills and experience in ways that contributed to them gaining positions at academic libraries and in academia.
“Devendra Potnis is an excellent scholar and leader with global visibility. The promotion is a well-deserved recognition of his achievements in research, teaching, and service. His research is interdisciplinary and practitioner-oriented and impacts vulnerable and marginalized populations. I look forward to Devendra’s continued leadership at the school, college, university, and professional levels.” – School of Information Sciences Professor and Director Abebe Rorissa
Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations
Professor Courtney Childers
Childers joined the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations in 2006, and since then has proven her excellence both in the classroom, as a researcher, and administratively. She has supported the college by stepping into pivotal leadership roles, including currently as interim director of the School of Journalism and Media and in the past as chair of UT Social Media Week.
Her research emphasis is on influencer marketing and advertising pedagogy, which she said she plans to continue exploring in coming years. She is excited about what is yet to come at the college, as well as at both the Tombras School and School of Journalism and Media.
“What most excites me about working at CCI are the people. The students. The momentum. The future of CCI is so bright, and I’m excited to see where new initiatives and opportunities take us,” she said.
“Over the past 17 years, Dr. Courtney Childers has made tremendous and indelible impacts on the school, college, and university through her unwavering and passionate commitment to teaching, research, and service. I am beyond thrilled to see one of the most dedicated and talented scholars I know earn this much deserved recognition. Dr. Childers is beloved by students, faculty, and staff across this University as well as academe!” – Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations Professor and Director Beth Foster
Professor María De Moya
De Moya joined the Tombras School in 2022 as the inaugural Charles Tombras, Sr. Endowed Professor where she will continue her career focused on increasing under-represented groups in advertising and public relations. Her research centers on ethnic activism and advocacy in the United States of America and internationally, which she also uses to inform her teaching.
Her role specifically tasks her with fostering more diversity in the school and field, which she is currently doing by developing and implementing Tombras Touchpoints—initiatives to grow and demonstrate the school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I am looking forward to continuing my work supporting the Tombras School’s efforts to ensure that marginalized voices are better represented in advertising and public relations,” De Moya said.
She is also the incoming head of the Minorities and Communication Division at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
“Dr. De Moya has already made a huge impact in her short time here. We are thrilled to have her on board as the inaugural Charles Tombras Professor to advance the Tombras program initiatives. Dr. De Moya brings an advanced skill set and rich experience to enhance our diversity, equity, and inclusion outreach and recruitments effort in exciting, innovative, and inspiring ways.”– Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations Professor and Director Beth Foster