Class of 2020 Commencement events to be held Sept. 17-19

Syracuse University will host a Commencement ceremony—delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and other celebratory events for the Class of 2020 during the weekend of Sept. 17–19.  

Commencement will be held Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. at the Stadium. This University-wide ceremony, where Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud will formally confer degrees, is for all undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates. Doors open at 8 a.m.

Following Commencement, all 2020 Newhouse graduates and their families are invited to join Dean Mark J. Lodato and the faculty and staff for a celebratory reception. The event will include a dean’s welcome, recognition of participating graduates and an opportunity to reconnect with faculty. A precise time and location will be announced soon; stay tuned for details.

For more information about Commencement activities for the Class of 2020, see the event listing.

Alumna entrepreneur hosts ‘Creators and Coffee’ for Syracuse University students

Alumna Kelsey Davis ’19, G’20, founder and CEO of CLLCTVE, will host a “Creators and Coffee” event Monday, Sept. 20, at 10 a.m. under the tents outside Newhouse 1. The networking event gives creative-minded students a chance to come together and chat with Davis about their creative journeys, and how to seek out the tools and resources they need to be successful. Students will also have the opportunity to have a free headshot taken during the event.

Kelsey Davis
Kelsey Davis ’19, G’20, founder and CEO of CLLCTVE

Davis, recently recognized on the Forbes “30 under 30” list, earned a bachelor’s degree from the Newhouse School and a master’s degree from the Whitman School. She co-founded CLLCTVE with School of Information Studies alumnus Brendan O’Keeffe ’20 while they were undergraduates. The online platform fosters a community for creators around the country to showcase who they are and what they do, and provides an opportunity for collaboration that would not exist otherwise. Davis says they are now hoping to bring these creator community experiences to campuses across the country, providing students with a network they may find challenging to form on their own.

“Since launching CLLCTVE as students on campus, we’ve witnessed incredible collaborations and opportunities grow between creators and brands who wouldn’t have met each other if it weren’t for our platform,” she says. “I’m excited to partner with the same campus environment I first grew in as a creator and entrepreneur to provide students with these same opportunities.”

CLLCTVE is now is supported by Google for Startups, Techstars and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The company is now based in Los Angeles, but is still connected with Syracuse University.

“CLLCTVE to me has always been about bringing together a community that empowers and opens doors for young creators,” says Lynn Seah ’22, a content manager at CLLCTVE. “I’m excited to bring together creators in a space where they can have fun meeting similar people and making meaningful connections that could translate into future collaborators, friends or even mentors.”

“Most universities don’t have built-in opportunities or focus on building networks for creators on campus,” says Kaila Mathis, growth manager at CLLCTVE. “This leads to a lack of connections, resources and tools allowing creators to pursue careers in what they’re truly passionate about. Our mission with these events, as a company, is to bridge that gap and enable everyone to create the life they want.”

For more information, contact Mathis at

Former students connect Syracuse community with media

Former multimedia, photography and design graduate students Eric Derachio Jackson Jr. and Mylz Blake created Black Cub Productions to give underrepresented communities in Syracuse a platform to be creative.

Eric Derachio Jackson, Jr.
Eric Derachio Jackson Jr.

Eric Derachio Jackson Jr. and Mylz Blake have been friends since middle school. They attended the Newhouse School as master’s students in the multimedia, photography and design program together. Now, they are co-founders of Black Cub Productions (BCP), a multimedia creative agency based in Syracuse.

Although mixing business with friendship can be tense, Jackson says working with Blake is one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

“[We] can talk to each other about anything and be able to really communicate and express how we feel, listen to one another,” Jackson says. “We both know what we want, and I think that’s always something we keep at the forefront of what we do. [We understand] what we want out of this business and, more importantly, our life.”

Jackson and Blake had the idea to start BCP while they were students. After leaving Newhouse, they felt prepared to turn their idea into a reality.

“In the Newhouse grad program, they really push you to learn how to be your own multimedia storyteller, and it’s kind of similar to being an entrepreneur,” Jackson says. “[We thought,] ‘We want to tell stories. Let’s just go and tell stories.’”

They began by making documentaries for nonprofits in the Syracuse area, but found that they often saw opportunities to use their work for marketing that their clients missed, which inspired them to expand BCP into a full service agency.

“The main thing that gave us the courage to say, ‘This is something we want to do,’ was we were very, very passionate about having people who look like us, Black people, entering this space of multimedia… and most importantly, of storytelling,” Jackson says. The goal went from creating the work themselves, to enabling people from Black and other diverse communities to tell their own stories.

We felt that if we started something as two Black men hoping to bring in more people who look like us, and just diverse people in general, we could build a space that’s for diverse creatives and that’s putting [our stories at] the forefront.”

One way BCP is doing that is by teaching future generations of creatives how to be storytellers.

The Central New York Community Foundation, a philanthropic foundation in Syracuse, created a program called the Black Equity & Excellence Fund, which supports Black-led community-based projects. Jackson and Blake became interested in the program and created Life Through My Own Lens, a 12-week storytelling program for students in grades seven to 12.

“They learn everything from storytelling to public speaking to how to interview to how to be interviewed,” Jackson says.

The inaugural program took place in April. Canon supplied cameras and the students learned how to use different lenses, how to light a shot and how to compose a story. At the end of the program, the students put together a final presentation in which they told their own stories.

“This [program] was super important to us because…I didn’t really want this to just be the Eric and Mylz show,” Jackson says. “We wanted to find a way to allow diverse creatives to not feel like they have to go to Hollywood or Atlanta or New York City to produce films. It can happen right here in Syracuse. We wanted to open the door for diverse creatives to be able to have great employment in this field, as well as just access to [storytelling].”

Jackson and Blake will host another session of the program this fall and are hoping to keep it going after that, extending it to include older storytellers as well. It’s their intention that through teaching these skills, they can help bring new business opportunities to the community.

“The Black community in Syracuse is one of the poorest in the nation,” Jackson says. “Being able to bring media to them seems to help that community to start building itself back up through this work.”

But whether it’s for money or not, Jackson says storytelling is its own reward.

“Your perspective and creativity is a gift,” he says, “and it doesn’t exist in the world until you give it.”

Adrianne Morales ’21 is an alumna of the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

Newhouse alumnus tells story of crucial victory for LGBTQ equality

Patrick Sammon ’97 co-directed “Cured,” a documentary chronicling the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s official list of mental disorders.

Patrick Sammon and Bennet Singer
Patrick Sammon (left) and Bennett Singer produced and directed “Cured.” (Photo by Erika Christie)

When Patrick Sammon ’97 first arrived at Newhouse, he thought he was going to be a sports broadcaster. Now almost 30 years later, Sammon is an award-winning independent filmmaker.

His most recent project, “Cured,” is set to open this season of PBS’s Independent Lens Oct. 11. The documentary, which Sammon co-created with fellow documentary filmmaker Bennett Singer, follows the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s official list of mental disorders. “Cured” has won the audience award from Frameline, the biggest LGBTQ film festival in the world, and Best Documentary of 2021 from the American Historical Society Association. We talked to Sammon about the importance of LBGTQ history, his career path and how sometimes the best way to begin a career in documentary filmmaking is to just try to make a documentary on your own.

How did this documentary come about?

A friend [asked me to] read his film script and [had a scene that took place at] the 1972 APA annual meeting when Doctor Anonymous, a psychiatrist, had to dress in disguise in order to talk to his fellow psychiatrists about what it was like to be a gay psychiatrist. I had been familiar with this story, but reading my friend’s script, it jumped off the pages at me as something that would make an incredible documentary. I was pleasantly surprised that another documentary about the same subject hadn’t been done before, because this moment is so central in the history of LGBT equality. As long as we were classified as mentally ill, then business and government [will] use that as an excuse to discriminate. So this had to be the first domino to fall on the path to equality. I recruited my friend Bennett Singer to join me, and we did our first interview in the spring of 2015. We finished the production right before the pandemic. We were still doing online editing during the early days of the pandemic, and we released it virtually in film festivals in August 2020. Now, we’re excited to bring it to a national television audience.

Cured poster with the text, "Meet the LGBTQ activists who refused to accept psychiatry's mental-illness label and changed history."

What did you hope to achieve?

We really wanted to have this film as a testament to the courageous individuals who stepped up and achieved this victory, and that was one of our challenges in telling this story. The outcome of this fight wasn’t inevitable. It’s often easy when looking back through history to say, “Well, it was always going to turn out that way,” but actually events turn out that way because of the actions of individuals who join a fight and try to create change. When these activists started fighting in the late 60s and early 70s, it was a David vs. Goliath situation. So that was also one of the things we wanted to convey in the film—this outcome wasn’t inevitable. From a filmmaking perspective, that was a challenge because everyone knew the outcome of this story when they started watching it, but you need to try and create drama along the way, and I hope that we did that.

What was your path from studying broadcast journalism at Newhouse to co-creating this award-winning documentary?

I’ve basically had three careers. I started as an intern at the CBS affiliate in Watertown [New York]. Then in ’99, I worked as a general assignment reporter in Tennessee at WJHL. I enjoyed being a reporter but knew I didn’t want to do it forever.

From that experience, I knew I was interested in documentary filmmaking, so after doing some networking, I moved to Washington, D.C. in January of ’03 with no job, everything I owned in my car and $3,000 in the bank. I ended up taking a detour and worked in LGBT activism at Log Cabin Republicans for five years, but I always wanted to get back to documentary filmmaking. When I left in 2009, my résumé was odd, so at that point, I knew the best way for me to get into documentary filmmaking was to just make a documentary.

I then embarked on making a documentary called “Codebreaker” about the life and legacy of Alan Turing, the gay British code breaker, and during that production, I met Bennett Singer, my co-director on “Cured.” It’s been quite a long journey, but ultimately I’ve always been interested in storytelling, and that’s really what’s propelled my career forward.

What advice would you give to Newhouse students just starting out in their careers?

You just have to put one foot in front of the other. If I knew, on the day I decided to try and make “Codebreaker,” that it would take so many years to create and distribute, I would have gotten discouraged. Similarly, with “Cured” it’s been such a journey. So just take one foot in front of the other and don’t get discouraged.

Elizabeth Kauma is a senior in the magazine program at the Newhouse School.

Luttrell co-authors article on creating a public relations curriculum that reflects industry transformations

Regina Luttrell, assistant professor of public relations, co-authored the article, “Public Relations Curriculum: A Systematic Examination of Curricular Offerings in Social Media, Digital Media, and Analytics in Accredited Programs” with Adrienne A. Wallace of Grand Valley State University; Christopher McCollough of Jacksonville State University; and Jiyoung Lee G’19 of the University of Alabama. The paper was published in the Journal of Public Relations Education from AEJMC.

Luttrell co-authors article on helping students develop media pitching skills

Regina Luttrell, assistant professor of public relations, co-authored the article, “Pitch Perfect: Secrets of Media Relations” with Adrienne A. Wallace of Grand Valley State University and Jamie Ward of Eastern Michigan University. The paper was published in the Journal of Public Relations Education from AEJMC.

Luttrell co-authors article on human-centered SEO

Regina Luttrell, assistant professor of public relations, co-authored the article, “A Human-Centered SEO Approach to Creating Higher Ranking Content for Public Relations using a Content Clustering Method” with Adrienne A. Wallace of Grand Valley State University. The paper was published in the Journal of Public Relations Education from AEJMC.

Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival to be held virtually Sept. 23 – 25

The 19th annual Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival, slated for Set. 23 – 25, will be held virtually this year. The event is sponsored by the Syracuse University Humanities Center and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and is part of the 2021-22 Syracuse Symposium: Conventions.

Members of the campus community with an email address will be able to stream each film for 48 hours, and will also have access to live Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. A complete schedule is available at

Newhouse School professor Tula Goenka and College of Arts and Sciences professor Roger Hallas are co-directors.

“We were forced to quickly learn how to host a first-rate virtual festival in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, and we were relieved that our campus community responded well,” says Goenka, founding director. “Earlier this summer, we began planning for an in-person event but due to continuing uncertainties of the Delta variant, we decided to be cautious and host it online once again. We are really looking forward to our 20th film festival being an in-person celebration next year!”

“Conventions” is a significant theme in this year’s festival program. The opening film, “No Ordinary Man,” is a highly inventive and illuminating portrait of jazz musician Billy Tipton, which radically challenges the genre conventions of the documentary biopic and interrogates the representation of transgender histories. A virtual Q&A with filmmakers Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt will be held Sept. 23, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

“We’re delighted to bring this innovative and thought-provoking film to open our festival,” says Hallas. “While transgender lives and histories are gaining greater public recognition, Chin-Yee and Joynt have used performance as enthralling and playful means to interrogate the very stakes of cultural representation.”

The festival continues with “Belly of the Beast,” an empowering portrait of the women who are fighting the U.S. industrial prison complex’s systematic and secretive practices of violence and reproductive injustice against Black and Brown female prisoners. A Q&A with filmmaker Erika Cohn will be held Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

Ajitpal Singh’s award-winning dramatic feature, “Fire in the Mountains,” closes the festival. A devoted mother toils to save money to build a road in a Himalayan village in order to take her disabled son for physiotherapy, but her husband believes that the traditional conventions of shamanic ritual will save them all. A Q&A with Singh will be Sept. 25, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

Festival co-sponsors include the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; School of Education; Department of English; Department of History; Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics; Department of Political Science; Department of Religion; Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition; Latino-Latin American Studies Program; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies Program; Renée Crown University Honors Program; Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC); Hendricks Chapel; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Resource Center; Lender Center for Social Justice; South Asia Center; Department of African American Studies; Department of Art & Music Histories; South Asian Student Association (SASA); and Students Advocating Safe Sex and Empowerment (SASSE)

All films are either closed-captioned or subtitled in English. Audio description in English is also available for each film. Virtual question-and-answer sessions will include Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). If you require additional accommodations, contact Robyn Kobasa at or 315-443-1909 by Sept. 20.

For more information and a full schedule, visit Follow on Twitter at #SUHRFF.

Schneider co-authors paper about crisis response and social media

Erika Schneider, visiting assistant teaching professor of public relations, authored/co-authored the paper, “The Amplified Crisis: Assessing Negative Social Amplification and Source of a Crisis Response” with Courtney D. Boman and Heather Akin. The paper was published in the journal Communication Reports.


Extending the situational crisis communication theory, this research evaluates how the consequences of a crisis extend to social media and how using internal and external sources influence crisis response processing. A structural equation model assessed the conceptual link between organizational reputation and the negative amplification of a message on social media using data derived from an online experiment. Findings contextualize crisis communication to suggest source and social amplification could lead to a vanguard of future SCCT research that guides researchers and professionals in optimizing a crisis response.

Brigethia Guins-Jamison G’17

Brigethia is an assistant account executive at Hill + Knowlton Strategies in the consumer markets sector providing day-to-day support to media relations, executive communications, influencer marketing and diversity and inclusion for a set of clients, including Procter & Gamble, Russell Reynolds Associates, and Aflac.

“Newhouse prepared me a lot for the workforce. The hands-on experiences that I received during my master’s program really equipped me for the real world.”

Brigethia Guins-Jamison G’17

Prior to joining H+K, Brigethia worked as a public relations coordinator for Urbanity Communications and interned with Edelman’s paid media team in their Chicago office. While completing her master’s degree, she worked as a marketing associate for Aspen Heights Partners handling content creation, brand awareness and social media campaigns.

Brigethia received her master’s degree in public relations in 2017 from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2016 from Medaille College.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

When I started at Hill + Knowlton I was a digital fellow. After about eight months I was hired on as an assistant account executive. Prior to joining H+ K, I was a part time account coordinator for a small boutique public reactions firm Urbanity Communications.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse prepared me a lot for the workforce. The hands-on experiences that I received during my master’s program really equipped me for the real world. Our benchmark trips were amazing because we got a chance to meet public relations professionals and learn a lot from them. We also got a chance to visit different agencies to see what it would possibly be like working there.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

When you first start out you really have to work your way up specifically in the agency life. Also, being so young with a graduate degree also made it tough for me to find a role after college. Life after college is definitely challenging but know that you aren’t alone in the process and that there are resources for you.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

My most exciting moment in the career was working with my client Procter and Gamble on their Queen Collective program developed in partnership with Queen Latifah, and Tribeca Studios, aiming to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera by opening doors to the next generation of multicultural women directors through mentorship, production support, and distribution opportunities. I also was a part of P&G’s launch of their Widen The Screen initiative which aims to address the systemic bias and inequality in advertising and media. These moments were exciting because the work was meaningful and really gave underserved individuals a voice which I am so happy to be a part of.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

The advice I would give to incoming students is to work hard and appreciate the moment you are in now because you will miss it. My favorite professors were Anthony D’Angelo, Hua Jiang and Dennis Kinsey.

Pike authors paper on using subjective research methodology to evaluate public diplomacy programs

Steven Pike, assistant professor of public relations, authored the paper, “Using Q methodology to augment evaluation of public diplomacy programs.” The paper explores the potential for Q methodology, which allows for the measurement of subjectivity, to improve techniques for evaluating public diplomacy programs, and was published in the journal Place Branding and Public Diplomacy.


The evaluation of public diplomacy programs presents complicated challenges. Discernment of impact is complicated by statistical and practical issues: the nature of individualized personal experiences; the large number of factors that can influence an individual’s response to any experience; the long time horizon required for impact to develop; the influence of politics on defining desired outcomes; and a longrunning debate within the discipline over the proper objectives of exchange programs (mutual understanding for its own sake or the pursuit of foreign policy agendas). Researcher asked current and former participants in the Hubert H. Humphrey Exchange Program at Syracuse University for opinions on the outcomes, benefits, and attributes they expect of exchange programs, and used Q methodology, a scientific method for the study of subjectivity, to discern and describe differing perspectives. Results obtained revealed distinct differences in the opinion patterns of different groups of participants, including identifying participants who valued more agenda- and policy-driven objectives. Demographic information obtained was insufficient to identify the drivers of those groups and additional research, including expansion of the respondent pool and analysis of individual participants, is needed to refine the precise drivers.