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.
It’s Oct. 9, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. Polina Shemanova spikes the volleyball. In one swift move, she solidifies a record of 1,701 kills and breaks the previous record of 1,698 career kills held by fellow Syracuse University player Dana Fiume ‘01. But there was a time when Shemanova felt confused while playing the game she loves most.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Shemanova arrived in Central New York in 2017 for her first year at Syracuse University. Though she had been learning English since second grade and was privately tutored in the language as she prepared for college, there was still a challenging adjustment period—from volleyball vocabulary to salutations.
“The first month [in the U.S.] was the biggest culture shock,” she says. The casual greeting “how are you” was especially confusing.
“When I was a freshman, it was more people being super curious, asking ‘where are you from?’ and ‘what’s your cultural background?’” she says. “I enjoyed the curiosity of other people that sparked right away when you tell them your background. It took me like a month to realize, oh shoot, [how are you] is just a greeting.”
When deciding on her higher education, Shemanova says the ability of Syracuse University student athletes to confidently speak in front of audiences drew her to the school. As an undergraduate, Shemanova majored in communication and rhetorical studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and linguistic studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.
After graduation, she wanted to continue her volleyball career while nursing an interest in sports media. The Newhouse School was the perfect fit.
“Anytime that we have current athletes in our program, it is a great opportunity for the other students to really learn more about being a college athlete, not only how to interact with the mass media, but to better understand what college athletes go through on an everyday basis,” says Olivia Stomski, director of Newhouse’s Sports Media Center.
Stomski and Shemanova, who’s majoring in broadcast and digital journalism, first met through a Zoom call and have built a strong connection over Shemanova’s time at Newhouse.
“She’s so positive,” Stomski says. “Her energy is absolutely contagious. The time that I was able to spend with her and our relationship was very much built on her enthusiasm and interest in becoming a grad student here at Newhouse.”
Shemanova’s life is drastically different from her time as an undergraduate. She has days where she’ll wake up at 4 a.m., workout at 5 a.m., and then attend classes from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Balancing athletics with graduate-level academics has left the student athlete with little spare time in her schedule, but “I love it to death,” she says.
“All the hours I’ve spent at Newhouse are what make me the person I want to be,” she says. “It’s completely worth it being busy. Time management is everything.”
Shemanova is organized and ambitious, while also uplifting those around her.
“When you’re around Polina and even if you’re not interacting with her, one of the things that really sets her apart is that she does her best to bring out the best in others,” Stomski says.
Shemanova recognizes her innate curiosity as an international student, and how that increases her awareness as a journalist. She covered a story on immigrants attending the Northside Learning Center, which offers free English language classes to refugees and immigrants, as well as a story on a woman from Somalia who recently opened up a restaurant in Syracuse.
While continuing to build her broadcast journalism skills in her classes, Shemanova reflects on the prestige of Newhouse’s faculty.
“The fact that someone can learn from a professional still in the industry is amazing,” she says. “Newhouse never sleeps.”
As for the future, Shemanova says she would love to play volleyball professionally. If that doesn’t work out, she would “love to develop my career in the news world,” she says, while being a color commentator for volleyball on the side.
Whatever Shemanova does, Stomski won’t be shocked.
“If you told me that she was the president of a network or you told me that she was the leading analyst for the Olympics, nothing would surprise me when it comes to what she’s capable of doing.”
Nico Horning is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.
When Sonny Cirasuolo ’21 discovered the course Virtual Reality Storytelling at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, it was if he’d struck gold. At the time, Cirasuolo was just looking for a fun course. Little did he know it would lead him to the forefront of developing immersive media in the metaverse, the simulated digital world of extended reality (XR) that blends the real and virtual. After first taking readers on interactive journeys for Yahoo Sports, Cirasuolo signed on as a creative technologist and XR engineer for the startup Nowhere, which provides a robust platform for multitudes of people to gather in the metaverse. “I really enjoyed the Virtual Reality Storytelling class,” he says. “Everything I’ve been doing is based off that one class. It ended up being what shaped my career, which is pretty cool.”
The course introduced Cirasuolo to Professor Dan Pacheco, a leading expert on journalistic storytelling that uses emerging media platforms and the metaverse. “Sonny threw himself fully into projects, often inspiring others to join him. I saw an opportunity to help harness and focus his energy on something creative,” says Pacheco, the Peter A. Horvitz Endowed Chair in Journalism Innovation and professor of practice in the magazine, news and digital journalism department. “It has been exciting to see his career flourish as he continues to inspire others with his work in the industry.”
Growing up, broadcast and digital journalism sophomore Dhani Joseph understood the importance of education. Taught by his family to always do well in school, Joseph excelled academically. When the Bronx native entered high school, he aspired to a career in the medical field, though his academic strengths skewed more towards his current career goals.
“I hate math,” he says. “However, I was always good at reading and writing so [I said,] ‘let’s see where this takes me.’”
Reflection during the COVID-19 pandemic reversed Joseph’s dreams, and he decided to pursue a career in sports journalism at the Newhouse School.
“Even though I didn’t get into sports until middle school, I was always around sports, picking up on all the different commentators,” Joseph says.
As he watched, he was inspired by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Newhouse’s own Mike Tirico ’88 and Bob Costas ’74.
The Newhouse School, “the best communications school in the world,” was the driving force behind Joseph’s decision to attend Syracuse University. He says he knew it was the place for him to learn essential skills “as a journalist and sports commentator, so I can—one day—be one of the greats of Newhouse.”
Joseph is well on his way to being one of the greats as he completes the inaugural semester of Newhouse DC, a one-semester program where students experience working and living in the nation’s capital. They take classes, complete an internship and connect with the vast Newhouse Network.
Joseph interns with Pro Sports Outlook where he creates NBA, NFL and MLB content. He recently shadowed his Newhouse DC mentor Scott Abraham ’05—a sports anchor at ABC7/WJLA-TV—at a Washington Commanders game at FedEx Field. Joseph also toured the WJLA studio with Abraham and Michelle Marsh ’05, an Emmy Award winning journalist and anchor. He watched them broadcast the news live and got a chance to sit at the anchor desk.
A self-proclaimed planner, Joseph says the decision to come to Washington, DC was unexpected, but essential.
“I wanted to be a part of the first initial cohort able to experience something brand new to potentially get an edge over my competition… I feel like doing a program like this, with the connections I am making with the sports industry while I’m here is something you can’t take for granted.”
Joseph is not only completing Newhouse DC, a program where he says “the opportunities are endless,” but he’s also in the important role of president of the Syracuse University chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.
“We have the responsibility of being a resource for Black journalists on campus whether that is giving resources on scholarships, fellowships, potential internships that are around, just being a resource for Black journalists who don’t know where to find these things,” he says.
“We want to be a place you can come to and say ‘Alright Dhani, I’m trying to find this,’ and we will do our best to help you… We try to have a community. Being Black journalists at a predominantly white institution, we try fostering bonds that last throughout these students’ careers.”
As for the future, Joseph only wants to take on more…and make history at Syracuse University. His goal is to complete all three Newhouse off-campus programs, which would be “pretty historic since most people don’t have a chance to do Newhouse LA and DC.”
Jacob LeRea is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.
Rawiya Kameir has always been interested in combining the arts and journalism, writing stories for cultural publications like The Fader and The Outline. When the opportunity arose to be a member of the new Faculty Fellows Program at the Syracuse University Art Museum, she took it.
The goal of the program is to train professors in utilizing object-based teaching techniques, so the museum’s pieces can be used as an educational tool. Kameir and her fellow faculty members learned how to use the museum’s organization systems and catalogs before taking the knowledge to their students for the semester.
Kameir, who teaches in the magazine, news, and digital journalism program, first learned about the opportunity through Eric Grode, director of the Goldring arts journalism and communications program. It captured her interest right away.
“I thought it sounded really cool,” Kameir says. “As someone who teaches courses about writing about art and thinking about art, it made perfect sense to take advantage of an opportunity to be really up and close with all of this art.”
Once Kameir was selected to be a part of the first cohort of fellows, she underwent training over the summer. She and the other participants learned about research methods used by Kate E. Hollohan, the museum’s curator of education and academic outreach, and Melissa A. Yuen, the interim chief curator.
At the end of the training, the fellows identified a class where they could apply the object-based principles of the program. Kameir applied her training and funding to Literature of Arts Journalism, a graduate-level course she’s teaching this semester.
This fall, Kameir took her class to the museum where she challenged her students to analyze the piece “The Red Badge of Courage (after Stephen Crane),” which she personally curated. This exercise, accompanied by readings and articles on collage theory, allowed the class to collectively create a small syllabus inspired by the piece.
“Each of [my students] read about one of these things in their own areas of interest. And then we annotated a syllabus together,” she says.
This served as practice for the class’ final independent assignment, which involves the students selecting a piece from the museum, researching different types of literature that will enrich their understanding of it and creating a syllabus.
Kameir wants her students to consider “all of the potential avenues that [they] could read about, that might not be directly related to this object… that can help [them] gain a deeper understanding of it.”
Kameir believes everyone can benefit from object-based learning, advising Newhouse students and faculty interested in learning more about this initiative to visit the Syracuse University Art Museum.
“It is something that I really recommend. It’s also a nice break. If you have an hour between classes, it’s a good place to go and get inspired.”
Taylor Huang is a senior dual magazine, news and digital journalism major in the Newhouse School and an information management and technology major in the School of Information Studies.
Regina Luttrell, associate professor of public relations and associate dean of research and creative activities, and Daniela Molta, assistant professor of advertising, co-authored the paper, “A Pedagogical Mystique?: Lessons of Incorporating Feminism Into Skills-Based Communication Courses,” which was published in the Journal of Communication Pedagogy.
It is imperative that today’s advertising, journalism, mass communication, and public relations students are prepared to engage in corporate activism and corporate social responsibility communications once in the workforce. This article explores the need for incorporating equity-based pedagogy, using feminism as one of many approaches, into skills-based communication courses. The researchers conducted 20 qualitative interviews with academics to discuss various approaches, examples, and learnings. The findings suggest that using a feminist framework to teach skills: (1) enhances the skill being taught, (2) allows students to communicate more effectively, (3) builds life skills, and (4) comes in many forms. The article concludes with consideration to areas for future research and contributes to the understanding of academics engaged in a feminist approach to teaching skills-based communication courses.
Alumnus Michael Garcia G ’21 and magazine, news and digital journalism senior Christopher Hippensteel were awarded the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s inaugural Gary Corcoran Student Prize for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.
This award honors the advocacy of Gary S. Corcoran (1951-2015), a wheelchair user who helped make airlines, transit and public venues in Phoenix accessible.
The winners were formally recognized Nov. 14 at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix.
Garcia, a graduate of the magazine, news and digital journalism program, won first place for his article “The Wilderness Pill,” an expansive piece that explores how outdoor experiences and therapy are used as treatment for veterans with PTSD, anxiety and depression. For him, listening to veteran’s stories was the most remarkable part of the process.
“It was especially rewarding to hear [veteran Dennice Tafolla’s] story and how she’s dealt with PTSD and how the program she did really helped her inner life,” says Garcia, now a suburban reporter and producer for the Houston Chronicle.
His article was published in Upstate Unearthed, a capstone project within Multimedia Projects, a course in the Newhouse School‘s magazine, news and digital journalism program. The course was co-taught by associate professor Adam Peruta and former Newhouse professor Melissa Chessher.
“What’s great about the class is the pairing of Professor Peruta’s skill set— which is very different than my skill set—and giving students creative freedom to tell stories in a multitude of ways, which all journalists have to do, and truly trying to find the best ways to tell those stories,” Chessher says.
The students built Upstate Unearthed from the ground up, creating the website, reporting, researching, editing and even traveling if needed.
“It’s always gratifying when the students are winning awards for these projects because these are really hard projects and stories to pull off in one semester,” Peruta says.
Newhouse took not only first, but also second place for this prize. Hippensteel, a senior staff writer for The Daily Orange, won for his article “The PA justice system often fails autistic people. Can these activists and judges bring reform?” published by PublicSource, a nonprofit news organization in Pittsburgh.
He was inspired to write the article after being assigned to cover a series of panels addressing improvements to the Pennsylvania justice system for people with disabilities. Hippensteel wanted to dive deeper, and look “into what the landscape of criminal justice reform efforts are in Allegheny County, and also how the system, as it currently existed, harms people with autism.”
Hippensteel applied for the award over the summer, “not expecting much,” he says. He was shocked when he received the news that he won second place.
“I was definitely surprised,” he says. “Definitely deeply honored. And deeply grateful to the judges at Arizona State University for recognizing me.”
The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications today announced the appointment of veteran political journalist Margaret Talev as the Kramer Director of the Syracuse University Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship Institute. Talev will be based in Washington, D.C. and report to Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato. She will assume the position in January.
“Margaret Talev brings both the experience and the perspective needed to head up our new Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship, Institute” Lodato says. “Her many years as a political journalist have given her an on-the-ground view of the issues and a deep knowledge of Washington. She has worked to build diverse teams and share diverse stories. And she is committed to the ideals of the institute and to supporting and leading our students and faculty as they do this important work.”
Talev joins the University following a 30-year career covering American politics and the White House. She is currently the managing editor for politics at Axios and a CNN political analyst. She has also served as senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News and McClatchy Newspapers and held positions at the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee and Tampa Tribune. She is a past president of the White House Correspondents’ Association and the Washington Press Club Foundation, and has taught courses at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She will transition to a role as senior contributor at Axios following her move to the institute.
“I am thrilled to have been entrusted with launching Syracuse’s Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship Institute—and grateful to my colleagues at Axios for their support,” Talev says. “The mission of this institute is truly my North Star. It is what drew me to journalism as the child of an immigrant who fled Communism for American democracy, and what’s guided my approach for 30 years covering everything from local news to the White House.”
Says Axios co-founder Mike Allen, “Margaret Talev—one of Washington’s best connected and most respected journalists—has long bolstered democracy through her reporting, teaching and leadership. Margaret has the perfect combination of personal passion and life experience to pioneer this new institute.”
The Syracuse University Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship Institute is a joint effort of the Newhouse School and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Based in Washington, the institute will promote nonpartisan, evidence-based research and dialogue in the public interest and support the work of faculty and students. It will strive to create new knowledge, foster a more informed and engaged citizenry and better equip students for success.
“We’re confident in Margaret’s leadership strength, deep knowledge of the issues and the ability to work across a range of interests to develop this partnership and our shared vision of Syracuse University’s contribution to advancing civic dialogue,” says David M. Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School.
Beverly Kirk was appointed director of Washington programs in August. The Newhouse School currently has open positions for two new faculty members—one based in Syracuse and the other in Washington—who will be associated with the institute and also be part of the University’s Citizenship and Democratic Institutions research cluster. Other institute faculty will include a research director from the Maxwell School.
The directorship is supported by a $1 million endowment from alumnus and University Trustee Larry Kramer ’72, former president and publisher of USA Today.
“This country must restore the ability of people with differing opinions to respectfully debate these important issues. We must revive respect for truth and trust,” Kramer says. “The combination of two powerhouse schools—Newhouse and Maxwell—puts us in a perfect position to launch this new institute and to host the debate over the biggest problems our democracy is facing today. Trust in our governing institutions, our political system and the media are at all-time lows. By raising the level of respectful debate and discussion, we will seek to find constructive solutions to restoring that trust.”
In under two years at Syracuse University, Jada Knight has already made her mark in major ways.
The television, radio and film sophomore’s list of accomplishments is long, from being offered two scholarships before even arriving on campus to attending the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France this past summer.
“[Newhouse] has pushed me to go for things that I never would have gone for if I went to college back home,” Knight says. “It’s caused me to think of opportunities that aren’t local, to broaden my horizons, to take the risk and see if I get something.”
The Our Time Has Come Scholarship Program is run through Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Advancement, aiming to bring together minority populations on campus and encouraging them to make connections with one another as well as with Syracuse University alumni. Knight acknowledges the program to be her most important involvement.
“I’m glad I did it because some of the people I’m really close to now are in the program,” Knight says. “It’s taught me how to speak with people in the industries I might be interested in and it’s taught me how to dress business casual. I never knew what that meant.”
Knight continues to grow as a student and an individual through her Posse Scholarship. It was awarded by The Posse Foundation, a national organization that recruits and trains individuals with leadership potential. She was nominated to apply by a high school peer and was later selected to be one of 10 scholars from Miami, receiving a full tuition scholarship towards her university studies.
Knight also takes pride in her role as a Newhouse Ambassador, through which she gives prospective students tours and encourages them to explore all that Newhouse has to offer. It’s a fun job on campus that Knight realized has a big payoff.
“Sometimes you could meet someone very important,” she says. “One time [on a tour I was giving] I met the vice president of cybersecurity at Blackstone Launchpad in New York City. I wouldn’t have met him if I didn’t do that tour.”
Knight attended the Cannes Film Festival in May due to her connection with Newhouse alumna and executive editor at Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), Tara Donaldson. Donaldson knew Penske Media Corporation’s—which publishes WWD—Black Affinity Group hoped to sponsor a student’s attendance to the festival, and she immediately thought of Newhouse.
“The Newhouse network can be a powerful tool, both for students looking to learn from alums and for alums looking for the best of the best to hire for new media roles,” Donaldson says. “Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to hire for a role, I look to Newhouse first because I know the education the students are getting is a cut above the rest, and I know these students will emerge with the tools and passion necessary to give their best to a role.”
The future is bright for Knight. This month, she will be representing the Newhouse School at the Journalism Education Association convention in St. Louis, and hopes to intern in communications with the Women’s National Basketball Association in New York City this summer. Aligning with her Cannes experience, Knight aims to lead a social media team of her own or become an international film distributor.
Julia Sassoon is a junior public relations major at the Newhouse School.
Overlooking South Crouse Avenue on the Syracuse University campus, the text of the First Amendment is etched in the glassy skin of Newhouse 3. Six years after his 26-year tenure at the University, Dean Emeritus David Rubin takes pride in that building as a symbol of his legacy.
From 1990 to 2008, Rubin served as dean of the Newhouse School. After stepping down as dean, he continued to teach communications and arts journalism classes for another eight years. As dean, he credited a strong faculty and staff with transforming Newhouse technologically and bringing it into the modern age.
“Even though I’m hardly a techie, I had the right people on the faculty and staff,” Rubin says. “[Newhouse has] got a very strong faculty. I’m proud of how many good faculty members I hired, although a lot of them are now retiring. But they’ve been hiring good, young faculty.”
He continues his work with young professionals, even after officially retiring in 2016 and settling down just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. In between visiting his local YMCA, reading, writing and playing the piano, Rubin and his wife, Tina Press, are involved politically in Dorchester County. He encourages young politicians to learn how to run for office and teaches them about campaign intricacies such as confidence in public speaking.
“I’ve been helping them strategize: What are their strongest issues? How should they attack their opponents?” Rubin says. “And I’ve been writing information for them to use on their websites about their own positions and to attack these opponents.”
During the last 30 years, in the primarily Republican Charleston metropolitan area, Rubin has seen countless elections at various levels where the Democrats didn’t nominate a candidate. Rubin says he believes results like these are unhealthy for democracy and they are one of his main motivations for encouraging young politicians to involve themselves in the political scene.
In addition to helping shape the next generation of politicians, Rubin and Press have been hard at work during the past 18 months trying to elect young candidates to the State Assembly, the House and the County Council, which oversees local issues in Dorchester County.
One of Rubin’s main contributions is blogging for Dorchester County’s website, which is “getting pretty good circulation in South Carolina,” he says. Drawing on an essential Newhouse skill, Rubin mentions he’s published close to 100,000 words in the last two years.
“We [also] do more traditional things,” he says. “We go to fundraising events, we distribute political literature, [we] canvass door-to-door, my wife sends out postcards to voters and all that kind of stuff.”
Rubin recently backed four Dorchester area candidates running for Assembly District seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives, including 21-year-old Sydney Clinton, whom he describes as “the David who slays Goliath.”
Rubin is no stranger to politics. He was deeply involved in the Central New York political scene, especially in the WCNY-TV studios where he was the first moderator of “Ivory Tower,” the station’s weekly public affairs program that focused on current political and societal issues. He recently attended the show’s 20th anniversary celebration in September.
His political involvement, combined with his role within the Newhouse School, meant local fame. Eric Grode ’93, director of the Goldring arts journalism and communications program and a colleague of Rubin, recalls outings where Rubin was recognized.
“If we were at dinner in Armory Square, he couldn’t go five feet without someone grabbing his elbow and talking to him a bit,” Grode says. “He was a real fixture here in Central New York.”
As a tenacious, passionate fixture in a new city, Rubin is securing himself another legacy, much like the one left at Newhouse.
Max Gifford is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.
The Syracuse University W.P. Ehling Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (SUPRSSA) will host the 2023 PRSSA Northeast District Conference at the Newhouse School for the first time on April 14. The chapter was selected following an intense interview and vetting process.
“This is a huge opportunity for our PRSSA group and I am really excited to see what the team develops and to guide them through the process,” says Kelly C. Gaggin, SUPRSSA faculty advisor and professor of public relations at Syracuse University.
This annual conference brings together hundreds of students representing the country’s top public relations programs. SUPRSSA president Daniella French, executive vice president Jake Skolnick and Hill Communications firm director Erin Jacobs will travel to Dallas in November to promote the conference at the PRSSA International Conference.
“This is a historic moment for SUPRSSA and marks the first fully in-person district conference since the COVID-19 pandemic,” French says. “I am proud of our team and excited to have the opportunity to connect with other leaders in PRSSA and our industry at the national conference.”
Skolnick says they are dedicated to creating a meaningful experience for all who attend.
“Attendees can look forward to a valuable array of speakers and programming that will pay dividends in their careers, whether prospective or current.”
Information about the conference will be available in early 2023 by visiting www.suprssa.org. Faculty and practitioners interested in leading event sessions should contact Anya Sywulak at SUPRSSA.DistrictConference@gmail.com.