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New Leaders Appointed to Moody College

Starting Aug. 1, 2014, three departments in the Moody College will have new leaders.

James Booth will serve as chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Booth will take over as chair from Craig Champlin, who will return to teaching full time.

James Booth


James Booth

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Booth is the Jo Ann G. and Peter F. Dolle Professor in Learning Disabilities at Northwestern University's School of Communication and director of Northwestern's Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, which facilitates research that helps identify, diagnose and treat disabilities in developing brains.

"I am deeply honored to become a member of the esteemed faculty at The University of Texas at Austin," Booth said. "As the oldest program of its kind in the state of Texas, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is greatly respected for its high-impact work. I hope to build on the tremendous successes of this program. My goals will be to facilitate scholarly productivity, enhance connections with other departments and units at the university, and further integrate research, teaching and clinical activities so that we can train the next generation of scholars in the fields of speech, language and hearing."

Booth’s research examines how the brain develops using advanced neuroimaging methodologies. His recent studies have focused on the brain networks involved in reading acquisition, language development, arithmetic processing and deductive reasoning.

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R. B. Brenner, an award-winning former editor at The Washington Post, will serve as the director of the School of Journalism, replacing outgoing Director Glenn Frankel.

R.B. Brenner

R.B. Brenner

School of Journalism

At The Washington Post, Brenner served as Maryland editor, metropolitan editor, Sunday editor and deputy universal news editor. He was one of the primary editors of the newspaper's coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings, awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. The following year he helped lead the merger of the newspaper’s digital and print newsrooms.

"I am honored and very excited to return to UT Austin as director of the School of Journalism," he said. "The school is celebrating its centennial, and when you think about the impact its graduates and faculty have had on journalism, the university's motto comes to mind: 'What Starts Here Changes the World.' What excites me most, though, is that I am joining the school and the Moody College of Communication at a time of tremendous optimism and opportunity. Step inside the Belo Center for New Media, and you see and feel it — the talent, ambitions, high standards and openness to ideas."

Brenner's appointment marks a return to the School of Journalism, where he was a visiting lecturer in the spring of 2009. Currently, Brenner serves as deputy director of Stanford University's journalism program.

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Patricia Stout will become the chair of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Stout will take the post vacated by Isabella Cunningham, who will return to teaching full time in the department.

Patricia Stout


Patricia Stout

Advertising and Public Relations

Stout joined the Department of Advertising and Public Relations as an assistant professor in 1984 and has held the John P. McGovern Regents Professorship in Health and Medical Science Communication since 2002.

"I am delighted to work in this new role with the outstanding faculty, students and staff in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, which is ranked consistently as one of the top three programs in the country," Stout said. "Under Isabella Cunningham's leadership during the past 12 years, the department has grown. Exciting things are happening in the Moody College of Communication, and the department is poised to continue to innovate and lead the way in advertising and public relations education."

Stout's research focuses on viewer response to persuasive messages and advertising, with particular attention to individuals' emotional response to advertising and health-promotion messages. Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, and she has served as associate dean for academic affairs in the Moody College from 1996-2001 and as president of the American Academy of Advertising.

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Moody College Launches New Center for Health Communication

What does communication have to do with health care? In a word: everything.

Recognizing this, the Moody College has announced the creation of a new Center for Health Communication that seeks to improve health care, public health and public safety through communication research and outreach.

Jay M. Bernhardt


Jay M. Bernhardt

Jay M. Bernhardt, former director of the National Center for Health Marketing at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been named founding director of the center and will also serve as the Everett D. Collier Centennial Chair in Communication in the Department of Communication Studies and Department of Advertising and Public Relations.

The Center for Health Communication will provide resources to train undergraduates and give undergraduate, graduate and faculty researchers more opportunities for collaboration with the new Dell Medical School and the University of Texas School of Public Health.

"With the rapid advancement of innovative communication technologies, health communication has the potential to revolutionize health care, medicine and public health," Bernhardt said. "There are growing opportunities for employment in health communication and increasing demand for cutting-edge training from top academic programs like The University of Texas at Austin. The new Center for Health Communication in the Moody College of Communication has the potential to be the most important and respected center of its kind because of the talented and dedicated faculty, staff, students and partners already at UT Austin."

Healthcare Communication

Health communication research can be applied to fields such as patient education, community health promotion, health information technology, health and science journalism, pharmaceutical sales, and health law.


The Moody College already claims many faculty members specializing in health communication. Their research has explored such topics as how to improve medical disclosure and consent forms; how drug manufacturers and public health officials can better communicate prescription drug risks; how organizations respond to public health emergencies; and how health messages can be designed to reach low health-literate populations.

Startup funds for the center were provided through a $1 million endowment from the Moody Foundation as part of its $50 million landmark gift to the university.

Read more about health communication research in the Moody College

Student Film Wins Top Prize at Cannes

What began as a script in a Radio-Television-Film thesis workshop is now the top student film at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

“Skunk,” a short film written and directed by graduate Annie Silverstein (M.F.A. ’13) won first prize in the prestigious international film festival’s Cinéfondation Selection program. ”Skunk” was one of 16 films selected out of 1,631 film school entries from around the world. The win gives Silverstein €15,000 and a guarantee that her first feature film will show at Cannes in the future.

Cannes Film Festival


Cast and crew of "Skunk"
at Cannes Film Festival

The film was crewed entirely by UT students and graduates.

Silverstein began writing the film as a student in 2012, and worked to refine the script with classmates in Assistant Professor P.J. Raval‘s thesis workshop course. The film tells the story of 14-year-old Leila, whose pit bull kills a skunk. She then meets the neighborhood boy Marco, forming an unlikely bond until things begin to spin out of control. Leila is then forced to protect what she loves most at the cost of her own innocence.

"We feel incredibly honored that our film was selected by the Cinéfondation," Silverstein said. "It's a wonderful program, with a long history of supporting emerging filmmakers from around the world. And we feel so grateful to the Moody College of Communication's Department of Radio-Television-Film for their help, support and generosity at every stage of the production."

Read more about “Skunk”

Moody College Hosts Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Bill Russell at LBJ Civil Rights Summit

On April 8-10, 2014, The University of Texas at Austin honored the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by hosting civil rights leaders and four U.S. presidents to discuss the legacy of the legislation and civil rights issues today.


NFL Hall of Famer and actor Jim Brown
stumped by a question




NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell
on serving as the first black coach in pro sports

Among the participants in the Civil Rights Summit at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library were Hall of Fame athletes and civil rights advocates Jim Brown and Bill Russell, who discussed how professional sports served as a platform for the civil rights movement.

Sponsored by the McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society through the Texas Program in Sports and Media (TPSM) in the Moody College, the talk was introduced by TPSM Director Michael J. Cramer and moderated by Harry Edwards, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jim Brown is among the greatest professional athletes in football history. He is best known for his record-setting nine-year career as a running back for the NFL Cleveland Browns from 1957 to 1965. Russell was the first African-American head coach for any professional sports team. Russell won 11 NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics in 13 seasons, including two as player-head coach.





View the full discussion on Vimeo

Journalism Alumna Wins Top Political Reporting Award

Karen Tumulty (B.J. ’77) has won the Robin Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. The 2013 competition drew 125 entries from across the nation and was selected by 33 veteran journalists.

Karen Tumulty

Karen Tumulty

Tumulty won the prize for work including profiles of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Ted Cruz, an in-depth look at the political landscape in West Virginia, and a portrait of the Vietnam war veteran who gave his 101st Airborne screaming eagle patch to then-Sen. Barack Obama as he campaigned for the presidency.

A graduate of the School of Journalism in the Moody College of Communication, Tumulty is currently a national political correspondent for The Washington Post. She also spent more than a decade each at the L.A. Times and Time magazine.

A native of San Antonio, her first journalistic experience was as an editor and reporter at The Daily Texan.

“The J-School prepared me in two big ways — first by giving me the writing and reporting skills I needed to get that first job,” Tumulty said. “What I have come to realize as more important are the values that it gave me. So much in this business has changed since I graduated and that has meant learning new job skills every day — but the basic values endure.”

Read more about Tumulty’s award

Paul Stekler Named Mentor of the Year by Variety

Documentary filmmaker and Radio-Television-Film Chair Paul Stekler has been named Media Mentor of the Year by Variety magazine.

Paul Steckler

Paul Stekler

In its April 29, 2014, issue, the entertainment-industry publication calls him a “guiding light” for students and the Austin film community.

Stekler has taught in the Department of Radio-Television-Film since 1997. Since then, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and professor has advised countless young filmmakers who have gone on to win awards and secure distribution for their films. Stekler has helped establish Austin as an epicenter of independent and documentary filmmaking.

The article quotes filmmaker Richard Linklater and Austin Chronicle and SXSW Festival co-founder Louis Black (M.A. ’80) on Stekler’s legacy as a teacher and mentor.

Stekler’s documentaries about American politics and society include "Last Man Standing," "George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire" and "Vote for Me: Politics in America."


Dan Rather Receives 2013-14 DeWitt Carter Reddick Award, Melody Chatelle Receives Outstanding Alumna Award

On April 13, 2014, the Moody College presented veteran journalist Dan Rather with the DeWitt Carter Reddick Award and political communications professional Melody Chatelle with the Outstanding Alumna Award for 2013-2014.

Dan Rather


Dan Rather


Melody Chatelle


Melody Chatelle

Rather and Chatelle accepted their awards at the Moody College of Communication's Honors Day convocation ceremony.

Established in 1974, the DeWitt Carter Reddick Award recognizes excellence in the field of communication. Past Reddick Award recipients include Walter Cronkite, Molly Ivins, Nicholas Lemann, Bill Moyers, William S. Paley, William J. Raspberry, Helen Thomas, Ted Turner and Bill Wittliff, among others.

The Moody College established the Outstanding Alumni Award to recognize alumni of the college who have distinguished themselves in their professional and personal lives. Past recipients of the Outstanding Alumnus Award include Wayne Sellers, Lady Bird Johnson, Liz Carpenter and Bruce Hendricks of Walt Disney Productions.

Dan Rather began a career in journalism as an Associated Press reporter in Huntsville, Texas, in 1950. While reporting from the Galveston seawall as Hurricane Carla threatened the Texas coast, his style of reporting meteorological data and on-location events instantly changed the face of broadcast television and launched his career to new heights.

As one of the best-known journalists worldwide, Rather has covered everything from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the civil rights movement and international conflicts. He has interviewed every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, landed two world exclusive interviews with Saddam Hussein and broke the story of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

A former journalism instructor and Marine, Rather is a member of the Moody College of Communication advisory council and lifetime member of the Littlefield Society at UT Austin.

Melody Chatelle began her career as a legislative aide, gaining 10 years of experience as a staffer in the Texas State Capitol. She then served as director and vice president of government affairs for Mariner Post-Acute Network for 12 years and in 1999, founded Chatelle and Associates, a legislative and communication consulting company.

Her degrees include a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the Moody College of Communication and a master's of public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Her work and research interests include healthcare policy, leadership development and interpersonal, organizational and healthcare communication. Through her company and on her own, Chatelle advocates for both profit and non-profit organizations including many groups that are in need of support but lack a strong voice in government or society.

Read more about Rather and Chatelle