New Leadership

Moody College appoints renowned scholars to serve as center and department leaders

Michael Butterworth, whose work examines the nexus of communication and sport, has been named founding director of the newly established Center for Sports Communication and Media at The University of Texas at Austin, starting fall 2017.

Michael Butterworth

The new Center for Sports Communication and Media will serve as the center of study, teaching, leadership and practice and will bring together several existing programs in the Moody College of Communication, including the Texas Program in Sports and Media, undergraduate certificate in sports media and McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society.

The center will continue to support the Frank Deford Lecture in Sports Journalism, the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting Awards, and cross-campus collaborations with the university’s Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sport and the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation.

Butterworth’s research interests include rhetorical criticism, political theory and sports culture through the lens of sport as a rhetorical platform to evaluate the possibilities for and limitations of democracy. His work features studies of myth and metaphor, public memory, nationalism and militarism, and identity. Currently, he is associate professor and director of the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University.

"I am delighted and honored to take on this new role in the Moody College of Communication,” said Butterworth. “The excellence of the academic programs in the college, the visibility and reputation of the university and the enthusiasm for sports in the Austin community and beyond combine to make The University of Texas the ideal location to engage sports communication study and practice. I look forward to working with those who have already built successful programs focusing on sports and other interested partners across campus as we seek to create the premier center for sports communication and media."

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Rajinder Koul has been named chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Koul will take the post starting July 15, 2017. He follows Craig Champlin, who has served as interim chair since 2016.


Koul said he is humbled by the prospect of working with the talented and dedicated faculty and staff in the department and is committed to sustaining and elevating its academic programs, research enterprise and clinical services.

“My goal is to cultivate innovation and seek interdisciplinary opportunities with the Dell Medical School and other entities within and outside the university,” said Koul. “With a long tradition of research excellence and leadership, the department is poised to be a ‘destination of choice’ for highly qualified students and faculty in the nation and across the world.”

Koul is the assistant vice president of research at Texas Tech University’s Health Sciences Center and served as associate dean for research at the School of Health Professions for a decade. He’s served in the Department of Speech-Language and Hearing Sciences at Texas Tech since 1994, climbing from assistant and associate professor to professor, co-director of the Ph.D. program and chair.

Koul’s research is devoted to investigating  efficacy of augmentative and alternative communication intervention in people with acquired and developmental disabilities and the variables that influence the outcomes of such interventions. His recent studies are focused on the effectiveness of speech output technologies in interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

In his vision, Koul stated that he plans to enhance the graduate and undergraduate programs, strengthen research enterprise, cultivate innovation and interdisciplinary opportunities, ensure space and clinical facilities are state-of-the-art, and engage and serve the community.  

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Michael Mackert, who researches communication strategies to improve community health, has been named director of the Center for Health Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, starting summer 2017.

Michael Mackert

Mackert has taught at UT Austin since 2006 and served as deputy director for the Center for Health Communication since March 2016, when founding director Jay Bernhardt became dean of Moody College. Under Mackert’s leadership, faculty affiliated with the center have launched community-based projects to engage men in prenatal health decisions, reduce unhealthy food and beverage advertising around schools, and identify policy and environmental changes to reduce child obesity in Latino communities.

“From the doctor’s office to the Internet, communication already plays a key role in how people get and stay healthy. Effective communication can and should be used more, and more effectively, to improve health,” Mackert said. “I’m honored to lead this center in staking out a leading role in transforming the role of health communication in health care and population health.”

Also this summer, the center will officially move under both Moody College of Communication, where it was established, and the Dell Medical School, launching a groundbreaking partnership through which both schools will share oversight and support of the center. As director, Mackert will have academic appointments in both Moody College and the Dell Medical School.

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Marc Speir
Senior Content Producer