JOURN Prof. Benson receives Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Associate Professor Chris Benson has been named a winner of a Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. 

Since joining the Journalism department in August 2005, Chris has dedicated himself to achieving excellence in undergraduate instruction. He has developed new courses and revised and refined existing ones, and he's a frequent participant in seminars and discussions about teaching excellence. He has served as an informal adviser to numerous students, undergraduate and graduate, and his students consistently rank him as excellent. A half-dozen of his former students wrote letters of recommendation as part of the nomination process. 

Rich Martin, journalism department head, commented, “The values and ideals behind this recognition embody the contributions that Chris has made over the years to undergraduate education at the university. He richly deserves this honor.”

Benson stated, "It's a high honor to be recognized, especially because I know that this award reflects the appreciation of students and the support of my faculty colleagues.  It also represents a challenge: to go out and earn it."

The provost's office chooses up to 13 winners of the award (five members of faculty, five graduate teaching assistants, and three members of the instructional staff). Chris and the other winners will be recognized at the Celebration of Teaching Excellence event in late April. 

Follis and Kozma receive undergraduate teaching awards


Jennifer Follis and Alicia Kozma have both been recognized with the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. These are the principal campus awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching. 

Nominations are evaluated on:

  • Sustained excellence in undergraduate teaching
  • Innovative approaches to undergraduate teaching
  • The overall positive impact on undergraduate student learning

Follis is a lecturer in journalism. She teaches introduction to journalism, science journalism and news editing. Her nominator stated, “the values and ideals behind this recognition embody contributions she has made for nearly 30 years to undergraduate journalism education at the University of Illinois. She has established a remarkable record of teaching excellence and innovation in the classroom, and she has demonstrated unparalleled dedication and commitment to students.”

“Ms. Follis commands the respect of her colleagues in the Department of Journalism and throughout the College of Media,” said Rich Martin, head of the Department of Journalism. “She has chaired the college curriculum committee and the college committee for capricious grading, both for several years. She has been elected by journalism faculty to represent them for multiple terms on the three-person Advisory Committee to assist the Department Head. In her role on the advisory committee, she has been a valuable and tireless advocate for the best interests of the students. I personally consider her one of the stalwarts of our department; her counsel is always sound and principled, and never guided by personal interests.”

“This is an amazing place with many faculty members who could be recognized,” said Follis. “I feel honored to be awarded. We have so many wonderful students at Illinois that teaching here is a pleasure. It is especially gratifying to know that both current and former students were involved in the nomination.

“In my teaching philosophy, I quote a former student who is now a high school journalism advisor. This year I have two of her former students in my classes. Seeing the circle come around is very satisfying.”

Kozma is a Ph.D. student in the Institute of Communications Research. She holds a B.A. from the University of Vermont in Religion & Film Studies and a M.A. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in American Studies & Film Studies.

Kozma’s recommendation stated: not only does Ms. Kozma dedicate herself fully to the creation and execution of undergraduate courses, she also creates new courses that provide students with topics otherwise not available in the course catalog. Her curriculum give students in our major a source of knowledge on matters of cinema studies contextualized and enhanced with cultural criticism and analysis.

Dr. Valdivia, who nominated Kozma, said “Ms. Kozma was accepted to our doctoral program partly based on her commitment and innovative approaches to sharing knowledge and experience with divers constituencies. She has, as we anticipated, taken that energy and experience and applied it with fervor to the undergraduate classroom.”

“Doctoral students face a significant number of pressures, including the tricky balancing-act of being a teacher and a student at the same time.  I've worked hard to maintain this balance, and to remain as committed to the students I teach as I am to my own educational goals,” Kozma said. “This award is a validation of that commitment and effort. One teaching method that I use consistently may not be the most novel, but I find it to be the most effective: I treat my students the same way I would want to be treated by a teacher. Learning requires equal investment and participation for students and teachers alike, and the I believe the best way to achieve that is mutual respect. I’m honored to receive this award. And I am super proud of the students I’ve taught at Illinois-they’re awesome!”

All of the award winners will be recognized at an event April 30.

Collins named ACC Women’s Basketball Legend
The Atlantic Coast Conference announced its 11th annual class of ACC Women's Basketball Legends presented by New York Life. The Legends will be recognized at the 2015 ACC Women's Basketball Tournament, which will be held March 4-8 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Dr. Janice Collins, Assistant Professor of Journalism, is among the honorees.

The ACC Women's Basketball Legends program honors both players and coaches from each of the ACC's 15 schools who have contributed to their respective institutions rich tradition. 

Included in this year's class are 14 former-student-athletes and one former head coach who represent five decades of women's basketball.

2015 ACC Women’s Basketball Legends Presented by New York Life Roster

Name, School, Years                    

  • Clare Droesch, Boston College, 2001-05
  • Amy Geren McGowan, Clemson, 1995-99
  • Alana Beard, Duke, 2000-04
  • Cherry Rivers, Florida State, 1976-80
  • Sonja Mallory Gamby, Georgia Tech, 2000-03
  • Nell Knox, Louisville, 1989-93
  • Ferne Labati, Miami, 1988-2005
  • Tracy Reid, North Carolina, 1995-98
  • Jennifer Howard Wolgemuth, NC State, 1993-97
  • Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame, 2010-14
  • Debbie Lewis, Pittsburgh, 1977-82
  • Martha Mogish Rowe, Syracuse, 1978-81
  • Audra Smith, Virginia, 1989-92
  • Kerri Gardin, Virginia Tech, 2002-06
  • Janice Collins, Wake Forest , 1983-86

WAKE FOREST – Janice Collins, Guard/Forward, Hampton, Va. (1983-86)

Collins played in 109 games with 80 starts in her four-year Wake Forest career. She was named second-team All-ACC in 1985. She led the team in field goal percentage (.507) that season while averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a junior. Collins again averaged 12.7 points per game as a senior and increased her rebounding average to 6.5 boards per game. She shot .753 (67-89) from the free-throw line and started all 29 games and also had 56 assists and 49 steals in her final season. For her career, she amassed 992 points, 548 rebounds, 186 assists and 146 steals. Collins is currently a faculty member at the University of Illinois in the College of Media and has earned multiple Emmy, Best of Gannett, Associated Press, NABJ, and AABJ awards for writing, editing, video journalism, reporting and producing.

Wake Forest Magazine article

View a video from the ACC

Collins’ paper among top submissions at conference
Dr. Janice Collins, Assistant Professor of Journalism, will present her paper, From the Classroom to the Newsroom: Are we training them to be Leaders, at the Broadcast Education Association Convention in April. 

Collins’ paper explores how educators are preparing women for leadership positions in the media before they enter the profession. Using mixed methodologies (online survey, observation analyses, and in-depth interviews), the results reveal that both, male and female, students are more comfortable using Transactional leadership skills, developed codependent relationships among their peers, and avoided confrontation and strong leadership opportunities. If this form of pedagogy is occurring in other college newsrooms and news labs, adjustments and restructuring of the pedagogy is warranted to better prepare women for top-level positions and feeling comfortable with the power it possesses.

Established in 1955, BEA is the premiere international academic media organization, driving insights, excellence in media production, and career advancement for educators, students, and professionals. The association’s publications, annual convention, web-based programs, and regional district activities provide opportunities for juried production competition and presentation of current scholarly research related to aspects of the electronic media.

Ledford Receives Third Annual Innovator of the Year Award for College Students

Ledford receives award

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles "Stretch” Ledford, an Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois College of Media, shoots a selfie as he receives the Associated Press Media Editors award for Innovator of the Year for College Students at the 2014 APME/ASNE conference at Hyatt Regency in Chicago, IL.  The award was presented by Sally Jacobsen, left, the Deputy Managing Editor at The Associated Press. 

Assistant Professor of Journalism Charles Ledford led a class that created the mobile app "Virtual Dugout,”which allows fans to follow the university’s baseball team.

Judges: Chris Cobler, editor, Victoria (Texas) Advocate, chairman; Angie Muhs, executive editor, The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.; Autumn Phillips, editor, Times-News, Twin Falls.