NCA Inside & Out

NCA Member News

NCA Member News

January 13, 2016


Jimmie Manning and Tony E. Adams, Northern Illinois University, have received the 2015 Article of the Year Award from the Midwest Popular Culture Association for their article, "Popular Culture Studies and Autoethnography: An Essay on Method," published in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, 3, 187-222.

In Memoriam

Dr. John O. Burtis, Communication Studies Professor at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), passed away on December 7, 2015 at Hospice Home in Waterloo, Iowa at the age of 60.

Dr. Burtis received his B.S. from Kansas State University (KSU) in 1977, his M.A. from KSU in 1979, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1987. He served as Head of the UNI Department of Communication Studies from 2000 to 2002. Prior to joining UNI, he was Professor and Director of Forensics at Kansas State University from 1991 to 2000. From 1979 to 1991, he taught at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he served as Director of Forensics for most of his years there, and was also Director of the Concordia Leadership Center from 1987 to 1990. Earlier in his career, he taught at University of Minnesota while pursuing his doctorate, Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and Kansas State University.

Dr. Burtis taught a wide range of courses over his career including Communication Theories, Persuasion, and Group Communication Skills, among others. He developed new courses in Group Communication Theory and Analysis, and in Leadership Communication and Citizenship.

He was the author of a number of journal articles and book chapters, and co-authored two published books with his former UNI colleague Paul Turman: Leadership communication as citizenship: Give direction to your team, organization, or community as a doer, follower, guide, manager, or leader (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), and Group communication pitfalls: Overcoming barriers to effective group experiences (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006). He had most recently developed an electronic text on Communication Theories, and had begun work on another text on the nature of communication, the nature of theory, and how they are unified in the field of Communication Studies.

One of his last visits to a UNI event this fall was for the UNI Speech Showcase on November 5, 2015. The next day, he wrote a glowing review to the speech team in his typical no-CAPS email style and with his usual optimistic outlook:

“oh my goodness, what a night of performances. informed by current scholarly literature on how people treat one another in our world as well as how we can do better at that: at building and strengthening our communities in ways that will make the whole of us stronger and more productive (in iowa, in cedar falls, in my workplace, while integrating new wage-earners who look like or different than i). 

what could be more practical. these young people are facing what feels to me like an increasingly scary world and they are doing it with their eyes open and looking straight ahead, smiling, walking with friends who are different, yet comfortable with one another.

i trust them. i trust the world they will build for us: that they will imagine up for us and help co-create. i trust them now more than they yet understand their own potential for doing well going forward. but they will do well going forward. they will do well on our behalf and uni forensics gets a lot of credit for that.”

Dr. Burtis leaves a great legacy, especially in Speech Communication. He coached and/or directed students who won more than 20 individual or team national championships in speech or debate from 1980 to 2000. In 2000, the Kansas State University Forensics Program named its forensics tournament traveling sweepstakes award the “John O. Burtis Sweepstakes.” He was a lifetime member of the American Forensics Association and the Central States Communication Association, and a charter member of the Association of Leadership Educators.

He is survived by his wife, Kris Pond-Burtis; sons, Walter and James (Jessica); grandchildren, Amanda and Rachel; and siblings, David Burtis (Rae Jean), Helen Burtis (Michael Collis), and Trudy Burtis (Claudia Strong). 


Dr. Janis Edwards, Associate Professor Emerita in the Department of Communication Studies, at The University of Alabama, passed away after an extended illness on November 22, 2015, at the age of 66. 

She did not live to see the first woman U.S. president, yet she was able to write and edit essential works charting that increasing possibility.  She did not have a vast network of friends, yet had a smaller cadre of people who loved her warmly and deeply. She was not always pleased with the status quo, yet that made a smile from her all the more meaningful.

Equal parts scholar, artist, and activist, she pursued many areas of interest over the course of her life. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 1993, she spent the final 14 years of her career in the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Alabama before retiring in the spring of 2015.

 Her scholarly career was located at the constellation of gender and politics, rhetorics of display, public memory, visual communication, and First Ladies research. Her work appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Visual Communication, Communication Quarterly, and American Behavioral Scientist, as well as in numerous edited collections. 

While at The University of Alabama, Dr. Edwards began an intensive study of women in electoral and cabinet politics. She worked extensively on the discourse of Hillary Clinton, media representations of Sarah Palin, and political cartoons related to politics and feminine style. Her edited book, Gender and Political Communication in America: Rhetoric, Representation, and Display (Lexington Books, 2009), is emblematic of this work.

Dr. Edwards was active in the field, especially within National Communication Association (NCA), as a constant reviewer, Division officer, respondent, and member of women’s caucuses. She was the proudest of the work she did with First Ladies Studies, a group connected with NCA, and with an annual panel that addressed women in mediated contexts. She was passionate about sharing her readings of gender and politics with her colleagues across the country and was quite pleased to have received the Southern States Communication Association Gender Scholar of the Year Award for her research on First Ladies. 

Dr. Edwards was also a trained artist in paper making and textile arts. As an artist, she worked in a variety of media, focusing predominantly on collage and assemblage using found materials. Her art exhibited extensively in California, including at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, the Davenport (Iowa) Museum of Art, the Clock Tower in New York City, the Mobile Museum of Art, and the Huntsville Museum of Art in Alabama, as well as at many local venues in her final home of Tuscaloosa. 

In the Media

Steven Beebe, Texas State University, was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article  about how to exit a conversation gracefully.

Jamie C. Capuzza, University of Mount Union, contributed a article about advancing transgender rights in 2016 to build on 2015 successes. 

Ivan Dylko, State University of New York at Buffalo, was featured in a GOOD article about the relationship between passive and active online news consumption, and the implications of self-selecting news online.

Sean M. Horan, Texas State University, contributed an article to Psychology Today about how avoiding topics may harm relationships.

Susanne Jones, University of Minnesota, was quoted in a Minnesota Public Radio news article about how to make small talk with strangers at holiday parties.

Eleanor Novek, Monmouth University, was featured in an article for her class projects involving women transitioning from prison or rehab.

Jennifer Samp, University of Georgia, was quoted in a Greatist  article about what not to say in an argument.

Shyam Sundar, Pennsylvania State University, was featured in an Epoch Times article for a study involving the effect of smartphone screen sizes on people’s levels of trust and buying intentions.

New Books

Sandra L. Faulkner and Sheila Squillante, Writing the Personal: Getting Your Stories onto the Page, Sense Publishers, 9789463003827.

Jimmie Manning and Carey Noland, Contemporary Studies of Sexuality & Communication: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives, Kendall Hunt, 9781465270245.

Of Interest

The online Communication degree at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin was recently ranked third in the nation by Affordable Colleges Online. The ranking was based on a combination of academic rigor, flexibility, support, and affordability. Dr. Michelle E. Pence, head of the Communication Program, has been interviewed by various media outlets about the program's recognition.