On April 27, the 2023 Hall of Beneficence Award winners were recognized. The College of Communication, Information, and Media is honored to recognize those who exude the mission of CCIM and display the enduring values of Beneficence: excellence, innovation, courage, integrity, inclusiveness, social responsibility, and gratitude.
The Steward Award is given to an individual or organization whose meaningful partnership has made a significant impact on CCIM’s commitment to create challenging experiences that prepare students for careers as ethical practitioners and scholars. This year’s awardees are:
The Indianapolis-based marketing and advertising agency works with a variety of brands and companies across industries. The agency has worked on everything from national brand awareness campaigns for major corporations to comprehensive public relations strategies for government agencies. CEO and President James Parham attended the reception and accepted the award on the organization’s behalf.
M.A., Communications Studies, 2010; B.A., Women’s Studies, 2008
Betsy Mills is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University. She teaches courses that explore how practical, professional, and civic problems can be addressed through oral communication and is a member of the Penn State President’s Commission for LGBT Equity. Mills is also serving her hometown as an at-large member of the Henry County council, which she has been a member of for three years.
Alumni Achievement Awards
Individuals who graduated from units associated with CCIM at least 5 years prior and have used their education to advance their area of professional or creative endeavors are recognized with the Alumni Achievement Award. The 2023 honorees are:
M.A., Public Relations, 2016
Shanetta Pendleton is a doctoral candidate and Roy H. Park Fellow in the School of Journalism and Media at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research, stemming from her past experience in the PR industry and as a full-time lecturer at Ball State, is centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academy and in the public relations industry. Pendleton’s current research focuses on pedagogy, digital activism, corporate social advocacy, and social media. In fall of 2023, she will join the faculty at Elon University as an Assistant Professor of Strategic Communication.
B.A., Telecommunications, 2014
Brandon Pope is an award-winning and Emmy-nominated television host, media critic, and columnist. Currently, he is an anchor and reporter at CW26 Chicago and a host at WEBZ, Chicago’s NPR station. As the president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, Pope is passionate about mentoring the next generation of journalists. His experience as a mentor also includes serving as a board member for the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which worked to close opportunity gaps for children of color in the Greater Chicago area. As a journalist, he has covered everything from sports to politics, including the NBA, NFL, PGA, 2012 Olympic Games, and the 2012, 2016, and 2020 Presidential Elections. Pope is also an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago.
B.A., Telecommunications, 2012
Samuel Sirmons is an executive producer and personality at Radio One in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Ball State, Sirmons stumbled into his passion for radio and was compelled to sign up for the student-run radio station WCRD after seeing fliers for CCIM Super Party. Once he got started, Sirmons said he was captivated instantly and quickly decided to dedicate himself to the craft. Faith and passion are at the core of everything Sirmons does, which is part of the inspiration for his brand Faith & Fruit Snacks. The brand sums up how Sirmons is able to seize every day: self determination, belief in a higher being, and having the best snack. A packet of fruit snacks, $300, and what he had loaded into his car was all that Sirmons had when he made his move to Atlanta, and his hunger to break from the status quo and go beyond what has already been accomplished has propelled him to success throughout his career. Looking back, Sirmons said the difference between who he is now and who he was as a Ball State student isn’t his want to succeed. Instead, it’s that he now has the confidence to believe in himself after being given the tools needed to forge his future and having the resilience to learn along the way.
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award honors individuals who graduated from units associated with CCIM at least 15 years prior, have distinguished themselves and have demonstrated outstanding success in their professional or creative endeavors. These individuals have defined the future of the fields of communication, media, or information. This year’s winners are:
B.F.A., Journalism and Advertising, 1986
Michael Adamson is the Director of Perficient, a global digital consultancy. Throughout his career, he has worked to integrate digital tools and new technology with media to change the way people consume information and entertainment. Adamson’s background in the field includes his time working with organizations including Vunify, Givgram, and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. He also serves on the CCIM Dean’s Advisory Council and as an Industry Advisor and Council Member for the University of Georgia’s New Media Institute. During his time at Ball State, Adamson worked with many organizations on campus including The Ball State Daily News and the Student Center Programming Board.
Michael P. Smith
B.S., Journalism, 1973
Michael P. Smith is an active member of the Ball State community, from providing generous support to the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication to attending hundreds of athletics events and more. Smith was a journalist for 23 years, and in 1982 he was part of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel team that won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting on a devastating flood. He also worked in teaching and administration for 20 years including his time at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the Medill School of Journalism. Smith is the author and editor of several monographs, including “Values, Culture, Content,” “The Newsroom Brian,” and “The Changing Reader.”
SJSC Associate Lecturer Honorata; M.S., Information and Communication Sciences, 1989; B.S., Journalism, 1984
Juli Metzger has immersed herself into the Muncie and Ball State communities both professionally and personally. During her 10 years as a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication, Metzger led many immersive learning projects, including “Unmasked: The Stigma of Meth,” which won the Associated Press Media Editors 2017 Innovator of the Year Award for College Students. Metzger also has led a distinguished career in journalism, reporting in communities ranging from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Burlington, Vermont, and serving as President and Publisher at publications such as the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Indiana, The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, and The Richmond Palladium-Item in Richmond, Indiana. She has also made an impact through her substantial amount of volunteer work with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Muncie and the Indiana Youth Institute.
B.S., Journalism, 1972
First Amendment expert Gene Policinski is a Freedom Forum Senior Fellow and former COO/President of the Freedom Forum Institute. He began his professional journalism career in 1969 at the Greenfield (Ind.) Daily Reporter, and after graduation at the Marion (Ind.) Chronicle-Tribune. In 1976 he became Indiana bureau chief for Gannett News Service, and in 1979 moved to the GNS bureau in Washington D.C. In late 1981, he joined the development team for USA TODAY, and was Washington Editor when it launched in 1982, later hold a series of news executive roles. He joined the non-profit also held a variety of executive roles within the non-profit foundation Freedom Forum in 1996, including directing it’s First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. He also is president of the board of directors of the First Amendment Museum in Augusta, Me. Policinski holds two Emmy Awards, was selected in 1996 as Ball State’s Alumni of the Year, and is a member of the Ball State Journalism Hall of Fame. He has received honors for his work as a journalist, and as a long-time supporter of diversity in journalism. He remains involved in the Ball State community and continues to give back to CCIM through his service on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Council, speeches on campus, visits with students, and more.
B.S., Journalism and History, 1984
Don Yaeger is a New York Times Best-Selling author, Thought Leader at Maxwell Leadership, an organization that focuses on professional leadership training and coaching, and host of the Corporate Competitor Podcast. From his inspirational keynote speeches to the leadership advice he provides through channels like his podcast, which explores how sports shaped the professional trajectory of top-level executives, he is dedicated to finding ways of growing and helping communities, including the next generation of students. He also spent more than 11 years reporting and editing for Sports Illustrated where he worked on groundbreaking stories including the first national investigation of steroids and their influence in baseball. Yaeger currently serves on the CCIM Dean’s Executive Advisory Council.
Inclusive Excellence Award
CCIM recognizes individuals or organizations in the field of communication, media, or information who have distinguished themselves in advancing inclusive excellence with the Inclusive Excellence Award. This year’s recipients are:
B.S., Communication, 2001
Dr. Paul Porter is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the National Speech & Debate Association — the nation’s largest middle and high school speech and debate organization. He holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication studies from Ball State and Eastern Michigan University and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Indiana State. He was worked on developing programs and initiatives designed to help create inclusive environments for diverse college student populations, as well as diversity strategic plans and program assessments. He has given numerous presentations on diversity, equity, and inclusion across the state of Indiana and nationwide. Dr. Porter is also the chair of the CCIM Dean’s Executive Advisory Council and a member of the Board of Directors for the Indiana Schools Speech and Debate Association and Shelly’s Voice Advocacy. In 2023, Dr. Porter was inducted into the National Forensic Association Hall of Fame.
B.S., Journalism, 2003
Irving Washington is a Senior Fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a non-profit organization that focuses on national health issues and provides facts, analysis, and journalism for policymakers, the media, and the public. As a Senior Fellow, he focuses on health misinformation and has spent nearly 20 years working in journalism; technology; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. He served as the CEO of the Online News Association (ONA), held leadership positions for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and was the founder and cohost of Texts to Table, which launched a conversation series podcast that featured Black CEOs and brought awareness to a variety of topics related to race within leadership. He has also devoted much of his time to volunteering for organizations like the American Journalism Project, the News Revenue Hub, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), and the Ball State Journalism Alumni Society.
Excellence in Innovation and Courage Award
Recipients of the Excellence in Innovation and Courage Award are individuals or organizations in the field of communication, media, or information who demonstrated courageous innovation. The 2023 honoree is:
B.A., Telecommunications, 2002
Adam Unger is the CEO of Accutech Systems, a leading software company for the wealth management industry based in Muncie. During his time as the company’s President, Accutech purchased and redeveloped the former Sears Building in downtown Muncie and has acquired marketing firms to expand its services into marketing for growing businesses. Unger’s dedication to the Ball State and Muncie communities can be seen through his simultaneous work as a board member for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Indiana, the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership, the Delaware Advancement Corporation, and the YMCA of Muncie. He is also a graduate of Burris Laboratory School and is passionate about helping continue to revitalize the economic viability of the Muncie community.
Find information on past recipients on our website.