At the beginning of each academic year, CCIM recognizes a few of the many wonderful members of its faculty and staff for their contributions to the college, university, and community. These honorees embody the values that the college and university hold dear, especially the enduring values of Beneficence — excellence, innovation, courage, integrity, inclusiveness, social responsibility, and gratitude.

MAC Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success: Dr. Adam Kuban

CCIM Dean Paaige Turner presents Professor Adam Kuban with the MAC Award for Student Success trophy.

School of Journalism and Strategic Communication Professor Dr. Adam Kuban was recognized for being named among this year’s recipients of the MAC Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success. The award celebrates outstanding efforts of faculty within the MAC to support and develop students both inside and outside of the classroom. To date, Kuban has led 17 community-engaged, project-based teams of students, which have included diverse partnerships with local and nationally recognized organizations. Each project typically results in media-oriented creative work, ranging from books, magazines, websites, apps, and/or documentaries depending on the needs of the partner and scope of the project. This is not the only time Kuban has been recognized for these efforts, however. In 2022, he earned the Paragon Award from LEAP Indiana, the state chapter affiliated with the American Association of Colleges and Universities, for sustained teaching and professional achievement promoting inclusive excellence in undergraduate education, lifelong learning, and engaged citizenship. In 2021, he also received the Community-Engaged Alliance Brian D. Hiltunen Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Scholarship of Engagement.

CCIM Empowerment Award: Jerry Pierce and Arlene Shirk

New this year, the CCIM Empowerment Award was created to recognize individuals who not only assist in our college efforts, but go above and beyond to help us soar.

Jerry Pierce accepts an award from Paaige Turner, CCIM Dean.

Senior IT Support Technologist Jerry Pierce is among the first to be recognized with this award. He has been present, engaged, and an integral part of CCIM’s operation across all units. From his assistance with simple items in the office to university level events, he is not only an asset to the college, but to the entire university. There are countless ways his vision and collaboration have helped CCIM, including his work on the development of a comprehensive 10-year technology plan, which supports our college’s commitment to provide our students, faculty, and staff with the multifaceted technology they need and deserve. Pierce thinks about the issues of equity and need across every unit in the college while imagining innovative ways to make the best possible use of our resources.

Arlene Shirk - CCIM

Former School of Journalism and Strategic Communication Administrative Coordinator Arlene Shirk is the second individual to receive the CCIM Empowerment Award. In her role, Shirk helped mold CCIM while officially serving in the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication. Her ability to see a process from start to finish while smoothing over any bumps along the way paved the road for her colleagues to think more deeply about how our systems and routines can work more effectively for all involved. Throughout her many years of service to CCIM, she took on the role of mentor to many incoming hires who reached high levels of success due to her personal intervention. Shirk strived to be a resource so that collectively CCIM could solve any problem with the fewest number of issues. If she was not able to help, she could be depended upon to find out who could. This attitude helped spread a collaborative and thoughtful atmosphere throughout the college that remains today. And while she has now retired, her diligence, commitment, and thoughtfulness as well as her contributions to CCIM live on.

Outstanding Teaching Award: Abby Erpelding

When the pandemic flipped the way we approach teaching in an instant, Communications Studies Assistant Lecturer Abby Erpelding responded gracefully. She used the shift to online schooling as an opportunity to connect with her students in a new way. And even when it wasn’t possible to meet face-to-face, Erpelding was able to make a lasting impact. During the last two semesters, her overall evaluation across all items in all the classes she taught was near perfect. Virtually every student in her class rated her as “excellent,” and their comments indicated just how meaningful her compassion, excitement, and positivity were to them. Through her work, she embodies excellence in teaching, maintains high standards of academic integrity, and elevates the college as a catalyst for innovation and discovery.

Professionalism Award: Paige Waters

Paige Waters accepts an award from Paaige Turner, CCIM Dean.

Department of Media Teaching Professor Paige Waters is an amazing ambassador of the Department of Media, CCIM, and the entire university. Engaging with colleagues, students, families, and community members involves a lot of consideration and thoughtfulness, and Waters approaches every situation with an approachable and collaborative attitude. As the Department of Media worked to investigate their perspective students, Waters helped shape their outreach in a way that has many students saying they felt seen for the first time by a university. Her desire to make students feel safe and in a place that will help them grow as individuals is clear in all she does, and she works hard to make sure this can be felt not just in the classroom, but throughout the CCIM community.

Inclusive Excellence Award: Dr. Gabriel Tait

Dr. Gabriel Tait accepts his award from Dean Paaige Turner

School of Journalism and Strategic Communication Associate Professor Dr. Gabriel Tait tirelessly dedicates himself to inclusion, diversity, and equity. Tait shines as a beacon to guide the college, university, and community on our journey to be inclusive and mindful. He teaches and leads scholarship in an area of public controversy and introduces students to approaches that will help them represent cultural identities fairly and accurately, especially those that are not their own. This also helps students understand the way identities are crafted. In his research, Tait explores visual research methods, participatory photography, the impact of photography in cross-cultural and religious contexts, and the role photography plays in constructing and representing cultural identities. Tait also sits on multiple committees and has assisted in expanding the vision in CCIM, our university, and our discipline.

High Technology Award: Dr. Joshua Fisher

Josh Fisher accepts an award from Paaige Turner, CCIM Dean.

School of Journalism and Strategic Communication Assistant Professor Dr. Joshua Fisher has been a leading force in one of our new areas of certification. With the rise in virtual reality, augmented reality, and other XR technologies called for by industry professionals and experts, CCIM is incredibly fortunate to have Fisher. He not only knows these areas but assists in crafting their future by sitting on boards and committees and creating curriculum for our brand new XR initiative and certificate program, which will launch in the spring 2024 semester. In CCIM, technology’s rapid advancement might be a little more intimidating if we didn’t surround ourselves with people who share their knowledge with each other to ensure the best outcome for all, and for his role in this, CCIM is pleased to recognize Fisher with this award.

Extraordinary Service Award: Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes accepts an award from Paaige Turner, CCIM Dean.

The services Assistant Dean for Student Outreach and Engagement Brian Hayes provides spans the school, college, university, and alumni association. Across four decades, his name has become synonymous with “outstanding service” to the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication (SJSC). As the former assistant chair and internship director for the SJSC, he went above and beyond to serve current and prospective students. He led the long-running J-Day and Journalism Workshop programs, which he recently relaunched at the college level in his new role as CCIM assistant dean. He was a long-time member of the Journalism Alumni Society Executive Board and served in leadership roles at the national level for the Journalism Education Association. Hayes is consistent, effective, efficient, reliable, and a selfless servant of CCIM. Some have arrived to work on evenings and weekends to find him already working in his office. He is often the only one in his office working on projects that sustain our recruiting and retention efforts. While he has held many roles across the different areas of CCIM, his passion for not only SJSC and Ball State, but for his colleagues and students shows in every facet of his work.

Distinguished Researcher Award: Dr. Rob Brookey

It can be difficult to navigate research in a world where everything changes so quickly, but Department of Media Professor and Director of Digital Storytelling Dr. Rob Brookey passionately explores and engages with these changes. Brookey also works to intertwine his traditional research with the interests of his students in an effort to engage and inspire them. For example, as streaming services continue to become one of the main ways content is consumed — especially among students — Dr. Brookey recognized the value of bringing research related to these platforms into his classroom. After the Disney/Fox merger, he co-authored a piece with one of his graduate students that examined the impact of the merger. This mission to inspire students to research is every educator’s dream, but being able to include them and foster their passion for research while working beside them as Brookey has is an extraordinary feat.

Community Connections Award: Dr. Maria Williams-Hawkins

Maria Williams-Hawkins accepts an award from Paaige Turner, CCIM Dean.

As someone who pours her heart into her work, Department of Media Associate Professor Dr. Maria Williams-Hawkins‘ reach goes beyond Muncie and includes the East Central Indiana Community. Her work with admissions to provide programs for underrepresented student populations brings several groups to campus each year. She has worked rigorously to help all students see that college should absolutely be their choice. Not only does she talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to volunteerism, but Williams-Hawkins stresses to her students the importance of becoming involved and engaged in your community. From being President of the Board of Advisors for the local Salvation Army to being a member for the Soup Kitchen of Muncie, each role Williams-Hawkins takes on shows a sincere dedication to making our community, state, and nation better — not just by donating, but by doing.

CCIM Dean’s Faculty Award: Dr. Katherine Denker

CCIM is composed of extraordinary individuals who all strive to present our values in each aspect of their careers and lives. Communication Studies Professor Dr. Katherine Denker exhibits that across all areas of scholarship, teaching, and service. When it comes to her research, she is highly regarded as one of the most productive researchers in her unit. Denker’s dedication to furthering her understanding of the communications area to both ensure the success of her students in their future endeavors and to further the field itself is commendable. Additionally, she has been the second vice president for CSCA, on four different journal review boards, chair of both GEC and UCC as well as the CCIM representative, and finally she serves as the communication studies graduate director. She is incredibly driven, dedicated, and committed to her work in the college and in communication.