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Monday, October 7, 2013

Salatino Wins Outstanding Poster Award at OCA

Megan Salatino and Dr. Avtgis
Congratulations to Megan Salatino for winning the Outstanding Undergraduate Poster award at the recent Ohio Communication Association's annual conference. Megan, a sophomore majoring in public relations, presented the first phase of her research: "Applying Expectancy Violation Theory in Skin Cancer Diagnosis".

"I chose to do this project after my mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year, and she explained to me that her doctor violated her expectation in a negative way.  Because of this, I wanted to explore and determine violations that occur between a provider and patient when relaying a basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or malignant melanoma diagnosis to a patient," said Megan.

In taking on this research, Megan hopes to help physicians and patients become more mindful in interpreting non-verbal behavior when delivering a disease diagnosis.

"Patients may become psychologically aroused if their expectations are violated," states Megan.

In the next phase of her research, Megan will be collecting data on how patients perceived their diagnosis and whether or not their expectations were violated.

Megan would like to coach healthcare providers in using verbal and non-verbal delivery techniques so the provider is more aware of his or her behavior when delivering a specific type of diagnosis, as well as adjust to any perceived violations from the patient.

Megan presented her research at the 77th annual Ohio Communication Association Conference, held at Marietta College, on October 4 and 5. During the poster session, judges reviewed the posters in a variety of areas including construction of the poster, presentation skills, and the research presented. The award was presented during the conference's business meeting on Saturday afternoon.

"When I heard Megan's name announced it made me so proud as she is really growing into a budding young scholar. The fact that she is only in her sophomore year makes the honor that much more incredible.  I can't wait to see the quality of research she will put forth in the next two years," says Dr. Theodore Avtgis, Megan's faculty advisor.

"Over the past two years the Department of Communication Studies student research productivity has been incredible.  Through the faculty's commitment to building a "culture of scholarship" we have seen great success from our students in terms of conference papers, poster presentations, book chapters, and peer-reviewed articles. In fact, this is the second year in a row that an AU student has won the top undergraduate poster award. It is clear that both the students are fully reflecting the department motto of 'Leave No Doubt'," said Avtgis.

AU Well Represented at Ohio Communication Assocation Conference

Andrew Hart and Chrissy Thompson
Eight students and three faculty members traveled to Marietta College to attend the 77th annual Ohio Communication Association (OCA) Conference on October 4 and 5.

Three posters presentations were accepted to the conference:

"Ashland University's Greek Life: Changing Your Thoughts" by Lauren Fattlar, Andrew Hart, Sarah O'Connell, Chrissy Thompson, and Kayla Toth.

Sarah O'Connell, Kayla Toth, and Lauren Fattlar

"Young Team Doing Big Things: A Campaign for the Lake Erie Crushers" by Adena Siefert, Andrew Hart, Ashley Van Gilder, Chrissy Thompson, Christina Maidich, and Kate Lentz.

"Applying Expectancy Violation Theory to Skin Cancer Diagnosis" by Megan Salatino.
Megan Salatino

Dr. Theodore Avtgis, chair of the Department of Communication Studies, serves as OCA's vice president.

Dr. Dariela Rodriguez, assistant professor and Sport Communication Coordinator in the Department of Communication Studies, serves as OCA's conference coordinator.

Dr. Kimberly Field-Springer also attended and participated on a panel discussion.

This is the second year that the department has sent students to the conference. This year's theme was "Keystones of Communication: Scholarship, Spirit, and Service". The conference encourages opportunities for engagement in thought-provoking, meaningful, scholarly discussions, as well as, networking opportunities with colleagues from across Ohio and beyond.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Randall-Griffiths Presents at Marathon Petroleum Group's Retreat

Deleasa Randall-Griffiths, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies presented material on local folklore and legends for the Marathon Petroleum Group External Sales Department’s Retreat at Mohican State Park Lodge on September 19, 2013. Sixteen employees from around the state of Ohio gathered to work on team building and communication.

Department of Communication Studies Develops Unique Communication Program

Ashland University has developed a new undergraduate degree program in health and risk communication and, according to an AU professor, it is the only program of its kind in the nation.

"What we’re doing here at Ashland is truly unique because it is the only undergraduate health and risk communication program in the U.S.," said Dr. Theodore Avtgis, chair and professor in the Department of Communication Studies. "People interested in health and safety careers will gain the necessary skills to effectively message to publics who are vulnerable, at risk or in crisis situations. These skills sets are critical in modern day society and as natural and man-made crises will continue to occur, effective messaging is critical to keeping the public and organizations safe."

According to Avtgis, the health and risk communication program at Ashland University focuses on two of today’s fastest growing industries -- health and safety.

"We are addressing today’s job market demands with tomorrow’s skill sets. Health and risk communication is a hybrid of two separate areas in the discipline of communication studies," Avtgis said. "Health communication deals with the interpersonal aspects of patient-provider interaction, the team aspects of healthcare delivery as well as the development and execution of healthcare campaigns. Risk communication is a separate entity that deals with the identification of potential threats, the addressing of current threats or crises, and eventually, threat containment and threat mitigation."

The new undergraduate degree is housed in AU’s Department of Communication Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences, yet has students taking courses across three colleges throughout the university.
Dr. Dariela Rodriguez, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies, noted the importance of this new program.

"Traditionally, health and risk communication have been treated as separate areas of study. However, in the post 9/11 environment, we are learning that health and safety are inextricably linked, you cannot separate those two anymore," she said. "So while many communication studies programs continue to address these areas as separate, here at Ashland what we have done is created a program that reflects the current and future demands of the health and safety sectors."

With a focus on communication theory, research, and application, the AU program prepares students for a variety of careers that include health communication specialist, risk manager, director of communication and public affairs, communication project specialist, security specialist, director of external affairs, health communication training and development officer, safety training, and as a pre-professional program for students focused on medical school or other terminal degrees in health.

"Employment projections by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate a 24 percent growth in demand over the next five years in the communication studies field and our program will be set up to allow for internships ranging from local government agencies to pharmaceutical companies," Avtgis said.

He said students are actively engaged in research with faculty who are certified in risk communication and actively consulting government and private sector organizations on risk and crisis communication.
Dr. Dawn Weber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, stressed the importance of this new major at Ashland University.

"The major in health and risk communication prepares students with the skills and training that ensures the public is well informed in the event of a crisis. The role of communication is central to saving lives and to informing the public. The quality of information and the time it takes to convey it from first responders to emergency room doctors can make the difference between a life saved and a life lost," Weber said. "Just this summer, individuals in 15 states as well as our own community experienced flu-like symptoms associated with cyclospora contamination in bagged lettuce. All too frequently we hear of rogue shooters in public places such as high schools, shopping malls, and the Boston Marathon. In each of these cases, communication professionals are essential to providing the public with accurate information."

The Journal of Risk and Crisis Communication, an online journal located in the UK, helped spread the word about the Department of Communication's innovative program.

Monday, September 30, 2013

2013 Fall Colloquium a Great Success

The Department of Communication Studies (DOCS) hosted a colloquium "Making a Positive Difference" in which students presented their research projects from Spring 2013 to AU students, faculty, and staff.

The colloquium gave the DOCS students a chance to showcase their hard work, as well practice for the upcoming Ohio Communication Association (OCA) conference this Friday and Saturday.

Attendees circulated the room, looked over the posters and listened as the students' presented their work. Attendees were able to ask questions about the research - which gave valuable practice to the students.

The students will head to Marietta College on Friday to attend the 77th annual OCA conference. They will present their posters Saturday morning. During the conference, students will have the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking, meaningful, and scholarly discussions, as well as participate in many networking opportunities with colleagues from across Ohio and beyond.

Representing AU at the conference will be: Chris Manthey, Andrew Hart, Chrissy Thompson, Kayla Toth, Sarah O'Connell, Megan Salatino, Lauren Fattlar, and Emma Tappel.

AU students, faculty and staff gathered to hear the research projects of DOCS students.

Lauren Fattlar and Sarah O'Connell discuss "Ashland University's Greek Life: Changing Your Thoughts"

Andrew Hart discusses ideas from his group's project: "Young Team Doing Big Things: Campaign for the Lake Erie Crushers".

Megan Salatino answers questions from Dr. Cindy Moseman. Megan's project is titled "Applying Expectancy Violation Theory in Skin Cancer Diagnosis".

Dr. Corey Liberman to Speak at AU

Dr. Corey Liberman, associate professor at Marymount Manhatten College, will be on campus Wednesday, Oct. 2, sharing his expertise in "The Role of Communication in Creating Effective Campaigns. He will focus his talk on health and risk communication, safety messaging, and the Affordable Care Act.

His talk will begin at 7:00 pm in the Student Center auditorium. He will speak from 7:00-7:45, with a question and answer period following.
Everyone is welcome to attend.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, August 19, 2013

AU Team Wins $2,500

Nellie Cronin, a junior majoring in public relations, strategic communication, and health & risk communication, competed on a team of five Ashland University undergraduate students at the 2013 Business Concept Competition held as part of the seventh annual Entrepreneurship Education Consortium’s (EEC) Entrepreneurship Immersion Week (EIW) competition at Hiram College on Aug. 4-9. The AU team claimed first prize for its improved public and commercial restroom product.

EIW is an intensive one-week, academic immersion experience for undergraduates from all disciplines to immerse themselves in the skills needed to help them develop new business concepts and apply these skills in a team-based business concept competition. There were nine participating collegiate teams. The teams conceived and developed a business concept that was presented to a panel of judges from the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem. (

Due the competitive nature of the concepts presented, the judges took more than an hour and a half to select the winners before naming the Ashland University team as first place and awarding them with the $2,500 prize.

When asked about her experience, Cronin said, “The Department of Communication Studies really deserves this one! The professors and the department itself has given me so many opportunities such as being an intern for the Rural Emergency Trauma Institute (RETI), being a co-author on a chapter of a book that was published, and so much more. These opportunities have been beneficial in so many ways and taught me so many new things. This led me to be able to do all the work I was able to do during the Entrepreneurship Immerse Week and landing first place! I am so thankful for the department; they have helped me so much and will continue to watch me grow.”

"While I am not shocked, I am very proud of Nellie as she has developed into a quite an innovative and well-spoken student. She has brought great pride to the Department of Communication Studies," says Dr. Theodore Avtgis, professor and department Chair.

The Ashland team was coached by Read F. Wakefield, director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, at Ashland University and treasurer and past-president of the EEC. Dr. Dan Fox, associate professor and chair of the department of Marketing, Hospitality Management and Fashion Merchandising, and past-director of the EEC, assisted the Ashland team on Thursday afternoon and evening.

The Entrepreneurship Educational Consortium Inc. (EEC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and a unique collaboration of 11 Northeast Ohio colleges and universities whose purpose is to provide practical "experiential" and theoretical education to students in Northeast Ohio to prepare them to become entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs, create new ventures and jobs and build wealth for the region. The EEC was founded to promote both the concept and the reality of Entrepreneurship among college students of all disciplines. Beyond imparting the necessary classroom fundamentals, it encourages student exploration of new business concepts.

Ashland University is one of the seven founding members of the EEC. The EEC won national recognition when it received the 2010 Innovative Pedagogy for Entrepreneurship Education from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

Faculty and Students Present Research at Conference

Several of the D.O.C.S. faculty and students presented research at the 104 annual meeting of the Eastern Communication Association annual convention held in Pittsburgh, PA. Senior Megan Wise of North Canton, OH, presented her work Detecting Deceptive Communication through Computer Mediated Technology: Applying Interpersonal Deception Theory to Texting Behavior.
“Presenting at the Eastern Communication Association Conference was an incredible experience for me both as a student and a professional,” Wise said. “I had the opportunity to present my research on a regional platform and I was also able to network with individuals in the communications field. I had a great time presenting my research on deceptive communication via text messaging and I enjoyed engaging in conversation with professionals who provided me with ideas to further my research.”

Senior Christina Miadich of Garfield Heights, OH, presented her work titled The Theory of Interpersonal Communication Motives: A Review of Literature. “Being able to present at the Eastern Communication Conference was a remarkable opportunity and great way to end my senior year,” Miadich said. “I am fortunate that the Department of Communication Studies at Ashland University is motivating students to complete their own research and encouraging them to present their research at conferences because it is a wonderful chance to grow as a student.”

Drs. Dariela Rodriguez and Theodore Avtgis also presented research at the conference.  Dr. Rodriguez participated in a round table discussion titled The Organizational Confluence of Health Care and Communication. Dr. Avtgis presented the following papers: 1. Communicating from the field of crisis: First responder communication; 2. Assessing the accuracy of trauma patient prioritization: Assessing the efficiency of the M.I.S.E.R. categorization and communication channel in crisis communication; 3. The longitudinal efficacy of communication instruction in a surgical residency program: Preliminary data; 4. Round table participant: The organizational confluence of health care and communication

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ashland University Receives PRSSA Chapter

The Department of Communication Studies at Ashland University has received word that it has been granted a student chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the largest professional public relations organization in the world.

The student charter, known as the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), serves as an endorsement of the strong curriculum in public relations and strategic communication, according to Dr. Theodore A. Avtgis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Ashland University.

Avtgis noted that this recognition requires close examination of the curriculum, faculty accomplishments and student achievements.
“This is a great accomplishment for Ashland University and the Department of Communication Studies,” Avtgis said. “This recognition serves as an affirmation that our programs, faculty and students are all working and creating quality curricula that will give our students the necessary skills to succeed in the public relations and strategic communication fields. Having this recognition on your resume significantly increases your credibility as it signals to potential employers that you are well prepared.”

Nell Cronin, president of the Ashland University chapter of PRSSA, states, “PRSSA offers so many opportunities for us college students. PRSSA offers internships, competitions, chapter opportunities, scholarships, leadership awards and even the chance for publications. It is a way to broaden our horizons and get our feet wet before graduation.”
PRSSA is made up of more than 11,000 students and advisers organized into 300 plus chapters in the United States. The organization extends to more than 21,000 public relations and communications professionals worldwide.

PRSSA was founded in November of 1967 at the PRSA Assembly in Philadelphia and its mission is “to serve our members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and providing access to professional development opportunities; and to serve the public relations profession by helping to develop highly qualified, well-prepared professionals.”

Ashland University senior Christina Miadich, a member of PRSSA, states, “Being a senior, I am grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of such a prestigious organization. I am excited for the opportunities that can come my way since I have joined PRSSA. I believe having this membership on my resume helped me get accepted into some of the top public relations graduate programs in the country.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Professor Rodriguez Receives Certification in Risk Management

Dr. Dariela Rodriguez recently received a certification in Risk Communication from the Harvard University School of Public Health.  Dr. Rodriguez attended the 4-day training taught by instructors from Harvard University, George Washington University, Kings College in London, and Newgate Communication, LLC.  Participants in the training included members of the Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff Risk Department, Shell Oil, Exxon Mobile, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the International Monetary Fund.  Dr. Rodriguez reported that she has made some invaluable connections that will assist our students greatly in the future.  This certification will also be of great value as the Department of Communication Studies gets ready to launch its new major in Health and Risk Communication.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Students to Present Research at Regional Conference

Two students have had their work competitively selected for presentation at the annual meeting of the Eastern Communication Association (ECA).  ECA is the oldest communication association in the country and is holding its annual meeting on April 24th - April 28th in Pittsburgh, PA.  Senior Christina Miadich had her paper titled "Theory of Interpersonal Communication Motives: A Review of Literature" and senior Megan Wise had her paper title "Detecting Deceptive Communication through Computer Mediated Technology: Applying Interpersonal Deception Theory to Texting Behavior accepted for a platform presentation.  Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Theodore A. Avtgis said "the competition was fierce this year so to have two of our students selected to present research along side some of the brightest minds in the field is quite an honor.  I am very proud of both Christina and Megan and look forward to witnessing their presentations at the conference in April."

Friday, February 8, 2013


A list of most employable majors recently released by Yahoo has Public Relations as the 4th most employable majors in the country!

Career # 4 - Public Relations Specialist

If you enjoy reaching out to others and communication is one of your stronger skills, consider pursuing an in-demand career in public relations.
Working with clients - that could range from businesses, nonprofits associations, universities, or hospitals - public relations specialists can help their clients build and maintain positive relationships with the public, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Responsibilities might include writing press releases, speaking to media contacts, and planning PR programs.
Hot Factors: Employment for public relations specialists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, says the Department of Labor. Growth could be driven by the need for organizations to maintain their public image in this Internet age and with the growth of social media, adds the Department.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


The Department of Communication Studies is proud to announce that over the past 2 years, the number of students majoring in either Strategic Communication, Public Relations, or Sport Communication has increased 62%.  This growth is directly attributed to our engaging our students in research that prepares them for both the job market and graduate school and continuing to offer new and dynamic course work.  As we prepare to introduce our new major of Health and Risk Communication in the Fall of 2013 and revamped curriculum in Sport Communication, this trend is sure to continue. Consider joining us and being part of something truly special.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Professor Publishes Article on Texting and Driving

Theodore A. Avtgis published the article "WR U TXTING B4 U CRASHED." Avtgis and a team of physicians from the West Virginia School of Medicine assessed the proclivity of teenagers to utilize computer mediated communication while driving and their perceptions of the practice regarding risk to self and others.  This article was published in the West Virginia Medical Journal.