Donna Oxford, the heart of the School of Communication, retires
For more than 28 years, Donna Oxford was the face of the School of Communication. She retired in December 2019.
The first day Donna Oxford showed up for work in 1991, the department chair at the time took one look at her and said: "Is that the person we hired? That's not the one I wanted." The chair turned to another staffer and continued, "How do we fix this?" To the chair's dismay, Donna's hiring was not fix-able.
Twenty-eight years and 8 months later, Donna's having the last laugh. Not only did she survive that first chair, but six more. Over the years, Donna's been at the helm of the marriage of Communication and Visual Arts, the inevitable divorce of the two programs, and the graduation of the department to school status. She's overseen countless office moves, all the while keeping everyone on track. She says she was not an office manager, she was an "administrative bartender," serving up faculty contracts, faculty activity reports, budgets, personnel files, semester schedules, book orders, and email reminders bearing her trademark cat pictures.
Dr. John Parmelee calls her "DonnaNet" because she knows everything. It came in handy when he stepped into the chair's position unprepared for any of the day-to-day details of the job. He says, "Simply put, I could not have done this job without her." He says her tentacles are everywhere because people want to tell her things. "She would have been a perfect spy."
Donna isn't just a process expert. She knows people. She's fixed unraveled skirt hems with scotch tape, offered safety pins when buttons broke, handed out Band-Aids for untended wounds, and soothed words for wounded spirits. When professor Diane Matuschka first set foot in the department, she unwittingly ran into the chair at the time, known for his sometimes-obscure sense of humor. He trifled with her a bit then turned to Donna and said, "Come deal with this." Diane was confused and unsettled, but Donna jumped up out of her seat, threw her arms around her, embracing her with a warm welcome. Diane says, "She's had me under her wing ever since." Ask anyone about Donna and you'll hear about her compassion and unceasing kindness.
Typically, Donna didn't want a big send-off. But she got one anyway. As Parmelee told her, "We couldn't let you slip away without telling you how we feel about you." Her parting gift: a heart-shaped charm inscribed with "Loved beyond words."
Communication students’ documentaries accepted to Jacksonville Film Festival
UNF alumni (left to right) Antonio Rodriguez, Monique Mancera and Shawn Clark participated in the Jacksonville Film Festival with documentaries from the school's Uncovering Jax project.
Four of the 200 independent films screened at the Jacksonville Film Festival, an annual event that showcases American and international films, came from School of Communication students. They produced the work in two of professor Frank Goodin's courses: RTV 4291-Narrative Production and RTV 4221-Advanced Production. The festival was held in November 2019.
The accepted films were "Jacksonville's First Black Millionaire" by Haidy Andrada, "Norman Studios" by Ian Wilson, "The Boss of the Music Industry" by Antonio Rodriguez, and "Jacksonville Lynchings" by Monique Mancera. All of the documentaries were produced as a part of the School of Communication's Uncovering Jax initiative.
"I was very excited to hear that the student submissions were accepted to the festival," Goodin said. "This was a great 'real world' learning experience for them, and another great opportunity to have their work seen by the broader Jacksonville community."
The student producers, now alumni, shared similar thoughts when asked about their experiences. Shawn Clark said, "The experience was better than I could've imagined. I never thought that the hard work put in with my classmates would become the success it is. It began as a group project, but has resulted in a film that I will cherish."
Haidy Andrada said it was a unique experience. "I enjoyed the festival a lot and it was a great experience to watch other films that were international," she said. "Watching my film alongside other students was surreal. To hear my voiceover and to see my name was a big moment that I just had to take in."
Monique Mancera said she was slightly overwhelmed: "I felt very honored to be selected. My film was created as just an assignment I just wanted to get done. I knew it wasn't my best work, but I'm very fortunate to have a professor who saw something in my work even when I didn't."
She added that seeing other Jacksonville-made films was her favorite part of the festival. "I think we're all very proud to show what Ospreys can do. And I love supporting my local community because we're full of talent and potential, and not a lot of people get the opportunity to see that."
Communication students honored by Broadcast Education Association
Communication students won several awards from the Broadcast Education Association, which for more than 60 years has been the premier academic broadcast organization in the U.S. and abroad.
Chaos ensues in "Blood Money."
Our Multimedia Journalism and Digital Video Production students won first place in the 2019 BEA Student Media Clubs 48-Hour Film Festival. The 2019 festival had 20 teams nationwide participate Oct. 25-27 and Nov. 1-3. While UNF had not competed in this specific festival before, communication students won for their dark comedy Blood Money. The winning team was led by Rachel Tucker (director), Carly Kramer (director of photography), as well as Jesse Scales, Judd Barczack, Ethan Hray, Kathryn Sands, Antonio Richa, and Tirik Peterson. Sunni Linville assisted in writing, editing and performing the scripts.
"Inside Swoop" plays with the broadcast news format.
Communication students also won third place in the 2020 BEA/TVNewsCheck Disrupt the News Challenge. The challenge was to reimagine what a traditional news broadcast could look like. The judges called our entry, Inside Swoop, "really intriguing" and "brilliant." Inside Swoop team members who graduated in December include Ryan Gulick, Tyler Wailes, Jennifer Saliba and Doriel Gale. Current students on the winning team include Lauren Paradis and Alex Rodriguez. They have received an invitation to the BEA conference in Las Vegas and a $1,000 prize.
Alumni Profile: Grady Trimble, journalist for Fox Business Network
UNF alum Grady Trimble enjoys working in Chicago for Fox Business.
He's been out of the nest for just five years, but former UNF Osprey soccer player Grady Trimble hasn't wasted any time making the most of his education. Trimble was a model student in the School of Communication before graduating in 2014 with a B.S. in Communication with a multimedia journalism concentration. His first job in Bangor, Maine, wasn't in the biggest television market, but it gave him the start he needed. His second reporting job came just nine months later as he moved to Portland, Maine, where he continued perfecting his storytelling techniques. One of the biggest stories he covered while in Portland was the "Deflategate" controversy surrounding the 2014 AFC Championship Game and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Trimble returned to his home state of Florida in 2016 as a general assignment reporter for WTSP in Tampa. Then in July 2019, he made big news with the announcement of his next job as a general assignment reporter for Fox Business Network. This completed his professional journey from a small-town local reporter to a big-time network job in an unusually short span. It's quite an accomplishment for the one-time UNF Spinnaker morning news anchor to reach this career milestone in just five years, when many television reporters spend an entire lifetime trying to get to the network level.
But for Trimble, and those who know him, it's a path he set out to follow at a very early age. In fact, he made his television debut as a 19-year-old intern at Jacksonville's First Coast News, and it's no surprise that he has worked his way up to Fox's network offices in Chicago. Currently, Trimble has been assigned to the agriculture and commodities markets, auto industry, and breaking business news.
We reached out to Trimble to reflect on his life as an Osprey, and how his education at UNF helped mold him into the reporter he has become.
Q: You've been in Chicago for a few months now, what's the best thing about living in Chicago?
A: There are too many great things about Chicago to pick just one! From the food to the lakefront to the sports, it's a timeless city. It's also been nice to ditch my car and be able to use public transit to get around, which would never be possible in Florida. If only it stayed summer year-round, it would be perfect!
Q: It's a long way from the Spinnaker news desk to where you are now, how do you think your experiences at Spinnaker News helped you in getting those early jobs in Maine?
A: Outside of class, I was very involved in UNF's extracurricular news program. I anchored several shows during my time at UNF. It helped me get comfortable in front of the camera in a setting where I could make mistakes and learn from them. Many clips from my anchoring at UNF ended up on the demo reel that helped me get my first job. I'm sure I would be embarrassed by my inexperience if I saw that reel today!
Q: It seems like your career was on the fast track from the start. In 2014, there were 210 television markets in the country, with the 210th market being the smallest in the United States. You were in Bangor, Maine, which was the 156th market. How did you jump from 145 television markets, and land in the 11th largest market in country, Tampa? How did that happen?
A: I picked my first station in Bangor, Maine, carefully, knowing that if I did a good job, I could move up to its sister station in Portland, Maine. That move happened even more quickly than I expected. Early on, I realized the importance of knowing how to do it all-writing, editing, shooting and presenting on-air. That, plus saying yes to every assignment, no matter what hour of the day, helped me get to my hometown market in Tampa.
Q: So now you're in Tampa, market 11, and you get a call from network to move to the third largest market in the United States. What was that phone call and process like?
A: It was a long process initiated by a chance meeting while I was working in Tampa. I interviewed someone for a story who knew Melissa Francis, an anchor at Fox. We connected, then several emails, phone calls, meetings, and interviews later, I ended up getting the job. I am incredibly grateful for Melissa's help throughout the process.
Q: In the television industry moving up 153 markets in just five years is quite unheard of and doesn't happen very often. What do you attribute to your success in that jump, and how did your education from UNF prepare you for it?
A: A lot of luck, as well as some planning and hard work. I studied the careers of journalists I admired and tried to follow a similar path. My professors at UNF taught me the fundamentals to pursue a career in news. They also went above and beyond to give me guidance when I had questions or important decisions to make.
Q: What role did being a student-athlete play in your overall success and career path?
A: News is a deadline-driven industry, so time management is a crucial skill. Playing soccer in college taught me how to balance practices and traveling for games with classes, assignments and extracurriculars.
Q: I saw that you had multiple internships while at UNF. Explain how the variety of internships you were able to participate in helped you, and what advice would you give students about internships?
A: I interned for a Top 40 radio station, at First Coast News in Jacksonville, as well as VH1 and a video production company in California. They were invaluable in helping me decide exactly what I wanted to do, while also building my resume and equipping me with skills I still use today. Some of my internship supervisors are still mentors today.
Q: You've covered many stories in your short career. Everything from Hurricanes and mass shootings, to elections and "Deflategate." What's your favorite memory?
A: Covering the New Hampshire primaries in 2016 will always stick out. I had watched election coverage since I was a kid, and for one of the most intense elections in U.S. history, I got a front seat.
Q: What's your least favorite memory or story you covered?
A: While covering Hurricane Irma, a huge oak tree fell on my news car. Luckily, I wasn't in it at the time and the damage was minor, but it made the already challenging hurricane coverage a bit more complicated.
Q: You're a network TV reporter now. Was that always your goal, or did you want to be something else like a soccer star?
A: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cowboy. Then, I wanted to play for the US National Soccer Team. By the time I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to work in TV news and I haven't looked back since.
Social Media Expo Jax debut is the highlight of Media Week 2019
Dr. Margaret Stewart opens Social Media Expo Jax.
The School of Communication hosted an event for the Jacksonville community, titled "Social Media Expo Jax," which served as a workshop to update media professionals on social media trends.
The workshop was held in the Adam W. Herbert University Center and attracted more than 100 participants. It was the final event of the school's 7th annual Media Week, which ran from Oct. 21-25 and gave our undergraduate and graduate students the chance to meet professionals, ask questions, and gain an understanding of what it takes to work in the field of communication.
Dr. Margaret Stewart, associate professor communication studies, and co-planner and UNF alumna, Erin Gordon, of Savvy Outsourcing, spearheaded the sold-out event. The day-long program was designed to promote the exchange of information, ideas, insights, and innovations among professionals and students in areas such as social media, digital marketing, and communication. It focused on strategy, skills, and best practices across the social media and digital industries through a series of lectures, workshops, panels, and networking opportunities.
Speakers included Jennifer Radke, CEO of the National Institute for Social Media; Audrey Laine Seymour, senior communications specialist for Mayo Clinic; Darnell Brady, social media manager for the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Daniel Burstein, senior director of content and marketing for MECLABS Institute.
"We are looking forward to making this an annual event and looking to continue to grow in scope and size in the coming year," Stewart said.
For more information on being involved either as a sponsor or presenter, contact Stewart at the School of Communication.
Study abroad takes communication students to London
Prof. Dee Colvin-Ott (front left) and her students hang out near London Bridge.
Last summer professor Dee Colvin-Ott and 15 communication students traveled to London for a twelve-day, faculty-led study abroad experience. In London, students visited several global advertising and public relations agencies, including Saatchi and Saatchi, Wunderman Thompson, AMV BBDO and Pentagram Design, the world's largest independent design consultancy. At AMV BBDO, students participated in workshops on emerging platforms and advertising strategy, and while at the Museum of Brands, they attended a workshop on consumer profiling.
On the first day of the trip, the students traveled around the city via an open bus tour and a cruise down the River Thames. Students also enjoyed visiting several landmarks of the city including Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.
Colvin-Ott plans to lead another study abroad group to Paris and Nantes, France, in May 2020.
Dr. David Deeley won Best in Competition in the TV Sports Event Direction/Production category at the Broadcast Education Association convention.
Frank Goodin won an Award of Excellence in the Faculty Film & Video Competition at the Broadcast Education Association convention.
Dr. Junga Kim and Dr. Chunsik Lee presented "How Hateful Social Media Content Spills Over the Adjacent Brand Ad: Implications for Brand Safety" to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference.
Dr. John Parmelee and Dr. Nataliya Roman had their paper, "Insta-Echoes: Selective Exposure and Selective Avoidance on Instagram," accepted to the International Communication Association conference. Parmelee also worked with recent master's graduate Jessica Scott to get her paper, "Grassroots Tweeting: How Local Government Public Information Officers Engage with their Publics," accepted to ICA.
Dr. Stephynie Perkins and Dr. Brian Thornton presented "Poems, Prayers, Letters and Calls for Calm, Grieving MLK's Murder: A Study of the Editorial Pages of Five Black Newspapers in 1968" to the American Journalism Historians Association conference.
There are eight great ways to stay connected with the School of Communication:
Join the School's Professional Advisory Board.
The board helps us make sure we are getting students prepared for the current media environment. If you have risen to a position of leadership at a news organization, PR firm, advertising agency or other media outlet, please contact the school's director, John Parmelee. Even if you don't want to be on the board, feel free to email the chair with any advice on making the curriculum better.
Join the School's Alumni Association.
This is a great chance to interact with fellow communication alumni and current students. To join, please contact the School's Alumni Association, mention your interest in joining, and please include your name, contact information, year of graduation and track. Also, all communication alumni are invited to be a part of the conversation on Facebook. This is the "go to" spot for UNF communication alumni. The Facebook group includes information about alumni social events, recently posted communication jobs, tech tips, departmental news, and pictures/video from school events such as Media Week. In addition, communication faculty members have joined the group, so you can connect with your old professors. Here's how to join the alumni Facebook group: Search for UNF communication alumni and ask to join.
Let faculty know how you're doing.
Below is a link that lists faculty and their email addresses. Faculty love to hear what their former students are up to and are always happy to offer advice.
Participate in the Internship + Job Fair.
Every spring, representatives from companies such as WJXT, The Florida Times-Union, United Way and Mayo Clinic meet with communication students to discuss upcoming internships and jobs. If you are a leader at a company that is looking for interns to do advertising, public relations, journalism or production, please contact professor Bobbi Doggett to participate.
Be a guest speaker or mentor to our students.
Your expertise in advertising, public relations, journalism or production could be a real benefit to current students. We are always looking for guest speakers to come to communication classes. A good time to do this is during the fall semester when the school hosts Media Week, an opportunity for media professionals to speak with students and faculty about the media landscape. Contact John Parmelee for more information. If you want to mentor our students, please fill out a profile on our mentoring website.
Contribute to Alumni Notes.
This is your chance to let faculty and fellow alumni know of any big career or personal changes in your life. Also, consider contributing a 300- to 500-word piece on which professors made the biggest impact on your career. Submissions will be published in the alumni newsletter. Contact John Parmelee to submit.
Donate to the School.
Even a small gift can help us enhance our facilities, academics and recruiting of top-quality students and faculty. To contribute, please go to our website.
Join us on Twitter and Facebook.