Campus News

Communications to Honor Its Own Nov. 5


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 27, 2010)The University of Kentucky's College of Communications and Information Studies will hold its annual recognition and awards dinner Friday, Nov. 5, at the Hilton Lexington to honor outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni. A reception sponsored by the UK Alumni Association will begin at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Reservations for the dinner can be made through Nov. 1 at Tickets are $25.

The college will recognize student scholarship and fellowship recipients, in addition to the following staff, faculty, alumni and friends:

-- Jay Blanton, executive director of UK Public Relations and Marketing, will be honored with the college's Outstanding Alumni Award. Blanton is a 1989 graduate of the UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications, and earned his master's degree from UK's College of Education in 2008. He served as director of Communications and Marketing for Keeneland and communications director for Gov. Steve Beshear. He has served in a number of positions in the public and private sectors, including work for several political campaigns.

Blanton also has served as deputy communications director for Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and with two of Kentucky’s largest public relations firms, Guthrie/Mayes in Louisville and Preston-Osborne in Lexington. At UK, Blanton worked for the Kernel for more than four years, serving in a number of positions, including editor-in-chief. He also was the recipient of a Gaines Fellowship in the Humanities. Blanton lives in Lexington with his wife, Carla, a public relations consultant, and their very large dog, Charlie.

-- Bernard L. "Bernie" Vonderheide will be named this year's Friend of the College. Vonderheide, a native Kentuckian who has lived in Lexington for more than 35 years, is the retired Public Relations director for UK. He graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's in journalism. At UK he was known for his radio program, “Campus Scene,” which played at halftime during broadcasts of UK football and basketball games. As Public Relations director, he was credited with many innovations and won a number of national awards for his office’s work. He also is credited with getting university vehicle license plates authorized in Kentucky, the proceeds from the sale of which go to scholarships. Before UK, he held positions at the Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times, including director of the newspapers’ promotion and public service department, and he was a columnist for the Louisville Times for two years.

In retirement, he has been an active advocate for nursing home reform and founded Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, a citizen's advocacy group. Vonderheide was inducted into the Lexington-Urban County Government Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of a lifetime achievement award in public relations given by the James Bowling Foundation and UK. He and his wife, Barbara, have four grown children and 11 grandchildren.

-- Lisa O’Connor will be honored with the college's Excellence in Teaching award. O’Connor earned a bachelor's degree in English-Creative Writing and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. She served as a business reference librarian and instructional services coordinator for 10 years in academic libraries, including Columbia College, Youngstown State University and Kent State University.

She earned her Ph.D. in the cultural foundations of education in 2006 from Kent State University. Since joining the faculty of UK's School of Library and Information Science in 2004, she has taught courses in foundations, information services, instructional services and specialized reference services. Her research interests are in information literacy and information seeking, particularly in the areas of business and civic engagement.

-- Timothy Sellnow will be awarded the college's Faculty Research award.
Sellnow is associate dean for Graduate Programs in Communication and professor in the Department of Communication at UK. He teaches courses in theory construction, organizational communication, and risk and crisis communication. Sellnow’s research focuses on bioterrorism, pre-crisis planning, and instructional communication strategies for mitigating personal harm during crises. He has conducted funded research for the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sellnow has published numerous articles on risk and crisis communication and has co-authored four books, including his most recent title, "Risk Communication: A Message-Centered Approach." Sellnow is the former editor of the National Communication Association’s Journal of Applied Communication Research. Sellnow is married to Deanna Sellnow, a professor and director of Undergraduate Studies in UK's Department of Communication. They have two children.

-- William Buntin and Zachary Leitch will both be presented with Outstanding Staff awards. Buntin was born in Lexington and grew up in Whitesburg. He graduated from Transylvania University with a degree in psychology before going on to earn a master's in library science from UK. He is currently working on a master's in higher education. He has worked at the School of Library and Information Science since 2006. He and his partner, Mickey, live in Lexington.

Leitch is an Iraq war veteran who served with the 141st Engineer Battalion. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor's degree in social science education, and then moved to Lexington with his wife Kathleen. Leitch works for the Department of Communication
’s Office of Research and Instructional Technology and is pursuing a master's degree in forestry at UK. After his expected graduation in Dec. 2011, he hopes to find a career that combines his experiences with technology and forestry.

-- Katharine Head will be honored with the College's Graduate Teaching award.
Head is a doctoral student in UK's Graduate Program in Communication and is the recipient of the 2009/2010 R. Lewis Donohew Graduate Fellowship. Prior to entering the program, she worked for the VA South Central Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center in Houston. She completed her master’s degree in Communication at Texas A&M University. Her research interests are centered in health communication, especially in the health contexts of cancer and mental illness.

Students will be recognized with scholarship and fellowship awards. Programs include Communication (COM), Journalism (JOU), Telecommunications (TEL), Integrated Strategic Communication (ISC), the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), and the Graduate Program in Communication (GPC): Najah Allouch (JOU), Kaitlin Black (COM), Sarah Geegan (ISC), and Christine Martin (COM), recipients of the CIS Endowed Scholarship; Abby Shields (ISC), recipient of the Bernie Vonderheide Scholarship; Sarah Winterton (ISC), recipient of the Rick Roth Scholarship; Patrick Sullivan (JOU), recipient of the Judith G. Clabes Scholarship; Najah Allouch (JOU), Shannon Frazer (JOU), Aaron Smith (JOU), recipients of the Maria Braden Scholarship; Ryan Bumm (TEL), recipient of the AT&T Kentucky Scholarship; Jackie Goldman (TEL), recipient of the Shirley Rose Scholarship; Corey Ballard (COM) and Kaitlin Black (COM), recipients of the Department of Communication Outstanding Senior award; Jenna Walker (COM), recipient of the Department of Communication Outstanding Junior award; Rachel Price (GPC), recipient of the Sypher Memorial Graduate Scholarship; Anna Hoover (GPC), recipient of the Bruce H. Westley Memorial Scholarship; Anna Rankin (GPC), recipient of the R. Lewis Donohew Graduate Fellowship; Elyse Brown French (SLIS), recipient of the Hallie Day Blackburn Scholarship; Esta Day (SLIS), Cara Frank (SLIS), Kimberly Shepherd (SLIS), and Amber Surface (SLIS), recipients of the Mildred Semmons Endowment; Jeanna Bender (SLIS), Matt Cockerell (SLIS), Bridget Farrell (SLIS), and Elyse Brown French (SLIS), recipients of the LIS Endowed Graduate Fellowship; Emily Aldridge (SLIS); recipient of the H.W. Wilson Scholarship.