Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations

Wilson Hall, Room 316
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-4120

General Department Questions:
Debra Koehler

What's Happening


Dr. Adina Schneeweis publishes article in Popular Communication

Dr. Adina Schneeweis, Associate Professor of Journalism, has published a new article in Popular Communication  Titled, “Desired, yet Unwanted: Hugo’s Gypsy Bodies in Popular Media,” the study examines textual representations of gypsies in contemporary popular culture, evident in a musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s celebrated novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame and its accompanying worldwide press coverage. In the context that critical and feminist studies have continued to demand for accounts of the representational challenges confronting marginalized people, particularly the Roma, or the Gypsies, one of the most reviled and marginalized ethnic groups, this study finds that artistic and press representations of the gypsy woman Esmeralda embody characteristics consistent with historic stereotypes of the bohemian. It also shows that the novel’s band of Parisian criminals have been reconfigured for present-day global audiences to include critique of current political and popular discourses about immigration. International critics, however, miss this latter point and confine their reporting to dominant ideology and (continued) rhetorical colonization of the other.

Dr. Sidelinger publishes articles on ineffective student/teacher communication and relational baggage

Dr. Sidelinger's first article examines how ineffective instructor communication affected students' sense of satisfaction. Examining how inappropriate communication and frequent disclosures affected students, Dr. Sidelinger and his team concluded that instructors' nonverbal immediacy maintain students’ communication satisfaction even when instructors engage in inappropriate conversations or disclose too frequently. 

Starting a relationship?  Worried about your emotional baggage? Dr. Sidelinger and his team's article can give you insight.  His second article examined strategies people employed as they seek to uncover their partner's relational baggage.  The article also examined how people understood their own relationship baggage.

A Somber and Enlightening Trip to the Museum

Dr. Rebecca Mercado Thornton's Race and Communication class toured "The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia" at Ferris State University. Following the reading of Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," students were able to make connections between the cultural artifacts at the museum and the historical argument mounted by Alexander. Dr. Mercado Thornton and her students would like to thank Dean Corcoran and the Department of Communication and Journalism for their generous support, without this, the experience would not have been possible. 

Holly and Garry Gilbert Win Spirit Award

Garry Gilbert, Director of the Journalism Program, and Holly Gilbert, Senior Advisor for Journalism, Faculty Advisor for the Oakland Post, and Adjunct Instructor, have been awarded the Oakland University Spirit Award. This award recognizes exemplary service to the university. Anyone who knows the Gilberts recognizes that they certainly exemplify the ethos of service and community, and they are more than deserving of this award. The Gilberts will receive the award at the 2015 Alumni Awards Banquet, being held on Friday, September 18 at 6:00 PM in the Banquet Rooms of the Oakland Center. The department congratulates this dynamic duo on their well-deserved recognition.   

Dr. Rebekah Farrugia and Dr. Kellie Hay Publish Article in Music & Politics 

Dr. Rebekah Farrugia and Dr. Kellie Hay, Associate Professors of Communication, published their article, " The Politics and Place of a “Legendary” Hip Hop Track in Detroit" in Volume 8, Issue 2 of the journal,  Music & Politics. Their paper examines how a collective of women in Detroit are using hip hop culture and rap music specifically to create spaces of resistance in a place inundated with environmental ruins, race politics, social alienation, and dilapidated living conditions. The authors contextualize the historical and contemporary environmental situation of Detroit before moving on to examine the collective process of creating the rap song and music video “Legendary.” “Legendary” locates Detroit’s contemporary struggles in racially marked places in the city through an array of arresting images that capture environmental waste, forgotten spaces, and resilience among residents to survive such challenges.  Ecomusicological and urban planning literature, along with Adam Krims’s concepts of design intensity, cultural regeneration, and urban ethos, are reconfigured in relation to socially conscious, women-centered hip hop. Ultimately, the authors argue that the video serves as an example of how music can be used to question gendered power dynamics in hip hop culture and its connection to the environment, creating more desirable, sustainable communities. The department congratulates the authors on the publication of their fascinating article. 

Dr. Rob Sidelinger Lends Expertise to DTR by Tinder Podcast

Dr. Rob Sidelinger lends his expertise to the podcast “DTR” by Tinder this past January. In the podcast, what happens when confident women date men who are much more attractive is discussed. Listen here.


Grad students share their research at Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters

The prolific Meika Cole (see below) was one two Com grad students who presented papers on Friday, March 13, at the annual conference for the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters.  Meika Cole presented "Black Music and Identity: How Commodification Changed the Narrative of R&B Music." Her colleague, Ashley Coates, presented "Communicating Through Technology: The Use of Cell Phones and Social Networks in Relationships." The conference was held at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.  Both papers were well received with numerous comments and questions from the audience. 

Grad Student Presents Paper at Communication Conference
Meika Cole, a graduate student in the communication program, recently presented a paper at the Michigan Undergraduate and Graduate Communication Conference, titled "The Steve Harvey Effect: Has Acting Like a Lady and Thinking Like a Man Corrected African-American Gender Relations?" Additionally, she received a "Top Paper Award" at this conference. Read more details about the event here.

WXOU earns College Station of the Year — again!
MAB award bash
Oakland University's student radio station will proudly display its third-in-a-row College Station of the Year Award.

By Eric Reikowski, public information specialist

For the third year running, Oakland University’s student radio station WXOU-88.3 FM is set to receive the College Station of the Year Award, among other honors, from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation (MABF). The awards will be announced officially on Wednesday, March 12 at the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference in Lansing.

“This level of success was made possible with the teamwork of every DJ at the station,” said Patrick Cymbalski, WXOU’s general manager.  “We put everything we had into these entries, and when it came time to submit, I couldn’t have been happier with the finished products.  If you look at the names on the awards we won, you can see very few were solo efforts.  Everyone at the station really pulled together to help one another succeed.”

Along with the top overall prize, WXOU students claimed individual accolades in a variety of categories. They swept the Current Events Program category, with Lauren Barthold and Mark Cowan taking first place, Ashley Allison and Nicholas Rolling coming in second place, and Cymbalski and Leila Cotton earning an honorable mention. Cymbalski also won first place in the Air Check category, followed by Sean Varicalli, who finished second.

MAB winners
WXOU takes home the top prize from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation for the third year in a row, as well as several individual awards.
Related Links: 

Full list of MABF winners
Listen to WXOU
Communication and Journalism programs

In the Daily Newscast/News Feature category, Barthold, Varicalli and Don Tottingham claimed first place and Cymbalski received an honorable mention.  Varicalli also earned an honorable mention in the Public Service Announcement category and teamed with Cymbalski and Barthold for a second place showing in the Promotional Announcement category. Scott Hunter and Briana Carlesimo earned an honorable mention for Promotional Announcement.  

Rounding out the list, Mike Sullivan and Garrett Kolodziej won top honors in the Talk Show category.

The MABF awards gauge the skill and talent of student broadcasters across the state, and are judged by industry professionals and national radio experts. Christine Stover sees the station’s third consecutive Station of the Year honor as a tribute to the increasing quality of students and programs at WXOU.

 “It’s such a great privilege to work with the talented students we have at Oakland,” said Stover, who has served nearly 10 years as WXOU’s faculty advisor. “We have great student leaders and a supportive environment that encourages and applauds creative freedom and expression.  This recognition is truly an honor and belongs to everyone who was ever a part of WXOU, past, present, and future."

For more on WXOU-88.3 FM, visit the website at

Communication Major Runs Detroit Marathon for Charity
By Katie Williams, journalism major

Through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Lapastora plays basketball with children in sports campus in London.
Communication major Charlie Lapastora hates running. He’s been doing an awful lot of it lately, though, and he’s learning to love it – for a good cause. The Oakland University senior is training to run the full Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank marathon on Sunday, Oct. 20. He will run with his church group, The Woodside Runners, to raise money for orphans in Thailand and India.  “I wasn’t necessarily passionate about running,” Lapastora, a communication major, said. “But I am passionate about helping the orphans. I just went for it and started training. I’m becoming addicted to it now – I understand that runner’s high everyone talks about.” 
Lapastora will join roughly 6,000 other runners on a 26.2-mile course weaving through downtown Detroit and Windsor, with international crossings at the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.  He began training with The Woodside Runners this summer, and Lapastora is roughly half way to his fundraising goal of $1,000. 
“My heart is for kids, and I have a huge passion for helping them,” he said. “On mile 15, 16, 17 when I’m thinking, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ I’ll have them in mind. I’m only one person and I can’t save the world, but I try to live my life to love and serve others as Jesus did.” 

Prior to registering for the marathon, Lapastora, who is minoring in international relations, traveled with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to Romania, Italy, London and Wales where he learned about sport ministry and worked at various children’s’ sport camps. Working with these children has encouraged Lapastora to continue giving back. “The kids in Romania were the most genuinely happy people I have ever seen and they have next to nothing. It stuck out to me, because I think in America we live in a bubble centered around material things and ourselves. I think if we had a mindset to love and serve others, the world would be a better place.” 

In addition to his full academic schedule, Lapastora is active on campus and within his community. He works two jobs, holds a broadcasting internship, hosts a radio show on WXOU, serves as treasurer for the Recreation Leadership Council, is a student leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a group leader at his church, and is a member of the lacrosse club. Lapastora was also a 2013 recipient of OU’s prestigious Keeper of the Dream scholarship, which is awarded to student leaders who demonstrate strong citizenship, scholarship and leadership in promoting interracial understanding. As the marathon approaches, Lapastora has realized how much running long distances relates to life. “No matter how hard things may seem and no matter how hurt you may get in life, it’s all about how you get back up and persevere through the storms. You have to just keep going.” 

What do OU journalism and communication students do after graduation? See for yourself:

Tim Rath, 2009

I have worked as a non-profiter in San Francisco, a blogger in Lima, a busker in Amsterdam and a team leader in Oxford. I currently work as local editor of West Bloomfield Patch, using skills acquired earning a bachelor's degree in Summer 2009 including video editing, beat reporting and event photography to provide hyperlocal news in an entirely online media. I am also a proud alum of The Oakland Post's web division at


Kaniqua Daniel, 2004

After graduating from Oakland, I landed my DREAM-job as a news reporter at The Oakland Press. A Pontiac native, this is my ‘hometown’ newspaper, thus a big deal for me and my family. Within four years, I provided news coverage for every major community in Oakland County, including the courts and cops beats, as well as my beloved city of Pontiac. That love quickly died after enduring 2 a.m. city council meetings. In 2008, I made the switch to P.R. at the POH Riley Foundation, the non-profit organization and fundraising arm of POH Regional Medical Center, which is now McLaren Oakland. Here, I am responsible for all corporate publications, marketing material, and media relations for coverage of hospital news and foundation events. I am also pursuing a master's degree in communication at Wayne State University.


Rob Tate, 2008


I have been a sports writer at the Daily American Republic newspaper in Poplar Bluff, Missouri for two and one-half years. Since moving in August 2008, I married my longtime girlfriend Sara and we bought a house. I really enjoy living in a small town and have made a smooth transition personally and professionally. I report on high school sports, which are very popular here since the nearest pro sports team is more than two hours away, as well as junior college sports. I also assist in copy editing, page layout and I shoot my own photos on a Nikon D300 at sporting events, which is something I've really grown to love. I'm known around here for my fanatic behavior when it comes to Detroit sports teams as well as those at Oakland University. 

Kelly Kozlowski, 2008

I graduated with a job offer at the Detroit Free Press. It was a college grad's dream: working on the web desk, covering everything from weather reports to Bon Jovi while learning from some of the city's finest journalists. During my year at the Freep, I was offered a fellowship at the Oakland University SmartZone Business Incubator, which meant a career path change. I took it and completed half of my MPA while learning the business of economic development. That job led to a position at Automation Alley, where I now work full-time as a business consultant. I'm in the process of completing my MPA at Oakland University, and my spare time is devoted to freelancing for the Detroit Free PressPatch and a handful of companies that contract me for business writing. I also contributed to a book due out in March 2011, but that's a very long story. Basically, the point here is that there is plenty of work out there for journalists (you just have to be hungry), OU's journalism program is solid (once you take it seriously), and the ability to write will land you job interviews and offers (how else do you think I ended up in economic development?).

Lindsey Wojcik, 2009

I moved to New York City to begin my editorial career in October 2009. I began 2010 as an editorial intern at Time Out New York magazine. I spent five months assisting editors with fact-checking and also wrote feature stories for the print and online edition. In October 2010, Jewelers' Circular Keystone magazine, a jewelry industry trade magazine, hired me as an editorial assistant. I worked with the editorial team to create news content for the website's daily newsletter, in addition to contributing to the monthly print edition. After leaving JCK, I recently became an associate editor at Pet Business magazine–a pet business trade magazine–managing and writing content for the news and new products sections of the magazine. In addition, I produce content for the weekly e-newsletter and copy edit the entire book.

Kyle Magin, 2007
I recently finished my first year with The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, Calif., where I cover county government and outdoor recreation. It’s my second stop with our parent company, Swift Communications, after starting my career with the Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers in North Lake Tahoe, Nev./Calif. I’m now getting the hang of the daily newspaper grind and in my spare time started a college football blog. At the paper, we have a smaller staff than ever, and I’m always reminded that it behooves you to do more with less.

Nick Degel, 2008

My 2010 was strange in that it sort of transpired in three different phases. I spent the first third painting houses. And by painting houses I mean I literally painted an entire rental property in Farmington Hills by myself (otherwise known as the never ending job or "a snapshot of my personal Sisyphus punishment in hell"). My summer was comparatively – and a little obnoxiously – quite relaxing. Took a couple vacations. Enjoyed a lot of "me" time. September arrived and with it came law school. As I write this I'm taking a much needed break from finals as I finish up my first term at Thomas M. Cooley in Auburn Hills. It has challenged me in portions of my brain I never knew existed but I have truly enjoyed the work load and the benefits of a JD education.
Go Grizzlies!

Colleen (Miller) Campbell, 2010

As editor-in-chief at The Oakland Post, I garnered first place general excellence in our division from the Michigan Press Association along with 10 other awards including third place for an editorial I wrote, "No confidence in vote." We were also recognized as an Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker finalist for the second year in a row. 
I am now the online media specialist for Oakland University's Communication and Marketing department. I'm also a member and officer of the Wolverine HOG Chapter. 

Jeff Kranitz, 2007

I bounced around like a whirling dervish after graduation. First worked as a film publicist for the Detroit branch of a national agency. Sunny Florida was my next stop, writing TV and radio commercials for a marketing group in Fort Lauderdale. Just as my shuffleboard game was beginning to get good, I fell victim to the recession and decided to move back home and learn the broadcasting biz. Specs Howard led to an internship with the Web team at WJBK. I was offered a job during my internship, and now rotate between writing for the newscasts, publishing stories for and working the assignment desk. Currently putting together a demo reel, with hopes of landing a reporting job somewhere.

Hillary Sawchuk, 2009
Hillary is an OU journalism grad who runs an innovative website called A Drink With Chicagowith co-owner Kelly Kane. Hillary and Kelly interview noteworthy Chicagoans one drink at a time, hoping to build an audience for their site using social media. "Since making Chicago our home, we have found that all it takes is one great conversation over one drink to create a long lasting friendship, change your outlook or learn something new," write Hillary and Kelly, "We have had so many of these experiences that we thought we’d start to share them as we continue getting to know the many fascinating people around our city." Their site includes interviews and pictures with "local entrepreneurs, chefs, celebrities, socialites, artists and athletes who all love Chicago as much as [Hillary and Kelly] do."
If you're an alum, we'd love to hear from you! Send a first-person micro-blurb to Holly Shreve Gilbert ( Be sure to include the year you graduated and any professional links you'd like us to include. We're always happy to send you updates and keep you connected.