2019 Communication Hall of Fame at WT to Honor Alumni

August 26, 2019

CONTACT: Dr. Trudy Hanson, 806-651-2800, thanson@wtamu.edu


2019 Communication Hall of Fame at WT to Honor Alumni

Canyon, Texas—Five graduates of the Department of Communication at West Texas A&M University have been selected as the 2019 inductees for the Communication Hall of Fame.

Alumni selected for this honor include Zenobia Harris Bivens, partner at Berg & Androphy (Houston); Kerry Moore, retired speech and theatre teacher (Muleshoe); Doneric Norwood, owner Menu Runners (Dallas); Sulema Salazar, Telemundo 44 Anchor (Washington, D.C.); and Amarillo broadcaster, Jamey (Karr) Neill.

The criteria for nominations for the Communication Hall of Fame include being a graduate of WT’s Communication Studies or Media Communication programs, having worked in their professional field for a minimum of five years, making substantial contributions to the profession and having active community involvement. The five 2019 inductees of the Communication Hall of Fame will be honored with brief  video documentaries of their work at the Communication Hall of Fame Banquet planned for September 27 at 6 p.m. in Legacy Hall on WT’s campus.  Kirk Scarbrough, former WT student body president and winner of the 2015 Rising Star award will host the evening program.

Additionally, the Communication Hall of Fame features presentations of the Rising Star award, the Community Partner award, the Campus Partner award, the Eternal Flame award and the World of Difference award. The Rising Star awards will be presented to Kase Wilbanks, KCBD news anchor, and Viridiana Diaz, videographer and graphics editor, Oklahoma City Thunder. The Community Partner Award will be presented to the Communication Alumni Network for their support of Communication Department programs. The Campus Partner Award will be presented to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum which has partnered with the Department of Communication on a number of initiatives. James Hallmark, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the Texas A&M University System, is the recipient of the Eternal Flame Award. A new award, the World of Difference Award will be presented to Verna Hodge, academic advisor for the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities.

Zenobia Harris Bivens (B.S., 2003 in Broadcasting) is a partner with Berg and Androphy, who focuses primarily on business litigation and government compliance, with cases that cross over from civil to criminal. At the beginning of her career, Zenobia clerked for the Honorable Carl E. Stewart, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for the Honorable Justice Dale Wainwright (retired) of the Texas Supreme Court. She graduate summa cum laude from the University of Alabama with a master’s in Communication Studies, and earned her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law.  She has served as president of the WTAMU Alumni Association and in that role, as a WTAMU commencement speaker. As an undergraduate, Zenobia was a national finalist at the American Forensics Association national tournament. She was named one of the top women lawyers in Texas in 2018.

Kerry Moore (B.A, Speech, 1960) began his teaching career in speech and theatre at Muleshoe High School in 1960. As a student, Kerry was active in the Student Senate and the Buffalo Bills (a student service organization). He later completed his doctorate in 1993 from LaSalle University. During Dr. Moore’s teaching career at Muleshoe High School, his students won thirty-one state championships in speech and debate. He directed thirteen one-act plays that advanced to the state tournament and won two state championship. In 1987, Dr. Moore was honored by the Texas Speech Communication Association as Speech Teacher of the year and would later go on to serve as president of TSCA. He retired from teaching in May of 2001 but returned to teaching at Muleshoe in 2007. In 2009, Dr. Moore was presented the National Federation of State High Schools’ award for outstanding speech, debate and theatre contributor for Section 6. He and his wife, Patricia Ann Keesee, recently celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary. In his nomination letter, former student Judd Baker wrote: “Dr. Moore taught at Muleshoe High School for more than 50 years. He taught my grandma, her four siblings, my mother, my two uncles and myself.”

Doneric Norwood (B.S., 2001 in Broadcasting; M.A. in Communication, 2003) Doneric Norwood serves as president and chief empower officer at MenuRunners Inc. In 2001, he was presented with the “Doneric Norwood Ambassador Award” for dedication, excellence and commitment to mass communication during his time as a student. His distinguished service includes serving as the Chairman of Hope Housing Foundation, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the creation and preservation of affordable workforce housing, and community development. He and his wife, Ronisha, are the parents of two daughters, Marleigh and Maliah.

Sulema Salazar (B.A, Broadcasting, 2010) is currently a news anchor at Telemundo 44 in Washington, D.C.  Salazar has been awarded eight regional Emmy awards for her special reports. In 2019, Salazar received five Emmy nominations, one of them for the anchor category. Salazar joined Telemundo DC in 2011 and has contributed to the Telemundo’s national morning show ‘Un Nuevo Dia’ during her time at the station. Salazar has worked as a weather reporter for New England Univision in Boston, as well as an anchor and producer for Telemundo Amarillo. Born in California, Salazar and her family moved to Amarillo in 1997 after living in Mexico City.

Jamey Neill (B.A., 1995) is known in radio broadcasting as “Jamey Karr,” having spent 40 years as an Amarillo Broadcaster. Growing up in Tornillo, Texas as a 10-year-old, he saw a local disk jockey doing a live broadcast in a department store in El Paso and knew that he wanted to do that. At WT, Jamey was the first station manager for KWTS, 91.1. His work experience includes working at Z-93 (Amarillo), KPUR (Amarillo) and KXGL (The Eagle) and fifteen years as program director at Amarillo College. He has been inducted into the Texas Panhandle Broadcasters Association and the Mass Media Wall of Fame at Amarillo College. He and his wife Judy are the parents of two sons, Kelly, a news producer in Austin and Patrick, who serves in the US Marine Corps.

Those selected for the 2019 Rising Star Awards represent the diversity and outreach of graduates of WT’s Department of Communication. Viridiana Diaz is an Emmy-nominated videographer and graphics editor entering her fourth season with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder broadcast department. In her role, Diaz produces long- and short-form video content covering the day-to-day happenings of the team, ranging from practice and game coverage to Spanish-language documentaries. Diaz was awarded a Heartland Emmy for her film, “Exonerated,” and is nominated for a 2019 Heartland Emmy Award for her film, “¡SÍ Señor!”

A native of Idalou, Texas, Kase Wilbanks graduated Summa Cum Laude with his Bachelor of Arts in broadcasting and electronic media in December of 2015. During his time at WT, he was involved in numerous award-winning productions in the Communication Department and held a variety of leadership positions within organizations across campus. He has since worked for KVII ABC 7 News in Amarillo as a digital content producer, newscast producer, multimedia journalist and anchor. He now works for KCBD NewsChannel 11 in Lubbock in those same various roles. Most recently, he has co-anchored and produced content for Sex Trafficking on the South Plains, a KCBD Investigates Special Report, which is under Emmy consideration. He is currently on the Board of Trustees for Family Promise of Lubbock and Sondra’s Song, non-profit organizations working jointly to provide care for homeless families with children and young adults who have aged out of the foster care system.

The Community Partner award recognizes an organization or individual who has made significant contributions to WT’s Department of Communication. This year’s recipient is the Communication Alumni Association (CAN). CAN supports year-round activities by the Department of Communication, hosting receptions for the storytelling festival and the forensics team, providing judges for the Best Speaker Context, and arranging professional photographs for graduating students to add to their resumes. CAN members often participate in the Alumni Table Talk event, a popular feature of the annual Communication Week.

The Campus Partner Award honors an individual or campus organization, which has helped the Department of Communication in achieving its mission. This year’s recipient is the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum (PPHM). The PPHM has partnered with the Department of Communication most recently in sponsoring a study abroad experience in Edinburgh, London, and Paris focusing on social media use in museums. The Communication Department also has assisted with PPHM pop culture displays, featuring some of Randy Ray’s collection of memorabilia. Communication students regularly perform at the PPHM’s Christmas Open House and the WT Family Week-end. In Spring 2020, the PPHM will be partnering with the WT Storytelling Festival to host a storytelling workshop by bilingual storyteller Joe Hayes.

Dr. James R. Hallmark, vice chancellor for academic affairs for the Texas A&M University System, is the recipient of the Eternal Flame award, which is awarded to a non-WT graduate who has contributed to the success of the Department of Communication. Hallmark received a BS from Oklahoma Christian College, a master’s, and PhD in Communication from University of Oklahoma. From 1991 to 2012, Dr. Hallmark served as a professor in the WT Art, Communication and Theatre Department, which later became the Department of Communication in 2006. He directed the Honors Program at WT from 2000 to 2008 and served as dean of the Graduate School and Research from 2001 to 2008 and then served as WT provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. It was Dr. Hallmark’s visionary leadership which took a struggling graduate program in communication and transformed the program into a vibrant master’s program. One of his oft repeated phrases from the Introduction to Graduate Studies seminar was “APA is your friend,” a reference to the style manual students used in their academic writing. To show his commitment to the importance of engaging freshman students, he taught a freshman seminar for communication majors while serving as WT’s provost.

Making a World of Difference is the best description of the work that Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities administrative associate Verna Hodge does on a daily basis. Verna Hodge represents the dean's office as the academic advisor for the College of Fine Arts & Humanities. Her mission is to help students map out their progress toward completing their undergraduate degrees, making sure there are no complications in their final semesters and working around them when possible. Verna is a WT alum (BGS, 2015) herself and has graduated more than 3,000 students, 600 with undergrad degrees from the Communication Department, over her 10 years at WT. She says her work hours are spent counting by three's and trying to make every credit hour count toward graduation requirements. "My favorite hour of each semester is lining up students for commencement. Aside from the heat in the packed hallway, everyone is excited because they're done with homework! Our college makes a lot of noise when they start exiting our hallway, and our students have a lot to be proud of on that day. The future is in that hallway."

The Communication Hall of Fame Selection Committee for 2019 was composed of seven communication professionals: Mary Coyne, advertising executive of MCMC Marketing; Steven Denny, attorney; Ann Shofner, past president of the Communication Alumni Network; Maddisun Fowler, media communication instructor at Amarillo College, Christa Glasgow, strategic planner at Pantex; Dan Quandt, vice president, Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council; and Dan Morgan, operations manager at KAMR.  Communication Department faculty members selected the recipients for the Rising Star, Community Partner, Campus Partner, Eternal Flame and World of Difference awards.

All proceeds from the banquet will be used to help endow scholarships in the Department of Communication. The goal for 2019 is to endow the Anita and Randy Ray Dig In Scholarship in Digital Media. A new feature added for the event is a pre-event mingling time for those attending to meet members of the Buffalo Advertising Team, the WT Leadership Mentors, and KWTS Staff members and enjoy appetizers together.

For information about the Communication Hall of Fame Banquet, go here or call Dr. Trudy Hanson at 806 651 2800 or email at thanson@wtamu.edu to purchase tickets.