Upon entering the room full of a dozen tables adorned with candy, chocolate cake and SU red-and-blue table decorations, members of the communication/journalism department could not help but feel a buzz as they honored their most-celebrated achievements, both as individuals and as a whole.
One month away from publicly knowing whether the department will receive accreditation, SU’s communication/journalism students, faculty and guest alumni held their awards banquet on Tuesday, April 9 in Reisner Dining Hall’s Tuscarora Room.
The theme for the evening was “Going Wireless: 24/7,” which focused on the usefulness of social media as it relates to modern journalism. SU’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter organized the event.
“Instead of a keynote speaker, we’re having keynote speakers,” department chairperson Joseph Borrell said before introducing Robert and Martha LeGrand. Both Robert and Martha are 1976 SU graduates.
Robert spent time working for several communications firms, including the Shippensburg News-Chronicle and the Pennsylvania state legislature. He also served as Press Secretary for Congressman Dean A. Gallo (R-N.J.) for 10 years, beginning in 1985.
“I really care a great deal about this place for a whole host of reasons,” Robert said.
He explained his first day at SU “like it was yesterday,” when he worked three to four hours a day preparing and delivering news for WSYC.
“I just want you to know that there is life after Shippensburg. There are great things for all of you,” he said.
His wife Martha has spent more than 35 years in print journalism, as a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines. Most of her work has been in travel, sports, nature and environmental publications, and she has received a great deal of acclaim from international and regional magazine associations.
Martha offered a sense of optimism for soon-to-be-graduates, saying “It is possible to have both a career and a relationship and make it work,” admitting that she and Robert were forced to “take turns — each one of us set aside his or her career” so that the other could flourish in theirs.
After the hopeful comments in the keynote addresses, Borrell and department secretary Loretta Sobrito presented the departmental awards.
“Loretta — my boss — really runs the department,” Borrell said to a mixture of laughter and applause.
Three alumni awards were presented to graduates of the department, which went to Eric Conrad of the Portland Press Herald, the largest newspaper in the state of Maine; Eric Fischgrund, Vice President of Marketing for United Realty in New York City; and Kay Kusibab, Treasurer of Cambria County Literacy Council.
The Bill Pritchard Graduate Student of the Year Award was presented to Rachel Bryson. Two APSCUF Departmental Student Awards were given to Jordan Krom and Trey Kemble.
The Wolfrom Award in Journalism was awarded to Garrie Grenfell. The Al Mason Scholarship was presented to Codie Eash, and the Mark Lipper Scholarship to Alex Anstett.
“Several of our awards have been hard to decide,” Borrell said.
The communication/journalism department is awaiting news on accreditation — news that Borrell said will be made public on May 2 or 3.
“I guess my first thanks is to all of you. It’s been an amazing process,” Borrell said.
If the department achieves accreditation, it would be just the third university in Pennsylvania to obtain such status — the other two being Penn State and Temple.