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Speech Communication

Welcome to Dr. Ryan Fuller

Welcome our newest faculty member, Dr. Ryan Fuller.

Dr. Fuller’s teaching, service, and research focuses on organizational communication, conflict management, and negotiation.

His work focuses on framing practices that provide renewal and transformation in organizations.

Dr. Fuller ’s dissertation, Unions and sensemaking: Communicative framing of entertainment industry changes, was completed with Dr. Linda Putnam at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

We are excited to have Dr. Fuller join our faculty.

Updated 8.1.2014

Alumni Updates Across the Country 2014

Tonya Oaks Smith (MA-2008) is now the Director of Marketing at Henderson State University.

Andrew Pyle (MA-2009) accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Clemson University.

Kristina Godfrey (BA-2012; MA-2013) is a Public Information Specialist at Arkansas Department of Health.

Lauren Lee (MA-2013) accepted a position as the Digital Solutions Coordinator at Acxiom.

Ashley McNatt (MA-2007) has a new role as Health Communications Section Chief at Arkansas Department of Health, Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Program.

Mike Hemphill (BA-1977) is now Director for Academic Programming at The Clinton Foundation.

Alyssa Sloan (MA-2006) is the Associate Dean of Applied Sciences & Technology /Associate Professor & Program Director of Communication. Dr. Sloan recently published “Message convergence as a message-centered approach to analyzing and improving risk communication” in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, 41(4), 346-364.

We are proud of our alumni and current students. You may continue to send your updates to Dr. Driskill at Also, know that our alumni are doing more to connect on to improve networking.

Updated 7.30.2014

Alumni Updates

Janine Armstrong (MA-2012) had a cultural analysis paper accepted to present at the Applied Division of the Southern State Communication Association in 84th Annual Convention in April at New Orleans,. Her paper is titled: “A Cultural Analysis of College Department X.”

Ashley (Boccarossa) McNatt (MA-2007) is the EOC Operations Manager & Staff Duty Officer Coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Health Preparedness & Emergency Response Branch.

Heide Harrell (M.A-2006) is Senior Public Relations Account Manager for Stone Ward in Little Rock.

Natalie Holley (MA-2003) accepted a full-time, one year instructor position at Southeast Missouri State University at the Cape Girardeau campus. She taught the basic course online this past spring semester and had an awesome experience! She is also becoming a Quality Matters online course peer reviewer at the university level. Natalie adds: “I hope that you know how much of a positive impact you all have made on my professional life.”

Dr. Scott J. Robson (MA-1999) is Chair/Assistant Professor for the Department of Communication Studies at Fort Hays State University.

Tonya Oaks Smith (MA-2008) accepted a position as “Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Henderson State University.”

Elizabeth Stephens (MA –2000) is an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University where she teaches online and develops online courses for the department.

Adena J. White(MA-2009) successfully completed the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, entitling her to use the APR professional designation. The designation is granted by the Universal Accreditation Board, a consortium of nine professional communication organizations that directs this competency certification program. The Accreditation program aims to improve the practice of public relations by assessing competence in 60 areas of knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the profession. Adena is director of communications for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). She is serving a three-year term on the board of directors for the Arkansas Chapter of PRSA.

Updated 2.5.2014

Alumni Updates and more

Dear Speech Communication Alumni, Students, & Faculty, , Here are a few updates and as always, let us know if you have news you want to share!

Kevin Gao (MA class of 1990) is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at New York Life Investments. He and his wife and two daughters (ages 14 and 12) live in Ridgewood, NJ. Thank you for sharing this update and glad to hear of your continued service!

Dr. J. Jacob Jenkins(MA class of 2006), completed his Ph.D. at University of South Florida (in record time!), and received an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at California State University at Channel Islands. Work from his dissertation, “The Diversity Paradox: Dialectical Tensions of an Intercultural Organization,” has been accepted for publication in book form. He has also successfully published several journal articles. We are proud of your work!

Dr. Alyssa Grace Millner (MA class of 2006) works as Program Director and Assistant Professor of Communication at King University. Knoxville, TN. She was also promoted to serve as the Associate Dean of Humanities for the College of Arts & Sciences. She conducts an array of research in Crisis Communication, Communication Ethics, and Health Communication. She is engaged to be married this September. We are proud of your accomplishments and great to learn of exciting news!

This past year, four MA students (Class of 2011), Kelley Cooper, Erin Pavioni, Elvon Reed, and Janine Armstrong, were admitted to Alpha Lambda Epsilon, the “Academic Excellence and Leadership Honor Society of Graduate and Professional School Students.” Way to go!

GRAD Students AEL.jpg

Updated 8.7.2013

Katie Halford Joins Faculty

Katie.jpegPlease join us in welcoming Katie Halford (MA Class 2010) as a new faculty member in the Speech Communication Department. We are excited to have Katie join our faculty to serve our basic course students. Katie served as a GA for two years where she played a central role in providing communication training on and off campus. Prior to her GA role, she worked at Acxiom as a Communications Manager (Intern) in Global Client Solutions.

Updated 8.31.2012

MA Alumni to Lead Mount St. Mary

K FlakeKaren Goodhart Flake, a 1987 graduate of our master’s program has been appointed as president and chief executive officer for Mount St. Mary Academy for girls.

A former teacher, business operator, and civic leader, Flake was a managing partner at an entrepreneurial firm, Flake-Wilkerson Market Insights, for 11 years before it was sold in 2007.

In 2009, she established Karen Flake & Associates, a research and consulting firm that collects primary data and analyzes information to solve strategic problems for clients.

Congratulations Karen! We are proud of your long track record of using your gifts to serve the community.

Updated 8.31.2012

Speech Communication Students Study Abroad in Paris, France

Experiencing new cultures is vital to a person’s growth. This is why the Department of Speech Communication creates peak learning experiences for undergraduate and graduate students with faculty-led study abroad programs. Since 2010, students have traveled across the globe to France, India, and Costa Rica. In May 2012, 10 speech communication students studied abroad in Paris, France for one week to research lived experience and fundamentally understand the nature of being human.


Led by Dr. Mirivel, the course first took place on campus during five 2-hour sessions to introduce core theoretical and philosophical principles and prepare students for the experience. Then, the group traveled together, held class every morning at the local cafés to discuss content and reflect on what they saw, and visited key sites such as the Eiffel tower, Le Louvre, and Notre Dame. This year, the students attended Roland Garros, an international tennis tournament that brings the city of Paris to life every May. Upon return, the students delivered public presentations that fused their experiences abroad with course material. Studying abroad in a faculty-led program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that enables students to learn and grow. These programs reflect the department’s commitment to foster lifelong learning, the ability to communicate well, and global citizenship.

Updated 8.31.2012

Alumni at Work-Updates Fall 2012

Elizabeth Philpott (MA Class 2009) was recently hired as “Volunteer Services Coordinator” for the for “Keep Arkansas Beautiful.” In this role she will use her interpersonal and presentational skills to engage volunteers from all sectors of the community in state wide environmental initiatives.

Alex Long (BA 2011) is now with Jason International as “District Sales Manager” for Arkansas and Louisana. He writes that “If it wasn’t for the Department of Speech Communication, I would never be in this position.” We are proud of the use you are making of your degree!

Sandie Lubin, (MA Class 1994) is the “Project Administrator” for the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at the UAMS College of Nursing. We are proud of her years of service in the community.

Updated 8.31.2012

Alumni Updates

Ashley Boccaarossa(MA-Class of 2007) is the EOC Operations Manager & Staff Duty Officer Coordinator
for the Arkansas Department of Health “Preparedness & Emergency Response Branch.”

Melissa Crawford (MA Class 1990) is now the Director of Learning Communities and the Associate Director of the Center for Learning and Student Success at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Alex Long(BA- 2011)works as a Regional Sales Manager for Jason International in North Little Rock. He was promoted earlier this year and now works across an 8 state area. Alex states that “if it wasn’t for the Department of Speech Communication, I would never be in this position.”

Dr. Yolanda Mitchell ( MA Class 2001) completed her Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration at U.A.L.R. Her dissertation title: “Factors Associated with Instructor-Student Interaction and Community College Students’ Intent to Persist.”

J.J. Pitman( MA Class 2000) , UA 4-H Center director, presented a program this May on “Engaged Learners” for the Arkansas Chapter of the American Society of Training and Development.

Tonya Oaks Smith’s (MA Class 2008) project, “A Little Birdie Told Me: H1N1 Information and Misinformation Exchange on Twitter”, was recently listed on SSRN’s Top Ten download list for CSN: Communication, CSN: Rhetoric & Semiotics and CSN: Rhetoric. She also presented at three conferences in 2011 and two addidtional ones in 2012. Tonya received recognition at Spring Celebration for her efforts to export her work beyond the department.

Dr. Elizabeth Stephens (MA Class 2000), Ph.D. Communication from the University of Memphis, is now an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University where she develops and teaches on line courses.

Updated 5.31.2012

Capstone 2012

Capstone 2012

This year we had a total of 12 undergraduate students successfully present their capstone papers. Dr. Thombre’s Capstone class took the students through the process of writing a case analysis paper in the Fall. Students then worked with a faculty mentor in the Spring before presenting their papers to other students, alumni, faculty, and community members.

Please join us in congratulating and celebrating the work of these students. Their topics reveal the breadth of applications these students are making to their lives.

Allen Brim - In your face: A Case study Guided by Face Negotiation Theory
Jo Carson- Tip toeing towards Friendship
DeAnn Gable - Perspective in the Parade of Life
Nicholas Hau-Rehearsal Reversal: A Study of Perceptions on Meanings
Mark Hulsey - Defeating myself
Ashley Kimbrough - It is always sunny in Sherwood: An analysis of a Friendship
Derrick Koon - Room 1004: Analysis of a Shared Transformation in the Context of a Cancer Diagnosis
Marlon Louzeiro - The Amazon River meets the Arkansas River: Analysis of our Friendship
Esma Stewart - Take the Highway or Do it My Way
David Yanke - You Were 21 Eleven Years Ago

Updated 5.22.2012
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