The 2019 Communication Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sept. 27 honored five WT alumni in addition to presenting awards to additional alumni and community partners.
The ceremony was hosted by Kirk Scarbrough, a WT alum, former student body president, and a winner of the 2015 Rising Star award. The awards are chosen by the Communication Hall of Fame selection committee from a pool of nominees sent in by students, faculty, staff, and community members.
According to Scarbrough, the Rising Star Award is an honor presented to WT Communication alumni that are “a young professional who is making significant contributions to his or her area of expertise.” Two recipients were honored this year, Viridiana Diaz, videographer and graphics editor for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Kase Wilbanks, KCBD news anchor.
Following that, the Community Partner Award was presented to the Communication Alumni Network. Explains Scarbrough, the award is for any organization or business that has supported WT’s Communication Department. The Communication Alumni Network has done this by providing assistance in competitions, arranging graduation photos for graduating seniors, and hosting receptions for student organizations.
The Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state, was awarded the Campus Partner Award for partnering with the Communication Department in “significant ways,” according to Scarbrough. Buster Ratliff accepted the award, thanking Communication students for assisting the museum in telling the story of the museum’s artifacts.
The recipient of the Eternal Flame Award was James Hallmark, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the Texas A&M University System, who also served as the former Honors Program and Graduate Research director and Provost and Vice President of WTAMU. Hallmark joined the WT faculty in 1991, stating that despite not being an alum, the department embraced him and made him feel like family.
A new award presented at the event was the World of Difference Award, presented to Verna Hodge for her assistance in changing the way the entire university advises students. Hodge thanked faculty advisors for having good relationships with their students, stating that it shows in students’ work and education.
The main events of the night were the Hall of Fame inductions. The inductees are all graduates of WT’s Communication program who have made significant contributions to their communities.
The first inductee this year was Zenobia Harris Bivins, who graduated WTAMU in 2003 with a Bachelor’s in Broadcasting. She is a partner with Berg and Androphy Law Firm who focuses on business litigation and government compliance. In 2018 she was named one of the top women lawyers in Texas.
Bivens states in her acceptance speech, “Coming to WT is like coming home to me.” She explains that her involvement on campus and with WT both before, during, and after her time here has fundamentally shaped her as a woman and a lawyer.
Jamey Neill, also known in radio as Jamey Karr, graduated with his Bachelor’s in Broadcasting in 1980. He said, “I knew I wanted to go to a college that had a radio station, and this one was just perfect.” Neill has had a long and successful career working as a broadcaster on multiple Amarillo radio stations including KPUR and KXGL The Eagle.
Dr. Kerry Moore is a speech and theatre teacher at Muleshoe High School who graduated with his Bachelor’s in Speech in 1960. During his career, his students have won 31 state championships in speech and debate, and he has directed 13 one-act plays that advanced to the state level tournament, and won two state championships.
Moore was honored by the Texas Speech Communication Association in 1987 as Speech Teacher of the Year, and retired from teaching in 2001 only to return to the same school in 2007. He called his time at WT the best in his life.
Doneric Norwood holds two degrees from WT, his Bachelor’s in Broadcasting, received in 2001, and his Master’s in Communication in 2003. Norwood’s work is mainly with non-profit organizations in addition to his company MenuRunners, a local food delivery service that he says is to “promote more revenue for these local guys.”
The final inductee of the night was Sulema Salazar, a 2010 graduate of the Broadcasting program. Salazar works as a news anchor at Telemundo 44 in Washington, D.C. and has been awarded eight regional Emmys in addition to her five Emmy nominations this year. She credits her love of storytelling and connection to her local community as her main drive for doing her job.
If you would like to nominate a WT alum, a campus organization, or a community partner for the 2020 Communication Hall of Fame and the related awards, the form can be found on WT’s website through the College of Fine Arts and Humanities website.