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Communication Studies

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Faculty and Staff
The Communications Studies faculty is comprised of award winning communication scholars, media theorists, film historians and journalists. Our faculty also draws from the outstanding professionals working in the Kansas City area, offering students the opportunity to work with professional screenwriters, public relations professionals and journalists.

Department Contact Information

  • 202 Haag Hall
    5120 Rockhill Rd.
    Kansas City, MO 64111
  • Phone: 816-235-1337
    Fax: 816-235-5539
  • Email: com-s@umkc.edu

Faculty

Film and Media Arts

  • Mitch Brian, Associate Teaching Professor
  • Faculty

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    Mitch Brian
    Phone: 816-235-1337
    Email: brianm@umkc.edu

    Mitch Brian received his BA in Film Production from California State University, Northridge and his MA in Communication Studies from UMKC. Before moving to Kansas City he taught screenwriting at Columbia College, Hollywood. He has written teleplays for all the major networks as well as HBO and FX. He co-created and wrote episodes for Batman: the Animated Series and co-wrote the NBC mini-series The 70's. He has written feature screenplays for directors Chris Columbus, Oliver Stone, Luis Mandoki and Robert Schwentke as well as for producers including Gina Davis, Mike Medavoy and James Ellroy. His screenplays have dealt with a variety of historical figures including John Brown, Frank Luke, Thomas Jefferson, J. Paul Getty and Lana Turner. His literary adaptations include Far From the Madding Crowd, Dracula, The Totem and Seven Days in May. He wrote and directed the award winning short films Hang Ups and James Ellroy's Stay Clean. His courses in Com Studies include Intro to Film Studies, Intro and Advanced Screenwriting, Directing Actors and Scenes, and Film Adaptation.

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Lyn Elliot, Professor and Undergraduate Advisor
  • Faculty

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    Dr. Lyn Elliot

    Phone: 816-235-1708
    Email: elliotle@umkc.edu

    Lyn Elliot received a Ph.D. in English and an M.F.A. in Film and Video Production from the University of Iowa. She taught film production and screenwriting classes at Penn State University for eight years before coming to UMKC. As an independent filmmaker, Lyn works primarily in the short form, creating films that bring to the surface the strange undercurrents of everyday life. Over the past fifteen years, Lyn's work has screened widely at national and international venues, including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the South by Southwest Film Festival, the IFC Center, and BAM Cinematek. In 2007, she was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her most recent film, co-directed with Nina Frenkel, is an animated short titled I Was a Teenage Girl, Apparently, about a woman who finds the diary she kept as a teenager, and then goes back in time to try to talk some sense into her younger self. Professor Elliot is on leave for the Spring 2015 semester.

    Specialties: Short-form narrative and documentary media production; screenwriting.

    Faculty teaching
  • Caitlin Horsmon, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Advisor
  • Faculty

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    Caitlin Horsmon,
    Associate Professor

    Phone: 816-235-2735
    Email: horsmonc@umkc.edu
    Web: www.caitlinhorsmon.com

    Caitlin Horsmon is an award winning artist making films, videos and interactive works. Her films have screened around the world in diverse venues from the Iowa City micro cinema to the Centre Pompidou. Her film Themes and Variations for the Naked Eye was selected as one of the 50 best avant-garde films and videos of the 2000's. Horsmon's experimental and non-fiction media work focuses on questions of visual history, pleasure, gender and absence and her research centers on non-commercial cinema, with a focus on the social history of experimental forms. Caitlin was trained in Cinema and Comparative Literature and Media Production at the University of Iowa and graduated from Oberlin College. Before her move to academia, Caitlin worked as the community outreach coordinator for The Chicago International Film Festival and was the director of the Thaw festival in Iowa City; experiences that brought her to her career as teacher, maker and scholar. She continues to work on short experimental films and to expand her interests in using documentary as a way to encourage and support progressive political change. The Collectif Jeune Cinéma in Paris distributes her work.

    Specialties: Experimental and Non-Fiction Media Production, Video Art, Animation, and Sound Design. Film theories, the History of the Avant-Garde, Political Film, Feminisms and Media.

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Tom Poe, Associate Professor
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    Dr. Tom Poe

    Phone: 816-235-1691
    Email: poeg@umkc.edu

    An expert in media theory and a local film critic, Dr. Tom Poe has published a variety of articles on film theory and history.

    Specialties: History and theory of censorship in film and media, deconstruction and textual hermeneutics, reception theories of film and media.

    Faculty teaching

Interpersonal and Public Communication

  • Dr. Jean Dufresne, Lecturer
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    Dr. Jean Dusfrene

    Phone: 816-235-1698
    Email: dufresnej@umkc.edu

    Jean Dufresne received her M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa in 1988 and her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999. Her research interests include cultural, interpersonal, and gender communication, as well as organizational communication. She has taught, as an adjunct and as full-time faculty for the past 25 years, eight at UMKC. She recently was hired as a full-time lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies. This year she will serve on the Veterans Advisory Board for the UMKC Student Veterans Organization.

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Linda Kurz, Associate Teaching Professor and Undergraduate Advisor
  • Faculty

    Dr. Linda Kurz

    Phone: 816-235-5846
    Email: kurzl@umkc.edu

    Linda Kurz began teaching at UMKC, as an adjunct professor, in 1995 and joined the faculty full-time in 1997. Linda teaches courses in Public Speaking, Advanced Public Speaking, Public Speaking for Professionals, Communication Theory and Interpersonal Communication. Linda's research area is Communication Apprehension. She is currently engaged in a research study to determine if the presence of a therapy animal can help to reduce moderate to severe anxiety in the basic public speaking class. In addition to teaching, Linda serves as the Principal Undergraduate Advisor, Internship Coordinator and Director of the Basic Course for the Department of Communication Studies.

    Specialties: Communication Apprehension

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Jason Martin, Assistant Professor
  • Faculty

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    Dr. Jason Martin

    Phone: 816-235-6347
    Email: martinjason@umkc.edu

    Jason Martin received his Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Kentucky, his Master of Arts in Journalism and Communication from The Ohio State University, and both his Bachelor of Science in Communication and Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Kentucky. His teaching experience includes courses in intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, qualitative methods, persuasion, and public speaking. He currently teaches the department's Research Seminar in Communication Studies (capstone course) and a writing intensive version of Intercultural Communication.

    Dr. Martin has collaborated on various projects addressing an array of communication topics. He has presented his work at regional, national, and international conferences, has several publications under review and in progress, and co-authored a chapter in The Sage Handbook of Communication and Instruction (2010).

    Dr. Martin's research focuses on cross-cultural adaptation, especially first-year university students and the transitional effect on retention. He recently appeared on an NPR affiliate to discuss helping college students succeed and remain in school. He currently is the department's co-assessor, chairs the Academic Review Subcommittee for UMKC's Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, is a member of the IAC Executive Council, serves on UMKC's Access to Success Delivery Team, and is a member of the 2014-2015 University of Missouri Faculty Scholars Program.

    Specialties: Intercultural Communication, Cross-Cultural Adaptation, Qualitative Methods, and Narrative/Story Telling

    Download his CV here.

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Judith McCormick, Associate Teaching Professor and Undergraduate Advisor
  • Faculty

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    Dr. Judith McCormick

    Phone: 816-235-1120
    Email: mccormickjk@umkc.edu

    While still serving as Associate Dean, Dr. Judith McCormick joined the Communication Studies teaching faculty in 1998. In 2006 she stepped away from administration to become a full-time member of the Department. Dr. McCormick's long-term involvement with Medical Humanities and health professions programs, including establishing the Healing and Humanities Minor, evolved into her focus on Health Communication. Her administrative career and consulting experiences also served as excellent background for focusing on Organizational Communication. In addition, McCormick teaches introductory interpersonal communication, and serves as Faculty Advisor to Communication Studies majors. As Associate Dean, McCormick focused on wide-ranging issues primarily related to undergraduates, curriculum, and advising. Her experience and expertise with general education, enrollment management, student success, and retention, led to her recently being appointed Coordinator of the College's First Year Seminar program. In this role she also teaches A and S 100 to new Freshmen and Transfers. And as a result of her interest and support of campus diversity initiatives, in 2006 McCormick was appointed to Chair the new Arts and Sciences Committee on the Recruitment and Retention of African American, Hispanic, and Native American Faculty, Staff, and Students. Also active in her church and denomination, McCormick, has served as an Elder and Stephen Minister, taught numerous classes and preached on occasion, and has regularly served on a health care mission team to Jamaica, sponsored by the interdenominational organization, Jamaica Partners.

    Specialties: Health, Interpersonal, and Organizational Communication; Medical Humanities; First Year Experience.

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Michael McDonald, Associate Professor
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    Dr. Michael McDonald

    Phone: 816-235-6432
    Email: mcdonaldmk@umkc.edu

    Dr. McDonald received his PhD at the University of Kansas after a successful undergraduate career here at UMKC and is proud to be teaching at his alma mater. Professor McDonald taught for 21 years at Rockhurst University before coming to UMKC. His research focuses on the Rhetorical and Organizational aspects of communication. An interest in the critical approaches to organization has led him to examine language as it operates as power in organizations. Professor McDonald is interested in organizational rhetoric, organizational culture, intercultural communication, political communication, interpersonal communication and qualitative methods.

    Specialties: Interpersonal and Organizational Communication

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Steven Melling, Lecturer
  • Faculty

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    Steven Melling

    Phone: 816-235-6848
    Email: mellings@umkc.edu

    Dr. Steven Melling has a Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Communication Studies from the University of Kansas. His research focuses on the intersection of rhetoric, culture and policy. This is evident in his dissertation, which examines the role rhetoric played in the evolution of Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District. Steven currently teaches Fundamentals of Effective Speaking and Listening at UMKC. He has previously taught communication courses at the University of Kansas, Metropolitan Community College and William Jewell College.

    Faculty teaching
  • Michael Schaefer, Lecturer
  • Faculty

    Michael Schaefer

    Phone: 816-235-1337
    Email: schaefermw@umkc.edu

    Michael W. Schaefer has taught at UMKC over 20 years as an adjunct faculty member in the Communications Studies Division. He has taught Communication 110, Rhetorical Theory and Criticism, Writing for the Media Writing Intensive Class, and Advanced Public Speaking. He has also served on the faculty at Johnson County Metropolitan and Kansas City Kansas Metropolitan Colleges for over 20 years, where he has taught classes in Personal, Interpersonal, Public Communication and Composition I and II courses. He has many years of corporate experience as a corporate trainer from Occupational Health Inc. in Emergency Medicine and Occupational Medicine. He is also a published author with McGraw Hill Publishing Company and wrote the book, Child Snatching: How to Prevent it from Happening to Your Child. He has additionally written over fifty corporate seminars in the business sector. He has a M.A. in Adult Education and B.A. in Communication Studies from UMKC. Mr. Schaefer believes that teaching validates his life's mission and is proud to serve on the faculty at UMKC.

    Faculty teaching

Journalism and Mass Communication

  • Angela Elam, Assistant Teaching Professor, Radio Producer
  • Faculty

    Angela Elam

    Phone: 816-235-1159
    Email: elama@umkc.edu
    Web: www.newletters.org

    Angela Elam, producer/host of UMKC's literary radio show New Letters on the Air has worked in public radio since 1988, but she got her start as a reader for Radio Deutsche Welle in Cologne, Germany in 1981. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia in dramatic writing. Immediately upon graduation, she was seduced into public radio at WUGA-FM in Athens, Georgia where she produced literary programs and later served as host and technical producer of the Public Radio News Directors Award-winning local magazine show, Centerlines. Elam has also produced radio dramas and special features, including some freelance stories for National Public Radio, one of which "Train Whistles or Horns?" won the PRNDI Award for best used of sound in 1994. She has served as producer and host of New Letters on the Air since 1996, and enjoys using her playwriting skills to shape the dialogue within her interviews.

    Specialities: Contemporary Literature, Radio Production.

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Greg Gutenko, Associate Professor
  • Faculty

    Dr. Gregory Gutenko

    Phone: 816-235-2729
    Email: gutenkog@umkc.edu
    Web: http://g.web.umkc.edu/gutenkog

    Gregory Gutenko was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. His mother Catherine was a psychiatric aide and his father Harry was a forklift operator in a tool and die factory. He moved to the United States in time for high school and college, and has spent most of his life since then in the Kansas City area, working professionally for twelve years in television broadcasting, educational film and video, and distance education. Experimental film and video is his hobby, and several of his works have won awards and been broadcast on Missouri PBS stations. As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, Gregory Gutenko has maintained a split perspective on social effects such as culture, communication, and media. He is a McLuhanite, a Luddite, and a Ukranian. He married Rachel in 1985 and had Peter show up in 1996. Gregory is looking forward to Peter reaching college age so that he will finally know what's going on with most of his students.

    Specialties: Photography. Film and Video Aesthetics. Cultural Diversity in Media Aesthetics. Canadian Media. Experimental Film and Video Art. Broadcast Production. Corporate and Educational Media.

    Faculty teaching
  • Peter Morello, Associate Professor
  • Faculty

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    Peter Morello

    Phone: 816-235-2532
    Email: morellop@umkc.edu

    Peter Morello is associate professor and teaches broadcast and online journalism for the department. He also produces documentaries as contributing correspondent for Kansas City Public Television (KCPT-19.) Two of his most recent documentaries have wonnational awards. Before joining UMKC in 1999, Peter spent 14 years in Europe as a producer and special correspondent for the PBS program European Journal. He covered the emerging democracies of eastern and central Europe, the breakup of the Soviet Union, war in Bosnia and famine relief efforts in Somalia. He started his career in broadcast journalism as a general assignment reporter for a CBS Network affiliate in Colorado. Peter, along with his co-author at Columbia University, is currently working on a textbook "News writing for Television and the Interactive New Media." Peter's hobbies include scuba diving and other water sports.

    Specialties: Broadcast and New Media Journalism

    Faculty teaching
  • Steve Kraske, Associate Teaching Professor
  • Faculty

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    Steve Kraske

    Email: kraskes@umkc.edu

    Steve Kraske is the long-time political correspondent and columnist for The Kansas City Star. He is also host of "Up to Date," a daily talk show on public radio KCUR-FM in Kansas City and has worked as a political analyst on Kansas City television. He has covered every president since Gerald Ford, seven national presidential conventions, the Iowa caucuses and numerous races for governor, the U.S. Senate and Congress. He was a 1992 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University and holds his B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Faculty teaching
  • Dr. Ye Wang, Assistant Professor
  • Faculty

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    Dr. Ye Wang

    Phone: 816-235-1697
    Email: wanye@umkc.edu

    Dr. Ye Wang graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism at University of Missouri - Columbia. She holds a Ph.d. in journalism. Her research agenda features a focus on interactivity and engagement on websites and social media. She has conducted research on engagement on branded social media sites, interactivity within online health communities, cause-related marketing, cross-cultural communication, and advertising education. Her recent investigation explored opinion leadership and engagement with social norm campaigns on social media. Her works have been accepted for publication in Health Education & Behavior, Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, Howard Journal of Communication, International Journal of Advertising, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, the International Journal of Strategic Communication, and the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising. She also co-authored several book chapters on online communities and journalism education. Download her CV here.

    Faculty teaching

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