You are here: Home / About Us / Meet our Alumni / Outstanding Alumni Award Recipients

Outstanding Alumni Award Recipients

The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences established the Outstanding Alumni Award to recognize distinguished alumni with undergraduate or graduate ties to the Department. First awarded in 2002, the Outstanding Alumni Award honors alumni of the department for their success and influence as leaders, for significant career achievements, and for being outstanding role models for current students.

2017: Carole Blair, '83 Ph.D.

close

2017: Peter Glaser, '75 Ph.D.

close

2017: Susan Glaser, '77 Ph.D.

close

2016: Jack Hermansen ‘75 B.A.

close

2016: John Greene ‘78 M.A.

close

2015  Charles R. Berger, B.S., ‘61

Charles Berger is a distinguished emeritus professor at U.C. Davis. He has served as president of the International Communication Association, and he has been named Distinguished Scholar by the National Communication Association. His work has had a wide-ranging influence on the discipline of communication, with his landmark 1982 book, Language and Social Knowledge: Uncertainty in Interpersonal Relations, winning the National Communication Association’s Golden Anniversary Award. His Penn State degree is in psychology, but for obvious reasons, we count him as our own.

close

2015  James M. Kefford, B.A. '69

James M. Kefford is a radio entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. He was a pioneer in the FM radio industry for over 30 years and led Drake-Chenault, a radio syndication company. Jim was a director of the National Association of Broadcasters. He also worked in the community bank movement in Australia before retiring. In 2010, Jim wrote a memoir of his 35 years in the FM radio industry, titled Champagne and Caviar: A Radio Man's Dreams, Challenges and Adventures

close

2014 Roderick Hart, M.A., ’68, Ph.D., ‘70

Roderick Hart received his B.A. degree from the University of Massachusetts and his M. A. and Ph. D. degrees from the Pennsylvania State University. His area of special interest is politics and the mass media and he is the author of twelve books, the most recent of which is Political Tone: How Leaders Talk and Why (University Of Chicago Press, 2013). He is also the author of DICTION 7.0, a computer program designed to analyze language patterns.

Hart has delivered public lectures at more than eighty colleges and universities and received grant support from the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Exxon Foundation, Hatton Sumners Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Dorot Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

A former Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Hart is listed in Who's Who in America, the Directory of American Scholars, International Who's Who in Education, and American Men and Women of Science. He was named a Research Fellow of the International Communication Association, a Distinguished Scholar by the National Communication Association, and the National Scholar of the Year Award from Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and has received the Graber Book Award and the Edelman Career Award from the American Political Science Association.

Hart has been inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University of Texas and has also been designated Professor of the Year for the State of Texas from the Carnegie/C.A.S.E. Foundation. Previously he received the Eyes of Texas Student Involvement Award and the Texas Excellence Teaching Award from the University of Texas, the Excellence in Teaching Award in the Humanities from Purdue University, and the Outstanding Young Teacher Award from the Central States Communication Association. He has supervised over fifty graduate theses and dissertations.

close

2013  Jamie Grossman Young, B.A, ‘79

Two weeks after her 1979 graduation from Penn State, Jamie took her speech communication degree and immediately hit the road for Los Angeles, or “Camp LA,” as her father called it. He anticipated a quick trip, but Jamie’s ambitious journey has lasted thirty-plus years throughout the film and TV industries. As a result of her hard work and liberal arts skills, she is widely viewed as a pioneer in the business of managing the variety of personalities starring in reality television shows—a phenomenon now booming across network and cable TV.

For over a decade in LA, Jamie worked her way up through the entertainment industry. She started her career at Creative Artists Agency, supporting talent agents who represented leading actors, screenwriters, directors, and producers. At Lorimar Productions, whose successes included the long-running television series Dallas and Knot’s Landing, she worked in the story department reading and evaluating film and TV scripts. Jamie subsequently worked as a development and production executive for studio and independent feature films including Overboard starring Goldie Hawn and Beaches, starring Bette Midler.

Her Los Angeles experiences served her well when Jamie moved back to the East Coast to work at Discovery Communications, where she rose through the ranks to become Senior Vice President for Talent Relations. For more than nineteen years, she founded and directed the talent department overseeing the casting, deal negotiations and day-to-day management of on-air talent for Discovery’s twelve U.S. networks, numerous international networks, and other business divisions across Discovery Communications.

Today, she is President of Three Limes Media, which specializes in talent management and working with production companies and networks to address their on-air talent needs. Jamie credits her Penn State education and enrichment activities with “helping to shape who I became and leading me to a career I loved.”

close

2012  Lynn Mack Costello, B.A., ‘71

Lynn graduated from Penn State in 1971 with a degree in speech and went on to earn a master’s degree in rhetoric at Temple University and a law degree from Pepperdine University. She embarked on a long and successful career in business litigation, especially banking and real estate, before retiring to manage her family activities.

Lynn started teaching communication arts and sciences classes at Penn State in 2008 and has been an instructor at the Penn State World Campus since 2009. And just this morning, she and her husband Joe lectured in the Rhetoric and Law class on campus. She also served on the department’s previous Board of Visitors and will be joining the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board.

Lynn is an active volunteer with her local church and Girl Scouts organizations. She and her husband have two daughters, one of which – Kelley – earned a degree in communication arts and sciences from Penn State in 2009. They established the Costello Family Fund to support initiatives in the department.  

close

2012   Stephen Lucas, Ph.D., ‘73

Stephen E. Lucas  (Penn State, M.A. '71, and Ph.D '73) currently serves as the Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin. His first book, Portents of Rebellion: Rhetoric and Revolution in Philadelphia, 1765-1776, received NCA's Golden Anniversary Book Award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Professor Lucas specializes in rhetorical criticism, social movements, and American political discourse. The author of a widely-acclaimed textbook, he has been working recently with Chinese universities to develop English public speaking in that country. In 2009 Professor Lucas was named a Distinguished Scholar by the National Communication Association.

close

2011  Richard L. Peterson, Ph.D., ‘74

Richard Peterson is an Alumnus who has achieved excellence through passion, dedication, and commitment to his profession and to his students and faculty colleagues. He is “outstanding” in the true sense of the word.

Rich grew up in Conneaut Lake, in northwestern Pennsylvania and went to nearby Edinboro State University for his bachelor’s degree in speech communication and elementary education in 1966.  He continued on to Penn State to earn a master’s in speech pathology in 1971 and a PhD in 1974 in speech communication.

After leaving Penn State, Rich held several posts at INPUT, an information services subscription research company, and with McGraw-Hill Companies, the global publishing, media, and financial information corporation. At McGraw-Hill, he served as Vice President and Director of New Product Development and also as Head of Mergers & Acquisitions.

He later created his own firm, IMPACT Research, Inc., an information technology management consulting practice that focused on the needs of organizations for efficient and effective administrative and management process.

In 1992, Rich joined Montclair State University in New Jersey first as an adjunct faculty member, and in 1996, as a full-time faculty member. He has taught courses ranging from management information systems to decision support systems. Rich has published many academic journal articles and chapters on information ethics and security. His honors include the 2009 Outstanding Empirical Research Paper from Decision Sciences Institute, the 2009 Service Award from the International Academy of Business and Public Administration, and the Outstanding Service Award for Service Learning in 2000 from Montclair State University.

Today, Rich is Chair of Montclair State’s Department of Management and Information Systems, which serves 500 undergraduate and graduate students in Hospitality Management, Operations Management, Management, and Management and Information Systems.  His wife, Susan, is Director of Marketing at McGraw-Hill Construction Division.

close

2008  Ellen McDonald Stevens, B.A., ‘76

Ellen McDonnell Stevens graduated in 1976 with a B.A. in Speech Communication.  She then received a master’s degree in public affairs journalism from American University in Washington, DC, in 1978.

After completing her graduate work, Ellen worked at commercial radio and television stations throughout the country and held a number of news positions including news reporter at WAMU-FM in Washington.  In 1979 she became a newswriter at National Public Radio (NPR), the year morning news magazine Morning Edition was launched.  From newswriter, Ellen became on-line producer for Morning Edition in 1981.  From there, she became senior producer of the show, a position she held until being named Executive Producer of the award-winning NPR program in 1998.  As Executive Producer, she oversaw a major transformation and expansion of the 24-hour staff, and led the program into its current two host/two coast format.  Ellen also initiated and developed fresh and original approaches to news coverage on the show, including instituting seven hours of continual Morning Edition news updates each day.

Under McDonnell’s leadership, Morning Edition has seen its audience grow to become the number one morning news show in the U.S.  In 1999, Morning Edition received the prestigious George Foster Peabody award for outstanding journalism.

In 2007, she became NPR’s Director of Morning Programming, responsible for Morning Edition, Weekend Edition Saturday, Weekend Edition Sunday, and NPR’s newest program, The Bryant Park Project.

close

2006  Marshall Cohen, B.A., ‘73

Marshall Cohen graduated in 1973 with Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication. Afterwards, he went on to work with Judee and Michael Burgoon at the University of Florida. From there, he got into marketing research with the startup of MTV, VH1, and other innovative companies. He eventually became the Senior Vice President for market research at AOL Time Warner, including many diverse projects from cable to music. Currently, Marshall is the executive vice president of corporate research at Univision Communications Inc., where he is responsible for programming and research for all radio and digital platforms. 

close

2005  Robert Von Miller, Ph.D., ‘83

Robert Miller graduated in 1983 with a Ph.D. in Speech Communication after completing a BA and MA at West Virginia University.

After completing his doctoral work, Robert became Director of the Media Studies Program at DePauw University where he also served for three years. During one of his years there, he was named Outstanding Professor of the Year. He then moved to the corporate world, becoming Vice President of MarketVision Research in Cincinnati. MarketVision was named by INC. Magazine as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the United States. He eventually became the second highest ranking officer in the company and became nationally known in the market research field. After twelve years at MarketVision, Robert was named President and CEO of Cooper Research, a firm specializing in marketing intelligence for the health care industry.

Under his leadership, Cooper Research, has conducted nearly 3,000 research studies and has collected data from literally hundreds of thousands of consumers and heath care providers. Cooper has completed national studies for companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, American Red Cross, Merck, Wellpoint Health Networks, National Stroke Association, and many others.

Cooper studies have been featured in major media national as well as local.

Robert is often called upon for his expertise in health care, and has been a keynoter at many national meetings and is also a frequent contributor to the popular media on health care topics of public interest, including access to care, quality of care, the growing uninsured, and the national nursing shortage.

Robert serves his community in many ways. He is Chairman of the Marketing Committee of the American Red Cross, Cincinnati Chapter, serves on the boards of advisors for the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University, the Business College at Ohio University, and the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

close

2005  Adrian C. Ornik, B.A., ‘78

Adrian graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in speech communication. Early in his Penn State career, he was a student at Penn State-Ogontz (now Abington) and while there was the President of Student Government. After graduation, Adrian took a position at Armstrong World Industries. He moved up the corporate ladder in marketing moving to DeLoitte and Touche in 1986, Arthur Anderson in 1998, and then to his current company, PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 1990

Adrian has had a distinguished career in marketing. He is the Director of US Markets and Business Development at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a firm that provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services for public and private clients and their stakeholders. Based in the Philadelphia office, Adrian also serves on the firm’s U.S. Leadership Team and its Global Marketing Leadership Team. His responsibilities include advertising, public relations, direct marketing, market research, and corporate sponsorship, among others.

Adrian has been recognized many times for his outstanding work. He was twice named as the one of the hundred most influential people in accounting by Accounting Today. Adrian is the past president of the Association for Accounting Marketing and one of the inaugural inductees of the AAM Hall of Fame. He also received the 1993 Marketer of the Year Award sponsored by CPA Marketing Report and Aspen Publications. He’s a frequent speaker at international, national, and local professional conferences and routinely quoted as a thought leader in accounting by national industry publications.

close

2004  Cynthia Danel, B.A., ‘71

Cynthia Danel graduated in 1971 with a bachelor of arts in speech. Cynthia continued her education at Penn State and in 1976 she was one of only seven women to graduate with a master of arts in speech communication.

As a student, Cynthia was active with several student groups including the Penn State Thespians. While pursuing her degree she lived in State College and taught English as a second language. Her Master’s thesis was titled, "The relationship of rhetoric and ritual as discussed in the major works of Kenneth Burke." She worked on this with Richard Gregg who encouraged her to go on to complete her doctorate.

After completing her Master’s degree, Cynthia considered going on to pursue a doctorate, but instead worked her way through Duquesne University School of Law. In 1983, Cynthia joined one of the best-known law firms in Pennsylvania, Edgar M. Snyder & Associates, where she is now Partner. Here she has specialized in personal injury litigation, trying numerous cases before a jury as well as mediating and settling hundreds more. She has also successfully argued appellate cases before both the Superior and Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania.

This year Cynthia is the President Elect of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. She is also a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and has served on the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association

Cynthia is well regarded for her community involvement in Western Pennsylvania. This includes work with such groups as Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. She has served as a Judge in the Allegheny County High School and University of Pittsburgh Moot Court Competition, and she was the former chairperson of the High School Essay Contest of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. She has also been a frequent panelist in continuing legal education seminars sponsored by the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.

close

2003   Jay Feldstein, B.A., ‘59

Jay Feldstein graduated in 1959 with a degree in Arts and Letters. Almost forty years ago, Jay helped found the Pittsburgh law firm of Feldstein Grinberg Stein & McKee. The firm concentrates in six practice areas and maintains a staff of approximately thirty attorneys and paralegal assistants.

Jay concentrates on litigation, particularly representing persons injured or killed in medical and dental malpractice, airline and automobile accidents, defective machinery, and defective product cases. For several years, Jay has been involved in litigating catastrophically injured infant cases.

He is certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and has been elected a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. He is a member and past president of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County. He is an author and lecturer for the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Jay was active as an undergraduate student at Penn State.  He was a member of the debate team and was elected president of the All-School Cabinet (a precursor of the Undergraduate Student Government) in his senior year. Jay also was inducted into Lion's Paw, Delphi (president), Androcles, and Omicron Delta Kappa. 

After his graduation from Yale Law School in 1962, Jay Feldstein began a solo practice in Pittsburgh until 1965, when he helped establish his current firm.

Jay served as a member of the Penn State Fund Council, the Penn State Development Council, and the Alumni Council of the Penn State alumni association.  Together with his wife, he established the Judi and Jay Feldstein Renaissance Scholarship at Penn State. Later, in recognition of the late Pat O’Brien, who was Jay’s debate coach in college, they transferred their scholarship to the Harold J. “Pat” O’Brien Memorial Award in Communication Arts and Sciences in 2001. Jay’s redesignation of this gift represents in one way his past and future involvement in Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State. He also has been active mentoring communication students through participation in alumni roundtable discussions.

close

2002  Todd Blackledge, B.A., ‘83

Todd Blackledge graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication in 1983. He was drafted as a first round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs following an exceptional football performance at the quarterback position for Penn State. He finished out his football career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, going on to becoming a national sportscaster at ABC and CBS Sports. He has written one book titled Taste of the Town: A Guided Tour of Football’s Best Places to Eat. He currently works for ESPN as an analyst and teaches high basketball during the off season in Canton, OH. 

close