Highlander Highlights: Week of September 18, 2023

Sociology faculty member honored by Honors

Associate Professor of Sociology Roby Page

Associate Professor Roby Page has a reputation for going above and beyond, not only in the classroom but in his role as an academic advisor to students in the Department of Sociology.

During the fall 2022 semester, Page mentored sociology major Jenna Mitchell as she completed a capstone project studying British pub culture during her study abroad semester in London.

“It was a very interesting project to work on with Jenna, not only due to her research approach and her subject, but also given how she arrived in London just days following the death of Queen Elizabeth, and then later in the fall when the excitement level was high as England made a run to the World Cup quarterfinals,” Page said.

Mitchell had previously taken a visual sociology course Page taught. She wanted to include photography in her capstone, so she asked Page to serve as her mentor.

For his work with Mitchell, Page received the 2023 Award for Faculty Excellence in Honors, which is given by the Honors Student Council. The award is presented each year to a faculty member who establishes a standard for excellence in teaching or mentorship of honors students, whether through honors coursework, honors contracts or honors capstones. 

To say the honor is well deserved may be an understatement, according to Page’s fellow faculty.

“He doesn’t just advise students on their classes – and gets them to graduation error-free every time – he gets to know them personally, and he helps them along their journey for the years that we have them here in sociology,” said Associate Professor and Department of Sociology Chair Beth Lyman. “He’s been nominated for advising and service awards several times over the years, and the student testimonials are amazing. He takes care of them from the time they declare their major until they walk across the stage. He has a cult following among the majors.”

When Mitchell returned to Radford for the 2023 spring semester, “she was every bit the professional as she brought it all together and wrote up her work,” Page explained. “We had a great adventure working on this high-impact learning experience, and then to be recognized by Radford’s honors students is such a rewarding bonus for me.”

Interior design graduate wins international contest

By Sean Kotz, College of Visual and Performing Arts Communications Officer

A recent Radford graduate in interior design, Erica Campos ’23, received the C-IDEA Design Award in the architecture and landscape category on Sept. 3, 2023. Awards were presented in Bunde, Germany, at the Bunde Museum. 

Campos won for her Until Dawn Bar and Lounge design. The concept proposes a luxury venue in New York City featuring high-end hors d'oeuvres and cocktails that draws inspiration from images captured by NASA’s James Webb space telescope. 

“As New York struggles with the effects of light pollution making it hard to see the stars,” Campos wrote, “Until Dawn captures the night sky in its place.” Read more about the honor here.

Criminal Justice faculty featured on ‘With Good Reason’

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Stacey Clifton

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Stacey Clifton recently guested on the public radio program “With Good Reason,” speaking about “how the very culture of police – a sort of macho suppression of emotion – makes it extra hard to address their mental health crises,” according to a description of the interview from the program.

Clifton’s research focuses on the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers and “more specifically,” she said, “delves into the influence of the police subculture and social network positioning on coping strategies utilized by officers.”

The interview will air for one week, beginning Sept. 23, on more than 60 radio stations across the United States. Listeners in the New River Valley can hear the program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, on Public Radio WVRU 89.9. The show is available as a podcast at withgoodreason.org.

“With Good Reason” is produced by Virginia Humanities for the Virginia Higher Education Broadcasting Consortium, which comprises all of Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

The award-winning program is heard by an estimated 100,000 people each week on public radio stations in 38 states, including Virginia and Washington, D.C. Thousands more download the episodes via iTunes.

Radford professor explains importance of New York Times KO’ing sports section

School of Communication Professor and media historian Bill Kovarik.

This week, the New York Times closed its sports section, handing over coverage, and some of its writers and reporters, to The Athletic, which the newspaper owns. Radford University School of Communication Professor and media historian Bill Kovarik explains how this decision will affect readers and sports enthusiasts of all ages.

When the New York Times closed its sports desk in September, older readers marked the passing of an era and younger ones yawned. Searching for excitement, video highlights and insider stories, most young fans won’t miss the storied, stodgy sports desk and its old-fashioned graphics. A new approach at The Athletic, a non-union sports publication owned by the Times, may have more appeal, Times editors hope. 

Still, let’s pause a moment to reflect on the 172-year legacy of sports coverage at the Times.  

It begins with a horse race, reported on the second day of the newspaper’s existence: Sept. 19, 1851. Lady Jane won the mile race in two and a half minutes, the Times soberly reported from the state fair, not neglecting to also note the livestock competitions and crowds on the midway.    

 Sports coverage picked up a few years later when a Times reporter covering a cricket game in Hoboken, New Jersey, noticed a new sport called “base ball” (two words) being played on the far side of a field. The reporter and the newspaper went all-out to promote baseball, helping to create a culture of sports but also prompting concerns that it had crossed an ethical line.  

Through the years, great writers — notably Pulitzer Prize winners Arthur Daley, Red Smith and Dave Anderson, along with feature writer Gay Talese — got their start, or their parting shot, on the Times sports desk.    

Left behind are some blots on the scoreboard, such as outright racism in the coverage of boxers John Jackson around 1910 and Mohammed Ali in the 1960s. But there were also stellar moments, such as coverage of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens, two Black Americans who beat the Nazis in the Olympics and boxing rings in the 1930s to wide public acclaim. Also, on the stellar side of the scoreboard we also find the story of Pee Wee Reese, a White Brooklyn Dodgers player who built a friendship with breakthrough Black baseball star Jackie Robinson in the 1940s. Reese, with Times coverage, pointed the way toward racial reconciliations in America.  

As the newspaper of record, historians looking at the Times will have a rich legacy to explore, including millions of news articles about games and legendary sports figures. They may also find that the Times’ news agenda was slightly askew from American popular opinion, with fewer stories about baseball and football (about 750,000 combined) than tennis and golf (over 1.2 million). Historians will also have extensive records of great events, including the Olympics (63,000 news articles), NFL’s Super Bowl (42,700) and the World Series (404,000). 

These will remain to be appreciated — but not mourned. 

Historically, turnover in media is expected in a democracy. It’s part of the great marketplace of ideas. When traditional media speak in the voice of older generations, the next ones naturally turn to new voices and new markets. And when new technologies drive those new markets, communications revolutions will light up the wires again, and engage stellar new imaginations, just as they once did for their parents and grandparents. 

Sep 22, 2023
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761