WTAMU Communication Hall of Fame to Honor 2018 Inductees

Aug. 13, 2018

CONTACT:    Dr. Trudy Hanson, 806-651-2800, thanson@wtamu.edu

WTAMU Communication Hall of Fame to Honor 2018 Inductees

 

CANYON, Texas—Four graduates of the Department of Communication at West Texas A&M University have been named as the 2018 inductees for the Communication Hall of Fame and will be honored at a special banquet at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Jack B. Kelley Student Center, Legacy Hall.

The event also will include the presentation of the Rising Star Award, Community Partner Award and the Campus Partner Award. Host for the evening will be Kirk Scarbrough, former WTAMU student body president and winner of the 2015 Rising Star award.

This year’s honorees include Jason Crespin, director of Amarillo Little Theatre Academy (ALT), Mellessa Denny, speech and debate coach at Amarillo High School, Steven Denny, Amarillo attorney, and Dan Morgan, operations manager for KAMR-TV. The four 2018 inductees will be honored at the banquet with brief video documentaries of their work.

The 2018 Rising Star awards will be presented to Wilson Lemieux and Brittany Sarrett. The Community Partner Award will be presented to Dan Quandt and the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council and the Campus Partner Award will be presented to James Webb.

The criteria for nominations for the Communication Hall of Fame include being a graduate of WTAMU’s communication studies or mass communication program, having worked in their professional field for a minimum of five years, making substantial contributions to the profession and having active community involvement.

Jason Crespin earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations/advertising in 2006 and is a trailblazer in the Amarillo arts community. Serving as academy director since 2006, Crespin has increased awareness of ALT through such social media campaigns such as “Thursdays at Three,” as well as in local news and radio outlets. A local celebrity, Crespin was named a finalist on Live with Kelly and has assisted multiple times with the Tony Awards in various capacities as an ambassador. During Crespin’s tenure at the Amarillo Little Theatre, enrollment in the Academy has increased to 700, ticket sales have increased by 65 percent and sponsorship and donations for the Academy have increased to $35,000 annually.

Mellessa Denny received a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communication in 1997 from WTAMU. Over the course of her career as a high school speech and debate coach, 29 of her students have qualified for the National Forensic League Tournament and eight teams have advanced to the Texas High School Mock Trial State Competition. She has served as president of the Texas Speech Communication Association and testified before the State Board of Education in support of having speech communication as a required course. Denny’s community service includes serving as a board member of the Communication Alumni Network, committee member for the West Texas Plains Branch of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, drama director for Paramount Baptist’s children’s musical and board of review member for the Golden Eagle District of the Boy Scouts of America. In January 2018, she was selected as one of only 16 educators in the state of Texas to receive a University Interscholastic League Sponsor Excellence Award.

Steven Denny graduated from WTAMU in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in speech communication and went on to earn a law degree from Texas Tech School of Law in 2000. From 2006 through 2011, Denny was assigned as the trial chief for the 108th District Court.  In 2010, he served as a justice adviser for PAE, a Department of State International Narcotics and Law Enforcement contractor in Afghanistan, where he trained and mentored Afghan judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. A solo practitioner of law in Amarillo since 2011, Denny limits his practice to criminal defense. He has served as an adjunct professor at WTAMU, teaching legal research and terminology; serves as a member of the Potter County Volunteer Fire Department and as a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, district chairman for the Golden Eagle District of the Boy Scouts of America and volunteers for the Texas High School Mock Trial competition and at Paramount Baptist Church. He is married to fellow Hall of Fame recipient Mellessa Denny, and their son, Grant, continues in his parent’s footsteps, competing in speech and debate events at Amarillo High School.

Dan Morgan completed his bachelor’s degree in radio/TV in 1991 and attended graduate school at WTAMU from 1997 through 2003. Morgan has worked in media communication for more than 30 years. He serves as the operations manager at KAMR-TV and has mentored countless interns and employees. His career has included stints in production and in the news room. Randy Ray, director of broadcast engineering, said, “it is hard to think of Amarillo television and not think of Dan Morgan. He has been a leader for over 30 years.” During his career at KAMR, Morgan has won various Addy Awards and an Associated Press Best Sportscast award for producing “The Locker Room.” Morgan is a member of the Amarillo College Mass Comm Advisory Board and is serving a third term on the council for the Children’s Miracle Network of Amarillo/High Plains Region. His two children, Ashley and Chris, are both WTAMU graduates and his late wife, Ann Blassingame Morgan, graduated from WTSU in 1982.

Those selected for the 2018 Rising Star Awards represent the diversity and outreach of graduates in WTAMU’s Department of Communication. Wilson Lemieux, owner of Lemieux Company, a video first marketing agency, earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations and advertising in 2014. Lemieux’s video productions most recently won a gold Addy award for “The Tortilla Machine,” a gold Addy for “To William” and a silver Addy for “This is Stephfan.” In 2016, he provided seed money to establish the Lemieux Slow and Steady scholarship which is awarded annually to a media communication major.

Brittany Sarrett, copywriter at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, earned her Bachelor of Arts in public relations/advertising in 2010. She has worked at the Richards Group, based in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and has worked for J. Walter Thompson in New York City since 2015. In 2016, she received a gold Addy for a regional/national campaign and in 2015 received the Most Impactful Radio Commercial award from the Association of Music Producers. Her Super Bowl Motel 6 spot, titled “Autocorrect” was awarded the first-ever Super Bowl Audio Index competition award.  Both Lemieux and Sarrett have returned to campus often as featured alumni for the annual Communication Week activities.          

The Community Partner award recognizes an organization or individual who has made significant contributions to WTAMU’s Department of Communication. This year’s recipient— Dan Quandt and the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council— provided support and sponsorship for the 2017 regional National Broadcasting Society conference hosted by WTAMU. National Broadcasting Society adviser Emily Kinsky said, “Thanks to the support of the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council, we were able to host a successful regional conference for the South Central Broadcasting Society this past October. The support from the ACVC went far above my expectations as we welcomed our guests from seven states. Faculty and student attendees enjoyed a generous ‘Amarillo by Morning’ breakfast, and our professional speakers were treated to Amarillo swag in their gift bags.”     

The Campus Partner Award honors an individual or campus organization which has helped the Department of Communication in achieving its mission. James Webb, chief information officer at WTAMU, is the 2018 Campus Partner Award recipient. The Department of Communication became a stand-alone academic unit in 2007, and Webb has provided visionary leadership in helping the department accomplish its goals. He made it possible for students enrolled in media design courses to take exams to become Adobe Certified. Webb also has been a key player in the new Media Wall installed in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex in April 2018 and the upgrade to the News One Studio in 2017.         

The Communication Hall of Fame Selection Committee for 2018 was comprised of seven communication professionals: Mary Coyne, advertising executive of MCMC Marketing; Steven Denny, attorney; Ann Shofner, president of the Communication Alumni Network; Maddison Fowler, media communication instructor at Amarillo College, Christa Glasgow, public affairs specialist at Pantex; Dan Quandt, vice president, Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council; and Dan Morgan, operations manager at KAMR. Communication Department faculty members selected the recipients for the Rising Star, Community Partner and Campus Partner Awards.

For information about the Communication Hall of Fame banquet, contact Dr. Trudy Hanson at 806-65-2800 or thanson@wtamu.edu. All proceeds from the banquet will be used to help endow scholarships in the Department of Communication.  

—WTAMU—


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