The Department of Communication congratulates the following students honored at this year’s College of Arts and Sciences Awards Ceremony, presented by Dr. Maggie Wills and Dr. Michael Pagano:
2012 Outstanding Academic Achievement in Communication Award – Nicole Laskowski
“Nicole is a double major in Communication and English, and a minor in Marketing and Women’s Studies with a GPA of 3.98—the highest of her class, for which she was awarded The Lieutenant William Koscher Award in the Arts earlier in this ceremony. Nicole was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. She’ll be inducted into the Comm. Honor Society this May, and as previously mentioned, she and her co-authors’ senior capstone research project was recognized as distinguished work in the Social Sciences. Beyond the gates of Fairfield, Nicole was a marketing intern at the Central CT Coast YMCA, and a Production intern for the Maury Povich Show—a great conversation starter for any job interview. In the classroom, Nicole elevates every conversation and exceeds expectations on every assignment with her brilliance, kindness, and great humility. Where some search for the narrow path to a topic that gets them from point A to completed project point B, Nicole enjoys contemplating many ideas, and then, almost magically, she’s able to sift through the literature to arrive at a do-able, important project every time. Well suited to the life of the mind, Nicole hopes to pursue a graduate degree that will no doubt result in her becoming our esteemed colleague. Today, we’re very proud to call her our top student.”
2012 Distinguished Work in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
“As these students’ research capstone project advisor, I’m pleased to present the award for distinguished work in the social and behavioral sciences to communication seniors Anthony Corso, Christie Fogelstrom, Nicole Laskowski, and Chelsea Pabon. Their project, entitled, “I love the Ladies but they don’t belong in the newsroom: Gender Biases in Male and Female Anchor Teams” offers an in-depth content analysis of twenty newscasts along with a survey of 78 undergraduates. The content analysis in particular was very thoughtfully designed and labor intensive, and yielded some important insights into lingering gender biases in the television news industry. The project was also competitively accepted for presentation at the 38th National Undergraduate Honors Conference at DePauw University. The Selection Committee cited the work’s clear hypothesis grounded in a substantive review of existing literature, originality of ideas, clear writing, and contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the study of gender, media, and communication. The committee viewed the research teams’ acknowledgment of research limitations as a strength because they did not attempt to make claims that couldn’t be supported by the data. Also, having previously recognized the achievement of individual students, the committee noted this year they were honoring group scholarship, as “collaborative research efforts” are increasingly typical in the social and behavioral sciences, with collaborative work being the kind of work that most researchers in our disciplines do. We honor the group effort here, and wish all the best to this outstanding group of young scholars.”
2012 Professor James J. Keenan Award – Kara M. Meagher
“Ms. Meagher earned a 3.88 g.p.a. in her graduate work here, but she has distinguished herself in many other ways. Kara used her experiences in one grad course and expanded on them in an Independent Study to co-author a paper, “Tackling death and dying: A service-learning approach,” that was presented at, and is being published by, the Vatican/Marquette University, “Power to Transform the World Conference.” In addition, her interests in health, interpersonal, and organizational communication led her to develop a unique Thesis project that explores how an urban hospital collaborates with, and encourages, its health care providers to disclose medical errors and adverse events to the patients and/or families who suffered negative consequences. This groundbreaking research is titled, “Disclosing bad outcomes: Implications for patients, providers, and interpersonal relationships. Kara’s exploration of dying patients’ communication and the disclosure committee’s efforts, mirror her commitment to improving the lives of her fellow human beings. These values are consistent with Professor Keenan’s that he exemplified in his 40+ years of teaching and scholarship at this institution. For all these reasons and more, the Department of Communication faculty selected Kara M. Meagher the recipient of the 2012 Professor James J. Keenan Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Communication Graduate Student.”
On March 30, at the Fairfield University General Faculty meeting, Dr. Michael Pagano delivered the following remarks:
Dr. James J. Keenan Jr.
Professor Emeritus, Communication
We wanted to have Jim’s picture here and share his wonderful smile at one last faculty meeting. Dr. James J.Keenan, Jr., our colleague and friend, died March 1, 2012 in Malmo, Sweden after a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was surrounded by family and friends, including two of his sons and his second wife, Dr. Maria Aggestam, who has taught here at Fairfield and shared Jim’s passion for global education, international travel, and intercultural research.
Jim was born October 13, 1931, in New York City. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Manhattan College, a master’s degree from Fordham University and a Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology from Columbia University.
Jim was a father of five – four sons and a daughter, some of whom are graduates of this university – and a grandfather of three. He often spoke fondly of the many adventures he and his first wife, Bett Keenan, shared with their children as part of his international research projects. He is survived by his many relatives, here and in Sweden, as well as legions of both graduate and undergraduate students who worked with this true renaissance man during his 42 year-long career at Fairfield University.
Jim joined our faculty in 1967, first serving as a core faculty member in the Graduate School of Corporate and Political Communication, then embraced interdisciplinary collaboration by teaching in the Dolan School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences, offering both Psychology and Communication courses. In the early 1990s, Jim joined the College’s Department of Communication, and we gratefully acknowledge his many valued and creative efforts to help the then newly-established department flourish. In early 2002, Jim partnered with Dean Edna Wilson of University College to create our off-campus graduate cohort program that helped 64 working men and women over a six-year period earn a Master’s Degree from Fairfield University. His entrepreneurial spirit contributed to the university’s income, but also to our commitment to serving a diverse student body. The success of this collaborative, innovative effort at graduate education provided the stimulus for the current on-site graduate program in Communication.
In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students here for 42 years and promoting the institutional mission in varied ways, Jim lectured internationally and published extensively on communication, psychology, organizational management, intellectual capital, ekistic ergonomics and business leadership topics. He also consulted for some of the major corporations of the 20th century and contributed to many historical achievements.
An accomplished industrial psychologist and consultant, Jim’s work and clients reflected his diverse interests. He chaired the Board of Scientific Advisors for Muzak and consulted for IBM, GE, Xerox, various Catholic agencies and Atari. He worked with the U.S. Navy, NASA and the White House on a number of projects. His work at Dunlap Associates in Darien included both commercial and government assignments, notably development work for the Minuteman missile system, pre-manned space missions, the design of the DC-10 cockpit and the commercial barcode. Jim was also a very talented wood worker and built a motorized, miniature carousel that Neiman Marcus considered manufacturing.
In 2009, the Department of Communication recognized Jim’s life-long commitment to teaching and scholarship by creating the annual, Professor James J. Keenan Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Communication Graduate Student.
Jim dedicated his life to helping students become successful, self-directed, life-long learners. He was a colleague and a friend and he will be missed. But Jim was truly a gifted storyteller and his ability to enthrall students and colleagues with his tales of adventures with Margaret Mead and Buckminster Fuller, or of contributing to NASA’s early designs will be long remembered. We hope that as you think of Jim and his contributions to our students and this institution you’ll remember his infectious smile – and the kind, generous, intellectually curious and good-humored spirit it reflected.