Dr. Randall Scott
Chair, Department of Communication
Professor of Mass Communication
Strong Hall 129
Dr. Randall K. Scott received a PhD in Communication from the University of Southern Mississippi; a M.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Montevallo; and a B.A. in Communication from Florida Technological University. Dr. Scott received the 2006-07 College of Fine Arts Distinguished Teacher Award at the University of Montevallo. His area of research is media management and newspaper/broadcast writing. Dr. Scott has published in major journals in his field and his book on media management is in its third edition.
Communication Studies Faculty
Dr. Sherry Ford
Professor and Coordinator of Communication Studies
Strong Hall 137
Sherry Ford fell in love with the study of communication when she took a course on interpersonal communication as an undergraduate. From that moment she was hooked and continued the formal study of the topic for the next several years. She earned bachelor’s degrees in both English and communication at Jacksonville State University, a master’s degree in speech at the University of Montevallo, and a doctorate in communication theory from Louisiana State University.
Ford teaches courses on interpersonal communication, conflict management, nonverbal communication, and intercultural communication, among others. Her research interests are broad-ranging and include communication in bereavement experiences, internet use as a means of maintaining relationships and well-being for seniors, imagined interactions, and conflict in relationships. Her scholarship covers a variety of interpersonal topics, and collaborations with colleagues from a variety of disciplines resulted in research published in such journals as Communication Teacher, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, and Computers in Human Behavior.
Sherry and her husband Doug are avid golfers and enjoy time with pups Diva and JoJo, their furry “kids.”
Dr. Sally Bennett Hardig
Professor of Communication Studies
Strong Hall 138
Dr. Sally Bennett Hardig joined the Communication Studies (COMS) faculty at the University of Montevallo in Fall 2002. She earned her BA from the University of Kentucky (1994) and both her MA (1998) and Ph.D. (2006) from the University of Memphis. Her areas of expertise include: Rhetoric and Public Address, Persuasion, Gender Communication, Health Communication, and Environmental Communication.
Dr. Hardig is an active leader on campus including serving as COMS Program Coordinator for over a decade, inaugural Chair of the Department of Communication for 5 years, and election as Chair of the UM Council of Department Chairs. Dr. Hardig’s current service project is a collaborative initiative working with Dr. Sherry Ford and Montevallo Mayor, Dr. Hollie Cost, to create and develop a Center for Peace and Reconciliation, which will partner with the local community, and a Peace and Reconciliation academic program to go along with the Center.
Dr. Hardig is also an active and collaborative scholar, presenting award winning single authored research at national, regional, and state level conferences. She has also co-authored several published national peer reviewed journal articles, a workbook, and several book chapters. She was promoted to Full Professor in Spring, 2017.
In addition to her engaged service and scholarship, she is the recipient of multiple awards for teaching and advising. Dr. Hardig was recognized first in 2005 when she was named UM College of Fine Arts Distinguished Teacher of the Year (her first year eligible). Her excellence in teaching was recognized again in 2016, when Dr. Hardig achieved what no other faculty member has before when she was honored with two major university awards in one year: 2016-17 UM Academic Advisor of the Year and the 2016-17 UM National Alumni Association Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. As much as she loves teaching and UM, her true passion is spending time with her family (her life partner, Dr. Hardig, “the other;” her son and light of her life, Bennett; and her extended fur family including 2 cats, a dog, and 2 fish).
Dr. Raymond R. Ozley
Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Strong Hall 136
Dr. Raymond R. Ozley is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and coordinator for the Public Relations minor. He holds a B.A. from the University of Central Arkansas, M.A. from the University of Memphis, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
Dr. Ozley is interested in a wide range of scholarly topics including organizational communication, leadership, communication theory, and instructional communication. Ozley’s work has been presented at a variety of academic conferences and in peer reviewed journals, including Communication Teacher and Communication Theory.
Ozley teaches courses in Career Development, Crisis Communication, Leadership, Organizational Communication, and Public Relations. He also teaches the Communication Capstone course. Additionally, his interests supporting curriculum development led him to coordinate the creation of UM’s Arts Administration and Public Relations minors.
Dr. Ozley’s university service has included work on several college and university committees—including nearly ten years on the Undergraduate Curriculum Standards Committee. He actively supports the Applied Communication and Communication Theory divisions of Southern States Communication Association and recently completed a term as President of the Alabama Communication Association.
Ray’s most important commitments are at home with his wife of over 20 years, Lorrie Spradlin Ozley, and their three children. He enjoys reading and playing games with the family and is always looking for chances to take his children camping and hiking.
Dr. Jefferson D. Walker
Instructor of Communication Studies
Strong Hall 134
Dr. Jeff Walker, Instructor of Communication Studies, holds a B.S. from the University of Montevallo and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. He loves teaching and is enthusiastic about helping students overcome communication apprehension.
Walker has been recognized for both his teaching and research. In 2013, Walker received the Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Doctoral Student at the University of Alabama. In 2015, as a faculty member at Louisiana Tech University, he received the Dean’s Research Award. Most recently, Montevallo’s National Alumni Association recognized Walker with the 2019 Nathalie Molton Gibbons Young Achiever’s Award.
Walker is the author of two books, King Returns to Washington (2015) and College Night: A Centennial Celebration (2019). The first, a rhetorical analysis of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, ties together Walker’s research interests in rhetoric, politics, and public memory. The latter, a 250 page coffee table book, chronicles the history of Montevallo’s College Night with stories, pictures, and special features.
Walker’s record of service includes stints as the President of the Alabama Communication Association, Chair of the SSCA’s American Society for the History of Rhetoric Interest Group, and member of College Night’s Centennial Celebration Committee. He is also the Founder and President of Brick by Brick Arts, a non-profit community theatre.
Away from the classroom, Walker enjoys playing with Legos and listening to showtunes.
Dr. Tiffany R. Wang
Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Strong Hall 135
Tiffany R. Wang is an associate professor of communication studies and basic course coordinator in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Montevallo. She holds a B.S. and M.S. from Texas Christian University and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Wang’s research interests include instructional communication, communication education, and family communication. She is an active member of the Alabama Communication Association (ACA), the Central States Communication Association (CSCA), and the National Communication Association (NCA). Wang’s research appears in peer-reviewed journals, including Communication Education, Communication Reports, Communication Teacher, Journal of Communication Pedagogy, The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, Journal of Family Communication, and the TCU Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creativity.
Wang is also active in disciplinary and university service. At the disciplinary level, she serves as CSCA Member at Large, CSCA Incoming Executive Director, NCA Instructional Development Division Past Chair, and NCA Lambda Pi Eta Faculty Advisory Board Member. At the university level, Wang advises the Lambda Pi Eta Lambda Nu and Alpha Delta Pi Zeta Delta Chapters; serves as Faculty Senate President Elect; and serves on the Administrative Assessment, Disability Compliance, Faculty Honors, Human Animal Subjects Research, Intercollegiate Athletics, Space Utilization, and Strategic Planning Committees.
Wang teaches courses including Communication Theory, Communication Training and Development, Family Communication, Instructional Communication, Introduction to Communication Research Methods, Small Group Communication, and Social Media and Public Relations.
In recognition of her teaching and service, Wang has received several university and disciplinary awards including the 2018 National Society of Leadership and Success UM Chapter Excellence in Teaching Award, 2017 CSCA Outstanding New Teacher Award, 2016 UM College of Fine Arts Distinguished Teacher Award, 2016 UM Honors Program Faculty Award, 2016 UM Student Life Advisor of the Year Award, and the 2016 UM Quality Enhancement Plan Montevallo Information Literacy Innovator (MILI) Award.
Wang lives in Pelham with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Lady London Rose. She enjoys baking, watching British/historical TV shows/documentaries, and updating London’s Instagram page with pictures from outings and play dates based on social media and public relations best practices.
Mass Communication Faculty
Dr. Jay Cofield
Professor and Coordinator of Mass Communication
Strong Hall 130
Jay Cofield is a professor of mass communication in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Montevallo. He holds an M.A. from the University of Montevallo and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.
Cofield’s area of research and creative interests include live television, creative short videos, advertising, and Internet video. A strong supporter of service learning, Cofield makes it a point to involve majors in all of his productions. He oversees the streaming sports project at Montevallo, and he has produced award-winning Web videos for the college. He is also a member of the Broadcast Education Association and the National Broadcasting Society.
At the University of Montevallo, Cofield is the program coordinator for mass communication. He teaches courses in video production, website creation, and film appreciation.
Dr. Bruce Finklea
Associate Professor of Mass Communication
Strong Hall 131
Dr. Bruce Finklea is a UM alumnus who now teaches broadcast journalism courses in the Mass Communication program. As a student at UM, Finklea realized producing local TV news was (and continues to be) his passion. After two internships with the NBC affiliate in Birmingham, AL, he was offered a job as a news producer.
After a few years in the newsroom, Finklea realized that he really wanted to get back into the classroom—but this time as a teacher. While completing his doctoral courses at the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences, he began researching gender portrayals in children’s media. His dissertation examined themes and narratives about masculinity in Pixar films.
Since returning to UM, Dr. Finklea has taught a variety of Mass Comm courses, including newscast production, broadcast writing, TV/online reporting, and the multimedia journalism capstone. Dr. Finklea has been recognized by UM for his work with information literacy to better integrate social media and other technology into courses across the Mass Communication program’s curriculum.
Dr. Finklea is a member of the Broadcast Education Association and National Broadcasting Society. His research and creative works have received multiple national awards from BEA and NBS. His work has also been presented at a national conference of the Association for Education and Journalism and Mass Communication.
In addition to conference presentations, Dr. Finklea’s research has been featured in two new books: Communication Theory and Millennial Popular Culture: Essays and Applications and Race and Gender in Electronic Media: Content, Context, Culture. He has also contributed to the International Encyclopedia of Media Effects. Dr. Finklea also teamed up with Drs. Jennings Bryant and Susan Thompson to co-author the second edition of Fundamentals of Media Effects text book, which has been adopted by dozens of universities around the world.
Dr. Finklea lives in Columbiana with his wife and daughter. He enjoys reading and watching television shows and movies. He’s a huge sci-fi fan, especially of Doctor Who and Star Trek. So don’t be surprised when he makes a Star Trek or Doctor Who reference in class!
Dr. Gheni Platenburg
Assistant Professor of Journalism
Strong Hall 133
Gheni Platenburg is a multimedia journalism assistant professor in the University of Montevallo’s Department of Communication. Platenburg earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in community journalism from the University of Alabama, and a doctorate degree in media and public affairs from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication.
Prior to embarking on a teaching career, Platenburg worked as a multimedia journalist at both daily and weekly newspapers. A strong supporter of community journalism, she spent the latter part of her reporting days at the Victoria (Texas) Advocate. She has also held television reporting and production positions in Tallahassee, Florida, and Washington D.C.
While in the newsroom, Platenburg covered politics; features; diversity; crime; and courts. Her work received several awards including recognitions from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Texas Better Newspaper associations. She further honed her craft through a fellowship with the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism and by completing coursework at the Poynter Institute. A natural transition from journalism, Platenburg works as a public relations and media consultant. Her clients have included political candidates, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
While she loved working in the field full time, she wanted to expand her mass communication contributions through teaching and research. Since arriving at UM, Platenburg has taught courses on media writing, public relations writing and mass communication theory and effects.
Her research interests include the black press; media history; black identity; and pop culture. Her co-authored research has been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Black Studies. She has also presented her work at regional conferences for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the American Journalism Historian Association and the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Her dissertation focused on the intersection of black identity, framing theory and media.
Born and raised in Houston, Platenburg is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. When she is not teaching, she enjoys blogging, watching TV, trying new restaurants and spending time with family, friends and her two terriers–Whitley and Sadie.
Mr. Brook Pruitt
Assistant Professor of Mass Communication
Strong Hall 132
Brook Pruitt is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Montevallo. He holds an MSMC from Arkansas State University and an MFA in Digital Filmmaking from the University of Central Arkansas.
Mr. Pruitt has worked for Clear Channel, Raycom, and Nexstar in Commercial Television News production. He has experience as a Production Assistant, Master Control Operator, Studio Camera Operator, Live Truck Technician, Photojournalist, ENG Camera Operator, Audio Technician, Lighting Technician, and Editor. He has also had Independent Contracts for various positions on College Football productions for ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports South, and Comcast. He is a member of the Broadcast Education Association and the National Broadcasting Society. He is a Scriptwriting judge for BEA’s Festival of Media Arts, which is the world’s largest Digital Media and Broadcast competition for students and faculty. He is also certified as an Adobe Premiere Pro Expert; currently, there is only one other person in the state of Alabama certified in this type of editing software.
He teaches Introduction to Media Production, Video Field & Post Production, Audio Engineering, Video Engineering, Advanced Media Writing, Principles of Lighting, Producing Video in the TV Studio, and Multimedia Videojournalism.
Mr. Pruitt is married to Olga and they have four cats: Lana, Felix, Meenuch, & Pelos.
Mrs. Darlene Littleton
Administrative Assistant II
Strong Hall 117