UNC Hussman faculty members appointed to professorships

Six UNC Hussman faculty members were recently selected for prestigious professorships in the school. There are a total of 16 such professorships that have been established to enable the school to recruit and retain top faculty talent and honor distinguished alumni and former faculty.

Professor Heidi Hennink-Kaminski, who serves as UNC Hussman’s senior associate dean for graduate studies, is now the Hugh Morton Distinguished Professor in the school. Hennink-Kaminski teaches marketing, social marketing and strategic communication courses. Her research focuses on interdisciplinary health communication with an emphasis on the social marketing approach to promote healthy behaviors among individuals and communities. The distinguished professorship — established by Julia Morton — honors her husband’s contributions to the state of North Carolina. A UNC alumnus, Morton became an award-winning photographer and the owner and operator of Grandfather Mountain. The professorship is designated to support a distinguished scholar and teacher at the full professor level.

Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss is the school’s Edgar Thomas Cato Distinguished Professor. Kreiss, who teaches courses in research methods and political communication, researches the impact of technological change on the public sphere and political practice. He is also an investigator for the UNC Center for Information, Technology and Public Life — a collaboration with the School of Information and Library Science, the Center for Media Law and Policy and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Cato Distinguished Professorship honors journalist Edward Cato, who attended Carolina from 1942 to 1944 before serving two-and-a-half years in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during World War II. Cato resumed his studies in 1946 and went to work for the Associated Press, The Durham Morning Herald (now The Herald-Sun) and later for the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomatic attaché. 

Associate Professor Allison Lazard is the E. Reese Felts Jr. Distinguished Associate Professor for a 2-year term. Her research focuses on how visual and interactive design influences message perception and engagement. She has made a number of theoretical and empirical contributions to interdisciplinary health communication, including for perceptions and impact of health campaigns and interactive interventions. Her educational and professional experiences combine to give her a unique research agenda that contributes to a larger body of theoretical knowledge in advertising, visual communication and health communication. She is a leader in cancer prevention and support research, and has contributed to multiple projects within the UNC-Chapel Hill and broader North Carolina communities. She is leading a health communications initiative focused around COVID-19 messaging, working with UNC Gillings and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The Felts Professorship honors UNC Hussman 1952 alumnus E. Reese Felts Jr., a prominent broadcaster who worked for nearly 30 years as a radio and television broadcaster with WSJS (now WXII) in Winston-Salem. Felts’ bequest established the Reese Innovation Lab at the school and funds the term professorship to reward and incentivize innovative young faculty.

Associate Professor Trevy McDonald steps into a two-year term as the Julian Scheer Term Associate Professor. McDonald teaches courses in diversity and media, electronic communication and media and society. Her research focuses on media socialization, audience studies, oral history and race and gender. McDonald also serves as the school’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Scheer Term Professorship was created in 1993 to reward great teaching in the school and to honor Scheer, a UNC alumnus, communications consultant, businessman and journalist. Scheer began his writing career at age 13, when his father died and he apprenticed himself to a chain of weekly newspapers. He served in the Merchant Marines and later in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He also ran a national newspaper feature service based in Chapel Hill called The Scheer Syndicate, reported for The Charlotte News and led public affairs for NASA. He then worked as Terry Sanford’s spokesman during the former N.C. governor’s presidential campaign in 1976. In addition to his many government and corporate roles, Sheer was a founder of Algonquin Books, a Chapel Hill-based publishing company; and a trustee of the National Air and Space Museum.

Professor Seth Noar becomes the James Howard and Hallie McLean Parker Distinguished Professor in the school. Noar is a national leader in research around health communication, particularly how to harness traditional and new media to promote healthy behavioral changes among individuals and communities. His research has recently been focused primarily on cancer prevention and messaging to promote tobacco cessation. Noar has earned numerous federal grants to support his work.

The professorship was established by Stewart Parker, a biotechnology industry executive, to honor her parents, both UNC alumni. Hallie Parker earned her master’s degree in history at Carolina and served her community as a schoolteacher and through her extensive volunteer work. James Parker graduated from UNC Hussman in 1949 and established a journalism career in reporting, management and publishing for community newspapers in North Carolina.

Professor Terence Oliver is now the school’s Walter Spearman Distinguished Professor. Oliver — who teaches courses in motion graphics, information graphics, magazine design and graphic design — is a pioneer in the field, winning more than 50 awards from prestigious industry organizations for his creative work. He played key roles in two Pulitzer Prize-winning projects: the Question of Color series at the Akron Beacon Journal, and the Hurricane Andrew series at the Miami Herald. He has attracted grant funding to advance his innovative visual communication work.

The professorship honors Spearman, a legendary professor who served the school and its students from 1937 to 1980. Spearman’s former students and other alumni, friends, journalists and media organizations across the country established the professorship in 1987 — the year Spearman passed away. Oliver follows in the tradition of Spearman Professors such as Chuck Stone and Jan Yopp, as top professionals at the heart of the school’s teaching, research and public service mission.