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Wheatley Center 307

Foundations for Success

The school offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in a broad range of fields. Underlying them all is a focus on designing information in a way that makes an impact -- whether on a Web page, through a well-designed computer network, on TV, or in a CEO's speech.

Students can take advantage of our top-notch facilities and laboratories and get their creativity flowing at Colonial Theatre, RMU-TV, the student newspaper or poetry anthology, and even on an overseas shoot with the Center for Documentary Production and Study.

The university’s focus on communication and business skills gives graduates an advantage in the job market. Internships and co-ops with Bayer, ESPN, Questec and many others prepare our students for professional life. And each student enjoys the small class sizes and personal attention that make RMU a special place to learn.

What else makes us special?

  • BS Information Sciences and Computer Information Systems degrees accredited by the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission
  • Fully equipped TV studio, converged newsroom, digital editing bays, and campus radio station
  • The country's first IT project management master's degree
  • A dedicated living-learning facility for professional visiting artists, filmmakers, designers, and photographers
  • Exec-friendly doctorate in information systems and communications
  • Six integrated 5-year B.A./B.S. and M.S. programs in computer information systems and communication fields
  • Full access to an IBM zEnterprise EC-12 mainframe server

SCIS News and Updates

RMU Sentry Media Students Recognized with Pittsburgh Black Media Federation Award

Photo: Carrie Moniot

Three RMU Sentry Media students have won an award from the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation.

Ian Kist (pictured above), Sam Anthony and Mike Simkovic were honored for their story about new Robert Morris University head football coach Bernard Clark. Kist wrote the story; Anthony was the photographer; and Simkovic was the videographer.

The trio received the Robert L. Vann Award of Excellence in the Online Media/Sports Feature category.

Department of Communication Students Shine at End-of-Year Celebration
Students in SCIS' Department of Communication are receiving plenty of accolades. Many of those students are graduating on May 6.

Megan DeArmit, Tabitha Ishman and Zach Kaiser (pictured above) were three of 13 students to receive the university's Signature Leadership Award. The other recipients were Joseph Babcanec, Justin Boyette, Jordan Curry, Alison Decker, Alana Hiner, Justin Mayfield, Andrew Miller, Vincent Passerini, Kennedy Richey and Monet Wade.

Carly Phillips (above) was recognized for her work as an Orientation Leader. Carly is a junior.

Danielle and Michelle McGuire (above) received the Ambassador of Equality Award.

Media Arts Department Offers One-Night Only Exhibition of Advanced Digital Photography Work

If you plan to catch "MF/AF," then you're going to need to clear your April 27 calendar.

From 6-8 p.m., the Wheatley Center gallery will display some of the best student work from the Media Arts Advanced Digital Photography class that is wrapping up this week.

Work from Leeanne Conway, Delaney Hoolahan, Allen-Michael Mcduffie, Shelby Mengel, Noah Simpson and Jordan Thompson will be displayed.

Media Arts Department Putting Final Touches on
Annual "Spring Senior Showcase"
The RMU Media Arts department offers its graduating seniors one final opportunity to display some of their best work before they graduate in a few weeks.

The annual "Spring Senior Showcase" begins Tuesday, April 17, with an opening reception and then an awards ceremony. The reception begins at 4:30 p.m. with the awards program starting at 5:30 p.m. The event takes place in the Media Arts Gallery located on the first floor of the Wheatley Center.

The exhibit includes work from students in Digital Cinema and Television, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, and Photography.

The exhibition remains open through May 5. The gallery is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

RMU's Advertising Club Visits Top Pittsburgh Agency
The RMU Ad Club toured the offices of Brunner, a Pittsburgh ad agency, in early April.

"Getting an opportunity to visit an agency is an invaluable experience for our students," Dr. Chad Wertley said.

Wertley is an assistant professor in SCIS' Department of Communication and the club's faculty adviser.

"Learning about the day-to-day activities of professionals in various positions within an agency opens our students eyes to how classroom activities connect to the real world, and the career path that best suits them. Students left the visit inspired and energized," he added.

Brunner recently gained national acclaim for its award-winning 2017 Super Bowl commercial for 84 Lumber.

Kayla Carbert, the Ad Club president, organized the visit, which included nine students and Wertley. 

The group met with three employees, who each discussed their professional roles. Those employees serve as copywriters, public relations specialists, and social media strategists within Brunner.

RMU Sentry Media, RMU Radio, and RMU TV Big Winners in
SCJ National Competition

RMU Sentry Media, RMU Radio, and RMU TV students won 17 awards during the recent Society for Collegiate Journalists national competition.

The 17 awards are the most in the university’s history.

“This is an incredible honor for our students, and it reflects the commitment of the faculty and the staff at the Academic Media Center to prepare students for 21st century careers,” AnnMarie LeBlanc, the Dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems, said.

The awards included:


RMU Radio, First Place Internet Radio Overall Excellence

RMU Sentry Media, Second Place Online News Website Overall Excellence

RMU-TV Staff, Second Place Television News Show Overall Excellence 


Logan Carney, First Place Sports Columns

Tori Flick, First Place Cartoon Strips and Panels

Zach Laufer and RMU-TV, First Place Television Sports Package

Megan Shandel, Second Place Cartoon Strips and Panels

Brittany Mayer and Katey Ladika, Third Place Multimedia News Story

Samuel Anthony, Morgan Torchia & Mike Evans, Third Place Multimedia Feature Story

Samuel Anthony, Morgan Torchia & Mike Evans, Third Place Multimedia Sports Story

Morgan Torchia, Third Place Photo Slideshow

Katey Ladika, Third Place Sports Photography

Gage McCall, Third Place Cartoon Strips and Panels

Tori Flick, Third Place Graphic Illustrations

Maura Linehan & Katey Ladika, Honorable Mention Features

Logan Carney, Honorable Mention Sports Columns

Tori Flick, Honorable Mention Graphic Illustrations

Convergence is alive and well at RMU Sentry Media. Every single day you’ll find our Communication and Media Arts students in the newsroom, the radio station or the television studio,” student media adviser Carrie Moniot said.

“They’re taking what they have learned in their classrooms and experienced in their internships or other professional settings and applying those skills. They’re a talented, smart group of young men and women.”

The awards represented work the students completed during the 2017 calendar year.

To learn more about RMU’s student-led media, visit


RMU Colonial Theatre Production Recognized by Kennedy Center
RMU's Colonial Theatre's recent production of 45 Plays for 45 Presidents has earned multiple awards from the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. 

The following students received Certificates of Merit from KC/ACTF:
Allison Wentzel - Flag Choreography
John Proper - Fight Choreography
Beth Barbis - Theatre Photography
Ensemble - Outstanding Ensemble Work

Wentzel is a junior. She is studying communications with a concentration in advertising and a minor in theatre. Proper is a senior studying media arts. Barbis, a junior, also is studying media arts.

"Words can not express how proud I am of the cast of 45," Wentzel said. "It was my first time choreographing a flag routine for more than one person and it was definitely a challenge. I’m glad it paid off."

Prof. Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre directed the RMU production.

"I am thrilled that KC/ACTF noticed and awarded Allison and John for their work," she said. "I encourage theatre students to tackle leadership artistic roles in my productions, and while I was already very pleased with their results to have them recognized by KC/ACTF tells me that RMU Colonial Theatre is going in the right direction."

Barbis is one of five photography students recently named finalists in the Photographer's Forum 38th Annual College and High School Photography Contest.

"Barbis is the most talented theatre photographer I have ever worked for," Burgess-Lefebvre noted. "I am so glad that she was in my honors HUMA class as a freshman and I invited her to take photos of my show that semester. The result has been dynamic shots that not only capture the show but provide another way to look at the production."

You can access a PDF of the program, which includes the entire cast, here.
RMU's Media Arts Department to Host Veteran
New York Times
and Guardian Graphics Editor

RMU's Media Arts Department welcomes veteran graphics editor Troy Griggs to campus.

is a graphics editor at the New York Times, where he previously held multiple roles including designer/developer and special projects editor.

Griggs also was a special projects editor for the Guardian in London.

He started his journalism career in Florida at the Gainesville Sun, after a brief stint as a graphic designer for a public relations firm in Tallahassee.

Griggs will be on campus April 10. His presentation takes place in the Wheatley Center Atrium, from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.
"Seussical" at RMU's Massey Theatre

Escape the weather...
Or get out of the sun
Head over to RMU...
And do have some fun.

RMU's Theatre...
Of the Colonial kind...
Presents the great Seussical...
If you don't mind.

Tickets are cheap...
The show, it is not.
Go watch the actors...
Give all they've got.

I cannot resist...
A little hi-jink.
So do say it with me...
"Oh, the thinks you can think!"

RMU's Department of Media Arts Ready to Unveil the "Gold Show"

It is the signature event for graduating students in RMU's Department of Media Arts: the Gold Show.

The Gold Show represents the best work of the senior class. Selected by the department faculty, the items in the Gold Show come from Foundations, Graphic Design, Interactive Design, Digital Cinema and Television, and Photography.

The opening reception takes place March 20 in the Wheatley Center gallery and runs from noon-2 p.m.

The exhibition will be open through April 6.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
RMU Sentry Media Delivers Live Election Night Coverage

RMU Sentry Media is once again covering politics live.

On March 13, a team of approximately 30 RMU students, almost all of whom are in the School of Communications and Information Systems, will deliver a live program covering the special 18th Congressional District election.

The special election matches Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. The winner will replace Tim Murphy, who resigned last year.

"Election night coverage has become a tradition at RMU," said Gage Goulding, a sophomore Communication major, who is the executive producer on the program. "We analyze the results, talk about the campaigns with student political leaders on campus and assess what the election means for the state and the country."

You can watch the live coverage here.

The New King of Memphis?

John Klocko was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He went to high school in Pittsburgh. He graduated from RMU.

He's soon to call Memphis home.

"When I interviewed at FOX 13 News in Memphis to be the assignment manager, I knew I might be opening a new personal and professional door," Klocko said. "Pittsburgh is home and always will be, but the chance to do something different was too good to pass up."

Klocko starts his new position on April 2.

"It was important to me that I stayed in the COX television family," he said. "I've been at WPXI for almost five years, and I know that COX is a great company that cares about its employees and likes to promote from within."

Klocko graduated from RMU in 2014 with a degree in Communications. When one of his professors learned of the news, he was not surprised.

"John is one of those great guys," Dr. Anthony Moretti said. "If you could imagine someone you'd love to be your next door neighbor, he's that guy. Memphis is going to love him."

Moretti remembered the first time he met Klocko. "It was at a summer high school journalism workshop. His humility and kindness was evident for everyone to see," Moretti said. "It was obvious he also had the talent to succeed in television news."

Klocko wants his Pittsburgh friends to know that he'll be rooting for the same black-and-gold professional teams in his new home. And he'll be recruiting Colonials to join him.

RMU Photography Students Finalists for Prestigious Awards
Photo: Beth Barbis
Five students who are studying photography in RMU's Department of Media Arts were named finalists in the Photographer's Forum 38th Annual College and High School Photography Contest.

The students are Bethany Barbis, Katey Ladika, Dominique Murray, Carmen Swasey and Jordan Thompson. Their work will be published in the Best of College and High School Photography 2018.

Barbis' photo of a woman in a black tank top with water flying from her hair received honorable mention among the judges; only 100 images received this designation.

Over 12,000 photographs were submitted by student photographers in the United States, Canada and around the world.


English Grad Remembers Two Faculty Who Opened Doors to Success

Heidi R. Lewis (nee Freeman) graduated from RMU with a degree in English in 2003. Today, she’s director and tenured assistant professor of Feminist and Gender Studies at Colorado College.

As Dr. Lewis reflects on her journey from undergraduate student to university faculty member, she points to RMU’s Dr. Connie Ruzich as one of her mentors.

“Just before I changed my major for the seventh and final time, Dr. Ruzich said, ‘You should consider either being a middle school teacher or a college professor.’ That thought never crossed my mind and no one ever thought or bothered to put it there.”

When Ruzich was asked to share her thoughts on what Lewis was like then, she pulled out the letter she wrote in 2003 when she nominated Lewis for RMU’s Outstanding Student Award.

“Her commitment to education has always been connected to her care for others, while developing her own healthy independence,” Ruzich wrote. “She is thoughtful and creative, a student who generously shares her great energy and enthusiasm with the campus community.”

And what does Ruzich think of those words today? “I really don't remember a student who was more devoted to mentoring and uplifting others, with a smile and a hint of sass,” she said.

Once that professor idea entered Lewis’ mind, it never left. Soon, another important figure from RMU entered Lewis’ life.

“As I was considering my post-graduation plans, Dr. Rex Crawley organized a trip to Ohio University for a number of Black students at RMU, including myself,” Lewis said.

The trip was designed to encourage those students to consider graduate study. Impressed by what she saw, Lewis enrolled at Ohio and got her M.A. in English Literature two years later. In much the same way that Ruzich had opened the door to teaching, Lewis said Crawley opened the door to post-graduate work.

“He is another faculty at RMU who saw in me what I wasn’t able to see in myself back then, and for that, I will be eternally grateful,” Lewis said.

Lewis highlighted many important in- and out-of-class experiences at RMU, including the four work-study jobs she had. And then there was that one class that really stuck with her.

“I took Dr. Ruzich’s African-American Literature course the first time it had been offered at the university,” Lewis said. “It may be hard for people to believe, but I didn’t realize back then that Black experiences and cultural production were something one could study in college. I’d even go so far as to argue that I had been convinced my people weren’t worthy of intellectual commitment and study.”

Lewis eventually took the final academic step in her journey when she enrolled in the American Studies doctoral program at Purdue University. She completed that program in 2011, but she’d already accepted a faculty position at Colorado College.

“I had to keep reminding myself that I had, in fact, earned a Ph.D. and that I should be enjoying and celebrating that,” she quipped. “It actually hit me when my Ph.D. came in the mail. At that moment, I was just happy. Proud. Relieved. I really did feel accomplished in ways I never had before.”

Lewis professional life revolves around her teaching and research. Current or former RMU students who have taken a class with Ruzich likely will recognize that Lewis brings the same traits to her classrooms.

“The words they use to describe her are ‘challenging, kind, hilarious, and respected,” Ruzich said. 

Lewis serves an associate editor for The Feminist Wire, which, according to its mission statement, “aims to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally.” Lewis noted that her copy editing, critical reading, and networking skills have sharpened in that position.

If Lewis’ professional journey seems as though it was without any bumps, well, it literally came with two bumps.

Lewis gave birth to her son when she was in the middle of her Master’s program and then her daughter came along just before Lewis started her doctoral program. Lewis said her husband and the kids have been her “biggest support system” and she tries to juggle her daily schedule to make sure she has quality time with each of them.

And someone at RMU is never far from her mind.

“I’m thankful Dr. Ruzich saw in me what I was unable to see in myself at that time, because here I am. It all started with her belief in me.”


Media Arts Graduate's Dreams Are as Big as New York City

You couldn’t blame Karlie Slutiak if she was hesitant to answer her phone when “Rhode Island” appeared on the screen. Yes, she was job hunting, but she had neither applied for a job there nor was interested in moving to that state.

Fortunately for her, she returned the call. Turns out it was Swarovski’s New York City office trying to get in touch with her for a job interview.

“The senior graphic designer eventually interviewed me and said, ‘I think we would really work well together, and I would love to have you as a part of my team,’” Slutiak said. A short time later, as she was walking through Central Park, the offer was made.  

“It is definitely a moment in my life that I will never forget,” Slutiak said. “Landing a job in New York City has always been my dream.” 

Slutiak, who graduated in 2017 with a degree in graphic design, says Swarovski is perfect for her. “I have always been very girly and glitzy, so just the company in general fits well,” she said.

Currently she’s a junior graphic designer, but her ambitions are as big as New York City.

“I want to be the creative director of a company one day,” she said. “It takes time and hard work to get there, but that is something I am willing to take on.”

Slutiak says Ferris Crane, a professor in SCIS’ Department of Media Arts, was her biggest advocate.

“She inspired me to never give up on my dream of getting my job in NYC,” Slutiak said. “She was always there to help, guide and give me the best advice.”

Crane knew from the moment she met Slutiak that she had the “talent, the design passion, a desire for excellence and a tremendous work ethic.”

Crane added: “Karlie’s design journey will be a very interesting and exciting one and I'll be there to cheer her on. We have sewn the seeds of friendship, and I look forward to those seeds growing over a lifetime."

One of Slutiak’s responsibilities is to do the marketing and in-store signage for all Swarovski stores in the U.S. and Canada. So, the next time you walk by one of those stores and some awesome bling calls your name, you know who to thank.


Media Arts Department to Co-host Women's History Month Film Event

March marks Women's History Month, and RMU will host several events over those 31 days.

One of them takes place March 15. A screening of Remember When, a collection of animated short films capturing the intersections of girlhood by filmmakers Sonali Gulati, Lindsey Martin, Destini Riley and Sara Zia Ebrahimi, will be held in the Wheatley Center.


Martin also will take questions from the audience.

The film screening is sponsored by RMU's Women's Leadership and Mentorship Program, University Honors Program and the Media Arts Visiting Artist and Scholar Program.


The event is from 3:30-5:30 in room 110.

The event is free.


SCIS Graduate Wants to Start Spreading the News
Chris Cappella grew up rooting for the New York Mets. So you can imagine how he felt when his phone rang a few weeks ago and he was offered a chance to work for his team.

"I wanted to be professional and calm, but at the same time I'm fighting this urge to shout 'yes!'" Cappella said.

Cappella serves as the team's In-Game Social Media Coordinator, a role that requires him to post timely, relevant and accurate information about the team or one of its players. With spring training underway, Cappella came on board at the perfect time.

"I'm figuring out how many tweets, Facebook messages and other social media channel posts I'll send each day," Cappella said. "Because 26 of the 30 MLB teams have someone acting in this same role, I've got the opportunity to tap into a strong network."

He added that MLB's main offices also provides valuable advice to every social media coordinator.

Cappella graduated from RMU in 2015 with a degree in communication and a concentration in journalism. One of his professors isn't surprised Cappella has the job he has.

"He's a sports geek," Dr. Anthony Moretti said. "When I read his tweet mentioning he was heading to New York, I had one of those 'yup, this is perfect' moments."

Moretti was the instructor for three classes Cappella took at RMU.

"Behind that constant smile and a great attitude is a young man who works hard at what he does," Moretti added. "Chris is a smart guy, and he's going to be a great addition to the Mets' operation."

After graduating from RMU, Cappella began working at the Hanover Evening Sun, in Hanover, PA. Serving as a news reporter, he covered breaking news and crime. After nine months, he moved to the Culpeper Star-Exponent, in Culpeper, VA. He was the paper's sports editor and extensively covered sports. He spent 22 months there.

"I had no interest in leaving where I was," Cappella said. "But for me, the Mets are the Mets. I had to take the job."

Four SCIS Students Attend Prominent Sports Journalism Workshop
L to R: Ian Kist, Logan Carney, Zach Laufer and Sam Anthony.
Photo: Ian Kist

By Ian Kist

I, along with RMU Sentry Media Sports Manager Sam Anthony, RMU Sentry Media Digital Content Manager Zach Laufer, and RMU Sentry Media sports writer Logan Carney, attended the Buster Olney Sports Reporting Workshop. The workshop took place on Feb. 9 and 10 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

We learned more about the sports journalism field and examined ideas to bring back to RMU Sentry Media. We also had opportunities to further our professional careers. The workshop offered networking possibilities with professionals such as ESPN's Buster Olney and Jessica Mendoza, and Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, and we also explored how other collegiate sports journalists did their jobs.

Several of the sessions caught our attention. Sam and Logan attended the “Covering Live Sports Events” session with Joe Gisondi, the author of Field Guide to Covering Sports. They left the session with some great ideas for preparing game recaps.

I found the “Building the Winning Broadcast Resume Reel” to be especially important. It was led by Barry Orr, who teaches at Oklahoma University. Orr gave great insight to constructing a broadcast resume reel and the details that need to be included in one. Orr also gave great advice on how to get into and succeed in sports broadcasting.

After each session, Logan, Sam, Zach and I collaborated on what we learned and new ideas were presented. 

Zach thought the sessions were very informative.

“I liked how the sessions were constructed," he said. "The speakers were very knowledgeable, providing incredible insight from years of experience in the industry.”

Logan also found the workshop to be very useful.

“The reflection was an amazing experience. Not only was I able to meet professionals and spend a weekend in Nashville, but there’s a lot that I took away from it to improve my reporting abilities. I can’t wait to go back next year,” he said.

My goal was to learn new ideas and skills to help my sports journalism/reporting career, and I left Nashville with tons of new information and advice. I know Logan, Sam and Zach did, too.

I highly recommend that RMU students looking for a career in sports journalism and especially sports communication concentration students attend the conference in years to come. It is a good way to further your career and make great relationships with top professionals and students.
Ready to Experience Anonymous Autonomous?
RMU's Department of Media Arts invites the campus and public communities to the opening of "Anonymous Autonomous".

The opening reception takes place on Jan. 30, from noon until 2:00 p.m. in the Wheatley Center. The exhibition will be open through March 2.

"Anonymous Autonomous" is an interactive installation by Visiting Artist-in-Residence Katherine Behar that transforms empty office chairs into driverless cars. Like autonomous vehicles, the chairs have motors, computer vision systems, lidar sensors, and onboard computers. Through the use of robotics, they navigate a floor drawing of road markings, avoiding collisions with each other and with viewers who can engage the chairs’ algorithms by crossing their paths.


Both cars and ergonomic office chairs suggest personal mobility. However, we must be networked together if we want to drive or do office work, making these activities less autonomous than we imagine. Driverless cars are part of a wave of transformative new technologies that utilize automation and algorithmic decision-making. These processes seem at odds with classic American values such as freedom, individualism, and independence, which inspired car culture and the rise of the creative class. 

"Anonymous Autonomous" suggests that the anxiety of anonymity within a vast network may be spreading from the office cubicle to another kind of autonomous “black box”—the driver’s seat.


Department of Media Arts Welcomes First Artist-in-Residence
Katherine Behar; Photo: RMU Media Arts

Katherine Behar is a first, at Robert Morris University that is. 

She's the initial Visiting Artist-in-Residence in SCIS' Department of Media Arts. To help introduce her to the university and public communities, the department will host two events in the coming days.

The first takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 23. During the 12:00 p.m. hour, Behar will deliver a lecture highlighting her professional interests, which explore contemporary digital culture through interactive installation, performance art, public art, photography, and video art. The presentation will take place in the Wheatley Center atrium.

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, Behar will be part of a panel titled "Autonomous Vehicles and Transportation Equity: Plague, Panacea, or Something In Between?" The program spotlights the technological and social considerations in play with the push toward self-driving cars. The program will be moderated by Hyla Willis, a professor in the department of Media Arts, and run from noon until 2:00 p.m. in the atrium.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Behar is an associate professor of new media arts at Baruch College, CUNY, in New York.
SCIS' Media Arts Gallery Announces Spring 2018 Schedule
File photo

The Media Arts Gallery inside the Wheatley Center will be filled throughout the spring semester with creative and artistic works.

Five separate exhibitions are planned inside the space in the coming months. 

The specific hours when the gallery will be open will be announced closer to each exhibition.

The Spring 2018 schedule is listed below.

January 22 – March 2, 2018: Katherine Behar  - Anonymous Autonomous

Opening Reception: Tuesday, January 30, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm


Anonymous Autonomous is an interactive art installation that transforms office chairs into driverless cars. Through the motif of mobility, the project explores how deskilling and automation are undermining classically American values like freedom and individualism that have inspired car culture along with the rise of the creative class.


March 20 - April 6, 2018: Gold Show Invitational

Opening Reception: March 20, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm


The 13th Annual Gold Show features the best student work as selected by the Media Arts Faculty. This exhibit highlights outstanding projects from Foundations, Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Photography and Digital Cinema and Television.


April 17 – May 4, 2018: Spring 2018 Media Arts Senior Showcase

Opening Reception: Tuesday, April 17, 4:30-6:30pm

Awards Ceremony:  5:30pm


Exhibition of the student work by graduating media arts seniors in the program’s four concentrations: digital cinema and television, graphic design, interaction design, and photography


May 7 – May 25, 2018: Fourth Annual Lincoln Park Media Arts Showcase

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 12, 11:00am – 3:00pm  


Students studying Media Arts at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School showcase their best works


May 29 – June 8, 2018: Quaker Valley High School Art Exhibition

Exhibition of student work from graduating seniors at Quaker Valley High School


SCIS Writing Center Open Throughout the Spring Semester

The SCIS Writing Center, located on the first floor of the Wheatley Center, is a resource available to RMU students.

Tutors are happy to work on any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to outlining to drafting to proofreading. It is most helpful when students bring the assignment sheet and their own draft or ideas when they visit.

For the full schedule of hours, information on what students should bring to the Center, or to schedule an appointment, visit

Advocacy vs Lobbying

NOTE: Dr. Anthony Moretti is an associate professor in SCIS' Department of Communication. He's providing a series of first-hand reflections during the first two weeks of January 2018, while he is in Washington, D.C. and serving in a faculty role with The Washington Center's "Inside Washington" academic seminar.

Students attending the “Inside Washington 2018” academic seminar, hosted by The Washington Center, are getting a deep dive into advocacy.

The seminar enters its second week on Jan. 8, 2018, and roughly 115 students from more than one-dozen colleges and universities are in the nation’s capital taking part in the program.

Some people who hear the term advocacy equate it with lobbying. That would be a mistake.

Lobbying involves a concerted effort to influence the legislative decisions made by a political body at state and national levels. Lobbyists can represent for-profit and non-profit businesses. The term itself carries a decidedly negative connotation with the public saying lobbyists lack integrity and an ethical compass.

Advocacy is different. Perhaps oversimplified, advocates disseminate messages about specific programs and policies designed to influence behaviors, attitudes or rules. Generally, but not always, advocacy efforts are undertaken by non-profit agencies. The audience for any advocacy campaign is the general public.

The following example might help clear up any lingering confusion: A lobbyist representing the natural gas industry might push Congress to lessen federal regulations that limit drilling on federal lands, while an advocate would attempt to make the public aware of the environmental benefits that come from the restrictions already in place. For the advocacy group, the status quo might be insufficient, but certainly better than reducing what already is in place.

Why is this distinction important for Robert Morris University students to understand? Any professional field they enter – business, the sciences, nursing, education or communication – will grapple with important policy concerns. Though the lobbying or advocacy taking place on their behalf might be done by others, these men and women must have the skills needed to forcefully and accurately address the issue at hand. RMU’s Communication Skills program provides students with many of those skills, which include the ability to deliver powerful written and oral messages, to organize and present research, and to work well in teams.

As this week unfolds, the students here in Washington will hear from people representing various agencies. The students will be reminded to do what they did during the seminar’s first week: think critically about the messages they are hearing and connect them to ideas, readings, and presentations that align or diverge from what the messenger is saying.

The hope is that more RMU students will be here in the future taking part in programs such as “Inside Washington.”


SCIS Faculty Member Encourages Students 
to Study, Learn in Washington
Dr. Anthony Moretti

NOTE: Dr. Anthony Moretti is an associate professor in SCIS' Department of Communication. He's providing a series of first-hand reflections during the first two weeks of January 2018, while he is in Washington, D.C. and serving in a faculty role with The Washington Center's "Inside Washington" academic seminar.

I’ve heard multiple students in the past say it: “I’m not interested in politics, so The Washington Center is not for me.”

My reply: “You want to be there. You need to be there.”

The Washington Center (TWC) is not just for students aspiring to a career in politics. In fact, a sizable number of students who take part in TWC’s two-week academic seminars or semester-length internship programs will never step into the political arena. Rather, they recognize that TWC adds important elements to their undergraduate experience: professional opportunities, leadership, networking, and cultural enrichment, with all of that and more taking place outside Pittsburgh.

I’m already seeing that in 2018. I’m in Washington this week and next serving as a faculty leader for the annual "Inside Washington" academic seminar hosted by TWC. There are roughly 115 students here; they come from roughly 15 colleges and universities across the country. Their majors include journalism, business, the hard sciences, psychology, sociology, history and, yes, political science.

Unfortunately, none of the students here hails from RMU. In the future, I want that to change.

Keep in mind that RMU has a strong relationship with TWC. In recent years, more than 100 RMU students have taken part in an academic seminar or a semester-length internship offered by TWC. Those students come from a variety of majors: communication, cybersecurity, business and more.

I’m a big believer in getting as many students into a TWC program as possible. If you have specific questions about TWC, please be sure to make an appointment with AnnMarie LeBlanc, the dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems. She serves as the university’s official liaison with TWC. I also can tell you more about TWC. You can find me in the Wheatley Center, where I’m in office 215.

While I’m here, I’ll be sharing on this SCIS webpage some of what’s happening in the seminar. You also should check out TWC’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for photos, videos and personal stories from faculty and students.

As you read and see what’s happening with Inside Washington 2018, please imagine yourself being part of it. Then let’s take the steps needed to get you here!


New Year Brings New Director to SCIS' D.Sc. Program

Dr. Sushma Mishra is the new director of SCIS’ D.SC. program. She succeeds Dr. David Wood, who stepped down at the end of the fall semester.

“My number one priority as the director is to highlight and communicate the value that this program provides to people seeking a terminal degree in an applied field such as information systems,” Dr. Mishra said.

“We have a unique program in terms of balancing rigor and relevance,” Dr. Mishra noted. “The rigor of the program comes from well-designed courses in areas of research design, methods and content that are taught by our dedicated faculty. The relevance of the research comes from the applied nature of problems that professionals seeks to investigate in this program.”

She added that the answers that develop from the research are transferred from the classroom and into the organizational settings where the students work.

“The program is designed for students to succeed,” Dr, Mishra said. “We have one of the highest rates of graduation in this program. Being able to complete course work and individual research in three years requires lot of dedication from students and faculty members. We are able to accomplish this as a team.”

Dr. Mishra said she often is asked by prospective students why a D.Sc. degree might be a better choice than a Ph.D degree.

“In my opinion, D.Sc. program is more applied in nature,” she stated. “Our students are investigating real organizational problems and taking the skills and solutions to their work place to address more relevant issues. This makes our program different as the applicability of knowledge is high and not just a theoretical exercise.”

Dr. Mishra noted that her predecessor set quite the bar as a leader.

“David’s leadership and mentorship encouraged new ideas to be discussed and implemented in the program,” she said. “His dedication to student success has generated goodwill throughout the region.”

AnnMarie LeBlanc is the dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems. She is confident Dr. Mishra will demonstrate the same skills as an administrator that she does as a teacher and scholar.

“I look forward to witnessing Dr. Mishra’s leadership,” Dean LeBlanc said. “Her vision, wisdom and collaborative nature will most certainly enhance the Doctor of Science curricular offerings and add value to the degree.”

Because she is taking over what she called “a fundamentally solid program,” Dr. Mishra doesn’t envision making structural changes. But she does have clear goals in mind.

One is to work with the D.Sc. faculty to explore how the program needs to adjust to ever-changing technology trends. A second is to ensure that relevant current topics are integrated into the curriculum.

Dr. Mishra will continue to teach one D.Sc. course in the fall semester in her new administrative role. She also will teach one Master’s level course in the spring term.

“I have been teaching in this program for few years and have really enjoyed the enthusiasm of all the people involved in making it successful,” she noted.

“I am a firm believer of this program, and I hope all our students are proud of their experiences here and their degrees.”


SCIS Faculty Member Wins $10,000 Grant

Dr. Ping Wang, a professor in the Computer and Information Systems department within the School of Communications and Information Systems, has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant will assist Dr. Wang with the university's application to become a national Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE). That designation is made by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. 

RMU Colonial Theatre Celebrates Past and Present This Weekend

Thornton Wilder's "The Long Christmas Dinner" was the first play performed by the RMU Colonial Theatre.

That was 50 years ago.

This weekend, it returns to the Colonial Theatre stage as part of four one-act plays that celebrate the holiday season.

Three works by Daniel Guyton also are on the program, including "Welcome to Christmas Village", "Second Christmas", and "Christmas on Life Support". 

The performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 at the Massey Theatre.

"Theatre is woven into the fabric of this institution," John Locke said. Locke is the director of Student Activities and Leadership Development at RMU. He is directing the reprisal of Wilder's work.

"Of course, the Massey Theatre wasn't around 50 years ago," Locke joked. 

In fact, from 1967 through 1986, RMU student theatre performances took place inside a barn on campus. 

"That barn burned down in 1986," Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre, a professor of theatre, noted. "But Thomas Gaydos, who directed the theatre efforts back then, wouldn't let that stop him."

​With help from Charles Sewall, who was the university president at the time, theatre found a place inside the Hale Center before moving to its current location​ inside Massey Hall.

"Because the theatre here started with 'The Long Christmas Dinner' exactly 50 years ago, this seemed like the perfect time to celebrate what Gaydos started," Locke said.

The cast for "The Long Christmas Dinner" includes seven current RMU students (Photo courtesy: John Locke) 

"Much like the humble house where the Bayard family holds its Christmas dinners in Wilder's play, Massey Theatre now has an important legacy at RMU even though the students come and go so quickly," Burgess-Lefebvre said. 

Admission this weekend is free, though any donations will be used to fund the Thomas Gaydos Scholarship, which annually is awarded to a RMU student studying theatre.

Fall 2017 Media Arts Students' Showcase Is (Almost) Here
Get ready to enjoy some of the best work created by the graduating seniors in the Department of Media Arts.

The annual fall semester Senior Showcase opens on Dec. 5 with a reception, which begins at 4:30 p.m. An awards ceremony follows at 5:30 p.m.

Student work in graphic design, interaction design, photography, digital cinema, and television will be on display. 

The exhibition runs Dec. 5-18. 

The showcase is housed in the gallery on the first floor of the Wheatley Center. The gallery is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m., and on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m.

SCIS' Department of Media Arts to Host "A Year in the Life of a Documentary Filmmaker"
Rick Minnich has one more university-wide presentation in him. And he's delivering it on Nov. 28.

Minnich has spent the fall semester at RMU as a visiting documentary filmmaker. He's taught a course, held screenings of his works, mentored students in the filmmaking process, traveled to several U.S. cities for his current projects, and taken students to a conference. 

On Nov. 28, he'll present a multimedia reflection of a year in his life. The program begins at 5:15 in Hopwood Hall.

Minnich is an American-born documentary producer and director who has spent nearly 30 years in Germany.

The event is sponsored by the Center for Documentary Production and Study, and the Department of Media Arts. Admission is free. 

SCIS Sponsored "Domestic Display" to be Exhibited Through Dec. 8
RMU's School of Communications and Information Systems is among the sponsors of a powerful exhibition that examines rape culture.

The other university sponsors include the Counseling Center; the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity; and the Office of Student Life. 

"Domestic Display" grew out of Denim Day, an international day that raises awareness of rape culture. Pittsburgh-based STAMPED has organized the sculpture that can be seen at RMU's Rogal Chapel. 

Each time these sculptures are displayed, they are decorated with new jeans. Men and women are invited to write and draw on the jeans to express their concerns about rape culture. The jeans are then placed onto the sculpture.

The exhibit is open until Dec. 8.

Media Arts Professor to Present Research at National Conference
Christine Holtz, a professor in the Department of Media Arts, is heading to Philadelphia. 

She will be presenting her research as part of American Studies, Environmental Studies Working Class Culture Panel “Poison in the Garden: Politics, Industry, and Health” at the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association’s Annual Conference on Nov. 10.

RMU's Ad Club to Host Prominent Local Communicator
RMU's student-led Advertising Club is welcoming David Kelly to the campus.

He will speak at RMU on Nov. 9. Admission is free.

Kelly recently has been honored with a 2017 Communications Art award and with an Addy Award, which is a top recognition in the field.

RMU Visiting Documentary Filmmaker to Discuss "Forgetting Dad"

Imagine this nightmare scenario: A man has a seemingly mild car accident. A few days later he announces he has no idea who he is. He also doesn't recognize anyone around him.

He moves out, marries another woman, and begins a new life. 

"Forgetting Dad" traces what happened when father and son meet 16 years after the father's amnesia. The man still has no memory of his past life. He says to his son, "I'm the new Richard now. Not dad, like you keep calling me." (You can view the trailer here.) 

"Forgetting Dad" was produced by Rick Minnich, who is the visiting documentary filmmaker at Robert Morris University this semester. 

He also is the son mentioned above.

His award-winning film will be shown inside RMU's Hopwood Hall, on Nov. 7. The film begins at 5:30 p.m., and a discussion with Minnich and a panel of health professionals will follow.

The event is organized by the Center for Documentary Production and Study, Media Arts Department, and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Robert Morris University.

The film and the panel session are open to the public.

Admission is free.

RMU's Department of English Leads NaNoWriMo Effort Across Campus 
NaNoWriMo crest, as it appears on the NaNoWriMo website

If you love to write, then NaNoWriMo is for you.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual event throughout the United States that challenges aspiring writers to commit themselves to do what they enjoy.

Each person pledges to write a certain amount of words before the end of November. It's a way to put writing on the top of the to-do list.

Not writing a novel? No problem, because NaNoWriMo at RMU means a bit more.

Dr. Sylvia Pamboukian is the chair of RMU's Department of English. She said, "This event is designed to be both fun but productive. People who love to write will find themselves engaging with people from all across the campus who are doing the same thing."​

The RMU chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, is leading the NaNoWriMo event on campus. And anyone who writes is welcomed to participate. 

This means if academic papers, chapters, or articles are your thing, then you should get involved. 

For more information, or to commit yourself to NaNoWriMo, email

RMU Media Arts Gallery to Showcase High School Students' Work
"Midnight Sky" is one of the many pieces of artwork that will be displayed 
on Nov. 2 and 3, 2017, in the Media Arts Gallery
Photo: Jonah Hoskins, Peters Township High School

RMU's Department of Media Arts has partnered with the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in presenting an exhibition of artwork from several area middle school and high school students, and their teachers.

The two-day exhibition runs on Nov. 2nd and 3rd. The gallery, located in the Wheatley Center, will be open from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 pm. on Thursday and from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Friday.

Each item in the exhibition was reviewed by a jury of artists.

Christine Holtz is a professor in the Department of Media Arts. She explained why this exhibition is important. 

"These students hold such promise for the future, and we're thrilled that they have a chance to display some of their work," she said. "I'm hoping this partnership lasts many years."

As part of the partnership, the Department of Media Arts also will host about 75 area high school students on Nov. 3. The students will participate in a series of workshops led by professionals that focus on photography, design, and video production.

This is the first exhibition in the Media Arts Gallery that has showcased the work of middle school and high school students.

RMU's Lambda Pi Eta chapter inducts 15 new members
Photo: Dr. Heather Pinson

RMU's Lambda Pi Eta chapter inducted 15 new members during its Oct. 30 ceremony. That's one of the largest classes in the chapter's history.

Lambda Pi Eta is the National Communication Association's official honor society for students who attend four-year colleges and universities. Students are invited to join during their junior year.

Alyx Evans is president of the RMU chapter. She said that members are expected to present their academic research on and off the campus. 

Evans added that the chapter previously has organized the Worldwide Book Drive, an effort to send used textbooks to places around the globe where they are desperately needed. It also assists in organizing the university's annual Creativity at Work event. 

RMU Student Media Bring Home Awards
RMU students Morgan Torchia, Delaney Hassell, Tori Flick and Sam Anthony
celebrate RMU-TV's Pinnacle Award, on Oct. 27, 2017. Photo: Carrie Moniot

RMU students brought home three awards from the annual College Media Association fall convention.

RMU-TV received a Pinnacle Award after being recognized as one of the top three student-run television stations.

In the CMA Film Festival, the station's live four-hour coverage of the 2016 presidential election night finished second in the "Video Newscast" segment. And two students finished in third place in the "Long Documentary" category for their program titled "Eugene Morgan: Blues Chronicles from the 'Burgh."

The convention took place from Oct. 25-29 in Dallas, TX.

RMU Will Be Singing the Blues, and You Can, Too

You have an opportunity to enjoy an evening with one of world's great forms of music: the blues.

On Nov. 3, the RMU community and the public are invited to hear two blues performers. Local artist Jill West and Blues Attack along with international "Blues Challenge" performer Pierce Dipner will appear in RMU's Hopwood Hall.

West, called "Queen of the Blues in Pittsburgh," has been to the campus before; Donald Luisi interviewed her earlier this year on his RMU Radio program "Damn Right, I Got the Blues". 

Luisi will host the November program, which includes short documentaries stemming from Luisi's interviews with West and two other blues performers, Eugene Morgan and Bill Weiner.

                                                     Eugene Morgan                                                                             Bill Weiner
                                                     Photos courtesy: RMU Academic Media Center

The November program is sponsored by the RMU Academic Media Arts Center and the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania. 

The program, which runs from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., is free.

SCIS Faculty and Students Attend "Double Exposure" Investigative Film Festival
L to R: Rick Minnich, Trevor Young, Gregory Buchko, Katey Ladika and Brittany Mayer. Photo: Anthony Moretti

Four SCIS students and two faculty are in Washington, D.C. attending the "Double Exposure" Investigative Film Festival.

The festival is hosted by 100 Reporters, a nonprofit investigative news organization that promotes the work of U.S. investigative journalists around the world. A series of panels and documentary films explores all aspects of investigative work. 

Among the topics being discussed at this year's program:
-understanding how to respond to charges of fake news
-protecting anonymous sources 
-cross-sector collaboration in film and journalism
-the Freedom of Information Act

"Our visiting documentary film-maker Rick Minnich told me about the event a few weeks ago," Dr. Anthony Moretti said. "He made it clear that SCIS students would really benefit from hearing from some of the nation's best investigative journalists and documentary film-makers."

Moretti and Minnich are accompanying students Gregory Buchko, Katey Ladika, Brittany Mayer and Trevor Young. 

The festival runs from Oct. 19-22. 

SCIS Faculty Member Earns "Maker of Merit" Awards
Andrew Ames

Department of Media Arts faculty member Andrew Ames won "Maker of Merit" awards during the October 2017 Maker Faire Pittsburgh showcase.

Ames' winning entries were titled "Last Resort" (a picture of which you can see below) and "Argument". More than 100 games were on display for guests to enjoy, and Ames' was one of only a handful of winners.

Photo: Andrew Ames

Two of Ames' students, Tristan Coyle and Ali Cannon, accompanied him to the weekend event.

SCIS' Visiting Documentary Film-maker Sees Overlaps in Film-making and Journalism
Photo: Anthony Moretti

Rick Minnich told students in SCIS' Information Gathering class that the research process for making a film and the research process for journalism share many characteristics.

Minnich, an American-born film-maker who has lived in Germany for more than a quarter century, is a visiting film-maker this semester in SCIS' Department of Media Arts. 

He dissected one of his most recent films, The Bomb Hunters, which details how one German town is methodically locating hundreds of bombs dropped during World War II but which never exploded. In discussing his work, Minnich analyzed several important research characteristics, including having a clear concept of the project; remaining flexible to unexpected areas of exploration; allowing people to tell their stories; and the always critical challenge to respectfully and honestly portray any person in any documentary. He suggested that journalists need to think in similar ways as they prepare longer form, investigative pieces.

Minnich also showed a trailer for a film he's eager to see be completed. The Strait Guys explores a dream that two American men have had for almost three decades: to see a tunnel built that would connect the United States and Russia.

He joked that the film already has cost him more money than any he has ever worked on, but that the passion of the two men -- and especially seeing how the son of one of the men admires his father's tenacity -- does make his investment of time and money worth it.

Traditional Japanese Music and Dance Take Over Wheatley Center
RMU faculty, staff and most especially students were treated to a 75-minute presentation of traditional Japanese music and dance, on Oct. 12.

Approximately 100 people filled the Wheatley Center atrium for the presentation, sponsored by the university's Center for Global Engagement.

Shinojo Nishikawa and her troupe dazzled the audience with examples of various dances. (You can see selected performances here and here.)

By the end of the program, it was the students turn to get involved. After they were shown consecutive parts of one traditional dance, the audience joined with the performers to complete a dance that lasts almost seven minutes.

It's doubtful any RMU student has left any recent class as physically exhausted as those who were at the event. 

PR Society Students Share Their PRSSA Conference Experience
L to R: Brittany McCartney, Jessica Hunnell and Gina Pratt
Photo Courtesy: Gina Pratt

By Gina Pratt and Jessica Hunnell

We and fellow PR Society member Brittany McCartney return to RMU after three information-packed days at the 2017 Public Relations Society of America national convention, which took place in Boston.

We heard from and networked with legends in the public relations and communications industries.

Judy Smith is the CEO and president of Smith Company and co-executive producer of ABC's monster hit, Scandal. The show chronicles how a group of PR professionals try to clean up the scandal-marred images of their clients. Smith addressed the convention, telling the audience how she began her career in crisis management and how she got to where she is today. 

Jonathan Yohannan, who is the Director of Public Relations at Panera Bread, and Sharon Barbano, the Head of Public Relations for Saucony, also discussed current trends in the PR world. 

The convention also had a pronounced real-world component: It was a little more than four years ago that the Boston Marathon was scarred by a domestic terror attack. Heather Abbott is a survivor of that attack; and she told the attendees how she has turned such a horrible act into something good. Abbott, founder of Heather Abbott Foundation, has begun to give back to other amputees by founding an organization that raises funds to give other amputees limbs. 

We also found it critical to discuss how students from other colleges and universities operate their Public Relations Student Society of America chapters. 

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the weekend was hearing the legends in the public relations and communications world tell the students that they'll be best performing at a job if it's something they are truly passionate about. 

A different kind of mystery theater is coming to RMU

RMU students can't be faulted if they want to take a nap every now and then. But SCIS' Department of English wants them to think about NAP.

"NAP: The Ancient and Honorable Order of New American Revolution" invites RMU students (and faculty, too!) to the Massey Theater for an informational meeting on Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Become a member and then the fun really starts!

The society soon will offer clues, hints and (gadzooks!) red-herrings about an on-campus mystery. The entire RMU community will be informed.

Remember, only the best, brightest and most clever of people are offered membership into this organization. 

If you are one of those people and want to learn more, then contact theater professor Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre at 

RMU's Society for Collegiate Journalists Inducts 2017 Class
Photo: Dr. Heather Pinson

RMU's Society for Collegiate Journalists inducted its largest class, on Oct. 9.

Twenty-two students -- almost all of whom are in the departments of Communication or Media Arts -- joined the national organization that advocates for the ethical and professional practice of all forms of journalism.

RMU's provost David Jamison addressed the inductees. He told them that all journalists must remember how important the First Amendment is; it must be supported and defended especially as the national debate about what is truth continues, the provost said.

SCIS dean AnnMarie LeBlanc also spoke to the students. She noted that whether content is distributed through print, broadcast or online means, or if it comes through a photograph or an information graphic, responsibility to self and profession must never be ignored.

The chapter's officers travel to Dallas later this month to participate in the annual fall gathering of the College Media Association. 

SCIS Faculty Member Co-Authors Manuscript on Student Engagement
Dr. Anthony Moretti                                  Dr. Albena Ivanova 

Dr. Anthony Moretti, an associate professor in the Department of Communication, has co-authored a research paper that examined the importance of co-curricular engagement for undergraduate students.

Dr. Albena Ivanova, an associate professor in RMU's School of Business, was the principal author.

Titled "Impact of Depth and Breadth of Student Involvement on Academic Achievement," the paper examined almost 500 Student Engagement Transcripts with the goal of evaluating if there was a relationship between involvement in co-curricular activities and higher grade point average.

"Dr. Ivanova and I found there is indeed a relationship between engagement in co-curricular programs and a strong GPA," Dr. Moretti said. "Our advice to college students is to immerse themselves in up to four meaningful co-curricular categories. Deeper involvement is better than wider involvement."

The paper appears in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice.

Media Arts Gallery's October exhibition "Start With Art" Enjoys Great Opening Weekend
Smiles, handshakes and plenty of congratulations were evident as the SCIS Media Arts Gallery hosted its "Start With Art Pittsburgh: A Retrospective" opening, on Oct. 5.

The exhibition highlights 36 artists, poets, writers and photographers whose works have been gifted to almost 10,000 babies and their families throughout Pittsburgh since 2015. It was curated by Matthew Conboy, an adjunct professor in the Department of Media Arts. 

The gallery's co-coordinator is Christine Holtz, who is a professor in the Department of Media Arts. She provided the photo essay you can enjoy below.

The exhibit runs through Oct. 27. The gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

The gallery is located on the ground floor of the Wheatley Center.

Photos: Christine Holtz

RMU's Chapter of Society for Collegiate Journalists to Induct Largest Class
Photo: Anthony Moretti
Twenty-two Robert Morris University students -- almost all studying in the departments of Communication or Media Arts -- will be inducted into the university's chapter of the Society for Collegiate Journalists (SCJ). 

The induction ceremony begins at 6:00 p.m. on Oct. 9 and takes place in the Wheatley Center Atrium. University provost David Jamison and SCIS dean AnnMarie LeBlanc will address the inductees. 

The 22 students mark the largest cohort in the chapter's history.

"The chapter's student leaders deserve the credit," Dr. Anthony Moretti, an associate professor in the Department of Communication and the co-adviser for the RMU chapter, said. "From the first day of the semester, they were telling the new and returning students that being involved in SCJ was critical to their role as a journalist or content creator."

SCJ was founded in 1975, when two college journalism organizations merged. Operating on more than 100 college campuses, SCJ promotes ethics in all forms of journalism, supports First Amendment initiatives, and strengthens student media.

SCIS' Wheatley Center to Host Traditional Japanese Dance Group
RMU faculty, staff and students will want to be in the Wheatley Center atrium on Thursday, Oct. 12.

Beginning at 12:30 p.m., dance master Shinojo Nishikawa and her troupe will perform traditional Japanese dances that date back four centuries. The program runs 75 minutes.

RMU students who attend can receive SET credit (arts portfolio). 
SCIS' Media Arts Gallery Prepares to Celebrate "Start With Art"
Aaron Blum's "Mist Over The Ohio" is one of the images that will be displayed
at the SCIS Media Arts Gallery during the "Start With Art" exhibition. 
Photo courtesy: Aaron Blum and RMU

SCIS' Media Arts Gallery, located inside the Wheatley Center, is the place to be this week. 

The gallery hosts the opening night of its month-long "Start With Art" exhibition on Thursday, Oct. 5. The celebration runs from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

"What makes this exhibit so important and special is that these photos and items are in the homes of families all across the area," Christine Holtz, a professor in the Department of Media Arts and the co-coordinator of the Media Arts Gallery said. "We tend to think of art as belonging in a museum, but this exhibit proves it can have special meaning."

The exhibition, titled "Start With Art Pittsburgh: A Retrospective", is curated by Matthew Conboy, an adjunct professor in the Department of Media Arts. It includes 36 artists, poets, writers and photographers whose works have been gifted to almost 10,000 babies and their families throughout Pittsburgh. 

The program began in 2015. 

The exhibit runs through Oct. 27. The gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

A full list of artists and artworks can be found at

SCIS Faculty Earn Best Paper Awards at Academic Conference

Dr. Sun-A Park                                                  Dr. Ping Wang

Drs. Ping Wang and Sun-A Park have been recognized for research that will be presented at the 2017 International Association for Computer Information Systems (IACIS) conference.

The conference takes place Oct. 4-7 in Philadelphia. 

Dr. Wang, a professor in SCIS' Department of Computer and Information Systems, earned the Best Paper Award - Pedagogy, Honorable Mention for "A Constructive Team Project Model for Online Cybersecurity Education," a paper he authored with Dr. Raed Sbeit, a senior manager at Verizon.

"The study suggests that an effective online team project model can enable students to succeed both individually and as a team," Dr. Wang said.  

Dr. Wang and Dr. Park co-authored "Communication in Cybersecurity: A Public Communication Model for Business Data Breach Incident Handling." That paper received Best Paper Award - Research, Honorable Mention.

Dr. Park is an associate professor in SCIS' Department of Communication. 

"Our research has valuable implications on corporate communication with various publics, such as stakeholders, customers, media, and industry regulation authorities, as part of cybersecurity incident response and handling," Dr. Wang said. 

Dr. Park added, "Our case study of the massive Yahoo data breaches indicates that the timing of incident response may be more important than the communication strategies in shaping public perception on the company’s incident handling responsibility and subsequently the company’s reputation." 

"I am immensely proud of the SCIS faculty for their commitment to teaching, research and service," AnnMarie LeBlanc, the SCIS dean said. "The honors bestowed by this international organization of their peers is testimony to the quality of Dr. Wang and Dr. Park’s scholarly endeavors. Together with their colleagues, I congratulate them."

Dating to 2012, faculty in RMU's Department of Computer and Information Systems have been honored with paper awards at four of the six IACIS conferences. 
Don't Cry For Me...Robert Morris?

One of theater's most recognized musicals is coming to RMU.

Beginning Sept. 27 and running through Oct. 1, Evita will be performed at the Massey Theater on the RMU campus. 

The musical traces the life of Eva Peron, who rose rapidly from an actress to the most powerful woman in Argentina. She was the country's First Lady for six years before her death in 1952. She was only 33 years old.

Dr. Ken Gargaro, a theater professor at RMU, is the show's director.

The cast includes about one-dozen RMU students.

The Sept. 27-Sept. 30 shows begin at 7:30 p.m. The Oct. 1 show begins at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for RMU students. 

SCIS Senior Honored as "Rising Star Award" Recipient
RMU President Christopher Howard presents the Rising Star Award to SCIS student
Megan DeArmit, on Sept. 15, 2017.

RMU senior Megan DeArmit, a student in the School of Communications and Information Systems, has received the university's "Rising Star Award."

The award is presented to a graduating senior who demonstrates academic success, individuality, determination, passion, and potential in his or her field of study.

DeArmit is studying public relations, and also pursuing a minor in political science.

DeArmit's accomplishments at RMU are numerous. A partial list is included here:

-Class of 2018 president
-Panhellenic Council president
-Student Program Board vice-president
-Women's Leadership and Mentorship Program mentor
-Lambda Phi Eta Communication Honor Society member

"I am grateful to the university for the ways it has changed my life," DeArmit noted. "I've made lifelong friends, traveled the world, and grown both professionally and personally. 

"This award allowed me to thank university donors for their generosity and tell them about the incredible opportunities so many students like me have been given because of their support." 

DeArmit, who is from McCandless, PA., is planning a career in political communication and media law.
RMU President Christopher Howard Congratulates Students Honored at Recent Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards
RMU President Christopher Howard speaks to students in the Sentry Media
newsroom, on Sept. 19, 2017. Photo: Anthony Moretti

RMU President Christoper Howard visited the Sentry Media news room to recognize the students honored at the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards.

The group, led by program producer Dylan McKenna, was recognized for live coverage of the RMU-Bryant men’s basketball game, The students were nominated in the "Sports: Live Event" category. 

The president reminded the students that their achievement is another example of the university's commitment to ensuring students succeed inside and outside the classroom. 

L to R; Morgan Torchia, Sam Anthony, RMU President Christopher Howard,
Dakota Lamb and Zach Laufer celebrate the production award won at the recent MId-Atlantic
Emmy Awards, on Sept. 19, 2017. Photo: Anthony Moretti.

He also noted that a separate group of students won awards last year for their coverage of his induction as the university's 8th president. "I wasn't going to do another inauguration so you could win again!' he joked.
Top Secret Colonials' Hurricane Relief Effort a Big Success

RMU students Brian Wright and Victoria Clark were two of the Top Secret Colonials helping
to deliver non-perishable items to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, on Sept. 12. Photo: Dr. Karen Paullet

The Top Secret Colonials' public mission is complete.

The student club, which highlights the importance of cyber security, kept loading one item after another into a U-Haul truck outside the Wheatley Center, on Sept. 12. 

They then delivered all of it to the Chartiers Valley Fire Dept, which is transporting the items to Texas to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

"The generosity of the RMU and surrounding community was unbelievable," Dr. Karen Paullet said. She is an associate professor in the School of Communications and Information Systems and the faculty adviser for the club.

"We were able to see people come together to support people in need," she added. "Students, faculty, alumni, and local businesses contributed to the efforts."

The items collected by the Top Secret Colonials are prepared to be loaded to a tractor-trailer
for delivery to Texas, on Sept. 12: Photo: Dr. Karen Paullet

The Top Secret Colonials collection began soon after RMU faculty and students returned to campus at the end of August. The organization holds at least three charity events during the academic year, Paullet noted. 

And as for trying to repeat this humanitarian effort for the victims of Hurricane Irma throughout the Caribbean and Florida?

"We'll wait to see the need for the Irma victims before making a decision," Paullet said.
Ten Robert Morris University students honored at the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards

Ten Robert Morris University students were winners at the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards, which took place Saturday night in Hershey, PA.

The group, led by program producer Dylan McKenna, was recognized for live coverage of the RMU-Bryant men’s basketball game, which was played on Jan. 21, 2017, at the Sewall Center.The students were nominated in the "Sports: Live Event" category.

“It was amazing to win for the second year in a row,” McKenna said. “We’ve come so far since we released the program two years ago, but none of it would be possible without the great people that make up our team.”

The award recipients include:
  • Dylan McKenna, Producer
  • Dakota Lamb, Director
  • Zach Laufer, Technical Director
  • Morgan Torchia, Replay
  • Alex Balenciaga, Graphic Designer
  • Tori Flick, Graphics Operator
  • Nick Milliron, Close Follow
  • Vince Russo, Play-by-Play
  • Dontae Pearson, Color Commentary
  • Sam Anthony, Sideline Reporter
RMU also was nominated in two other categories. A total of 22 current or former students were up for awards.

“I’m so proud of all the students that we work with. They’re exceptionally good, and they deserve all the honors that they get,” Carrie Moniot, student media advisor, told RMU Sentry Media.

Left to right: Dakota Lamb, Dylan McKenna, Tori Flick, Nick Milliron, Morgan Torchia, Zach Laufer, Sam Anthony.
Photo courtesy of RMU Sentry Media

SCIS Faculty Member Interviewed About Equifax Hack

SCIS faculty member Dr. Karen Paullet was interviewed by KDKA-TV on Sept. 7, 2017, about the the need for consumers to be ever vigilant about their credit cards and other personal information.

Paullet's remarks stemmed from the recent announcement by Equifax that it had been hacked. The company estimates that the data of more than 140-million Americans might have been breached.


Award-winning documentary filmmaker to spend fall semester at RMU

Rick Minnich, in center with white shirt, will spend the fall semester at RMU as a visiting documentary filmmaker
Dr. Helena Vanhala, chair of the Department of Media Arts at RMU, led a group of faculty, staff and students in welcoming to campus Fall 2017 visiting documentary filmmaker Rick Minnich. The welcoming reception took place on Sept. 5, 2017, in the SCIS Atrium of the Wheatley Center.

Minnich will spend the fall semester at RMU sharing his knowledge of the documentary filmmaking process with RMU students and the community.

Minnich is a California native who moved to Germany more than 25 years ago. There, “I fell in love with a beautiful German woman and we had lots of beautiful babies, and I never left,” Minnich said. But the chance to return to the U.S. and to undertake this visiting documentary filmmaker role at the Center for Documentary Production & Study and the Media Arts Department was too good to pass up, he added.

Dr. Helena Vanhala welcomes visiting documentary filmmaker Rick Minnich to campus; photo: Anthony MorettiMinnich discussed several of his previous and current works, including “Forgetting Dad”, a 2008 film that explored how Minnich’s father lost his memory at age 45. “It’s a lot like a medical crime drama,” Minnich told the audience.

Along with his teaching and documentary plans this semester, Minnich also will host a “Films You’ve Gotta See” series on campus. The programs will be held on Thursdays, beginning this week on Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the basement level screening room at the Snee Reinhardt House for the Media Arts, in Colonial Village. 

To learn more about Minnich and his work, visit his website. To contact him for class visits or other campus engagement activities, please email