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Research and Accomplishments

By Dan Girolamo

A group of four Marist sports communication students placed second overall at a prestigious undergraduate case study competition at the College Sports Research Institute at the University of South Carolina. The team consisted of Amber Case ('16), Meredith Farrell ('17), Kevin Jones ('17) and Gabrielle Revis ('17). Marist College Center for Sports Communication Director Dr. Keith Strudler served as the team's advisor. The successful finish signaled the fifth consecutive year where a Marist team finished in either first or second place at the competition.

This year's case study competition involved 12 undergraduate teams from various colleges and universities throughout the country. The teams were challenged to devise a social media strategy to help college athletic departments increase and promote alumni engagement. The Marist team wrote a case study, conducted a 10 minute presentation about their paper, and answered questions from a panel of experts in the field of academics and sports administrators.

Case described her experience at the conference as well as what she learned throughout the process.

"I definitely learned a lot from this experience. It was a huge amount of work and a major time commitment to take on during a busy semester, but I would love to do sports communication research in the future," said Case.

Besides the competition, a second group of Marist students presented an original research paper in one of the academic sessions at the event. Led by Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Tim Mirabito, the students investigated how college athletic departments use Twitter during times of crisis. The paper was presented by Frank La Sala ('16) and Stephen Sciacca ('16). Stephen Bowering ('16), Michael Hines ('17) and Matthew Terwilliger ('17) also contributed to the paper.

In only the second academic year since reactivating its charter, the Marist College chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was named the Campus Charter of the Year for Region 1 in 2015. The organization will present the Marist chapter's leaders with the official award certificate at the 2015 Excellence in Journalism conference in Orland, Florida in September.

SPJ's Region 1 encompasses much of the northeastern United States, from Central and Eastern Pennsylvania up through Maine. Other colleges and universities with active chapters in the region include Boston University, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Rutgers University, Syracuse University, Penn State University, and Columbia University.

Rebecca Baker, Region 1 Director of SJP, wrote that the Marist chapter "rose to the challenge and produced a flurry of impressive programs and events that promote SPJ's mission."

In 2014 - 2015, under leadership of chapter President Alex Spiess, '15, Marist SJP brought to campus filmmaker and journalist Sebastian Junger for a screening of his documentary tribute to his friend the late photojournalist Tim Hetherington. SJP also organized newsroom tours of Democracy Now!, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Daily News and hosted a series of grammar and punctuation workshops open to the entire campus.

"This is a traffic and well-deserved honor, which recognizes Marist's journalism students who are already making a difference in the profession," said Assistant Professor of Communication Kevin Lerner, the chapter's faculty adviser.

A group of fourstudents from the Schoolof Communication and theArts, as well one student fromthe School of Management competed and won the People's Choice Award at the 2013 New York State Business Plan Competition, which was held at SUNY Albany College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering on April 26. The students' business plan focused on offering small businesses in the Mid-Hudson area options for social media campaigns that are tailored to their brand. The student team, dubbed Engage, competed in the Social/Non-Profit category.

Presenters had 10 minutes to pitch their ideas to the judges followed by a five-minute question and answer session. Engage was among over 100 other teams from 25 colleges and universities across New York State. The judging panel included over 30 venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, and seasoned entrepreneurs. Prizes included over $150,000 and in-kind prizes.

The winning Marist students developed a non-profit called Engage, a social media agency for small businesses in the Mid-Hudson Valley. The students performed primary and secondary research in order to develop several components for their presentation, including financial projections, a pricing strategy, as well as a case study they executed on Facebook with Rossi's Deli in Poughkeepsie.

The team was composed of Kelly Tranfaglia, '13, and Casey Fisk, '14, Jackie Mucilli, '14, Sam Baines, '14, and Chris Lorenz, '15. Tranfaglia, Fisk, and Lorenz are Advertising majors within the School of Communication and the Arts. Mucilli is a double public relations and advertising major, and Baines is a marketing major in the School of Management. School of Communication and the Arts faculty members Kathy Boyle and LoriBeth Greenan served as faculty advisors for the team.

Seven Marist fash­ion students were awarded $5,000 each in scholarship money from the Fashion Scholarship Fund. The winners this year are Forrest Simms, Lauren Marsiglio, Dana Liu, Nicole Rodgers, Brooke Kristensen, Emily Banas, and Gina Luciano.

The Fashion Scholarship Fund is a nation­al non-profit association made up of in­fluential members of the fashion commu­nity, dedicated to promoting education of the fashion arts and business by granting scholarships to talented students and facilitating internships, mentorships and career programs.

The students attended an awards cer­emony at the Waldorf-Astoria. The Marist designers joined the record 126 college students who received scholarships this year to fund their studies in the fashion industry. Highlights of the event included a musi­cal performance by the original cast of "Jersey Boys" and the presentation of the Future of Fashion Award to designer Jason Wu.

By Jennifer Abbey

Most films take months to create but for four Marist students, they only needed 24 hours.

The students won the Audience Choice Award at the 5th annual "Sleepless in Lake Placid" 24-hour filmmaking com­petition in Lake Placid, N.Y., on June 16 and 17.

For the competition, students Nicholas Sortino, Ryan Rivard, Jon O'Sullivan, and Michael Caiola produced a 10-minute film called "Maybe Tomorrow." They competed against students from SUNY Oswego, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Marist was invited to participate in the competition when another school dropped out. Chair of the Media Arts Department Paula Willoquet-Maricondi assembled the team of students and asked professor Jeff Bass to serve as their faculty sponsor.

"This team of students performed su­perbly and professionally and I was very, very proud of the way they performed," Bass said.

The "Sleepless in Lake Placid" com­petition is part of the Lake Placid Film Forum, which is held each June in the city famous for the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. Students are required to incorporate some part of Lake Placid history into their projects. The Marist team chose to make their main character a figure skater, setting many important scenes in the historical ice rink at the city's Olympic Center.

"We stayed up for 65 hours straight and honestly at one point it didn't feel like 65 hours, everything was moving so fast," said Rivard.

The five student teams cast their films from a pool of actors, some local and some from as far away as New York City. The five films were screened at the ceremony the evening of Friday, June 17 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

"Honestly, the best part was the chemistry between the four of us," Rivard said. "We never had any creative disagreements."

"It's like the X Games of film making," Rivard said. "It's like, all right, go!"

By Jennifer Abbey

Robin Miniter caught the travel bug when she signed on to spend a year in Florence, Italy, as part of Marist's Florence Freshman Experience. Now, after completing her bachelor's de­gree, Miniter is heading abroad again, this time as the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarship to India.

While in India, Miniter will research the development of women's rugby in India, a topic which combines her interests in gender issues, sociology of sport and photography.

"Sports can be a means of limitation as well as of liberation; it all depends on the perspective you take," said Miniter, who majored in communication with a concentration in journalism and minors in global studies and women's studies. "I want to see how women's rugby, a contact sport which is still slowly be­ing accepted in the Western world, is fitting into India's unique, complex social system."

The Fulbright Program, administered by the Institute of International Education, is the flagship international educa­tional exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between people in the U.S. and people in other countries. Annually, the Fulbright Program provides 8,000 grants to students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists in 155 countries to contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Recipients of the prestigious Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

In her proposal for the scholarship, Miniter proposed that the rise of women's rugby in India, a customarily masculine ac­tivity, is indicative of a potential recasting of traditional Indian gender roles. Through the lens of her camera and interviews, she will document the evolution of these changes.

Miniter, whose younger sister was adopted from Nagpur, India, established a personal connection with rugby as a mem­ber of Marist's nationally ranked club team.

"I came to college never having touched a rugby ball and have since then watched the sport grow exponentially within the past few years all over the world," Miniter said.

During her time at Marist, Miniter received recognition for her photography from the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, spearheaded public relations initiatives for the Literary Arts Society (LAS), participated in the Marist Emerging Leaders Program, and served as lifestyles editor, photography editor and staff writer for the college's student newspaper The Circle. She also completed several photography projects as part of her coursework, including one that depicted images of femininity in sport.

"It feels so fitting that this has all come full circle," said Miniter. "My experiences at Marist have not only cultivated my love for travel, but also my understanding of home, my sen­sitivity and respect, and most importantly, an appreciation for the people with whom I've crossed paths, at home and abroad, who've inspired me to stay passionate and keep moving."

By Jennifer Abbey

Grace Buckley, a fashion design major, has always been a fan of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, so when she found out about their fashion competition, she just had to enter. Little did she know she would be the grand prize winner a few short months later.

For the contest, Buckley, had to design a look for the Olsens' Olsenboye collection, a lower priced tween line for JCPenney. She also had to write an essay about why she wanted to win.

The judging process narrowed down looks from all over the country to the top 25. The group was then narrowed down to the top 10, which were then put online for public voting.

"I wasn't expecting to get in the top 10, so when I did I was telling everyone I knew to vote for me every day," Buckley said.

When it came time to find out the grand prize winner of the competition, Buckley saw on the website that she had not won. She decided to call the contact at JCPenney to thank her for the opportunity anyway. But Buckley received more than an op­portunity. The head of the competition told Buckley that there was a computer glitch, and she was actually the real winner.

"I had told everyone I didn't win and a week later she told me that I did so I was freaking out," Buckley said. "It was like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory."

Buckley heard about the competition from a friend on Facebook.

"A friend from home was like, 'Look it's Mary-Kate and Ashley, you should just apply,'" Buckley said. "I was so bogged down with everything else, but I did it anyway."

For winning, Buckley received a chance to have her look in the Olsenboye line, a $1,000 JCPenney gift card and a trip to New York City for her and two others. Buckley, along with her mother and sister, then went to the Olsens' showroom in New York, and Buckley got to walk through their design process. She also got to see designs that would soon be released for both Olsenboye and their high-end line, Elizabeth and James.

"They are really down-to-earth," Buckley said. "They intro­duced themselves and I was thinking, 'You really don't need to tell me.'"


Keith Strudler was not impressed.

The four Marist College sports communication students that he brought to participate in a case study competition held by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were struggling to successfully rehearse their presentation less than an hour before their scheduled timeslot.

"I thought, 'Wow, we are going to get crushed,'" Strudler said. "Everyone was tired and they had seen it too much. In the hotel room, we kind of bottomed out. They just needed to walk away from it for an hour or so and relax."

Just like in the unpredict­able world of sports that they study, the opposite of the expected happened.

After presenting on the evening of Tuesday, April 19, Brittney Garofolo, Luke Teitelbaum, Jim Urso, and Kaiti Decker, were named the winning group of the undergraduate case study competition the following morning.

"We did not sleep and we wanted to pull our hair out," Decker said. "But it was all totally worth it. I have never been more proud of anything that I have accomplished academically and I'm sure that everyone else would agree."

Marist defeated 13 groups from colleges and universi­ties around the country, including Ithaca, Arkansas and Georgia Southern.

All other schools that participated in the compe­tition featured either sports administration or sports management curriculums —Marist was the only school with a sports com­munication program that focuses on sports culture and media.

"A lot of these other schools are business ori­ented and they have some administrative knowledge," Urso said. "Since we are four communications students, we thought that our writing ability was a little more of an advantage."

"We were very up-an-down our first time participating," Strudler said. "We didn't know how to play the game. We didn't dress right. Our PowerPoints weren't polished enough."

Improved cohesion among the group members, including dividing the assignments and research allowed the four students to get a jump-start on preparing for the competition.

"We studied a lot harder and we started a little earlier than last year," Teitelbaum said. "We tried to focus more on the presentation this year. Last year, we kind of threw it together."

UNC's College Sports Research Institute (CSRI), which supports independent data collection and analysis related to college-sport is­sues, assigned the case study in two phases.

The first part was a 1,000- word written case study analyzing whether or not the athletic departments of Elon University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro made the correct decision by moving to Division I athletics in the 1990s.

Second, the group gave a 10-minute presentation on whether the University of North Alabama (UNA) should maintain its Division-II status or seek reclassification.

Marist submitted its written case study via email to the judges a week before traveling to North Carolina.

A panel of judges observed the student presentations, which were 10-minutes long with an additional five-minute question-and-answer session.

In its presentation, the Marist students recommended that UNA remain in Division II in order to avoid budgetary concerns and also to better support academics on campus.

"The question-and-answer session may have ended up winning the competition for us," Decker said. "The judges didn't have any questions for us so we knew that we were very thorough."

In addition to presenting their case study and listen­ing to panel discussions, the group also attended a Durham Bulls game before flying back to New York on Friday evening.

"The panels had sports agents, journalists, ex-athletes and athletics directors," Urso said. "They were all talking about current issues in sports."

Strudler, who chairs the Communication Department and also founded the College's Sports Communication Program, stumbled upon the case study competition while presenting a paper at UNC.

"I met some kids who were doing this case study thing, and I thought that it would be really cool," Strudler said. "That launched the idea of finding some seniors and juniors ready to roll."

Strudler plans to continue to bring a group of exceptional undergraduate sports communication students to participate in the event in years to come.

"This and any other academic competition like this where we can have students competing and networking is really good," Strudler said. "The school has been really good about funding this type of stuff. I wish there were competitions like this in journalism and broadcasting."

Currently, no plans are in place for Marist College to host a case study competition of its own.

"Perhaps there might be a time in the future where we could do something like this with a journalism group or a broadcasting group," Strudler said. "Maybe there are ways to create student competition in different areas in sports communication."

Ithaca College, last year's winner, finished in second place. Loras College and Georgia Southern University tied for third place.

"Other schools are sort of looking at us as a model of how to do this," Strudler said. "I think we are pretty well known in the sports communication world. We are producing a lot of students who go out and get jobs. People at ESPN, they know Marist."

Marist has already formed a team to defend its title at this year's competition held in late April at UNC. Two of the four team members, Garofolo and Teitlbaum, return from last year's squad. Sports communication major Sarah Cordeiro, '14, and sports communica­tion minor Patrick Dillon, complete the squad as first-year competitors. This year's case, released in early February, asks teams to evaluate the revenues and expenditures of college athletic departments over the past decade and to make recommendations for future success and solvency.

If Marist does defend its title, it would be the first repeat champion in the four-year history of the competition.

Public relations student Alexis Murphy, re­cently earned the annual Public Relations Student Society of America award, a nationwide hon­or given to only a hand­ful of students across the United States.

The National Gold Key recognizes exceptional public relations students who have excelled in their studies, have pur­sued professional intern­ships and are leaders in their PRSSA chapter.

"This award means so much to me," Murphy said. "I am honored that my work for PRSSA is be­ing recognized and I am thankful to all my com­munications professors for their constant advice and guidance, without which I would not have been able to achieve this award."

Murphy has managed an online forum for PRSSA that was featured on its national website. She is also a contributing writer to USA Today College.

Natalie Palter, '15, a fashion design major from San Mateo, Calif., is the recent winner of the Adrianna Papell E! Live From the Red Carpet Design Contest. Her motivations and experiences through this contest exemplify a hard-working and passionate student finally getting recog­nized. "I never win contests, so it made this that much more exciting!" said Palter.

Palter found out about the Adrianna Papell E! Live From the Red Carpet Design Contest through posters on campus. "To be honest, I kind of thought about it for a while, and then forgot about it," said Palter. Palter's mom has worn two Adrianna Papell dresses to weddings because she loves the way they fit her. "Her collection is made for all body types, which is so im­portant because then you have a bigger client base," said Palter. "You need women to feel good in what you're making."

On the day of the contest deadline, Palter's friend reminded her that if she wanted to send a design in, she had to do it by midnight.

"I drew up something really quick, col­ored it, and sent it in," said Palter. "I didn't really think twice about it because I never win these kinds of things."

About 700 individuals sent in their own design, hoping to win.

"You scan your design to a website that is linked with Facebook," said Palter. "A week after all the submissions were reviewed, they were put up and everyone could start voting on their favorite."

Voting for the top 25 lasted two weeks. Once Palter found out she made it that far, she was ecstatic but was trying not to have high expectations. Once the top 25 designs were chosen from Facebook vot­ers, Adrianna Papell's design team looked and reviewed them, and chose the top five designs.

"I was so nervous because I hadn't heard from anybody and I thought that I should have already gotten the call if I made it into the top 5," Palter said. "Then I was sitting in philosophy class and I got the phone call. I left class and answered the phone and was so happy."

The top 5 designs were made into dresses and showed on an E! segment. "I was with my friends screaming when I saw it as an actual dress," Palter said.

The week of final voting was in February.

"The day I found out I was the winner was a very ordinary day," said Palter. "I didn't have class all day so I got breakfast and went back to my room for a nap. At 4 p.m. I woke up to the phone call."

Palter is excited to see where this experi­ence will take her. "My name is now in the industry. I can't wait to see what my fu­ture holds in the fashion world," she said.

Once again, Marist fashion design students are com­peting at a national level with great success.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Diet Coke entered into a partnership to launch the Diet Coke Young Designers Challenge.

The goal of the design challenge was to find the identifying graphic ele­ment that best supports their current STAYEXTRAORDINARY campaign and Diet Coke's recent can redesign.

Diet Coke made a permanent pack­aging design change to their cans. The design, created by Turner Duckworth, features a section of the Diet Coke logo, cropped to prominently feature the "D" and the 'k.' The can's color scheme, red and black on a silver background remains the same.

The context was open to designers from top fashion schools, and specifically asked for "an original 'extraordinary' graphic element for a woman's t-shirt that makes a statement about Diet Coke and those who drink it."

CFDA and Diet Coke asked that the students focus more on the graphic design rather than a text design.

The top 20 designs were chosen by fans casting their votes at online.

Four Marist students made the top 20 finalists: Renee Tomic, '15; Adele Jackson, '15; Victoria Schermerhorn '15; and Brianna Sherlock, '15.

After the nationwide voting, the win­ning T-shirt design and two runners-up were selected by big names in fashion including Vince Voron, associate vice president, strategic design and integrated marketing content, Coca-Cola North America, creative experts from Target and designers Zac Posen, Cynthia Rowley and L'Wren Scott.

Tomic's design was chosen as one of the two runners-up selected by the judging panel.

"This was my very first national design contest and I was really happy and proud of all the Marist fashion design students who placed in the Diet Coke CFDA contest," Tomic said. "Even though, there were a lot of limits and guidelines we had to follow, it was still really fun creat­ing my own t-shirt design. I have all my design teachers through the years past to thank, because of them I had the skills to develop my design."

She received a $2,500 scholarship. Jackson, Schermerhorn and Sherlock as finalists will each receive $250 scholarships.