A year’s end, reflecting on COM’s achievements

COM Dean Mariette DiChristina seated at a table with arms folded.
January 1, 2023
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A year’s end, reflecting on COM’s achievements

New Year’s Greetings! As a COM alum and Dean (and ’18 BU parent), it’s fun for me to share a selection of achievements from the past year by students, faculty, and staff.  COM continues to gain notice in the communication industry. The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and The Wrap again included our film and television department in their annual lists of top film schools, and PR News named our public relations program to its Education A-List. Go, Terriers!


COVERING THE MIDTERMS: Once again, COM student journalists covered the fall election through every angle, in every platform through BUTV10, WTBU, BU News Service and the Statehouse Program.

REDSTONE FILM FESTIVAL: 42nd annual Redstone Film Festival in March was in person for the first time since 2019; student filmmakers and their friends and families screened – and celebrated — top work by COM students. 

MAGAZINE LAUNCHES: Students showcased their writing, design and entrepreneurial skills in new pubs: Untangle, created by Alyssa Yeh (COM’22) and Emily Wu (CAS’22, Wheelock’22), Elevate, led by Valerie Sanchez Covaleda (CGS’22, COM’24) and Katarina Quach (COM’24), and Strike, by Olivia Sanderford (CFA’23) and Savannah Tindall (COM’22).

COM students received awards for work in advertising, public relations, film, TV and journalism. Here are a few highlights:

JOURNALISM HONORS: Unseen, a series airing on GBH Radio and started by COM students in class, won one national and three regional Emmys as well as an award from the National Association of Black Journalists for its investigation of the commercial sexual exploitation of boys and young men.

OBAMA FOUNDATION HONOR: Katarina Quach (COM’24) was among Inaugural Cohort of Obama Foundation Voyager Scholarship winners, recognized for her commitment to public service.

WEBBY AWARD: Rohan Gupta won a national Webby Award in the Best Student Video category for a comedy short that satirizes the lack of diversity in Hollywood.

PUBLIC MEDIA AWARDS: Two episodes of a podcast series by Jesse Remedios (COM’21) and Valerie Wencis (COM’22) and exploring Boston’s history of school busing, integration and racism won top awards at this year’s Public Media Journalists Association conference in Seattle.


BLACK MEDIA SYMPOSIUM: COM alumni from every discipline – including Kevin Merida (COM’79), executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, and Anthony Harrison (COM’81), current BU Alumni Council president — helped make our fall symposium, “Black Media: Reflecting on the Past and Reimagine the Future,” a resounding success. You can watch recordings on COM’s YouTube channel.

OSCAR HONOR:  Summer of Soulproduced by David Dinerstein (COM’84), won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film in March, then in April, it won a Grammy for Best Music Film.

PULITZER HONORS: Samantha Gross (’18) shared in a Pulitzer Prize for “Breaking News” with the Miami Herald newsroom, awarded for the newspaper’s coverage of the Surfside condo collapse. Kimberly Johnson (’96,’98) was the lead editor on The Tulsa Race Massacre: 100 Years Later, a Wall Street Journal project that was one of two Pulitzer finalists in the Explanatory News category.

MURROW HONORS: Alex Hyacinthe (COM’14), digital audio producer for ESPN, was part of the team honored with a national Edward R. Murrow award for its podcast feature on broadcaster and former NBA star Jalen Rose.

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY: Karine Aigner (COM’96) was among winners for Wildlife Photographer of the Year

ALUMNI BOOKS: COM alumni authors celebrated the publication of numerous high-profile books, including: Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm by Dan Charnas (CAS’89, COM’89), Keya Das’s Second Act by Sopan Deb (COM’10), and Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy by Erich Schwartzel (COM’09).


MISINFORMATION RESEARCH: Traci Hong, an associate professor of media science, and research colleagues were awarded the inaugural grants from BU’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (CEID) for studying social media misinformation and vaccine hesitancy. Chris Wells, associate professor of journalism and emerging media studies, is leading a team that includes COM professors Arunima Krishna and Michelle Amazeen to analyze the origins and impact of climate change mis- and disinformation, through a new grant program of BU’s Institute for Global Sustainability.

JOHNSON HONORED: Michelle Johnson, adviser to COM’s BU News Service who retired this year from COM’s journalism faculty, was inducted into the LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame and received the Rich Jaroslovsky Founder Award from the Online News Association.

FACULTY BOOKS: Mark McClennan, a COM lecturer in public relations, celebrated his first published book, Ethical Voices: Practicing Public Relations With Integrity. Also out this year: COM Assistant Professor Patrice Oppliger’s Transmasculinity on Television and COM Writing Lecturer Jay Atkinson’s short story collection, The Tree Stand.

LEADERSHIP CHANGES: Brian McGrory, editor-in-chief of the Boston Globe, will join COM next semester as chair of our journalism department. Also, Amy Shanler assumed the role of assistant chair of the Department of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations, and Marni Zelnick is now assistant chair of the Department of Film and Television.

Many congratulations to our students, faculty, and staff for a wonderful year–and huge thanks to all of you for your support of COM. I can’t wait to see what happens in 2023!


Mariette DiChristina
College of Communication