Making an Impact: College of Communication and Information Spotlights Fall, Levine

Through teaching, research, and service, our faculty are making an impact on student lives, on our community, and on the world. Here’s a look at two College of Communication and Information faculty members who impact students by providing service-learning and study abroad opportunities.

Lisa Fall

Lisa Fall, third from left, with some public relations students at the Derby Days fundraiser for the Scarecrow Foundation, which works to end hunger and malnutrition in Knoxville and East Tennessee.

Lisa Fall, third from left, with some public relations students at the Derby Days fundraiser for the Scarecrow Foundation, which works to end hunger and malnutrition in Knoxville and East Tennessee.

From an early age, Lisa Fall learned the positive impact of serving others.

“In high school in Michigan I worked summers as a counselor at the Sunnybrook Farm, a family resort, and at the Four Bears Water Park. It was so much fun. I worked with children of all ages,” she said. “During my summers in college I worked on Mackinac Island and got first-hand experience in helping others as I learned about the tourism industry. I guess you can say that I got hooked on a service-oriented industry at a very early age.”

An associate professor of public relations in the College of Communication and Information, Fall said her love of travel tourism and her commitment to serving others guided her career and shape her approach to teaching.

“I love what I teach because PR lends itself to service-learning,” she said. “My students learn the skills of public relations practitioners while helping the community. We’re not just talking about theory—we’re applying it in the field.”

Fall taught public relations at Georgia Southern University for three years. She then returned to her home state to earn her doctorate in mass media from Michigan State University before joining the UT faculty.

“Lisa is well known for her service-learning projects, her expertise in travel tourism, and her tireless efforts on behalf of her students,” said Mike Wirth, dean of the college. “She’s received awards for teaching, research, and public service at the college level and won the UT National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Teaching Award. We’re proud of Lisa’s accomplishments and very appreciative of her excellent work on behalf of the school, the college, and the university.”

Fall said her PR campaigns class is an ideal way for students to help others while learning the profession.

“I look for community-focused local organizations that can offer students an immediate chance to help communicate their message,” she said. “It really is a collaborative effort.”

Students in Fall’s PR campaigns class are now working with the Scarecrow Foundation, a Knoxville-based group of civic leaders and citizens helping to end hunger in America. The students have been tasked with developing a full-scale fund-raising campaign. In the past, she and her students have worked with the organization by promoting and participating in fund-raising events like the weeklong Derby Days activities in downtown Knoxville to raise money for organizations like Second Harvest Food Bank.

“My students are able to see how their efforts directly improve the lives of East Tennesseans suffering from hunger and malnutrition,” she said. “There’s no better feeling than helping others.”

Kenneth Levine

Kenneth Levine, in blue sweatshirt on left side of photo, and students visit the shore of the Scheldt River in Antwerpen, Belgium. Between 1880 and 1930, more than 2 million central and eastern Europeans boarded the Red Star Line ships to sail to a new life in the United States. From this dock, the students see where some of their ancestors may have started their journey to America.  photo by Sally L. Levine

Kenneth Levine, in blue sweatshirt on left side of photo, and students visit the shore of the Scheldt River in Antwerpen, Belgium. Between 1880 and 1930, more than 2 million central and eastern Europeans boarded the Red Star Line ships to sail to a new life in the United States. From this dock, the students see where some of their ancestors may have started their journey to America. photo by Sally L. Levine

Kenneth Levine teaches that when communicating with someone from another country, it’s not enough to know their language. You have to know their culture.

Each summer since 2003, Levine, an associate professor of communication studies in the College of Communication and Information, has helped UT students see this first hand with a study-abroad experience in France and Belgium.

“During their month in Europe, my students learn that the local culture has a huge impact on how people understand their world, and on how they communicate,” he said. “This is true even when the students are speaking with a local resident who knows English, or are accompanied by a translator. Culture affects everything.”

This program is often the first time students have been confronted with intercultural communication, according to Levine.

“Most of my students have never been out of the country, so speaking with someone in Paris or Brussels is a real eye-opener for them. When they get back to the US, you see a subtle change in the way they interact with others,” said Levine, who added that applications are now being accepted for the 2014 summer program.

Mike Wirth, dean of the college, said Levine is well known for his excellence in education and intercultural communication research. “He’s won the CCI Teaching Award and the college’s Bud Minkel Internationalization/Intercultural Award, and is well published in academic journals. He’s a leader in his field, and we’re appreciative of his excellent work on behalf of the school, the college, and the university.”

Leadership, and how you make good leaders better, is one of Levine’s major academic research topics.

“I am examining how group members perceive their leaders and how they define excellent leadership,” he said.

Levine himself has bridged academic cultures during his career. He joined the UT faculty after earning a doctorate in communication at Michigan State University, but prior to that, he earned a law degree from Case Western Reserve University.

“Yes, it’s true, I’m also a lawyer,” he said.

Although he does not practice law in Tennessee, Levine tries to bring legal issues into the classroom. “Recent domestic and international court decisions on communication issues have been interesting and make for great discussion,” he said.

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C O N T A C T :

Charles Primm (865-974-5180, Charles.primm@tennessee.edu)

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