Graduate Awards & Honors

The Illinois Tradition Awards

The Illinois Tradition Awards

In the Spring of 1984, the faculty of the Department of Communication voted to establish a program of annual awards to students. Conferred for the first time in 1985, these awards recognize distinguished achievement by graduate students, and emphasize the department's commitment to encourage its students to seek excellence in scholarship, teaching, and service.

In naming these awards, the faculty chose to honor persons who played especially important roles in building and perpetuating the tradition of leadership and excellence in teaching and research inherited by the present generation of students and faculty. Each award is named for a former member of the department's faculty or staff, and the awards are known collectively as the Illinois Tradition Awards. The annual presentation of these awards recalls with gratitude and affection the contributions of our predecessors and expresses our commitment to building a future worthy of the foundation they laid.

The Illinois Tradition Awards are made possible by contributions from alumni and friends of the department.

The Henry L. Mueller Award

2010 Recipient: Devin Ruthstrom

The Mueller Award recognizes the department's most outstanding new teaching assistant each year. To be eligible for consideration, students must be pursuing graduate study in the department, be in their first year of college teaching and of teaching in the department, and be nominated by the person who supervises their teaching or by a member of the department's faculty.

Henry L. Mueller, born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1915, received A.B. and B.S. degrees from Southeast Missouri State College, an M.A. from the University of Missouri, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He came to Illinois immediately upon completing his Ph.D. in 1948 and remained on the faculty until his death in 1980.

Mr. Mueller was one of the pioneers in film studies at Illinois, proposing and subsequently teaching for twenty-five years some of the campus' first courses in film history and aesthetics. He was one of the first editors of the leading national journal in communication education and a winner of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Council's Excellence in Teaching Award. His distinctive view of teaching and its relation to scholarship was explained in one of his last published essays: “We should assay a teacher's scholarship by the degree to which he has transmitted to his students those legacies of the past which still have significance to us, along with the ability to distinguish between the ephemeral and the eternal in the new ideas which confront them.”

The Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award

2010 Recipients: Vincent Licciardellor & Kelsey McCoy

The Nichols Award recognizes the department's most outstanding veteran teaching assistant. The award is given on the basis of the total record of a student's teaching in the department. To be eligible for consideration, students must be pursuing graduate study in the department, have completed at least two semesters of teaching in the department, and be nominated by the person who supervises their teaching or by a member of the department's faculty.

Marie Hochmuth Nichols, born in Dunbar, Pennsylvania in 1908, received A.B. and M.A. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. She left her first teaching position at Mt. Mercy College to join the Illinois faculty in 1939, where she remained until her retirement in 1976. In 1978, the year of her death, she received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Drury College.

Mrs. Nichols was President of the Speech Association of America in 1969, editor of The Quarterly Journal of Speech from 1962 to 1965, and recipient of the Speech Communication Association's Distinguished Service Award in 1976. Her scholarship concentrated on rhetorical theory, as she introduced the field to Kenneth Burke and I. A. Richards, and the criticism of rhetoric. Her critical essays, such as her study of Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, and theoretical inquiries, such as Rhetoric and Criticism, have endured as models of rhetorical study informed by a broad vision of the purposes of humanistic scholarship.

Mrs. Nichols is especially remembered by generations of Illinois students for her qualities as a teacher. Among those qualities, perhaps the most striking was her devotion to her students, from freshmen in beginning courses to doctoral candidates writing their dissertations. For decades, students grew accustomed to seeing the lights in Mrs. Nichols' office burn late every evening and on weekends, as she worked on the papers that had readily been put aside during the day to make time for them.

The Stafford H. Thomas Award

2010 Recipient: Jillian Klean Zwilling

The Thomas Award recognizes exceptional service to the department by a graduate student rendered over the course of the student's graduate study. To be eligible for consideration, students must have completed at least two semesters of graduate study in the department and be nominated by a member of the department's faculty.

Born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1929, Stafford H. Thomas received his baccalaureate degree from the University of Colorado. He taught for eight years at the high school level in South Dakota and Illinois, during which time he earned an M.A. at the University of Wyoming through summer enrollments. He began full-time doctoral study at the University of Washington in 1961 and, upon receiving the Ph.D. in 1964, came to the University of Illinois, where he served until his retirement in 1989.

Mr. Thomas was recruited to Urbana-Champaign to work with the Verbal Communication course, which was then housed in the Division of General Studies. With dissolution of the Division, he joined the faculty of the department and, in the years that followed, contributed in a wide range of roles, including: director of the Verbal Communication course, Associate Head of the department, undergraduate adviser, honors adviser, and director of the teacher training program. As one of the last generalists in an age of specialization, Thomas' versatility combined with his strong service motivation to become prized assets to the department and its students. Thomas' scholarship and teaching ranged across all areas of the department, from historical studies of French rhetorical theory to persuasion and the arts. Because of his breadth and talent, he was turned to again and again to take on tasks that were essential to the department's programs. He always was willing to extend himself and develop new skills in order to do what was needed, particularly when the jobs involved service to students.

Outstanding Article Award

2010 Recipient: Troy Cooper

The outstanding scholarly article or book chapter award was established in 2006 and is given to the most outstanding article or book chapter written by a current graduate student (or graduate students) without faculty co-authors. The piece must be published or accepted for publication within the past year.

Troy Cooper, "Appropriating Visual Form: The iPod 'Silhouette' Campaign as Representative Form." Visual Communication Quarterly, (April 2009).

The Karl R. Wallace Award

2010 Recipient: Summer Carnett Martin

The Wallace Award recognizes distinguished scholarship by a graduate student. The award is given on the basis of the total record of a student's scholarly work in the department's graduate program, including both performance in graduate courses and scholarly work completed for publication and conference presentation. To be eligible for consideration for the Wallace Award, students must have completed at least two semesters of graduate study in the department and be nominated by a member of the department's graduate faculty.

Karl R. Wallace, born in Hubbardsville, New York in 1905, received B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University. He served on the faculties of Iowa State College, Washington University (St. Louis) and the University of Virginia prior to coming to Illinois in 1947 as the first Head of the newly formed Department of Speech. Wallace led the Illinois Department until his retirement in 1968, after which he joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, where he served until his death in 1973.

Mr. Wallace was President of the Speech Association of America (now the Speech Communication Association) in 1954, editor of The Quarterly Journal of Speech from 1945 to 1947, and recipient of both a Distinguished Service Award and an Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address from the Speech Association of America. Mr. Wallace is most remembered for his writings on Francis Bacon, which reveal the depth and subtlety of a philosophical mind grappling with human communication and human nature and for his life-long concern for understanding how rhetoric may be used to create a “commonwealth of mutual deference, integrity, and respect” in social and political life. His works on these subjects continue to be standard reading for contemporary students of rhetoric.

The Ruth S. and Charles H. Bowman Award

2010 Recipient: Bradley Bond

The Bowman Award is conferred upon the department's most outstanding graduate student, based on the student's total record of scholarship, teaching, and service. The award is funded by an endowment established in 1992 by members and friends of the Bowman family. To be eligible for consideration, students must have completed at least two semesters of graduate study in the department and be nominated by a member of the graduate faculty.

Ruth S. Bowman, born in Chicago in 1913, graduated from St. Xavier Academy (Chicago), and attended the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois. She joined the staff of the department in 1964 and served as Administrative Secretary until her retirement in 1981. She died in 1984.
At the end of her first year in the department, Ruth Bowman was commended for her efforts by unanimous vote of the department's Advisory Committee in the only such action ever taken on behalf of a non-academic employee in the history of the department. At that time, then-Head Karl Wallace wrote, “I have about concluded that the department could more readily spare me than it could Mrs. Bowman.” During the subsequent 16 years, succeeding department administrators, faculty members, and graduate students came to share Wallace's opinion of Mrs. Bowman's role in the department. In addition to her formidable administrative skills, she is especially remembered for the good humor, good sense, and uncommon grace that she brought to every task, for her concern for the people of “her department,” and for her dedication to the department's welfare. Upon her retirement, Mrs. Bowman wrote, “Being part of this department has been one of my greatest treasures, something I shall remember with affection and gratitude.”

Charles H. Bowman, Ruth's husband, served with distinction on the faculty of the UIUC College of Law for 25 years. Through Ruth, Charley became deeply interested in the welfare of the department and its people. He established the Bowman endowment to honor Ruth after her death, and he corresponded regularly with the department to keep up with us all until he passed away in 1997. When asked if he would like to designate a charity for memorial contributions as his own health was failing, Charley unhesitatingly requested that gifts go to “Ruth's award.” The award subsequently was renamed in memory of both Ruth and Charles.

Recipients of the Illinois Tradition Awards

Ruth S. and Charles H. Bowman Award

  • 1992, Elizabeth Kissling
  • 1993, John Macgregor Wise
  • 1994, Nancy Baym
  • 1995, Melissa Deem
  • 1996, Tony Kirschner
  • 1997, Lenora de la Luna
  • 1998, Beth Manolescu
  • 1999, Todd Rendleman
  • 2000, Scott Hale
  • 2001, Steven Bailey
  • 2002, Jennifer Peterson
  • 2003, Lance Rintamaki
  • 2004, Elaine Hsieh
  • 2005, Joshua Barbour
  • 2006, Jeremy Engels
  • 2007, Kevin Coe and Jake Jensen
  • 2008, Cortney Moriarty
  • 2009, Allison Scott

Karl R. Wallace Award

  • 1985, Briankle Gen Chang
  • 1986, Ann Russo
  • 1987, Steven McCornack
  • 1988, Charles Taylor
  • 1989, Rick Holt
  • 1990, John Erni
  • 1991, Ian Fielding
  • 1992, Combined with Bowman Award
  • 1993, Nancy Baym
  • 1994, Aki Uchida
  • 1995, Robert McCarthy
  • 1996, Joseph Bonito
  • 1997, H. Jeanie Taylor
  • 1998, Gregory Dimitriadis
  • 1999, Amy Pierce
  • 2000, Julie Hengst
  • 2001, Jeremy Packer
  • 2003, Elaine Hsieh
  • 2004, Amy Marske and Laura Stengrim
  • 2005, Jeremy Engels
  • 2006, Jake Jensen
  • 2007, Erin Donovan-Kicken and Robin Jensen
  • 2008, Kama Kosenko
  • 2009, Yuanyuan Zhang

Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award

  • 1985, Dale Ludwig
  • 1986, Susan Schell
  • 1987, Ivy Glennon
  • 1988, Steven McCornack
  • 1989, Carol Berteotti
  • 1990, Martha Dewey
  • 1991, Nancy Baym
  • 1992, Peter Verkruyse
  • 1993, Dauna Bartley
  • 1994, Maria Mastronardi
  • 1995, Tony Kirschner
  • 1996, Marino Parissi
  • 1997, Amy Pierce
  • 1998, Susan Dun
  • 1999, Jon Pheloung
  • 2000, Grace Giorgio
  • 2001, Jennifer Jones
  • 2002, Lance Rintamki
  • 2003, Dan Larson
  • 2004, Andrew Weaver
  • 2005, Jennifer Bute
  • 2006, Erin Donovan-Kicken
  • 2007, Ryan Blum
  • 2008, Mary Ramey
  • 2009, Troy Cooper and Laura Miller

Henry L. Mueller Award

  • 1985, Patrick Carron
  • 1987, Martha Dewey
  • 1988, Kathleen Sturgis
  • 1989, Brian Ferro
  • 1990, Kristin Lindholm
  • 1991, David Kosloski
  • 1992, Sherianne Shuler
  • 1993, Marino Parissi
  • 1994, Maura Freudenthal
  • 1995, Carrie Rentschler
  • 1996, Lenora de la Luna
  • 1997, Shannon Proctor
  • 1998, Jennifer L. Jones
  • 1999, Jennifer Van Kirk
  • 2001, Maria Cellini
  • 2002, Angel Spyrou
  • 2003, Jeremy Engels
  • 2004, Laura Miller
  • 2005, Kevin Coe
  • 2006, Jennifer Knapp and Paul Spilker
  • 2007, Omair Akhtar
  • 2008, Timothy Tjeerdsma
  • 2009, Katherine Cooper

Stafford H. Thomas Award

  • 1985, Renée Meyers
  • 1986, Joel Doelger
  • 1987, Steven Corman
  • 1988, Victoria Leto
  • 1989, Scott Britten
  • 1990, Brad Kolar
  • 1991, Maureen Ebben
  • 1992, Combined with Bowman Award
  • 1993, Peter Verkruyse
  • 1994, Marino Parissi
  • 1995, Rebecca Baldwin Engsberg
  • 1996, Todd Rendleman
  • 1997, Stephen Klien
  • 1998, Virginia McDermott
  • 1999, Pascal Yammine
  • 2000, Jennifer Jones
  • 2001, Andrew Weaver
  • 2002, Joshua Barbour
  • 2003, Brian Collins
  • 2004, Jeremy Engels and Kassie Lamp
  • 2005, Nichole Evans
  • 2006, Bradley Bond
  • 2007, Aaron Seaman
  • 2008, Vincent Pham, Jason Rittenberg, and Anne Stone
  • 2009, Daniel Wilbrandt