Click to view a profile on each new hire:
- Alyssa Rutt
- Andrew Pritchard
- Bret Voorhees
- Jan Lauren Boyles
- Lisa Munger Oakes
- Juli Probasco-Sowers
- Loran Lewis
- Matt Wettengel
- Su Jung Kim
By Bailey McGrath
From volunteering as a “welcome wolf” in elementary school to working as a Cyclone Aide in college, Alyssa Rutt has always enjoyed helping students transition into a new environment. Today, Rutt continues to improve students’ experiences at the Greenlee School as a program coordinator.
After graduating with a technical communications degree from Iowa State in 2012, Rutt headed to graduate school at the University of Kansas, where she also worked as an academic adviser. She enjoyed it, but knew she needed a career that constantly challenged her. She immersed herself in more project work with assessing student work outcomes and event planning.
Rutt could always be found wearing cardinal and gold on game days while studying at the University of Kansas. Knowing she wanted to be back in Cyclone territory, she actively stalked the Iowa State job board. When a position at the Greenlee School popped up, she was eager to apply. After graduating with her master’s degree in May 2014, Rutt had a quick turn around and started her new position just two days later. Rutt was already familiar with the Greenlee School after taking plenty of journalism courses in college, but has enjoyed getting more acclimated with the school, staff and students.
Rutt’s graduate work has proved to be helpful during her time at Greenlee. She has been working with Director Michael Bugeja on preparing the Greenlee School’s report for its upcoming reaccreditation review. Rutt also works in collaboration with other faculty and staff to plan events, including the Futures Forum and Chamberlin Lecture.
As a season football ticket holder, Rutt is happy to be back cheering on the Cyclones while getting to do what she’s always loved— coordinating events and helping students succeed.
By Greg Zwiers
Andrew Pritchard practically fell into journalism. As a senior in high school, he unknowingly signed up for a journalism class, which would be his only formal training in journalism though he worked for multiple professional newspapers.
Pritchard currently teaches beginning reporting and writing, and beginning in the spring he will teach media law. Prior to joining the Greenlee family, he taught at North Dakota State University.
During his undergraduate career, he wrote for his college newspaper because it was something he enjoyed. He later got a job writing for a local newspaper to earn some extra money while attending law school.
“That was one of the things that a lot of friends I had in law school said… ‘You should see your face when you talk about the paper,’” Pritchard recalls. “It ended up just that I liked it so much, I liked the environment of it, I liked the energy of it, I liked the sense that I could see that what I was doing made a difference, not in some abstract way, but tomorrow morning this is going to have an effect on people.”
Pritchard feels Iowa State is a place where he can experience a good balance of research and teaching. He said he likes the way the Greenlee School tries to balance both aspects of professorship, and he enjoys the academic side of journalism because “thinking about big questions is encouraged.” Getting the chance to work on more long-term projects, as opposed to turning out news daily, gives him the opportunity to think about why journalists do what they do and how the profession fits into the changes of society and the media.
“So you get to ask big questions and think about big ideas in a way that just isn’t possible when you’re trying to hit deadline after deadline,” Pritchard says.
He hopes to include a bit of the big picture into his first law class this spring. He wants the course to be rigorous, so that students really understand communication law, but plans to incorporate discussions about how and why the law has evolved over time.
“At some point there is a method to the madness, but it’s not always where you expect to look for it,” Pritchard said.
By Stephen Koenigsfeld
Bret Voorhees didn’t take the normal road to Greenlee School lecturer, but who does anymore in this business?
Voorhees, who teaches research in public relations and advertising at Greenlee, has built a résumé of projects ranging from TV broadcast to coordinating the Pope’s Iowa visit in 1979.
During his time in the journalism business, Voorhees has watched the industry transform.
“When I started, especially in television, news was seen as a public affairs requirement to keep your programing,” Voorhees said. “Over 40 years, that’s been transformed now to the news being a major revenue source.”
Vorhees’ role as bureau chief of Iowa’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management operation for 11 years is among his most well known. He also worked 11 years in public relations for the Iowa Lottery, and four years as marketing and communications director for Iowa Workforce Development.
And yet, his most memorable career experience was purely papal.
In 1979, the Des Moines Catholic Diocese began organizing Pope John Paul II’s visit to Living History Farms. But when the enormity of the event became overwhelming, Voorhees and the airport press coordination team moved in to “save the day.”
“They knew about my press experience so they got me involved on the press side,” Voorhees said. “Gen. Tommy Thompson of the National Guard came in with his planners and started setting up objectives. It was interesting to watch local, national and international media set up and be a part of that process.”
By Jessica Tull
Jan Boyles’ résumé does not reflect her age. The West Virginia native is barely past her 20s (“but azI feel old!” she laughed), and she’s already earned paychecks from entities as varied as the Pew Research Center and NASA. She chalks it up to a work ethic instilled in her by her parents.
“I was pretty driven,” she admitted about her undergraduate years. “I was very, ‘I’m gonna finish college as soon as I can and push on to the next thing.’”
And that’s a perfect mindset for someone who approaches life as a “journey of exploration.” Boyles, who signs herself breezily as “Dr. Jan,” is a 2014 presidential hire for the big data initiative at the Greenlee School.
The position is a perfect fit for Boyles’ research in computational journalism at American University, where she earned her Ph.D. in May. She taught a course in communication and technological change in the fall, which she described as covering the way that technology has been “revolutionizing the way that news reporting and news production happens.”
But before she had any plans to pursue a Ph.D. and head up a classroom, Boyles worked as the director of advising at West Virginia University’s school of journalism. She’s taken that mentoring mindset with her into the classroom, and it’s paying dividends.
At least once a week, she receives emails from past students checking in about accomplishments or looking for advice on future career moves. Seeing her former students achieve success in their careers is intensely satisfying for her. “It’s the best return on investment for my time,” she said.
While it’s been a winding road that led her to Iowa State, Boyles claimed it only took one campus visit to ISU and the Ames area to know it was the right place for her. “I kind of had that feeling that this is home,” she said.
By Erin Malloy
Lisa Munger Oakes traded riding on camels, climbing up the Egyptian pyramids and interviewing the head of Al Jazeera for starting a family in Ames, Iowa, and making Greenlee her new source of excitement.
After Oakes completed her undergraduate degree in political science at Texas Christian University, she spent eight years in Washington, D.C., running political campaigns for an interest group. Oakes eventually decided to move back home to Nebraska to earn her master’s degree in public relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Oakes took her first journalism class as a graduate student, and by the end of her first semester, Oakes knew she wanted to be a reporter.
“I left the whole idea of doing PR behind,” Oakes says. “I loved the opportunity to go out and be able to interview people where they were and to be exposed to people and populations that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk to in my daily life.”
Right after school, Oakes received a fellowship through the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and went to Egypt and Qatar to work on several reporting projects with the help of an Egyptian woman who would translate Arabic for Oakes.
Oakes had the opportunity to interview members of the Palestinian Embassy and officials with the Muslim Brotherhood right before the Arab Spring. Oakes describes her time in the Middle East as her best learning experience.
> “The enthusiasm, skill level and integrity of the students at Iowa State is really heartening and unique to my teaching experience,” Oakes says. “It’s what makes the job energizing.”
“You have to learn to navigate the culture as well as still find sources like you would in an American context, be able to contextualize your stories and understand a different political landscape than what I’d ever had to do here,” Oakes says.
There were also moments where not understanding the cultural context was challenging. For one article, Oakes and several others took a bus to a ghettoized area of Cairo called Garbage City. On their way, Egyptian secret police pulled them over and came onto the bus with military assault rifles to look at their passports.
“I didn’t know what was happening, because I didn’t speak Arabic,” Oakes says. “It was intimidating.”
After coming back to the United States, Oakes met her husband—who is on the music faculty at ISU—and started teaching at ISU in the spring of 2014.
“He’d always loved his Iowa State experience, so I was hoping to be able to work at Iowa State,” Oakes says.
Before coming to ISU, Oakes taught intercultural communication at a couple community colleges and Drake.
“The enthusiasm, skill level and integrity of the students at Iowa State is really heartening and unique to my teaching experience,” Oakes says. “It’s what makes the job energizing.”
Oakes and her husband had twins in July of 2014, and Oakes describes being a mother as her current challenge and excitement.
“Being a mom is hard no matter your situation, but to have these babies and to be doing what we’re doing now is fantastic,” Oakes says. “There aren’t people boarding my bus with assault rifles here, but that’s fine. I’m fine with a little less excitement."
By Beth Paulson
As the new internship coordinator for the Greenlee School, Juli Probasco-Sowers is counting on her more than 30 years of journalism experience to help students find their career paths.
“There’s so much need for internships now and I really do feel like I’m helping students on their journey to being professionals,” said Probasco-Sowers. “Students need to think about internships as this is the beginning of their professional career.”
Probasco-Sowers works on strengthening the relationships with employers for whom students have interned in the past, to both retain and expand on those opportunities. She also is creating more informational tools to help students find appealing internships.
“It’s still students’ responsibilities to find their own internships,” said Probasco-Sowers. “But we want to do whatever we can to help with that. I think Greenlee has such a good reputation and there are companies out there hungry for good interns.”
The Drake University alumna has worked in editing, reporting, freelance writing, teaching and research before coming to Greenlee. Probasco-Sowers has worked for multiple publications in her career, including 15 years with the Des Moines Register as an editor, reporter and outdoor writer, and more than 13 years as a reporter, photographer and editor of The Perry Chief, the newspaper for Perry, Iowa, where she grew up and still lives with her husband and family today.
Prior to joining the Greenlee staff, Probasco-Sowers was an adjunct professor at Drake University teaching beginning news writing; she also spent a year instructing journalism and communication classes at Grand View University.
“The people here are just wonderful to work with,” said Probasco-Sowers. “They’re all enthusiastic about what they do and they have the students’ best interests at heart.”
By Brandon Friederich
“It’s the simple stories that stay with you. You start pulling for the people you interview if they’re going through tough times. Those are more memorable than the major events.”
This insight into newspaper reporting is a perfect example of the type of information students can expect to learn from one of the Greenlee School’s new lecturers.
Loran Lewis, Ph.D., is a well-rounded journalist and professor with years of experience in the journalism industry. He’s worked as a newspaper reporter, copy editor and editor-in-chief at multiple publications around the country and taught at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania and at California State University Stanislaus.
After seeing an online ad for a teaching position as Iowa State, Lewis decided to move from Wilkes to Ames so that he could focus more on researching newspapers while working in a university setting.
“I’ve always liked college; my undergrad years were my favorite and the idea of being able to teach and do some research always appealed to me,” Lewis said.
While teaching classes in multimedia production, intermediate reporting and public affairs reporting at Iowa State, Lewis will be conducting research in newspaper economics. He said he believes the emphasis that corporately-owned newspapers put on making money can be detrimental to newspapers.
“When corporations start taking over, there tends to be more of an emphasis on the bottom line and paying out to shareholders, which leads to cutbacks in staff,” Lewis explained. “The content of the newspaper then suffers, and readership declines.”
By shifting to a newspaper industry in which employees own the publications, there would be more of an emphasis on serving the public, Lewis added.
By Matt Rezab
What is it like to go from Greenlee student to Greenlee staff in just over a year? “It’s pretty weird,” according to Matt Wettengel.
Wettengel didn’t see himself returning to Iowa State as quickly as he has, but fate and necessity stepped in to bring him back.
After graduating in May 2013, Wettengel returned home to Crescent, Iowa, and did the “manual labor thing” at his father’s gutter company and bartended on the side. It was around then he decided he needed to kick-start his career.
“My old roommate loves to troll the university job boards,” Wettengel said. “He told me [the Greenlee School was] hiring a full-time communications specialist, so I applied.”
Wettengel isn’t exactly new to the job. While studying as an undergraduate, he worked part time for the Greenlee School learning communication and media skills.
“I sort of already knew the job,” Wettengel said. “I knew there would be more responsibility in a full-time position, but I also knew I could do the job.”
As Greenlee’s communications and media specialist, Wettengel spends most of his time telling stories. According to him, it’s a bit of an ironic position.
“We’re a school that teaches students how to communicate,” Wettengel said. “But we have not done a very good job communicating to the public the amazing things our students and faculty are doing.”
Wettengel said he spends his time getting word out about the Greenlee School to potential students, current students and alumni.
“It seems like I do a little bit of everything,” he said.
The rest of Wettengel’s time is spent working on this very publication. He is in charge of producing the Greenlee Glimpse, with assistance from students who work for the Greenlee Communications Team.
By Kiana Roppe
As a young girl, Su Jung Kim often found herself perched in front of the TV watching episodes of “The Wonder Years” (known as “Kevin is 13” in her home of South Korea). “I watched a lot of TV,” admits Kim. “My mom was really worried.”
Today, Kim is a new Greenlee School assistant professor whose research focuses on studying audience behavior across platforms: TV, the Internet and mobile phones. She also studies how different types of word-of-mouth influence company-customer relationships, as well as customer use and engagement with mobile apps.
Her teaching load to date has included a course she created on data and audience analytics. Specifically, Kim instructs students on how to collect and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data regarding mobile phone use and customer opinions—an area of study that grew naturally from her longtime love of TV.
Kim received both her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree from Seoul National University in South Korea in 2002 and 2005, respectively. She then went on to earn her Ph.D in media, technology and society from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., in 2011, followed by a three-year stint as a post-doctoral research associate at Northwestern.
While searching for her first faculty appointment, Kim was intrigued by what she heard about both Iowa State and the state itself.
“All I’ve heard about Iowa is good corn, good meat and nice people,” Kim says.
Since moving to Ames, Kim has started taking Zumba classes at Ames Racquet and Fitness and enjoys walking around campus and checking out the local farmers’ market. “I also like to go to Hy-Vees,” Kim says with a laugh. “We didn’t have 24-hour supermarkets in Evanston.”