Class of 2020 Commencement events to be held Sept. 17-19

Syracuse University will host a Commencement ceremony—delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and other celebratory events for the Class of 2020 during the weekend of Sept. 17–19.  

Commencement will be held Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. at the Stadium. This University-wide ceremony, where Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud will formally confer degrees, is for all undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates. Doors open at 8 a.m.

Following Commencement, all 2020 Newhouse graduates and their families are invited to join Dean Mark J. Lodato and the faculty and staff for a celebratory reception. The event will include a dean’s welcome, recognition of participating graduates and an opportunity to reconnect with faculty. A precise time and location will be announced soon; stay tuned for details.

For more information about Commencement activities for the Class of 2020, see the event listing.

Paying it Forward

Alumnus turned Google executive uses volunteerism and philanthropy to inspire the next generation of leaders.

Chris Marino ’13 learned a lot from his time at Syracuse University, including the value of community. Such inclusion wasn’t limited to the classroom; it spilled over into his personal and professional life. “Thanks to Syracuse, I have a group of friends that I couldn’t imagine going through life without,” says Google’s newest head of agency.

two people shake hands while looking at the camera and smiling
Chris Marino ’13 (left) with Professor Emeritus of Advertising James Tsao. As Google’s newest head of agency, Marino often returns to campus for alumni engagement and student support.

In addition to helping Google customers grow their businesses, Marino returns to campus for alumni engagement and student support. He’s especially proud of his involvement with the Young Whitman Advisory Council (YWAC) and Newhouse Emerging Leaders (NEL) Alumni Volunteer Board. These kinds of organizations, Marino explains, let him pay it forward through philanthropic contributions, time and resources.

“YWAC and NEL are committed to alumni volunteerism and philanthropy,” says the former double major in management and marketing management. “They focus on creating a better experience for students.”

We recently caught up with Marino to discuss his Syracuse experience and how it shapes his philosophy of giving.

What led you to Syracuse University?

When I was looking for an undergraduate program, I wanted a community where I felt like I could learn, grow and thrive, both personally and academically. I was attracted to Syracuse’s academic rigor, school spirit and proximity to where I grew up [in Astoria, Queens]. After my first campus visit, there was no doubt that I wanted to be Orange.

How did Syracuse prepare you for a career in digital marketing?

Syracuse gave me a strong foundation inside and outside of the classroom. I learned from some of the best professors in the world, made a diverse group of friends and discovered my passion for marketing.

a large group of people pose for a photo on a flight of stairs
Marino (center) with members of Tsao’s last class of graduate students. Marino has maintained a close relationship with Tsao, who chaired the advertising department for 17 years before retiring in 2023.

I initially majored in political science but after taking some business courses, switched to finance in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. It was after my first internship at American Express [AmEx] that I knew I was meant to be a marketer. Double majoring in management and marketing management prepared me for success after graduation at AmEx. [He worked there from 2013-20.]

Outside of hard skills, what I truly appreciated about Syracuse was learning the importance of networking, time management and communication.

Why are volunteerism and philanthropy important to you?

As I have progressed in my career, I continue to be more committed to paying it forward. Mentors have made a transformative impact on me, so I’m eager to provide guidance to students seeking career advice.

In terms of impact, you can accomplish more with a group of like-minded individuals who share your passion than by yourself. YWAC and NEL offer a large platform for giving back to the Syracuse community. They bring together alumni who want to make a difference while providing access to University leadership and an overview of the strategic directions of the Whitman and Newhouse schools.

“No one gets to where they are in life without guidance from others,” says Marino (center), with Newhouse School undergraduates.

How else do you pay it forward?

Guest lecturing and mentoring. Last semester, I helped students with their capstone projects in a graduate course in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. At Bloomberg Media [where he worked from 2020-23], I created a project in which I could partner with students for an entire semester. It’s important to give them hands-on, real-world experience—something that the University does well.

Volunteering is a personal motivator for me. No one gets to where they are in life without guidance from others. We must lift others up while we climb. Watching students and mentees that I’ve worked with succeed in their careers is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My only ask of students is that when someone asks them for guidance that they pay it forward.

Newhouse Impact: Media Literacy’s Role in Social Justice and Empowerment; Newhouse Impact Summit

The latest Newhouse Impact research roundup also covers more about teenagers’ media use-and how it impacts gender expression, sexual choices and more.

Newhouse Impact Podcast

Many scholars have noted that education on media literacy is increasingly important as social and digital media become bigger parts of people’s lives.

On a recent episode of “Newhouse Impact,” Newhouse Communications Professor Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian and Mass Communications Doctoral Student Shannon Burth expand the notion of media literacy beyond simply understanding the more about the media we consume. Their research also examines the ability to use media, to act and be empowered, and their importance as tools for social justice. They further include understanding the spread of AI and algorithms that increasingly control what is presented in various media.

Listen to the full show by visiting the WAER episode page.  

Also listen to: How are media influencing teens and their sexual choices and behaviors?

Teenagers’ use of media – especially social media – is the topic of much debate. Research shows media use is having an impact on teens and their sexuality, things such as gender identity, expression, and their sexual choices.

On this episode, Dr. Rebecca Ortiz, advertising associate professor at the Newhouse School, shares her investigations into teenagers’ media use, in advance of a new book coming out. The work can help inform messages shared through media about teenagers’ health and sexual health.

2024 Newhouse Impact Summit

Scheduled for Aug. 1-2 at the Newhouse School, this year’s Newhouse Impact Summit is titled “Advances and Opportunities in Immersive Storytelling Technologies.” The conference will feature speakers from around the world presenting their innovative and provocative creative and scholarly work on the past, present and future of storytelling through extended reality technologies.

Check out the Newhouse Impact Summit Schedule

Recent accolades, highlights and notes

G. Douglas Barrett has been selected as an ASPI Fellow.

Bob Papper and Keren Anderson published reports on RTDNA on their research on radio staffing, local TV news staffing and TV news salaries.

Raiana de Carvalho, Martina Santia and Srivi Ramasubramanian authored a research paper titled “Framing the Yanomami: decolonial analysis of U.S coverage of Indigenous people in Brazil during COVID-19.”

Raiana de Carvalho authored a research paper titled “Remembering Marielle Franco: Haunting online presence and the memorialization of resistance on social media.”

Shannon Burth and Srivi Ramasubramanian authored a research paper called “Mapping media literacy impact in the U.S.: a review of literature and call for equity.”

Martina Santia and Jodi Upton authored a research paper titled “Promoting Coaches on Instagram: A Content Analysis of Posts Featuring NCAA Division I Coaches of Women’s Sports”

Josh Darr was quoted in an article discussing the first presidential debate of 2024.

The Newhouse Emerging Technologies Faculty Fellowship program recognized Newhouse School faculty seeking to incorporate emerging technologies into their curriculum.  

Syracuse University’s Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship launched a new poll that measures attitudes toward civic engagement, democracy and news and information, as well as a searchable database and a new report that tracks “inauthentic influencers.”

Newhouse Unveils New Online Bachelor’s in Strategic Communications

A new online bachelor’s in strategic communications program expands the Newhouse School’s offerings to students seeking flexibility with their schedule but the renowned academic rigor that comes with a Newhouse undergraduate education.  

Courses in the four-year degree program will be taught online by the same faculty who teach on campus at the nation’s top communications school. Newhouse professors designed the curriculum based on the standards set by the accrediting organization for schools of communications.  

Headshot of Newhouse Dean Mark Lodato
Mark Lodato

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Newhouse School to extend our outstanding academic programs to new populations and meet the needs of students also balancing work, family or other obligations,” Dean Mark J. Lodato said. 

“What does not change is our commitment to equip all students—whether online or learning on campus— with the skills they need to write, create and lead in the evolving communications landscape,” he added.  

Strategic communications students will have opportunities to connect and network with Newhouse’s large and loyal alumni network. The bachelor’s in strategic communications diploma will be identical to those earned on campus, carrying the same prestige and recognition as any other undergraduate Newhouse degree. 

Applications for the online bachelor’s in strategic communications program open in August, with three start dates a year to begin coursework. Other highlights:  

Foundational strategic communications classes will cover topics including digital analytics and multimedia production, as well as trends and technology in media. Graduates will be prepared to pursue careers in fields across the communications spectrum including public relations, corporate affairs and digital media strategy. 

a person with long blonde hair poses for a headshot
Carolyn Hedges

The strategic communications bachelor’s program builds on the success of the Newhouse School’s existing online master’s programs in communications and communications management.  

“The Newhouse School has established a reputation for excellence in educating generations of students for six decades,” said Carolyn Hedges, director of virtual instruction. “The new strategic communications program offers students flexibility to pursue a Newhouse degree at their own pace while having the opportunity to learn from our top-of-class professors and make connections with our successful alumni.”  

Master’s Alumni Profile: Jordan Bonaparte

Jordan Bonaparte G’22

Newhouse Master’s Program: Advertising
Current Position: Sales Planner, NBCUniversal, New York, NY

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

While in graduate school, I was always looking for the next step. I decided to apply to the International Radio and Television Society Fellowship which was sent to me via email by Professor James Tsao. I made many connections through the fellowship and was able to intern with Hearts & Science as a paid search associate on their AT&T account. Once my internship concluded, I was able to use my fellowship connections to obtain employment at NBCUniversal working within ad sales.  

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

No day is the same here at NBCU. I work alongside different advertising agencies to ensure that clients’ commercials are being advertised on our NBCU properties (USA, Syfy and Universal Kids). I maintain commercial deals post sale and make sure all commercial spots air when needed within the year. I also work with different departments internally such as our inventory, finance and sales operation teams.  

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current position?

Newhouse definitely prepared me for the advertising world, specifically with the different terminology and jargon learned throughout the program. Prior to attending Newhouse, I had no idea what an agency was. While onboarding at NBCU, I was already familiar with some of the terms used due to the coursework that I went through while attending Newhouse. Learning how to pitch is something I also learned from Newhouse that has helped me with interviewing and presenting in front of different agencies and internal partners. In addition to terminology and jargon, Media Math is something that I was able to learn in classes taught by Professor Beth Egan and it is something that I still use today.   

a person with short black hair and facial hair sits on a flight of steps and smiles. this person wears glasses, a dark green blazer, white shirt and orange tie
Jordan Bonaparte (Photo courtesy of Jordan Bonaparte)

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspects of your field you may have not considered when applying?

Newhouse opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of opportunity within the media field. I was not as knowledgeable when it came to media and advertising terminology prior to attending Newhouse. I knew I loved media but was not sure which road I wanted to take when it came to advertising. The advertising program prepared me for real-world scenarios that clients were facing post-COVID. It was during this time where I figured out that I may want to work on the entertainment side, specifically in sales.    

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

Newhouse being the top communication school in the country is what immediately drew my attention to the program. Also meeting people in the media field in NYC, you are bound to run into a Newhouse grad. That should say a ton about the production of media powerhouses Newhouse produces. Having done prior research, I knew that the advertising program took a hands-on approach in ensuring that students had the opportunity to work with real clients and quite frankly, the best of the best. Working with clients such as Snickers, Neiman Marcus and FOX Sports made the work enjoyable. While the program is an accelerated one-year program and can be deemed rigorous, I knew that I had made the right choice attending this institution.  

Did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you?

The Career Development Center would always send emails for different job opportunities and internships that would catch my eye. I applied to so many internships for the summer since I had to complete my capstone, and emails were sent daily for opportunities to apply. For any students interested in internships and job placements, I would definitely encourage you to walk by the Career Development Center. They are there to help and guide you to get you where you want to be!  

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

Within the media world, there are many obstacles you may face. At times work can be extremely busy, and you are sometimes required to work longer hours than expected. However, you are well compensated for your time and effort. Especially here at NBCU, food is always being brought in for late nights (for free!) and overtime is always a plus. Some may be worried about the money while first starting out (I know I was!), but the money will come. One thing about the media field is you can move up fairly quickly and make a great salary. The first few years may be tough, but climbing the ladder will be rewarding in the end. A Newhouse degree will definitely give you an advantage when applying to jobs at well-known agencies and entertainment networks.  

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far? 

Working with clients that I am familiar with daily has made my job enjoyable. The connections I’ve made in this industry have been nothing short of amazing.  Thinking about my journey from undergrad to graduate school, and now working at a top media company, the hard work paying off has definitely been the most defining moment thus far. While I’ve only been at NBCU for a little over a year, I’m sure that more exciting moments will be coming my way.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

  1. Not knowing exactly what you want to do is okay! Newhouse professors will guide you in the right direction. Take advantage of office hours and the abundance of resources available at your disposal. 
  1. Make as many connections as you can! You will thank yourself for reaching out and establishing these relationships in the future.  
  1. Impostor syndrome can be normal; don’t let it consume you and know that you are here and were chosen for a reason.  

Game changers: Esports Degree Program Enjoys Successful Launch

Beginning in the fall, Syracuse University’s electronic sports, or esports, academic degree program will welcome admitted students to campus for classes.

This past academic year served as “Year Zero” for the esports degree program, which employs a holistic, experiential learning-based approach that will prepare students for career success in various industries, leveraging the largest collection of faculty and staff members of any esports program on a college campus.

It’s an all-encompassing venture, including both the academic degree program and the competitive teams that vie for national championships in their respective games.

Academically, students who embark on this first-of-its-kind esports communications and management program, offered jointly by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, will pursue one of three tracks:

Competitively, Syracuse University fielded its first varsity esports squad in January, with the Orange winning a national championship in the Counter-Strike game and experiencing plenty of success across other varsity and club sports teams.

a person with a bald head, blue eyes and facial hair smiles for the camera

Joey Gawrysiak, executive director of the esports degree program, was hired last August to bring his visionary research and skills to campus, helping Syracuse capitalize on the tremendous popularity of esports while continuing to offer students innovative career options in emerging fields.

“Students will get a world-class education from esports-specific faculty that are at the top of their field in researching and teaching esports, with industry connections that will help you find an experience, a capstone, an internship and a job. That’s part of your educational journey,” says Gawrysiak, who developed one of the first esports degrees in the country at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. He notes that the best-in-class esports facilities currently underway on campus will create standout opportunities for students to engage with esports and gaming.

On this “’Cuse Conversation,” Gawrysiak discusses the evolution of the esports program on campus, the progress made in its first year, the expanded opportunities available to students and what’s planned for the future.

IDJC’s ElectionGraph Launches Searchable Database, New Report Tracking ‘Inauthentic Influencers’

A new searchable database allows the public to examine groups running social media ads that mention U.S. presidential candidates, including secretly coordinated pages that are running identical videos or messages.

The work is the result of comprehensive research through the ElectionGraph project from the University’s Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship (IDJC). In conjunction with the new publicly available data dashboard, IDJC ElectionGraph researchers released a report that found about 2,200 webpages have run ads on Facebook and Instagram between Sept. 1, 2023, and April 30, 2024.

The ads, which mentioned President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump or other presidential primary candidates, have collectively exceeded 1 billion impressions.

a person with short blonde hair and earrings wears a white shirt and purple blazer while posing for a headshot
Jennifer Stromer-Galley

Though a majority of the pages analyzed appear tied to legitimate groups, a portion of the pages appear to be “inauthentic influencers” who are secretly coordinating and running identical videos or messages. Several of these groups include false or misleading information in their ads, the report found.

The research also captured evidence of a deepfake featuring manipulated audio of figures, including Trump and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. And the findings detailed different political issues on which conservative and progressive-leaning pages are focusing their ad spends.

For conservative pages, immigration has been the top issue, surpassing the economy, while the economy was the top issue for progressive pages. Accounting for all pages regardless of leaning, ads related to the economy received the most ad dollars.

This is the second report from ElectionGraph, which seeks to identify misinformation trends in the U.S. presidential election and other top 2024 contests. The project is supported by a grant and use of analytics software from Neo4j, the world’s leading graph database and analytics company.

The Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship is a joint University initiative of the Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

The IDJC ElectionGraph team’s efforts included pinpointing origins of messages and tracing misinformation by collecting and algorithmically classifying ads run on Facebook and Instagram, as well as social media posts on Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter.

a person with medium length brown hair and blue glasses wears a blue shirt and black blazer while posing for a headshot
Johanna Dunaway

The network of authentic and inauthentic actors identified in the research represents just a fraction of all coordinated pages related to elections. Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is the only social media group that grants approved organizations access to ad data. This data is not required to be disclosed and is not similarly trackable on TikTok, Google, YouTube or Snapchat, according to the report.

“What this research reveals is the surprising number of actors we know very little about who are spending money targeting voters with messaging on social media where there is little transparency,” says Jennifer Stromer-Galley, professor in the School of Information Studies and lead researcher for the project.

“It underscores that tech platforms need to do more to allow academics and journalists access to platform data so that political actors can be held to account with the American public,” Stromer-Galley says.

Johanna Dunaway, IDJC research director and a professor of political science in the Maxwell School, says that what stands out from the analysis is the reminder that the election information environment is more confusing than ever.

“Even as some things stay the same—like emphasis on the economy and more focus on advocacy and attacks than issues—opaque messaging from random one-off groups or complex hidden networks with questionable motives makes it increasingly difficult to identify credible messages and sources in the cacophony of campaign-related information,” Dunaway says.

a person with medium length brown hair wears a black and white patterned shirt and black blazer while posing for a headshot. their hands are folded in front of them and resting on a table
Margaret Talev

The prevalence of inauthentic groups, scams and deepfake voices just within the parameters of the search shows a massive amount of manipulation and misinformation targeting Americans through the political information consumed online, says Margaret Talev, Kramer Director of the IDJC, professor of practice in the Newhouse School and a journalist.

“This is a situation of ‘voter beware’ but also ‘consumer beware’ because sometimes what looks like a bid for your vote may actually be a bid for your identity or your credit card information,” Talev says.

Jim Webber, Neo4j’s chief scientist, says that covert operations by coordinated networks in digital civic spaces is a dangerous modern reality—while the company’s graph technology is enabling IDJC’s researchers “to uncover the hidden patterns and actions of those covert actors” and identify misinformation and misleading content.

Bridging Coasts and Building Careers

Syracuse University’s programs in Los Angeles allow students to explore their dreams in the entertainment world.

A look at a map would suggest that Syracuse and Los Angeles could hardly be more distant. But for many Syracuse University students, the experience of living and learning in LA—the sunny entertainment capital of the world and an epicenter for culture in every form—is an integral part of their college journey.

Through the University’s Dick Clark Los Angeles Program, students have opportunities to explore the industries that interest them, expand academically and get a taste of life on the West Coast. They learn from industry professionals, gain hands-on experience in internships and connect with a huge and supportive network of accomplished alumni. Syracuse’s study away programs in LA allow students to experience the best of both worlds: a close and supportive community and extraordinary access into the expansive educational and professional opportunities of LA.

In Training for Sports Journalism

“Los Angeles has every sport—as much as it’s known for Hollywood, it’s also known for sports,” says Luke Backman ’25, who is majoring in broadcast and digital journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and aspires to a career in sports broadcasting. “I knew this would be a great opportunity.”

a reporter is being filmed and holds a microphone while standing on a basketball court
In the Newhouse sports media and communications program, Luke Backman ’25 gains experience as a sports broadcaster for a range of sports in the Los Angeles area.

One of the most impactful aspects of his Newhouse Los Angeles experience has been the sports production class he is taking with seasoned sports media executive Jeff Proctor. “This has been the greatest class I’ve ever taken. Professor Proctor has connections everywhere—he’s done Clippers games, Lakers games, the Angels, boxing—and he brings in the greatest guests,” Backman says. “This course has given me a whole new perspective on sports production and really helped me understand the industry.”

Backman took an internship with MSM Productions, an Emmy Award-winning production company known for its sports-related storytelling, which complements his classroom learning with professional experience. “MSM Productions is doing the best of the best, the biggest of the biggest. This is an amazing place to be for someone who wants to be in sports media.”

a person sits in a class with 2 other students and gesticulates as they talk
In his sports media pitch course, Backman and classmates produce weekly news caps for social media and learn to brand and market themselves.

Backman has also appreciated the community fostered in the LA program. “The Los Angeles program does a really great job making everyone feel included. We do events together—we toured Warner Bros.—and we have dinners together. I’ve made so many new friends and it really feels like a family,” he says.

Media Literacy’s Role in Social Justice and Empowerment

Read more about the latest episode of the “Newhouse Impact” podcast and listen to the show.

Many scholars have noted that education on media literacy is increasingly important as social and digital media become bigger parts of people’s lives.

On this episode of Newhouse Impact, Newhouse Communications Professor Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian and Mass Communications Doctoral Student Shannon Burth expand the notion of media literacy beyond simply understanding the more about the media we consume. Their research also examines the ability to use media, to act and be empowered, and their importance as tools for social justice. They further include understanding the spread of AI and algorithms that increasingly control what is presented in various media.

Newhouse in the News

Some recent media appearances, interviews or stories by Newhouse School faculty and staff.

Nina Brown, Communications

J. Christopher Hamilton, Television, Radio and Film

Robert Thompson, Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture

Roy Gutterman, Magazine, News and Digital Journalism

Eric Grode, Goldring Arts, Style and Culture Journalism

Austin Kocher, Civic Research Data Lab

Bill Werde, Bandier Program for Recording and Entertainment Industries

Charisse L’Pree, Communications

Josh Darr, Communications

Capturing Dreams

Syracuse University nurtures a rising graduate student’s passion for photojournalism.

For Jiaxin “Joe” Zhao ’24, photography is more than a calling; it’s a way of life. One that she’s traveled more than 7,200 miles for. “I want to work as a photojournalist, focusing on social and political issues,” says the Shanghai native, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in art photography from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Zhao is so committed to her craft that instead of returning home or entering the U.S. workforce, she’s remaining on campus for another year. In August, Zhao begins master’s studies in multimedia, photography and design in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “It’s an intensive degree program that will help me launch my career in visual communications,” says the award-winning sports photographer. “I’m excited to study under such luminaries as Gregory Heisler, Paula Nelson G’21 and Bruce Strong.”

a person sits in an orange chair and looks at printed photos in front of them
An aspiring photojournalist, Zhao wants to focus on social and political issues. “The Newhouse School will help me launch my career in visual communications,” says the Shanghai native. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse University)

Being in the Newhouse School also enables Zhao to take advantage of special opportunities, like the four-day Alexia Fall Workshop (which brings in top professionals from around the world to collaborate with students), while working for The Daily Orange and Student Engagement.

Credit the Forever Orange Scholarship, which covers half of Zhao’s graduate tuition costs, for helping her pursue her dreams. “The scholarship makes everything easier,” she admits. “As a result, I can better focus on my studies.”