Garrett Wagner, White and Grode Honored for Teaching Excellence, Yang Recognized for Graduate Research and Work

Three Newhouse School faculty members have been recognized by Syracuse University for teaching excellence, carrying on the school’s tradition of faculty rich in real-world experience who are dedicated to helping students succeed.

Kyla Garrett Wagner, an assistant professor of communications, is a 2022-23 recipient of a Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for Early Performance. Mel White, a professor of practice in advertising, is a recipient of the Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for Continuing Excellence.

Eric Grode, director of the Goldring arts journalism and communications master’s program, is a recipient of the 2023 Syracuse University Graduate School Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award.

“These accolades are well deserved for Kyla, Mel and Eric. They are representative of the standards of excellence overall set by our faculty members, whose collective wealth of knowledge, research and experiences help to enrich the classroom environment,” Newhouse School dean Mark J. Lodato said. “I thank each of them for their commitment to our students.”

Jeongwon Yang, a doctoral candidate in mass communications, won the Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Work. Her research is focused on the use of social media during risk or crisis situations, and she has previously studied how media coverage framed rumors and misinformation during the MERS outbreak.

Kyla Garrett Wagner

Garrett Wagner

Garrett Wagner is an interdisciplinary legal and communications scholar studying the relationship between public health and the First Amendment. She taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for six years before starting at Newhouse in fall 2019.

It meant Garrett Wagner had to navigate teaching through the COVID pandemic the following spring while still relatively new to Newhouse. Hired to primarily teach media law, which is a topic that makes many students apprehensive, Garrett Wagner consistently receives overwhelmingly positive reviews from students who appreciate how easily she makes law relatable to their careers.

“Kyla Garrett Wagner is an enthusiastic and engaging professor who easily connects with students while challenging them to understand and apply complex concepts in communications and law,” said Bradley Gorham, associate professor and chair of the communications department.

The Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for Early Performance is presented to faculty who have completed two years of teaching at Syracuse University.

Mel White


White has brought a wealth of advertising expertise to her role as professor of practice at Newhouse, having worked more than a quarter-century in the industry, including 17 in New York. She has worked as creative director or art director at prominent agencies including Young and Rubicam, Ogilvy, Grey, Publicis and D’Arcy.

White has worked on accounts for high-profile brands in a wide variety of fields, including Microsoft, Land Rover, American Express and Fisher-Price.

“She is an amazing, dedicated and passionate professor who has inspired so many students to choose advertising creativity as a professional career,” said James Tsao, professor and chair of the advertising department. “More importantly, the sheer number of student awards under her mentorship attested the impressive milestone that she has brought our brand to the national level.”   

The Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for Continuing Excellence is presented to faculty who have five or more years of teaching experience at the University.

Eric Grode


Director of the Goldring program, Grode also serves as an associate professor of magazine, news and digital journalism. Grode is a regular freelance theater critic and reporter for The New York Times, and he also served as head theater critic for The New York Sun and

Grode’s extensive journalism experience also includes editorial positions at TV Guide and Good Housekeeping. A former vice president of the New York Drama Critics Circle, Grode has also written two books: “Hair: The Story of the Show That Defined a Generation,” the authorized history of the Broadway musical, and “The Book of Broadway: The 150 Definitive Plays and Musicals.”  

Grode’s approach to ensuring a fulfilling graduate experience starts by understanding students’ goals, ambitions, deficits and gifts.

“Eric has consistently shown himself to be a valued colleague, a deft instructor and a deeply committed advocate for his students both in and out of the classroom,” said Joel Kaplan, associate dean of graduate programs.

“As director of one of our signature graduate programs, Eric has now nurtured generations of students who have gone on to work at places like The New York Times and Playbill, as well as arts organizations like the Sundance and Aspen film festivals.”

The Syracuse University Graduate School Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Awards are presented to faculty members who have a significant, positive influence on graduate education through their commitment to superior graduate teaching, dedication to departmental and community presence and work in research initiatives.

Jeongwon Yang


Yang’s work has been published in prominent journals including Public Relations Review, Computers in Human Behavior and Journal of Advertising. She has also received an internal research grant from the Newhouse School on top of several fellowships awarded by the University.  

“As evident in her excellent track record of publications, Jeongwon is highly committed to academic research,” said Hua Jiang, associate dean of academic affairs and Jeongwon’s doctoral advisor. “The quality of her research is among the best.”

The Graduate Dean’s Award recognizes recipients for their overall academic record and outstanding quality of their research or creative activity at the University.