Jennifer George-Palilonis

Jennifer Palilonis, George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia Journalism

Ball State University’s Jennifer Palilonis is a nominee for the 2019-20 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success.

Palilonis is the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia Journalism and a professor in the Department of Journalism. She also serves as the founding director of the Center for Emerging Media Design and Development (EMDD).

“I am so honored to represent Ball State as the University’s nominee for this award,” Palilonis said. “I have been so fortunate to build my career as a professor at an institution that puts student learning first.”

In the nomination process, the first-of-its-kind award recognized one full-time faculty nominee from each MAC institution who has demonstrated a dedication to student success.

“Ball State has provided me with some really amazing opportunities to create collaborative, immersive learning environments for students,” Palilonis said. “The most rewarding experiences have been the ones for which I have been able to connect students with real-world media partners to develop real-world projects. That practical experience, I believe, is one of the most important ways to ensure student success.”

In his nomination letter, Johnny Sparks, journalism department chair, lauded Palilonis for training a generation of diverse, inclusive, creative and technically competent journalists and professionals who have made and continue to make a positive difference in the world through exceptional visual storytelling.

He noted one of Palilonis’ former students, Erika Espinoza, ’18 — working at the Phoenix Design Studio for the USA TODAY Network in 2017 in collaboration with The Arizona Republic — was part of the graphics and site design teams that reported on the border wall proposed by President Donald J. Trump. “The Wall” won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting and featured an interactive map, virtual reality screen captures and aerial video of the border.

Sparks said that Palilonis’ revolutionary and adaptive approach to education in journalism and mass communication during the past two decades earned her the Scripps Howard National Journalism & Mass Communication Teacher of the Year Award in 2013.

Palilonis was key in launching the University’s innovative EMDD graduate program in 2015.

“In the span of 24 months, she grew EMDD from zero to 42 students through tireless recruiting efforts and a dedication to her students, who will lead the future communication industry in Indiana and beyond,” Sparks wrote in his nomination “I can think of no faculty member who has made a greater impact on the field of journalism graphics and Ball State University in the past 25 years than Jennifer Palilonis.”

MAC officials announced the nominees for the award from each of the 12 member schools earlier today. The overall award winner will be announced Friday.