Each semester, Robertson School faculty choose outstanding graduating students in each academic concentration to receive a Faculty Award. This is more than about just good grades--faculty look for students who really distinguished themselves while at VCU and in the School. This could be through campus involvement in clubs and organizations, amazing class work, demonstrating a can-do attitude and/or being an unforgettable member of the Robertson School family.
Separate awards are given out for undergraduate creative advertising, strategic advertising, broadcast journalism, digital journalism, public relations, graduate multimedia journalism and graduate strategic public relations. The winner receives a plaque with their name, the name of their academic concentration and the inscription that this person "best exemplifies the standards of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture."
At least once per year, Robertson School faculty choose a student to receive the Josephine (Josie) Varnier Stone Award, in honor of an unforgettable student who was killed shortly after graduating from VCU and the School.
Here's a description of the award from previous School commencement remarks by Jeff South, an associate professor of journalism and one of Josie’s professors:
"As graduates, you are members of the VCU Mass Comm family. Last fall, we lost a member of that family – Josie Varnier Stone, who had graduated in May 2011. Josie was killed in a car accident – just as her career was taking off. She was a special person, and we’d like to honor her memory with a special award.
Josie was a double major – mass comm and English – and she’ll be remembered as a versatile writer: somebody who could pound out a news story about the governor giving a speech, and then write a poem or horror fiction for the magazine she had co-founded called Quail Bell.
While earning her degree, she worked as a waitress at Penny Lane Pub. In 2009, Josie was in my Capital News Service course, writing stories about the General Assembly. She always had great quotes in her stories – candid comments from high-powered politicians and lobbyists. I asked her once about her interviewing techniques. She explained that a lot of politicians would come in to Penny Lane – and after taking their order, Josie would flip over her order pad and say, 'Senator, I am working on a story about that bill you’re sponsoring …'
It was that kind of spunk that we’ll remember."
The award identifies the winner, "as the student who best exemplifies the spirit of generosity, creativity and dedication."
Kappa Tau Alpha is the honor society for journalism and mass communications. According to the organization’s website, "Membership must be earned by excellence in academic work at one of the colleges and universities that have chapters. Selection for membership is a mark of highest distinction and honor."
Membership is by invitation only for undergraduate and graduate students. The VCU Robertson School is home to the George T. Crutchfield chapter, named after the School’s inaugural director. Read more about VCU's KTA chapter.
Once students are initiated into KTA they are eligible to be the KTA Top Scholar. This could be the same semester in which they are initiated or in a future semester. The chapter presents the award to the graduating undergraduate and/or graduate student with the highest grade point average, which includes a plaque and KTA medallion.