Grady College names 2021-22 Teachers of the Year

Grady College is happy to recognize its Teachers of the Year for the 2021-22 academic year: 

Grady College is also happy to recognize the 2021-22 recipient of the Roland Page Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty:

  • Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, Journalism. 

The Teachers of the Year are annually selected by their peers, based on excellence in the classroom and student feedback. The recipient of the Roland Page Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty is annually nominated and selected by graduate students. 

“Winning the Teacher of the Year award in one of our departments is saying something, because these hallways are lined with award-winning teachers. It takes a superb effort to rise to the top of this competition,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College.

Dodie Cantrell-Bickley advises students on the set of Grady Newsourse. (Image: Sarah E. Freeman)

Cantrell-Bickley, who previously spent more than 30 years in various roles for television news stations, is known by students for her enthusiasm, high energy, interesting and inspiring stories and persistent willingness to help students both inside the classroom and during the job hunt. 

“(Professor Cantrell-Bickley) communicates a lifetime of experience in easy-to-understand and widely applicable techniques, quotes, witticisms, and when need be, lectures. All of this is done in a frank and personable manner with respect to who students are and who we are developing into as people,” wrote one student.

“The Journalism Department is so lucky to have Dodie,” added Janice Hume, head of the Journalism Department and the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism. “She offers students the perfect mix of professional rigor and support. She does as much for students outside the classroom.”

In 2021, Cantrell-Bickley launched an all-volunteer news production program focused on social justice that attracted students from freshmen to seniors, and she led a team of faculty coaches and students to produce the hour-long documentary, “The First Five: The Integration of University of Georgia Football.”

Mattison, a filmmaker and author, uses his large bank of experiences writing and directing to teach his students what it takes to create stellar films. 

“Some students in his directing and capstone courses come away with award-winning films. But they all come away with invaluable knowledge, experience and insight into the skill, inspiration and determination it takes to create an entire, original visual story from the ground up,” said Jay Hamilton, head of the EMST Department and the Jim Kennedy New Media Professor.

Booker T. Mattison celebrates with students during Grady’s spring 2022 graduation celebration. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Outside of the classroom, Mattison recently finished shooting for his upcoming film “Sound of Christmas,” which stars musical artist and actor Ne-Yo and will air on BET during the holidays.

Pfeuffer is known as an avid proponent of active learning, a teaching method that focuses on engaging with students through discussion and problem solving. 

“Professor Pfeuffer is absolutely amazing. He’s so understanding and so concerned about every one of his students. He makes sure we understand the material, while still being genuinely concerned about our workloads,” wrote one of his students. 

“Alex is a beloved professor who teaches tough core courses in the curriculum,” added Bryan Reber, head of the AdPR Department and C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership. “The fact that students express the fact that they don’t have to come to his classes, but they want to come to them, speaks volumes.”

Smith, who specializes in teaching Graphic Communication, is beloved by her students for preparing them with applicable skills for their careers. 

“Kristen is an excellent instructor!” wrote one of her students. “She was always engaging and excited about our work and eager to both give helpful feedback and listen to students’ ideas. I feel like I learned a lot about graphic design, to the point that I would feel comfortable doing graphic design work when necessary in my career.”

“Kristen Smith continually embraces new pedagogical models in her teaching,” added Reber. “Even when it means that it will increase her workload, she is willing to take the plunge and try new ways to critique and grade student design work. Kristen is a remarkably dedicated teacher.  Our students are fortunate when they wind up in her classes.”

Rice is an expert health and medical journalist and communications professional with experience reporting for some of the nation’s top news organizations and serving as the director of media relations for the American Cancer Society. She is praised by her students as a mentor inside and outside of the classroom. 

“Professor Rice has gone above and beyond countless times for me and my peers in and outside of the classroom,” said one graduate student. “She helped me network and helped me get an assistant producer freelance job that I am enjoying so much!”

Journalism students create legacy project with documentary about UGA desegregation

Editor’s Note: The 60th Anniversary of the Desegregation at UGA documentary can be viewed in its entirety on the Grady College YouTube channel.

Many UGA students spend their time as students learning skills that build toward a capstone project.  While some define that seminal project early on, others wait for it to unfold, gradually over time. Then there is the rare student like Kelsey Coffey (AB ’20) who has that defining project of her time at UGA presented to her a month before graduation.

The invitation presented to Coffey was to help research,  anchor and report on an hour-long documentary, “60th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA,” produced by Grady College Newsource.

Kelsey Coffey graduated in December with the degree in journalism.

“When I started at the University of Georgia, I couldn’t have dreamed finishing this way,” Coffey said. “Doing this project was the greatest honor of my life and my time at UGA. It was an honor, a privilege and a gift to be involved.”

Coffey and a group of  10 students worked under the direction of supervising producer Dodie Cantrell-Bickley and other Grady College faculty to put together a retrospective and study of the social impact of desegregating UGA. The documentary includes rare, archived news footage from 1961 of Charlayne Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) and Hamilton Holmes entering campus; perspectives from other students during that time; current interviews with Hunter-Gault, Mary Frances Early, Hamilton Holmes, Jr. and others; and a look at the current impact and future plans of diversity at UGA.

The idea for the documentary was presented to Cantrell-Bickley by Dean Charles Davis, who obtained funding support from the Office of the President at the University of Georgia. Cantrell-Bickley enlisted other faculty members including Valerie Boyd, Amanda Bright, Mark Johnson and Ralitsa Vassileva to help the students with the story structure, fact-checking, historical context and consistency.

The archival footage was sourced through the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection and UGA Public Affairs at the University of Georgia Libraries. The WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection is part of the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection.

While it is the news coverage from 1961 that gives the documentary its sense of perspective, it is the current interviews with Hunter-Gault, Early and Hamilton Holmes, Jr. that generate its lasting resonance.

“Having the characters tell their stories in their own voices is what gives this project value over time,” Johnson, a content advisor on the project, said. “To preserve their voices telling their story is what will make it so compelling at the 75th anniversary of desegregation and beyond.”

Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence who served as a historical consultant for the documentary, said that Hunter-Gault was extremely generous with her time and was interviewed by the students for nearly three hours during the first session.

“Charlayne was excited watching these young journalists work and ask questions that were great,” Boyd said. “You could see her sheer enjoyment of the process.”

While Hunter-Gault may have been receiving a lot of energy from the students, it was a reciprocal experience for the students.

“Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a gift to humanity,” Coffey said of her interactions with the professional journalist. “To be able to share time and space with an individual of her caliber is unbelievable. She was kind, gracious, funny, authentic—all of the things you would hope she would be, she is and more.”

Further reflections from students involved with the project are being gathered now and will be shared in coming weeks on the Grady Newsource website.

The documentary concludes with a panel discussion about current initiatives and future plans at UGA. The panel included (upper left, clockwise) Charlayne Hunter-Gault; Kelsey Coffey; Victor K. Wilson, UGA vice president for student affairs; Jalen Polk, UGA Black Leadership Council; and Alton Standifer, UGA assistant to the president.

The UGA student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, another important connection since Hunter-Gault is a national member of NABJ, is coordinating the premiere of the desegregation documentary.

“Charlayne has been an influential leader among NABJ and the Civil Rights movement, so it is important for us to continue to uplift the NABJ community locally by helping with this event,” said Tylar Norman, NABJ chapter president. “I hope that the legacy of this documentary on campus will be one that unites us and reminds everyone of the brave people who took the first step toward desegregating UGA and pursuing diversity and inclusion for all.”

When all is said and done, the legacy of this project focuses not only on the incredible story of desegregating UGA, but in the passion and work ethic the students telling the story committed to this project.

“The biggest bonus of this project were the students,” Cantrell-Bickley concluded. “They  produced excellent work, and when you produce work like that and you find in your soul that you are capable of producing that, you  will not want to hold yourself to a standard less than that because you know what you can achieve. Our mission is an exceptional education for our students…so, if this college can help students do that—yay!”

The 60th Anniversary of Desegregation documentary.

Dodie Cantrell-Bickley nominated into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle

Dodie Cantrell-Bickley (MFA ’17), lecturer of journalism at Grady College, will be inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Southeast Chapter Silver Circle on Sept. 7, 2018.

Cantrell-Bickley has over 30 years of experience in television news positions including anchor, investigative reporter, executive producer and news director, serving much of her time at WMAZ-TV in Macon as well as WLTV/WJXX in Jacksonville. She has also served as the president/general manager at CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates. Currently, Cantrell-Bickley co-produces, Newsource, a half-hour newscast that is broadcast four times weekly when school is in session.

The Gold and Silver Circle is a society of honor that recognizes a career dedicated to the advancement of the television and digital media industry.  Induction is a milestone reserved for professionals who have done more than witness change within an industry: They’ve led it.

“Earning a spot in the Gold and Silver Circle is a tremendous accomplishment. What stands out about this year’s class is as much about the future of our field as it is about their past work. These individuals are shaping the direction of our industry,” said NATAS SE President Jeremy Campbell.

This year’s class is composed of sixteen individuals from across the Southeast region. The 2018 Silver Circle represents anchors, reporters, photographers, news directors and educators with twenty-five or more years of experience. Honorees include David Brooks (WXIA Atlanta), Glenn Burns (WSB Atlanta), John Cessarish (WYFF Greenville, SC), Ellen Crooke (TEGNA, Inc), Morse Diggs (WAGA Atlanta), Eddy Elguezabal (Univision Atlanta), Tracy Haynes (Savannah State University), Tony Light (WSB Atlanta), Teya Ryan (GPB Atlanta), Harry Samler (WGCL Atlanta), Russ Spencer (WAGA Atlanta), Tammy Watford (WLOS Asheville, SC). For the first time, NATAS SE will induct a co-anchor team into the same class, Bill Sharpe and Debi Chard (WCSC Charleston, SC). The 2018 Gold Circle honors those with fifty or more years of services to the industry. This year’s honoree is Richard O’Dell of WLTX.

Gold and Silver Circle Inductees are nominated by their peers from across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina. Each annual class is chosen by a special selection committee within NATAS SE.

The 2018 Gold and Silver Circle will be honored at the NATAS SE Induction Ceremony hosted by WSB-TV’s Jovita Moore on Sept. 7 at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead.


The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is a professional, non-profit service organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of television and the promotion of creative leadership for artistic, educational and technical achievements within the television industry. NATAS membership consists of over 16,000 broadcast and media professionals represented in 19 regional chapters across the country. Beyond awards, NATAS has extensive educational and scholarship programs for outstanding journalistic work. For more information, please visit

Cantrell-Bickley instills passion for journalism in students

Leaving retirement to start a new career teaching was not an easy choice, but Dodie Cantrell-Bickley views her most recent job as an investment. 

“When it’s time, I don’t want to have that fleeting thought about ‘Did I invest my life or did I just spend it’?” she said. “Being part of the Grady faculty and helping turn out tomorrow’s great journalists feels like a great return on that investment.”

Cantrell-Bickley was lured out retirement when David Hazinski, co-instructor and former NBC correspondent, reached out to her and pitched the idea.

“I had been a fan of Hazinski and the Grady program for many years,” Cantrell-Bickley said. “In fact, I visited the classes in the past and hired great Grady grads.”

Today, she co-produces Newsource, a half-hour newscast that is broadcast four times weekly when school is in session. 

For the 30 or so students who take Newsource as their capstone class, the daily newscast is a semester-long marathon of searching for stories, scouring facts, conducting interviews, packaging stories and producing the show. In addition, there are dozens of student volunteers who work behind the scenes for each broadcast. At the heart of this stress and chaos is Cantrell-Bickley making links to what they already have learned. 

“Newsource is where you put everything you have learned in the classroom at Grady into action,” she said. 

Newsource, a program that has been part of Grady College for nearly 30 years, is the epitome of experiential learning and Cantrell-Bickley’s more than 30 years in the industry has positioned her well to teach her students about the newsroom. Cantrell-Bickley has served as an anchor, an investigative reporter, an executive producer, a news director and a president/general manager, serving much of her time at WMAZ-TV in Macon as well as WTLV/WJXX in Jacksonville. 

Dodie Cantrell-Bickley stays in touch with many Grady alumni. She is pictured here (fourth from left) with several recent graduates at a Newsource Alumni Reunion Brunch in April, 2018.

Cantrell-Bickley and Hazinski work hard to make the class as realistic as possible in relation to what their students will experience in broadcast journalism when they graduate. Part of that process is a critique that is publicly broadcast at the end of every show. Seldom does Cantrell-Bickley sugar-coat her feedback.

“Hazinski set the standard for critiques so that our students could trust the feedback they receive and grow from it,” she said. “Honesty and candor are a must.” 

In addition to technical and editorial skills, Cantrell-Bickley is committed to teaching her students how to succeed in a field that is bombarded with unverified information masquerading as journalism on some social media, accusations of  fake news and an incredible amount of competition to be heard. 

“Great journalism is about facts,” she said. “Getting information and making sure it is accurate is critical; producing the story in a way that is engaging and easy to understand is vital.”

She shares her passion for journalism with them along the way. 

“We serve the public by acquiring and disseminating news and information that will help the public make more completely informed decisions about their lives,” she said. 

Like any good news director, Cantrell-Bickley is available to her students 24 hours a day via phone or text. Her students don’t hesitate to call if there is a breaking news story. She also receives group texts throughout the day as the students prepare the show. 

Her phone signals an incoming text as she leaves the interview. The students are discussing that day’s show. 

“Let’s make Cantrell proud,” one response says. She smiles with pride.