Media Arts and Design

Harrison Hall studio named for Alison Parker

Inaugural scholarship named for alumna also awarded


SUMMARY: Alison Parker, a SMAD alumna who with her cameraman was killed during an on-air shooting last year, has been honored with a studio naming and with a scholarship given to a rising junior and a rising senior.

Parker scholarship winners

Parker scholarship winners Caroline Brandt (second from left) and Kathryn Potter (second from right) are joined by SMAD's Ryan Parkhurst, Barbara and Andy Parker (Alison's parents) and Chris Hurst (Alison's boyfriend).

The Harrison Hall studio will now be known as the Alison B. Parker Television Studio in memory of the 2012 School of Media Arts and Design alumna who was killed during an on-air shooting last year.

The naming of the studio was announced during SMAD’s annual banquet on April 14. During her time at JMU, Parker worked in the studio as a reporter and anchor for JMU Today and as part of class projects. She also was a news editor at The Breeze, the student newspaper.

Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, who worked for Roanoke station WDBJ, were shot and killed Aug. 26, 2015, at Smith Mountain Lake while Parker was interviewing lake official Vicki Gardner, who was wounded but survived.

Parker also was honored at the banquet, the first held since her death, as two SMAD students received the inaugural Alison B. Parker Journalism Scholarship. The scholarship fund was established immediately after her death and became the fastest-endowed scholarship in JMU history.

Kathryn Potter received the $4,000 scholarship for a rising senior and Caroline Brandt received the $1,000 scholarship for a rising junior.

Kelly Zuber, the WDBJ news director who led her staff through grieving and covering the deaths of Parker and Ward, mentioned Parker several times during an address in which she encouraged SMAD students to dig for the “why” behind the stories they tell.

“We don’t honor Alison because she died,” Zuber said, urging students to focus on the “be” of the university’s motto, “Be the Change.” “We honor her because she lived. She had being down.”

Zuber, a 1981 JMU graduate in Communications Arts (SMAD’s predecessor), has been at WDBJ for more than 34 years and has worked as a reporter, photojournalist, assignment editor, director of public affairs and director of promotion and marketing. She is currently the news director.

She urged those who want to honor Parker to remember Aug. 25, the day before she and Ward died. It was on that day, Zuber said, that these two promising young journalists were “living life to the fullest.”

“You better make use of this day,” Zuber said.

The honors for Parker came amid a night that also included SMAD awarding a dozen students more than $30,000 in scholarships.

Scholarship winners were:

  • Blanche Garrett Memorial Scholarship: Heather Bell
  • Digital Video Group Scholarship: Katie McGee
  • Alan Neckowitz Study Abroad Scholarship: Lauren Sauer
  • Madison Cinema Studies Scholarship: Brittany Fortner
  • John Woody One Day/One University Scholarship: Lauren Schild
  • Byrd/Mims: Forrest Deal, Michael Dolzer, Rachel Petty, Jillian Wright
  • De Luca: Robin Smith, Michael Dolzer, Richard Bozek
  • Alumni/Professional: Megan Fowler and MaryLouise McMahan
  • Lawrence Cain: Amanda Harner
  • Madison Screenwriting: Julia Lewis
  • Reel Change Recognition: Marielena Planas

In addition to the scholarships, the school awarded 11 students with honors in each concentration. These students were selected based on academic achievement or outstanding contributions to the school.

Those winners were:

  • Outstanding Senior: Alexandra Maben
  • Academic Achievement: Joseph Cooper (converged media), Rachel Jones (digital video and cinema), Christina Nesi (digital video and cinema), Colleen Corbett (integrated advertising and corporate communications), Molly Jacob (journalism)
  • Outstanding Contributor: Michele Goad (converged media), Marielena Planas (digital video and cinema), Abby Riggleman (digital video and cinema), Laura Mack (integrated advertising and corporate communications), Wayne Epps Jr. (journalism)

Back to Top

Published: Sunday, April 17, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2018

Related Articles