Media and Journalism Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

The School of Media and Journalism (MDJ) at Kent State is pleased to welcome two new full-time faculty members for the 2022-23 academic year in the areas of media diversity and studies, and multimedia/video production and documentaries.

Tara Conley, Ed.D., and Kathryn Cooper, Ph.D., are joining the faculty as assistant professors. This fall, Conley will teach Media, Power and Culture and Managing Media Diversity, and Cooper will teach Digital Video Editing and Production II.

“We’re so pleased to welcome these two accomplished scholars and educators to MDJ,” says MDJ Director Emily Metzgar, Ph.D. “Tara and Kaatie bring an impressive range of skills, experiences and insights to our School and we’re excited for our students and all of us to benefit from having them join our community.”

Conley is joining MDJ from Montclair State University where she was an assistant professor of media studies, while also serving as the Race and Technology Practitioner Fellow at Stanford University. She earned her Ed.D. from Columbia University. Conley is the founder of Hashtag Feminism ( which tracks and archives feminist discourse on Twitter, and the producer of Brackish, a documentary about life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Most recently, she compiled the RUBY Toolkit, a resource inspired by Ruby Bridges that will provide students, youth advocates and educators accessible media, technology and narrative strategies to advocate for racial literacy and racial justice education. A Northeast Ohio native, Conley says she is thrilled to bring her teaching, research and creative projects “home.”

“Growing up here, I spent long days at high school track meets and basketball camps at Kent State,” she says. “I never would have imagined that I'd return many moons later as a professor in the School of Media and Journalism. It's a wonderful feeling to come full circle and return home. I look forward to collaborating with students and my new colleagues!"

Cooper is joining MDJ from the University of Wyoming, where she has been an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism since 2018. There, she developed video production and documentary courses, which had been absent at the university for more than two decades.

Her research focuses on how scientists and journalists can more effectively communicate with the public about science and environmental issues, especially when such issues are politically contentious. This research investigates the use of documentaries, narratives and other strategies to overcome biased judgment and decision making, promote healthy behavior, alter public opinion and increase citizen engagement. Cooper earned her Ph.D. from Ohio State University, and her dissertation was “Audiences, structures, and strategies: The promise and power of environmental documentaries.”

“I'm thrilled to be joining the School of Media and Journalism and am eager to begin working with the outstanding faculty, staff and students at Kent State!” Cooper says. “I look forward to contributing to the School's mission of enabling students' creative self-expression and professional development.”

POSTED: Monday, August 22, 2022 02:52 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 06:20 PM