Newsmakers Luncheon Honors Baylor Faculty Experts

October 7, 2019

Race and culture expert Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., recognized as Newsmaker of the Year

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (Oct. 7, 2019) – More than 90 Baylor University faculty who share their knowledge, research and expertise with the news media were honored Oct. 7 by Baylor Media and Public Relations during the second annual Newsmakers Luncheon.

The event in Barfield Drawing Room, attended by Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., and deans and campus communicators from the University’s colleges and schools, recognized the overall contributions of faculty experts who offer their research and academic perspective on national and world issues. Their volunteer efforts help build the University’s visibility and profile as Baylor moves forward on the implementation of the Illuminate strategic plan and Research 1/Tier 1 recognition.

“We are celebrating our faculty’s research but also celebrating the way in which we are communicating that research to the broader public,” Livingstone said. “Our faculty are unbelievably busy as they conduct research, teach and mentor our students and serve our community, so the willingness of our faculty to prepare for interviews and spend time with the media is critically important and deeply appreciated.

“Baylor faculty are doing really interesting research that’s helping to solve important problems to enhance the common good, but we have to tell people about that research, and we have to tell them about it in a way that everyone can understand,” Livingstone said. “As we continue to move forward on Illuminate and our desire to be a Research 1 university, we need to make sure people know about the good and important research at Baylor and know how the work that our faculty are doing is really helping solve some of important problems in the world.”

Newsmaker of the Year for 2018-2019

The annual luncheon also recognized Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., professor and chair of journalism, public relations and new media in the College of Arts & Sciences, as the faculty Newsmaker of the Year for 2018-2019 for wide-ranging news coverage of her academic expertise. A nationally recognized author and expert on race and culture, Moody-Ramirez was presented with a crystal microphone for her time working with Media and Public Relations to prepare for and complete multiple media interviews as she shared her research and expertise with reporters.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Moody-Ramirez contributed her expertise to numerous national media outlets, particularly at times when the nation’s attention turned to racially charged events and reaction unfolded on social media. Over the past year, more than 200 stories featuring Moody-Ramirez’s expertise were seen, read or heard by more than 650 million people and valued at more than half a million dollars.

“I have dedicated my academic career at Baylor to topics that I am passionate about as a scholar and an educator. Whether it is politics, gender or race, I try to add a perspective that matters to people,” Moody-Ramirez said. “As researchers, we are all Baylor Newsmakers. We are making a difference at Baylor, in the lives of our students and in the world. We need to let others know what we are doing. Publicity through the media is one way of doing that.”

Last October, Moody-Ramirez was interviewed by The Atlantic about colleges educating students on cultural appropriation and Halloween costumes. In January, her expertise on social media’s rush to judgment was sought after by national media as a controversy arose over a viral video that showed a confrontation between a group of high school students and Native American protesters at the Lincoln Memorial.

In February, photos from yearbooks around the country with racist images emerged and became an issue not only for political officials but for universities as well. Moody-Ramirez provided her scholarly expertise on the racist origins of blackface, which led to interviews with the USA TODAY, CNN, ”The World” on Public Radio International, the Arizona Republic and more.

In April, Moody-Ramirez and her journalism colleague, Cassy Burleson, Ph.D., also were interviewed by USA TODAY and more extensively by the Waco Tribune-Herald about their research on the impact of the racially motivated dragging death of James Byrd Jr. on the city of Jasper in east Texas.

Providing a significant voice

Recently, Baylor University officially announced plans to pursue Research 1/Tier 1 (R1/T1) recognition by building on Illuminate, which will guide Baylor towards joining the nation’s top research universities and achieving status as the world’s preeminent Christian research university.

Faculty sharing their research, knowledge and expertise with the media helps the University bring a significant voice in the world on issues that matter, essential to the University’s recognition as an R1/T1 institution.

“Doing the research and having it published is a major part of the equation (of R1/T1 recognition). But sharing the results with others is also important,” Moody-Ramirez said. “We are often so busy with our scholarship, teaching and service that we don’t want to take the time to talk with media outlets, but when we do this, we miss the opportunity to connect with others.”

Moody-Ramirez’s works include From Blackface to Black Twitter: Reflections on Black Humor, Race, Politics & Gender; Race, Gender, and Image Repair Theory: How Digital Media Change the Landscape; Black and Mainstream Press’ Framing of Racial Profiling: A Historical Perspective; and The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion, and Politics. Her writing about media as an academic comes as a veteran of the media industry, having worked as a writer and columnist for the Waco Tribune-Herald, and as an editor and publisher for two magazines and one publishing company.

She has also served as an officer for three different divisions of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and was awarded the Lionel Barrow Jr. Award for Distinguished Achievement in Diversity Research and Education by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

Moody-Ramirez joins Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in the College of Arts & Sciences and director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory, who was honored in fall 2018as the inaugural Newsmaker of the Year by Baylor Media and Public Relations. Scullin’s sleep research received international media attention during 2017-2018.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.