At the 69th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Professor Barbie Zelizer was awarded the 2019 B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award, one of ICA’s top honors.
The award recognizes outstanding scholars, teachers, and advisors who serve as role models in those capacities and who have had a major impact on the field of Communication. Recipients of the award must also have influenced the discipline through their former students, who themselves are important figures in Communication.
The influence of Zelizer’s mentorship reverberates around the world. Her former advisees consistently impact the field of Communication through their research, are the recipients of awards for their scholarship, and hold leadership positions throughout the discipline. She is known for her high standards and relentless encouragement, the combination of which pushes students to cultivate their own voices and passions.
Many of Zelizer’s former students submitted letters in support of her nomination for the award, describing her as thorough, responsive, inspiring, supportive, and exceptional. Her current and former advisees repeatedly expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to work with her.
“The gratitude is ours — mine and that of the many colleagues who lovingly supported this nomination,” said alumna Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt (Ph.D. ‘11), Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who organized the letters of support for Zelizer. “This is the most well deserved award, and I am thrilled and honored to have played a part in it.”
Another letter writer compared Zelizer’s influence to that of scholars like Wilbur Schramm, James Carey, and Elihu Katz, all of who loom large in the history of Communication.
Zelizer has clearly enriched the lives of her students, and many current and former advisees were in attendance when she received the Fisher award.
Zelizer's current and former students have widely differing research interests and come from varying backgrounds, which speaks to her ability to guide and counsel a diverse array of scholars. This may be due, in part, to her seemingly round-the-clock availability to her students, and her willingness to always make time for them, no matter how busy she is with her own teaching, speaking, and researching. Her advisees say she returns comprehensive and detailed feedback at the speed of light, and that she has an uncanny knack for pinpointing where her students need to grow as scholars — and then actually taking the time to help them achieve the needed development.
Annenberg doctoral candidate Jennifer R. Henrichsen, a current Zelizer advisee, noted that Zelizer's commitment to her students is reciprocated by their fierce loyalty to her. "I've had several former advisees tell me that they would move heaven and earth for her," Henrichsen said, "because she has done so much for them and continues to do so, years later."
"Reading Barbie's book Remembering to Forget is the reason I decided to pursue a Ph.D.," said alumna Sandra Ristovska (Ph.D. '16), Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. "Words are simply insufficient to express my gratitude for having her as my advisor."
Zelizer’s mentorship extends beyond the students and alumni of the Annenberg School; she has held numerous leadership positions throughout her career, including coeditor of Journalism, judge for the Peabody Awards, and ICA president. In addition, she served as the director of the Scholars Program for Culture and Communication for 12 years, and she launched the Center for Media at Risk last spring.
The Raymond Williams Professor of Communication, Zelizer is known for her work on journalism, culture, memory, and images. She has authored or edited 14 books and over 150 articles, book chapters, and essays. She has received extremely prestigious awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Scholar award, and an ACLS Fellowship.