Hunter and Zeldes honored with Beal Award: University award recognizes outstanding accomplishments of two ComArtSci faculty

Two Michigan State University faculty in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences whose work merges interdisciplinary research, teaching, advocacy and creativity are the 2022 recipients of the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.

Eric J. Hunter and Geri Alumit Zeldes joined the ranks of MSU faculty who have been recognized through the award since 1952 for their comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative activities, instruction and outreach. Hunter, an MSU Foundation Professor, is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of ComArtSci and professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. He is also the Director of the Trifecta Initiative for Interdisciplinary Health Research. Zeldes is a professor in the School of Journalism, where she doubles as an academic and practitioner. She also serves as the Faculty Excellence Advocate for ComArtSci.

Eric Hunter: Teacher, Researcher, Leader 

For more than 20 years, Hunter’s NIH-supported research has focused on reducing vocal injuries in teachers and other people who use their voice as a primary tool of trade. His expertise on the vocal health of teachers and aging voice has been consulted by national and international media, including the New York Times and MSNBC. media, including The New York Times and MSNBC.  

In addition to occupational voice use, Hunter’s research explores signal processing, biomechanics of speech articulators and biomechanical models of the vocal system, and muscle mechanics and muscle models. His academic interests include recording techniques, speech perception, and musical acoustics, while developing projects that provide opportunities for students and young faculty to participate in mentored research.  

Hunter said he is grateful to receive the Beal Outstanding Faculty Award that has been previously given to MSU faculty members he admires. He added he is honored to join their ranks.  

“This award validates the nexus between teaching, research and service,” Hunter said. “I have tried to approach my work with a service mindset, whether that's in my role as a teacher, a mentor, a researcher or an administrator. I've been fortunate to have mentors who taught me by example how to build teams by building individuals. This award then is a tribute to those incredible teams that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of.”  

Geri Alumit Zeldes: Teacher, Creator, Contributor

Zeldes teaches, creates, and contributes to the excellence of ComArtSci through helping to recruit and retain faculty and staff as FEA. As an academician and practitioner, Zeldes has received numerous accolades for her writings, documentary films, creative scholarship, and coverage of social justice. She’s been recognized by multiple international communication organizations, the Asian American Journalist Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Broadcast Education Association. She’s received four regional Emmys®, two Tellys, and a handful of awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, and Michigan Associated Press Editors.

Zeldes is writing her first book, “Flow & Flint Town,” which looks at the musical and psychological flows of rap artists in Flint since the 1980s. Her film “Breed & Bootleg: Legends of Flint Rap Music” debuted in December 2020 at the Detroit Free Press Film Festival, and was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists-Detroit with Best Documentary. In April, B&B screened virtually at the MSU Science Festival, as well as at MSU’s Innovation Celebration at the Kellogg Center. “Brenda’s Story,” her latest film, will broadcast in May 2022 on WKAR-TV, MSU’s PBS station. The BEA will recognize the film this month at its opening ceremony with the Diversity & Inclusion Creative Award and an Award of Excellence in the Faculty Video competition.

Zeldes said she was overcome with emotion when she heard she had received the award. She remarked she is honored to be recognized by the university community for her work and the opportunities her filmmaking provided to students.

“This award is the nod I get from those in the audience who watch my documentary films,” she said. “The City of Flint is my muse as its people are usually the subject of my films and other creative work. I share this recognition with the sources and students who helped tell the tales of Flint Town.” 

By Ann Kammerer