A group of students in the Strategic Communication PhD program have recently published an article in the Journal of Emergency Management. One of the authors, Monica Mayer, discusses a brief synopsis of the article as well as the results of her research. Bridget Rubenking, associate professor, was a co-author of the article adds her experience with working with Mayer.

Check out the article here: Pandemic politics: Exploring the intersection of state political affiliation and public universities’ COVID-19 policies and messaging | Journal of Emergency Management (wmpllc.org)


“Our article, which was a collaboration between a group of PhD and MA students at UCF (myself, Melissa Looney, Rob Eicher, Rebecca Freihaut, Jamie Vega, Walker Talton, Armand Flutie, and Julie Cook) and Dr. Rubenking, was the result of a study we conducted using quantitative content analysis to examine the COVID webpages of public universities in trifecta states (states where both legislative houses and the governorship are held by the same party) throughout the U.S. to assess the transparency and restrictiveness of their COVID guidelines.

Intriguingly, we found that universities located in Democratic trifecta states were significantly more transparent (measured through having a direct link to COVID information on their home page) and restrictive (measured through their mask, vaccine, booster, and testing requirements) than universities located in Republican trifecta states. Our results suggest that universities in states where a single political party holds power implemented COVID protocols reflecting the political ideologies of that party as opposed to relying on public health guidelines. Beyond COVID, this may be indicative of a larger trend, given other contemporary issues where state-level politics appear to be impacting the autonomy and decision making of universities.”


Dr. Rubenking:

“The research project started in COM 7325 Seminar in Research Methods: Content Analysis that I taught in spring 2022. It was a great opportunity for students to work together on seeing a research project through from initial conceptualization all the way through presenting at a national conference (National Communication Association) to publication.

Monica was a tremendous team leader, and other students stepped up in ways that matched their skill sets. It was a really rewarding experience on my end to see all that they learned come together with their hard work to result in a publication that is a really meaningful contribution to the field.”


By Majdulina Hamed.

Published to Nicholson News on February 7th, 2024.

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