School of Communications honors industry-leading alumni

September 19, 2022

Inductees stand with Dean of the School of Communications Chris Roush for a picture

Filming sports legends, crafting messaging for iconic American brands and producing TV shows for kids that live on in pop culture lore might not present an obvious connection. But the common thread is a communications degree from Quinnipiac — and all roads lead to the School of Communications Hall of Fame.

Such was the destination for a quartet of Quinnipiac alumni comprising the second class in the School of Communications Hall of Fame. They were honored in the school’s open-air studio Friday, one of the marquee events of a busy and boisterous Bobcat Weekend.

The four honorees were Rich Barry ’89, a former executive at Nickelodeon/Viacom who is credited with inventing the network’s signature green slime, among other innovations from its 1990s heyday; Bruce Taylor ’81, an Emmy-winning former director of photography at ESPN; Ray Hernandez ’04, director of communications at Otis Elevator; and Meredith Klein ’05, head of consumer and product communications at Pinterest.

Each new hall of famer received a plaque from Dean Chris Roush before giving a brief speech and participating in a Q&A session with their fellow honorees. They reflected on the pivotal moments and helpful professors responsible for putting them on the path to becoming industry leaders.

“These four inductees are more than worthy, and they serve as models for our current students,” Roush said. “They have all taken what they’ve learned at Quinnipiac and thrived in the communications world.”

Taylor is recognized as the first Quinnipiac alumnus to work at ESPN, establishing a pipeline that produced 93 current employees of the network lauded as “the worldwide leader in sports.” He is renowned for his work as a documentarian and his production company continues to churn out features for Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports and the NFL Network.

Among Taylor’s most acclaimed projects was a docuseries about Muhammad Ali entitled “Ali, Still the Greatest.”

“As I stand here in this amazing open-air studio, this is something we never dreamed of as students,” Taylor said. “I remember when I started in 1981, we had a little closet for a studio, with three black-and-white cameras and a dingy, black drape. The control room could maybe fit three people — if they hit the salad bar. So, to see how much the school has grown makes me very proud.”

Barry began his career in radio, under the guidance of polarizing shock jock Howard Stern. But Roush took particular delight in reciting the Nickelodeon portion of Barry’s resume, during which he presided over an empire of viscous, green goop as the network’s first and only “chief slime officer.”

A world-record 762 people were once simultaneously slimed at Barry’s behest. And in addition to leading the promotional efforts for wildly popular Nick shows like “Rugrats,” “Hey, Arnold,” “GUTS” and “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” Barry was responsible for spearheading the network’s production of live broadcasts like the Kids Choice Awards.

“The school has grown so much it’s hard to believe at times,” said Barry, who in 2018 started his own firm, Speed Social Marketing, which taps into his passion for motorsports. “Quinnipiac prepared me for everything. It’s a fast-paced media world — it’s kind of crazy out there — and my work as general manager of WQAQ is what got me to work with Howard Stern. ... My 25-plus years at Nickelodeon was a great experience and, as you might imagine, a very messy one.”

Hernandez, who worked at Pratt & Whitney before helming the communications team at Otis, couldn’t resist a joke about fearing his own sliming while at the podium. He spoke poignantly about the enduring lessons of his Quinnipiac education and how it equipped him to navigate an ever-changing media landscape.

“The Quinnipiac professors brought a knowledge of the real world,” said Hernandez, who has also taught courses at Quinnipiac as an adjunct professor. “Some of my favorite professors were the ones who were actually working in the field. And let’s not forget that this was a post-9/11 world. Many of my professors really challenged us to think critically about the role communications plays in society.”

The last to speak was Klein, who was already a member of the Quinnipiac Athletics Hall of Fame for her contributions to the 2001 field hockey team that clinched the program’s first berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Klein recalled how she “floundered” her first year on campus, unsure of her career path. A 2021 selection to PRWeek’s annual “40 Under 40” list, she discovered a passion for public relations with the help of professor Russ Barclay.

“The rest was history,” said Klein, who previously served as the director of public relations for Walmart’s acquired web brands. “I was also shaped by sports. I loved the hard work, the discipline, the camaraderie and the adrenaline of playing sports. ... Many of the skills required to succeed in field hockey are also required in public relations.”

Photos of the inductees now hang on the wall outside Roush’s office, and their names were added to the Hall of Fame plaque encased nearby.

In October 2020, the School of Communications marked its 20th anniversary by inducting its inaugural Hall of Fame class. It featured Hollywood producer Jeffrey Chernov ’74, ESPN host Molly Qerim MS ’08 and Oscar-winning screenwriter David Rabinowitz ’09.

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