The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University announces five new faculty members.

Jordan Foley and Tracy Simmons are now part of the Journalism & Media Production department and Justin Barnes, Wei Peng, and Margaret Ritsch join Murrow College’s Strategic Communication department.

Justin Barnes, most recently an instructor at Murrow College, has been hired as a scholarly assistant professor to continue teaching advertising and media planning. Before joining Murrow College last year, Barnes was a faculty member in the sport management program at WSU and at the School of Journalism and Mass Media at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Barnes also served as a client-facing PR professional at New York City’s Ruder Finn Inc.

Jordan Foley, an assistant professor, joins Murrow College researching and teaching political communication and digital media. Jordan’s research focuses on misinformation, public opinion, and how political information flows across platforms over time. Foley received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and his master’s degree from Wake Forest University.

Wei Peng joins Murrow College as an assistant professor teaching strategic communication. Peng earned his doctorate in communication from the University of Miami. Peng’s research interests include emotion in health communication, specifically understanding the roles of emotions in health-related information processing and how they influence decision making in persuasion. His past research has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals and awarded top papers at national and international conferences. Prior to academia, Peng worked as a multimedia designer for several years, specializing in video and animation production.

Margaret Ritsch, a scholarly assistant professor, is an award-winning, accredited public relations professional with more than 25 years of experience helping businesses and nonprofits enhance their visibility and reputations and strengthen important relationships. Dr. Ritsch began her career as a newspaper reporter in Virginia after earning a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most recently she taught for nearly six years in the Bob Schieffer College of Communication at Texas Christian University, building a student-run ad/public relations agency. At Lipman Hearne, she led a national media tour for researchers with the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution and managed other accounts. She has worked as public affairs director for a large public housing authority, publications director for a national journalism association, and public relations director for a mid-sized ad agency and science museum.

Tracy Simmons, an award-winning journalist who specializes in religion reporting, entrepreneurship and participatory journalism, is an instructor teaching journalism at Murrow College. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Along with teaching, Simmons serves as the executive director of, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, WA. She also writes for the Religion News Service and is a reporter and columnist for the Spokesman-Review. Before coming to WSU,  she taught journalism at the University of Idaho and Gonzaga University.

True to our legacy, the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication provides students with inspiration, experience and real-world education. We support the university’s Drive to 25 and are dedicated to expanding our faculty to provide the highest-quality experiences for our students and reinforcing our commitment to producing nationally recognized scholarly research.