Sonya DiPalma, Ph.D., A.P.R.

Chair & Associate Professor of Mass Communication

Contact Information

  • 2316
  • 307 Karpen Hall

Office Hours

  • Tuesday 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
  • Wednesday 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Thursday 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
  • Note:

Sonya DiPalma, Ph.D., associate professor, teaches courses in public relations, environmental communications, media and ethics in society, mass communication theory, professional internship, service learning, and social media. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America, Dr. DiPalma integrates experiential learning in her public relations and social media courses through partnerships with regional nonprofit organizations.

Sonya recently was recently honored with the 2019 UNC Asheville Bulldogs ACE Award for collaboration with the Bulldog Challenge, a social media campaign for UNCA Athletics. In 2015, she received the Ginger Rudeseal Carter Miller Teacher of the Year Award through the International Association for Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Specializing in framing theory, she presented at the 2019 Media in America, America in the Media conference at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland. Her current area of research interest focuses on the framing of the modern refugee. She has held the following fellowships: Multimedia storytelling with ieiMedia Institute in Urbino, Italy, social media with the American Red Cross through The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama; and the Key Center Fellowship for Community Engaged Learning at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Selected publications include: Nuclear energy as “green” energy: A content analysis of nuclear energy frames from 1991 to 2008 with Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York, Adapting to the changing media landscape in College Media Review, and The hybrid mass communication workshop in Teaching Journalism and Mass Communication.

Prior to transitioning into academia, Sonya worked as a public relations practitioner for the West Virginia Department of Education, and a Fortune 500 energy company. She lives in Asheville with her husband Frank.


  • Ph.D., Mass Communication, College of Communications, The Pennsylvania State University
  • M.S., Journalism, Perley isaac Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University
  • B.A., Education, Speech, Theatre, and Journalism, Fairmont State College

Current Courses Taught

  • Environmental Communication
  • Mass Communication Theory
  • Media, Ethics & Society
  • Professional Internship
  • Service Learning Courses
  • Social Media
  • Strategic Communication