Communications Professor, Rick Sparks Receives PhD

Siloam Springs, Ark (May 7, 2001) — Rick Sparks, associate professor of broadcasting at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, will receive his Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia on May 18. Sparks’ doctoral dissertation was on the topic of parasocial relationships among viewers of televised worship services.

Sparks, a native of Maryville, Tennessee, joined the faculty of John Brown University in 1989 after working 15 years in broadcasting and church media in Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas. While on JBU’s broadcasting faculty, he also served as program director and general manager of the university’s FM radio station, KLRC, from 1989 until 2000. Prior to working at JBU, Sparks held positions as minister of media at First Baptist Church in Alcoa, Tennessee and Central Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Sparks is a 1972 graduate of Everett High School in Maryville, Tennessee. He received the B.S. degree in communication from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1976, the M.C.M. degree in church music from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky in 1983, and the M.A. degree in communication from Pittsburgh State University, Pittsburgh, Kansas in 1992.

He is married to the former Sandra Kay Hicks of Rockford, Tennessee, and is the son of Tootsie Sparks, Greenback, Tennessee. Sparks is church pianist of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Arkansas, and holds the rank of Major as a pilot in the Northwest Arkansas Squadron of Civil Air Patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of more than 1,500 students from 46 states and 30 countries. JBU is a member of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.