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Second Chair's Note

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dear KU COMS Alumni, Students, and Friends

Things change - it’s almost silly to point out such a truism. But change can happen in one of two directions, and we’re always looking for ways to make sure the department is growing in a positive way. Of course, positive change does not happen on its own; it takes people, resources, time, and work to constantly adapt and improve with our changing academic environment.

Our department has a considerable legacy to uphold, as well. It is a legacy filled with changes that have led us to who we are today. Although public speaking and other forms of human communication were taught at KU before it, the Department of Speech and Drama was founded on the hill in 1923. Over the years, the department has changed a great deal, expanding and contracting with each new decade. At perhaps its most expansive, the Department of Speech and Drama consisted of four units: Speech Communication and Human Relations; Theatre and Drama; Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences and Disorders; and Radio, Television, and Film. This multi-disciplinary Department of Speech and Drama spun off the Department of Speech Communication in 1988, which would later become our current Department of Communication Studies. Viewed one way, we are nearing our 100th anniversary; viewed another way, we are celebrating our 30th birthday. Either way, we have a long and storied history to live up to.

Our discipline is also going through significant changes as human communication transforms in the face of new technologies and a globalizing economy. Although we certainly still teach the wisdoms first written down by Plato, Aristotle, and others, we also now explore how new technologies transform our politics, how new family and relationship dynamics shape how we talk with one another, and how new types of organizations create and maintain their identities.

So we adapt. We change the experiences we offer in our undergraduate classes. We change the material we pass along to our graduate students. We change the research to which our faculty devote their careers. We change to better the communities in which we live.

In the days, months, and years to come, we need your help to make this change possible. While state taxes and student tuition help us meet our mission, our current and future alumni play a significant role in helping us grow. Whether you help us introduce new technologies in the classroom so our students are prepared for the workforce they are soon to enter or provide the resources for faculty members to conduct important new research that benefits us all, our alumni remain a vital part of our department. Thank you for all that you have done and will continue doing to help us grow. We are working hard to continue making you proud.


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