Dear KU COMS Alumni, Students, and Friends,
The past six months have been a time of change for the Department of Communication Studies. Dr. Tom Beisecker finished a five-year term as Chair and retired after 50 YEARS at KU! We welcomed two new faculty members: Dr. Meggie Mapes and Dr. Hannah Oliha-Donaldson. Dr. Mary Lee Hummert returned to the department after serving for more than a decade as the Vice Provost of Faculty Development. And I took over as Chair on July 1st.
Since taking over as Chair, I’ve gotten a much better picture of our department, which I want to share with you.
Our department currently has 19 faculty members, around 65 graduate students, and nearly 400 undergraduate majors. We continue to provide the university with one of its key undergraduate requirements—oral communication. Indeed, we teach public speaking to nearly 3,000 students each year. In addition, our department also continues to house the KU Debate Team, who were National Champions in 2009 and finished second in 2016. As of this writing, KU Debate is ranked in the top five nationally for the 2017-2018 season!
In addition to all of this, our department has recently ventured into the realm of online education. In fact, we have now become the second department in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences here at KU to offer a completely online major for students not here on the Lawrence campus.
As many of you will be well aware, our department has had to sustain itself and grow into new areas under a less than ideal financial situation. The series of budget cuts that have hit KU over the past few years have trickled down to the College and then down to our department. Nevertheless, our department faculty and staff have remained committed to our educational goals and research endeavors, and we continue to be a strong, thriving department.
Reading through this newsletter, I hope you get a glimpse of all the great things that our alumni, students, and faculty have been doing. Moreover, I also hope you get a sense of our commitment to continue building communities, bridging cultures, organizing people, and strengthening relationships.