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Message from the Department Head

What a fantastic time to be part of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State!  Within our community of professors, lecturers, graduate students, undergraduate students, and staff, there is energy in the hallways, passion in our conversations, and devotion permeating our research, teaching, learning, and service.

The Department is committed to continuing its leadership role in the broader communication discipline.  In this year alone, we celebrate Kirt Wilson, who is on the path to serving as president of the Rhetoric Society of America; Jeremy Engels, who is the Sherwin Early Career Professor in the Rock Ethics Institute; Jon Nussbaum, who will be named a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association in November; and Michele Kennerly and Brad Vivian, who have earned fellowships from Penn State’s Center for Humanities and Information.  Meanwhile, the whole faculty continues to do research, pursue external grants, and publish scholarship that is at the forefront of our discipline.

Our graduate program is also a priority.  Historically, our department has placed roughly two-thirds of its graduate students in post-docs and tenure-track jobs.  Our performance is above the averages for humanities and social science placement in the College of the Liberal Arts, and it compares very favorably with peer programs in communication.  We are proactive about deserving our reputation as a selective, prestigious communication program at the forefront of graduate education in our field.

We also embrace our role in university's undergraduate teaching mission. Our major offers Penn State students an intellectually challenging education that prepares them for a range of possible careers, instills a sense of personal and professional ethics, readies students for active roles in public life, helps them form enduring relationships, and inspires continued learning after college.  Starting in the fall of 2016, we are excited to be adding a BS degree to the options for students, as well as becoming the academic home for the intercollege minor in Civic and Community Engagement.  We also continue to play a leadership role in general education through our public speaking course (CAS100) and our course in rhetoric and civic life (CAS 137/138).

You’ll find a lot of Penn State pride in Sparks Building these days.  Personally, I am deeply gratified to be surrounded by people of great integrity who seem to have boundless energy to devote to the next generation of communication arts and sciences students, the future of our discipline, and the betterment of our society.

To the days ahead!


Denise Solomon

Head, Department of Communication Arts & Sciences