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Associate Teaching Professor Mary High to Join CAS Faculty

The Department is delighted to announced that Dr. Mary High will be joining our faculty as an Associate Teaching Professor as of the fall of 2018.  Dr. High earned her PhD in 2009 from our department, and she has been a lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa since 2012. Dr. High’s expertise in organizational communication and rhetoric have contributed to her teaching of both residential and online courses for the University of Iowa. We are delighted to be welcoming Mary back to Happy Valley!

Assistant Professor Awarded 2018 Joyce & Aqueil Ahmad Endowment

Assistant Professor and CAS alumnus Brad Serber (Ph.D. 2016) has been awarded the 2018 Joyce and Aqueil Ahmad Endowment for the Promotion of Peace and Nonviolence from the University of North Dakota. This grant will support a public dialogue and deliberation series called Target: Nonviolence, which will be open to UND students, faculty, and staff and members of the local community. The project, which extends work from Serber’s dissertation, will focus on school shootings, sexual assault, hate crimes, and racism. It will consist of a film and guest speaker series loosely modeled after Penn State’s 2016-2017 series Talking Together about Guns, which Serber helped facilitate with Rosa Eberly, Peter Buckland, Matt Jordan, Jill Wood, and Morgan Nachman. He also plans to pair the series with a website archive of related deliberations from UND’s Public Speaking program, which he now directs. CAS alumnus Craig Rood (Ph.D. 2015) is also scheduled to make an appearance.

CAS Statement on Graduate Education

Graduate education can be mysterious.  Friends and family don’t always understand what people in graduate school are actually doing. “Why do you need to take more classes?”  “What does writing a thesis or dissertation have to do with anything in the real world?”  “When are you going to get a real job?”  These questions from personal acquaintances have long plagued students pursuing a graduate education – but when the public at large fails to appreciate the value of graduate education, the possibility that government action will limit access to a graduate degree looms as a threat. 

The Department of Communication Arts and Science unequivocally celebrates graduate students as vital to the mission of our department, our college, and our university.  We further recognize that graduate students – as students, instructors, researchers, and citizens with advanced degrees in the arts and sciences of communication – contribute to the good of our state and society.  Graduate students exist at the intersection of the university’s undergraduate mission and its commitment to research and the advancement of knowledge.

Consider, first, what graduate students make possible for undergraduate education.  They independently teach classes offered by the research university; as a result, undergraduates benefit from more numerous and smaller class sizes.  Graduate students relate especially well to students who are learning a content area for the first time, because graduate students are closer to the initial learning experience than most faculty.  Graduate students are an innovative presence in undergraduate education; they bring new ideas and modes of pedagogy into the classroom.  Graduate students support faculty in large lecture courses, making it possible to design assignments and discussion activities that would be impossible otherwise.

Graduate students also are integral to the research mission of universities; they support and inspire faculty research, while, at the same time, they are developing into independent scholars in their own right.  Graduate students are focused on mastering contemporary ways of knowing, whether in the humanities or the social sciences.  Their emphasis on cutting edge theories, methods, and questions challenge faculty to expand and reconsider their own research agendas.   Graduate students publish their own research and thereby contribute to the discipline and their university’s reputation.   Great research and a great research university owe a debt of gratitude to the aspirations and abilities of graduate students.

Finally, graduate education transforms students who commit to the task of intellectual discovery.  Entering graduate school does not represent an avoidance of work; rather, it is a rigorous and admirable process of professional development.  Graduate students learn how to become experts in their field and leaders in higher education.  Overcoming the gauntlet of intellectual obstacles – from building an idea and defending it to developing the discipline necessary to pursue a substantial research agenda – fosters fortitude, resilience, and humility.  Research suggests that a graduate degree may lead to higher earnings and career advancement, but often the most significant benefit involves personal transformation and development.  

Graduate education is not an option for everyone; the selection criteria are demanding.  In 2012, the College of the Liberal Arts at the Pennsylvania State University enrolled only 5.5% of the applicants to its graduate programs.  The opportunity to pursue a graduate education is based on a careful review of each applicant’s past academic achievements and their potential as teachers, researchers, and citizens of a rigorous intellectual community.  When economic circumstances and taxation policies threaten to limit graduate education to a subset of our society, education suffers, the advancement of knowledge suffers, and our society suffers.  For this reason, the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences remains committed to a rigorous and equitable admissions process, to a demanding program of study, and to the highest standards of excellence.  These commitments exist alongside an equal commitment to the moral and intellectual health of our entire society.  When a first-generation college student forgoes graduate study because of its cost; when a student of any ethnic or national identity forgoes graduate study because they feel unwelcome; when a student of any gender or sexual orientation forgoes graduate study because of fear of harassment, then everyone’s future is limited. 

We support equitable access to education, for graduate students in all of their complexity and diversity, because we aim for an unbounded future.

Assistant or Associate Professor in Communication Arts and Sciences/ Co-Hire with the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Job Number: 76070

The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University seeks to hire a tenure-track or tenured assistant or associate professor whose research advances communication theory, complements departmental strengths in interpersonal communication and social influence, demonstrates a sophisticated command of quantitative methods, and connects to the life sciences. We are particularly interested in applicants with expertise in lifespan, family, and/or small group communication.

This position consists of a full-time appointment as a Communication Arts and Sciences faculty member, which is co-funded 50% by the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. The Huck Institutes’ mission is to catalyze and facilitate excellence in interdisciplinary research and education in the life sciences at Penn State. The Huck Institutes includes many research centers that promote cutting-edge, collaborative, interdisciplinary science, including topics such as neuroscience, the biological embedding of stress and trauma, ecological systems, genomics, motor function, and reproductive health.

In addition to conducting research and teaching in Communication Arts and Sciences, the successful applicant will participate in the intellectual life of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. For this reason, the application letter should identify the research center(s) or institute(s) in which the individual could participate and elaborate on the applicant’s fit with that unit or those units. A list of Huck research centers and institutes, graduate degree programs, and core facilities can be found at

The successful applicant will have a demonstrated record of scholarly achievement, be well grounded in the communication discipline, complement and strengthen core interests of faculty in the department, and be willing to collaborate with the broader university community, especially as a co-fund of the Huck Institutes.

Candidates should provide clear evidence of scholarly and teaching excellence and service to the discipline. In addition to conducting research and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, responsibilities include course development in the area of specialty, supervision of theses and dissertations, and involvement in other departmental activities. Additional considerations in reviewing candidates include interest in grant-based research, the desire to engage in interdisciplinary research, and an appreciation for working alongside diverse colleagues in the humanities, the social sciences, and the life sciences.

Applications must include a letter of application describing research, teaching, and any graduate mentoring experience, along with a CV, representative publications, a brief teaching portfolio, and the names of three references who may be contacted to provide letters of recommendation.

Inquiries may be sent to Professor Rachel Smith, chair of the search committee, at

Review of applications will begin January 15, 2018 and continue until the position if filled.  The start date for the position is August, 2019, with the possibility of a visiting position in the 2018-19 academic year.

Apply online at

CAMPUS SECURITY CRIME STATISTICS: For more about safety at Penn State, and to review the Annual Security Report which contains information about crime statistics and other safety and security matters, please go to, which will also provide you with detail on how to request a hard copy of the Annual Security Report.

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

Kellie Brisini receives RGSO Award

Kellie Brisini has been awarded a dissertation scholarship from the Research and Graduate Studies Office of the College of the Liberal Arts.  The funding she received will provide a course release in the spring semester so that Kellie can complete her dissertation on marital communication and relational turbulence between parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Congratulations Kellie!

Faculty Member Awarded 2018-19 Fellowship

The Department is pleased to announce that Professor Rosa Eberly has been awarded a 2018-19 fellowship at Penn State’s Center for Humanities and Information. In addition, Professor Eberly has received a Digital Humanities Training Grant to attend a conference on Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania this summer. These awards reflect and support Professor Eberly’s ongoing work on Harry Shearer, the voice behind numerous characters on The Simpsons and also Le Show, an national public radio series that debuted in 1983. Congratulations, Rosa!

CAS to Welcome Two New Faculty Memebers

The Department is delighted to announce the successful conclusion of our two faculty searches.  Joining our faculty next year are Andrew High and Michael Steudeman.  Andy earned his PhD from our department in 2012 and has been on the faculty at the University of Iowa in the time since. He brings expertise as a communication scientist with a focus on interpersonal communication and communication technology. Michael earned his PhD from the University of Maryland in 2017 and currently serves as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Memphis.  Michael’s expertise in the rhetorical history of education policy will serve him well as incoming Director of Effective Speech. The CAS community extends a warm welcome to Andy and Michael!

Speech and Debate Tournament Results

The Penn State Speech and Debate Team made a strong showing at the Otterbein forensic tournament held Nov. 3. Joshua Kwak placed 2 in the

Novice Division and won top speaker award for novice.  Lilian Schaffer advanced to

Novice semi-finals and received a 4th place speaker award.  Kapilia Kommareddy received a third place speaker award.  Alex Lawson

and Elisa Vogel advanced to quarterfinals in the Open Division and Elisa took 4th speaker in Open.


Six members of the Penn State Speech and Debate Team have qualified for the National Forensic Association national tournament to be held in OshKosh Wisconsin this coming April.

Public Speaking Contest Results

On behalf of Benjamin Firgens regarding the results of the Public Speaking Contest:

Honorable Mentions: Tara Bunce, Megan Davis, and Ian Harrison

3rd Place: Claudia Hatch

2nd Place: Joe Shanley

1st Place: Celeste Watson-Martin

Hearty congratulations to these speakers!

I'm also proud to acknowledge the help of so many who made the contest possible: Pearson Learning Solutions, for their continued support; Dave Dzikowski and Michele Kennerly, for overseeing the planning and the event itself; the many judges who volunteered their time for the preliminary rounds; Don Hahn, Meredith Doran, and Jeff Goldman, for judging the final round; and the many volunteers who helped in other small ways throughout the contest's unfolding. Thanks to all for making possible such a special event for the students!

National Communication Association Convention

The Department of Communication Arts & Sciences was in the spotlight at the National Communication Association convention in Dallas, Texas, November 16th-19th.  What follows is a list of accolades accrued by members of the CAS community.  Photos, courtesy of Karen Campbell of NCA, feature new NCA Distinguished Scholar Mary Stuckey, and also Professor Debra Hawhee, who received two prestigious awards at NCA this year.  Stuckey and Hawhee are joined by incoming Assistant Professor Michael Steudeman in the group photo of all the recipients of association-wide honors.  Congratulations to all!!


Lindsey Aloia (PSU alumna) and Denise Solomon (Professor): 2017 Franklin K. Knower Outstanding Article Award, Interpersonal Communication Division

Adam Cody (PhD student): Outstanding Student Paper, American Society for the History of Rhetoric

Veronica Droser (Visiting Assistant Professor): Elected New Professional Representative, Family Communication Division

Ben Firgens (PhD Student): Top student Paper, Visual Communication Division

Debra Hawhee (Professor): 2017 Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award, National Communication Association

Debra Hawhee (Professor): 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award, Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division

Andrew High (PSU alumnus and incoming Associate Professor): Outstanding Early Career Award, Interpersonal Communication Division

Samantha LeVan (PhD student): Top Student Paper, Interpersonal Communication Division

Nikki Orth (MA student): Top Student Paper Panel, Theatre, Film, and New Multi-media Division.

Haley Schneider (MA student): Top Paper, American Studies Division

Michael Steudeman (incoming Assistant Professor): 2017 Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, National Communication Association

Mary Stuckey (Professor): NCA Distinguished Scholar

Keren Wang (PhD Student): Top Student Paper, Japan-US Communication Association