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Creation of John H. Saunders Service Award


At the Alabama Communication Association’s 10th annual conference this past July, the association leadership announced the creation of the John H. Saunders Service Award, which will be given annually to individuals who have worked hard to create opportunities for individuals, students, faculty, and practitioners, to use their voices to engage others with their ideas. Reflecting on the creation of the award, Dr. Saunders, who earned his PhD in Communication Arts & Sciences in 2008 and is Lecturer of Communication Arts at the University of Alabama Huntsville, wrote, “It's an honor I will spend the rest of my career trying to earn.” Dr. Saunders is a co-founder of the Alabama Communication Association, along with fellow CAS PhD Alumnus Brett Lunceford, and he served as the association’s inaugural president and first executive director. This honor reflects Dr. Saunders’ contribution ACA, the mission of which includes giving opportunities to students in Alabama, especially undergraduates, who might not get to present at regional or national conferences. 

Congratulations, John!

PhD alumna recognized with two awards for outstanding dissertation project at NCA


PhD alumna Rachel Vanderbilt will collect two awards recognizing her outstanding dissertation project at the National Communication Association convention in November. One award is the Outstanding Dissertation Award, conferred by the Interpersonal Communication Division. In addition, Dr. Vanderbilt will be recognized by NCA with the Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. The project, “Antecedents and Consequences of Communication about Serial Arguments: A Longitudinal Study of Associations within and between Conflict Episodes,” was directed Department Head Denise Solomon. Dr. Vanderbilt is currently a product manager of customer and product analytics as Ashley Furniture Industries. 

Congratulations, Rachel!

VanHaitsma selected as recipient of the Randy Majors Memorial Award


Pamela VanHaitsma, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, has been selected the recipient of the Randy Majors Memorial Award for outstanding LGBTQ scholarship. This award, conferred by the National Communication Association’s Caucus for LGBTQ Concerns, recognizes Professor VanHaitsma’s considerable contributions to queer scholarship.

Congratulations, Pamela!

CAS department creates new endowment

The Communication Arts and Sciences department was featured in Penn State News in a story about the creation of a new endowment to support diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Lead gifts by members of the faculty have the fund 60% toward the goal of $25,000, at which point the endowment will yield money annually that will be awarded to Penn State undergraduate students, graduate students, or faculty engaged in activities that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the communication discipline. To learn more, including how to contribute to the fund, see the story: here.

Faculty Spotlight: Golán Visiting Assistant Professor


The department welcomes Antonio Golán, who will be a Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences for the 2021-22 academic year. After earning his B.A. and M.A. from the College of Staten Island (CUNY), Dr. Golán studied at Indiana University, where he received his Ph.D. in 2019. His research focuses primarily on the relationship between rhetoric and democracy, particularly as it relates to the issues of consensus and division, public memory, secrecy and deception, and economics, and much of his work has examined the Spanish State’s democratization in the late 1970s and its legacy within contemporary Spanish politics. This fall, Dr. Golán will be teaching CAS 084, a first-year seminar, on conspiracy theories and rhetoric, as well as CAS 475: Studies in Public Address.

Welcome, Antonio!

Professor Engels featured in Penn State News, "The Ethics of Oneness"


Jeremy Engels, Professor of CAS and Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows Program, who published “The Ethics of Oneness” with the University of Chicago Press in March of 2021, is featured in Penn State News. See:

Well done, Jeremy!

Associate Teaching Professor Sierlecki receives Teaching Faculty professional development award


Associate Teaching Professor Bonnie Sierlecki received the new Teaching Faculty professional development award from the College of the Liberal Arts to support her work this summer with Urban Triage in Madison,WI (  Dr. Sierlecki is participating in a 3-month “Co-Conspirator Workgroup” to aid her scholarship and teaching in CAS and the Schreyer Honors College by learning how to make permanent and positive shifts in defining and understanding the impact of white supremacy in our daily lives. Dr. Sierlecki is also a volunteer with the “Cook-It-Forward” meal delivery program and the Urban Agriculture program through Urban Triage.  UT is a Black-owned, non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for and support healthy Black families and safe communities by dismantling systemic racism.

Neibauer successfully defends dissertation


Allison Niebauer recently defended her dissertation, titled “’The Diocese’s Darkest Chapter’: Constructing Cultural Trauma in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese.” The project centered on divergent narratives of causation, accusations of responsibility, and proposals for reform regarding clergy perpetrated sexual abuse (CPSA) within the Catholic Church.  Focusing on the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese as a representative case study, Niebauer used legal cases, pastoral letters and statements, newspaper archives, Pennsylvania legislative debates, survivor testimony, and semi-structured interviews with local laity to trace the development of stakeholder narratives over a forty-year period and, thus, illuminate the resulting contestation over the meaning of CPSA. She concludes that while stakeholder narratives generated through civil litigation have largely succeeded in framing CPSA through the lens of institutional responsibility, this frame has led to largely bureaucratic, rather than doctrinal or internal polity structure, reforms. Furthermore, the material consequences of civil litigation has created a significant barrier to allyship for survivors of CPSA and laity—many of whom share deep levels of dissatisfaction with institutional actors. The committee was chaired by Stephen Browne and included Bradford Vivian, Tim Worley, and Sarah Clark Miller; Anne Demo also contribute expertise as a previous member of the committee. Dr. Niebauer will continue her teaching and research next year as a post-doctoral teaching fellow in the CAS department.

Congratulations, Allison!


PhD student published in Quarterly Journal of Speech


Ismael Quiñones, a third-year Ph.D. student in CAS, has recently been published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech with a lead essay titled "Text as a nowing: Towards an understanding of time in rhetoric." In this essay, Mr. Quiñones argues for an understanding of text articulated through a temporal vocabulary emphasizing a now. You can access his article here:  

Well done, Ismael!

Delayo successfully defends master thesis


CAS graduate student Mike Delayo today successfully defended his master's thesis, "'I Definitely Want To Thank My Psychiatrist': Digital Mental Health Disclosures in Professional Sports." Opening with a brief history of the body, mind, and sport relationship, Mr. Delayo's thesis investigates sports culture’s problematic treatment of mental health and how that may be changing. After synthesizing disciplinary treatments of "rhetorical persona" across several decades, Mr. Delayo offers extended, close readings of digitally mediated statements by Australian WNBA star Liz Cambage and a YouTube vlog created by professional esports competitor Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera. Mr. Delayo bookends those two contemporary cases with analyses of previous disclosures by Ron Metta Sandiford-Artest of the NBA and former MLB pitcher Pete Harnisch. Dr. Rosa Eberly directed Delayo's thesis with assists from Dr. Michele Kennerly and Dr. Abe Khan.

Congratulations, Mike!