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Greg Sam Award Recipient

The department of Communication Arts and Sciences would like to congratulate the winner of the Greg Sam Award:

Christina Bethman


"Greg Sam Award":

A few years ago, the FastStart program received a generous endowment from the Greg Sam family. Greg Sam greatly values mentoring and the role it plays in a young person’s life. Each year, Dr. Ellen Taricani, Senior Lecturer, reaches out to the mentors of the FastStart program to nominate their protégé(s) for this award. The award is designed to honor a protégé based on the following criteria:


•             They have been engaged with their FastStart mentor(s). 

•             They have been engaged with the FastStart program and attended the scheduled events.

•             They are in good academic standing.

Two CAS Faculty Members Honored

Two CAS faculty were recently honored at the College of the Liberal Arts Annual Researcher Appreciation Reception. Associate Professor Erina MacGeorge was recognized among seven faculty who had received their first major grant as a member of the Penn State faculty. Associate Professor Rachel Smith was one of nine faculty honored for achieving five years of consecutive external funding. Congratulations to Professors Smith and MacGeorge.

CAS Students awarded Fulbright Scholarships

Two Senior students in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences have been awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.  We would like to give a huge congratulations to both recipients!

The goal of the Fulbright program is to increase mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between people of the United States and people of other countries. The US Department of State sponsors Fulbright program exchanges with more than 155 countries around the world. Fulbright scholars are engaged in projects on environmental issues, food security, public health, education, and other challenges that require innovation, creativity, and knowledge that transcends borders. Fulbrighters are current and future leaders, ready to share their knowledge in culture, open to new ideas, and committed to international engagement.  Fulbright alumni have gone on to become Noble prize winners, heads of state, ambassadors, leaders in scientific research and innovation, educators, artists, business professionals, and civic leaders. Above all, Fulbrighters exemplify the power of international academic exchange to transform lives, bridge geographic and cultural boundaries, and promote a peaceful and more prosperous world.

Matthew Crager a Communication Arts & Sciences major, with Portuguese and Spanish minors will be traveling to Brazil. And Laura Kastner with Statistics and Communications Arts & Sciences majors, will be traveling to Malaysia.

Congratulations Matt & Laura!

Gouran honored with 2017 McKay Donkin Award

Dennis S. Gouran, professor of labor and employment relations and communication arts and sciences in the College of the Liberal Arts, is the winner of the 2017 McKay Donkin Award. Read more here

Professor James Dillard named Distinguished Professor by Penn State University

The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences is delighted to announce that Professor James Dillard has been named a Distinguished Professor by Penn State University. Congratulations Jim!

Distinguished Professors are current, full-time, active faculty members who hold the rank of Professor, and they are acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity. Their national and international leadership is documented by notable contributions to research published in leading journals and/or books and creative accomplishments widely recognized for excellence;  prestigious awards and citations; and a substantial record of invited lectures or performances delivered at prestigious institutions. These individuals also demonstrate significant leadership by raising University standards with respect to teaching, research or creative activity, and service; cultivating excellent teaching skills; and contributing significantly to the education of students who later are recognized for excellence in their fields. Professor Dillard was selected for this honor as a scholar who whose work has shaped and will continue to direct how people think about interpersonal communication, methods of inquiry and analysis, and the role of emotion in persuasion. 

Kirt Wilson honored with Malvin and Lea Bank Outstanding Teaching Award

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Kirt Wilson, who has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Malvin E. and Lea P. Bank Outstanding Teaching Award for the College of the Liberal Arts!

CAS issues statement on post-election climate

Our Post-election Position

Department of Communication Arts and Sciences


Every four years, the United States of America undertakes an election to identify the individuals who will serve as President and Vice President of our nation. The aftermath of every election finds people who are delighted, disappointed, or complacent about the outcome; every election leaves people optimistic, pessimistic, ambivalent, or without comment on the prospects for the future.  This diversity of reactions co-exists with the peaceable transfer of power from one presidency to the next, and this state of affairs is a hallmark of our nation.  In these regards, the election of 2016 is no different from those that have come before.


What is distinctive about the aftermath of this election, however, is the widespread fear that has emerged in its wake.  Some people feel that the campaign rhetoric gave voice to attitudes that discriminate against particular populations.  Some people feel that the election outcome has given license to commit acts of violence – both physical and symbolic – against members of our society.  Some people feel that lawful protests against the election outcome could grow into dangerous riots.  In the days following the election, individuals in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences were the targets of verbal aggression because of their age, gender, and political preferences.  Other students, staff, and faculty on campus have been harassed in the aftermath of the election, and still more fear that they will become the targets of harassment and violence.  Members of our community feel that, by virtue of voting for a particular candidate or none of the candidates, the full measure of their identity has been reduced to caricatures of the bigot, the sore loser, the vulnerable, or the foolish.


The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences takes no position on the outcome of the election.  This was a presidential campaign experience that, regardless of outcome, was poised to leave a substantial proportion of our citizens feeling neglected, marginalized, betrayed, and scared – and it has.  In this moment, the Department cannot be silent on the personal and social issues that confront us now and into the future.  As does Penn State University as a whole, the Department categorically opposes harassment of any kind, within our classrooms or on our campus, of students, faculty, or staff based on sex, race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnic heritage, or political affiliation. Furthermore, the Department believes that we have a positive obligation to recognize – and respond to – the fact that people are afraid for themselves, for their loved ones, and for strangers whom they may have never met.  To not care about this fear is ethically indefensible.  To perpetuate this fear is morally repugnant.  This is neither a conservative stance nor a liberal one; this is a human stance.


The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences makes clear that we value, respect, and embrace all members of our community – Republican, Democrat, progressive, conservative, apolitical, white, black, Muslim, Hispanic, cis male, cis female, LGBTQ, undocumented, international, urban, rural, and so forth.  Moreover, the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences is committed to promoting ethical, humane discourse that fosters moral behavior.  We recognize the power of interpersonal communication and social influence within the fabric of our personal lives.  We recognize the power of civic engagement and public discourse within the fabric of our society.  As an intellectual community, we are dedicated to bringing our expertise to bear in these times.  We will seek to understand and foster civil discourse, even as we recognize that the pursuit of civility sometimes entails strong disagreement; sometimes requires calling attention to ugly circumstances; and sometimes means facing toward the darkness, rather than turning away.  We commit to upholding and promoting standards for ethical communication and to helping our communities stitch together the fabric of our personal and public relationships around the nonpartisan cause of – and in the name of – human decency.

Also See:


A message from Paul C. Taylor, Associate Dean, College of the Liberal Arts:


Resources Available:


For an emergency situation that does or could require medical, psychological or police services:

  •         Call 911 or the Penn State Police at 814-863-1111.


If you experience or witness bias or discrimination

  • Students at University Park should call the Lion Support Help Line at 814-863-2020 (available 24-hours a day)
  • Students at other campuses may contact their campus Student Affairs office to report acts of intolerance
  • Visit this website to report it (anonymously and after it happens):
  • Contact the Affirmative Action Office at 814-863-0471

To file a complaint outside of the University:

For more information on University Policies:

  • Policy AD85 Sexual and/or Gender-Based Harassment and Misconduct (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and related inappropriate conduct to include a section on Consensual Relationships) This policy also covers mandatory reporting and has both contact information and resources for reporting.
  • Policy AD91 Discrimination and Harassment, and Related Inappropriate Conduct (policy on discrimination and harassment in all forms, and retaliation related to reports of such conduct).


For additional help:

  • The Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response provides information related to four main categories: (1) How do I Get Help? (2) How do I Report an Incident? (3) How do I Support a Friend? and (4)Campus Resources.
  • The Behavioral Threat Management Team provides a coordinated response to threats to safety on campus:  855-863-2868, 814-863-2868, or


CAS faculty, graduate students, and alums in the spotlight at 2016 NCA Convention

CAS faculty, graduate students, and alums were in the spotlight at the recent convention of the National Communication Association! Here is a list of achievements:

  • Professor Kirt Wilson delivered the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture
  • Professor Jon Nussbaum was named an NCA Distinguished Scholar
  • Professor Erina MacGeorge was elected to the NCA Publications Committee
  • Jennifer Kam, PhD alumna, received the Early Career Award from the Interpersonal Communication Division
  • Jennifer Priem, PhD alumna, and Professor Denise Solomon, received the Knower Article Award from the Interpersonal Communication Division
  • Jennifer Priem, PhD alumna, was elected Vice-Chair Elect of the Interpersonal Communication Division
  • Professor Denise Solomon and Rachel McLaren, PhD alumna, along with co-authors Jennifer Theiss (Rutgers University) and Leanne Knobloch (University of Illinois), received Top 4 Paper honors from the Interpersonal Communication Division
  • PhD students Xun Zhu and Amber Worthington received Top Student Paper honors from the Applied Communication Division
  • PhD student Adam Cody received Top Student Paper honors from the American Society for the History of Rhetoric Division
  • Graduate student Kaitlyn Patia was elected to the Nominating Committee in the Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division


Well done, CAS!!

Professors Erina MacGeorge and Rachel Smith receive grant from the CDC

The Department congratulates Associate Professors Erina MacGeorge and Rachel Smith on their contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advance efforts to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in treating pediatric illness. For more details, click here.

Dr. Kirt Wilson to deliver Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture at NCA Convention

Associate Professor Kirt H. Wilson will deliver the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture on Friday, November 11, at 5:00 p.m. at the National Communication Association Annual Convention. Professor Wilson is a scholar of political communication, rhetorical criticism, and contemporary theories of race and society at Penn State University. In his lecture, "Dreams of Union, Days of Conflict: Communicating Social Justice and Civil Rights Memory in the Age of Barack Obama," he will analyze the relationships among three communicative phenomena: the symbolic proposition of a more perfect union, commemorative rhetoric about the civil rights movement, and contemporary activism to remediate racial injustice. Wilson will argue that since the early 1990s, but especially with the civil rights movement's golden anniversary, public rhetoric in the United States has reframed a collective memory of the movement. Specifically, a set of narratives has emerged that reconfigures past racial and political conflicts into a demonstration of the nation's enduring commitment to equality and democracy. 


Wilson's research moves from African American public discourse to presidential rhetoric, and from the political history of the Civil War era to the symbolic construction of memory in the late 20th century. He is the author of The Reconstruction Desegregation Debate: The Politics of Equality and the Rhetoric of Place and has won numerous NCA awards, including the James A. Winans and Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address.


About the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture

In 1994, the Administrative Committee of the National Communication Association established the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture. The Arnold Lecture is given in a plenary session each year at the annual convention of the Association and features the most accomplished researchers in the field. The topic of the lecture changes annually so as to capture the wide range of research being conducted in the field and to demonstrate the relevance of that work to society at large.

The lecture has been named for Carroll C. Arnold, professor emeritus of Pennsylvania State University. Trained under Professor A. Craig Baird at the University of Iowa, Arnold was the co-author (with John Wilson) of Public Speaking as a Liberal Art, author of Criticism of Oral Rhetoric (among other works), and co-editor of The Handbook of Rhetorical and Communication Theory. Although primarily trained as a humanist, Arnold was nonetheless one of the most active participants in the New Orleans Conference of 1968, which helped put social scientific research in communication on solid footing. Thereafter, Arnold edited Communication Monographs because he was fascinated by empirical questions. As one of the three founders of the journal Philosophy and Rhetoric, Arnold also helped move the field toward increased dialogue with the humanities in general. For these reasons and more, Arnold was dubbed “The Teacher of the Field” when he retired from Penn State in 1977. Arnold died in January of 1997.

The Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by Pearson.

Below is the abstract for Dr. Wilson's talk:

Dreams of Union, Days of Conflict: Communicating Social Justice and Civil Rights Memory in the Age of Barack Obama

On March 18, 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama stood before a podium at Philadelphia's Constitution Center and began a speech dedicated to the subject of white and black race relations with the words, “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” Since that moment, scholars and citizens, journalists and activists have reflected on the promise of “A More Perfect Union” and asked, “What happened?” The President’s election seemed to indicate a wide-spread desire for unity in the United States. At the time, claims of a post-racial America seemed overly optimistic; nevertheless, national polls indicated that most adults viewed relations between whites and blacks as either “somewhat good” or “very good.” By 2015, however, public opinion had swung in the opposite direction. A majority of adults believed that race relations were “somewhat bad” or “very bad.” In his 2016 Carroll C. Arnold lecture, Dr. Kirt H. Wilson contends that when we ask what happened to the hoped for unity of Obama's Philadelphia address, we first need to interrogate how society selectively remembers the struggle for black freedom in the United States.


Dr. Wilson argues that since the early 1990s, but especially with the civil rights movement’s golden anniversary, public rhetoric in the United States has reframed a collective memory of the movement. Specifically, a set of narratives has emerged that reconfigures past racial and political conflicts into a demonstration of the nation's enduring commitment to equality and democracy. This memory is not entirely stable, but it is sufficiently coherent to influence not only our understanding of history but also our deliberations about social justice in the present. Today citizens communicate about racial divisions, social protests, and remedies to discrimination within a horizon of possible action that is constrained by what we remember about the civil rights movement’s purpose, success and failure.


By analyzing the relationships among three communicative phenomena--the symbolic proposition of a more perfect union, commemorative rhetoric about the civil rights movement, and contemporary activism to remediate racial injustice--Dr. Wilson reinterprets the conditions that have led to a pessimistic view of current interracial relations. Contrary to what some suggest, he is optimistic that we have arrived at an important juncture. The unrealized hopes for Obama's presidency and recent instances of racial conflict invite us to consider what we have forgotten about our past. It is more possible today than it was in 2008 to construct different memories of the black freedom struggle. These alternatives provide new resources for political action and communication. While some of these memories force us to abandon the ideal of a “perfect union,” they may offer a better foundation for creating a just society.