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Messages From The Chair

Message from the Chair - September 2016

tbrown@wcupa.edu's picture

Hello Communication Studies Students,

On behalf of West Chester University, I’d like to welcome new and returning students to the Fall academic semester! I trust everyone had an enjoyable (and productive) summer! As a department, we pride ourselves on having faculty who are committed to student success through committed advising, student organization programs, and student initiatives.

This year I will be assisted by my communication assistant, Lauren Reinas, who is a graduatestudent in our M.A. program. The information distributed by Lauren will serve two purposes: (1) to make you aware of notices, policies, and due dates that pertain to your academic career,and (2) to inform you of programs/events such as career fairs, student organization programs,and university events that occur on campus.

As the chair of the department, I’m thrilled that you have chosen communication as your area of study. If you have any questions along the way feel free to contact me or stop by our department office (Main 512).

Here’s to a great semester!

Sincerely,

Dr. Brown

Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the Provost,
Professor and Chair,
Department of Communication Studies
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
610-436-2500
tbrown@wcupa.edu

Message from the Chair - January 2016

tbrown@wcupa.edu's picture

Hello Communication Studies Students,

As we transition from one calendar year to another, the holiday season and New Year reinforce the importance of communication. From spending time with family, to exchanging gifts, to making those New Year’s resolutions—how we communicate is just as important, if not more, than what we communicate.

This principle while commonly known continues to manifest itself on a daily basis. Case in point: Chip Kelly. Kelly’s short tenure as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is an important lesson whether you are a leader or group member. When Kelly left the University of Oregon—he was perceived as a “genius” who would revolutionize the NFL with his no huddle offense that was innovative in its use of formations, plays, and speed.

However, less than three years into his tenure, he was dismissed by the very same individuals who were wowed by his football brilliance. Despite having two 10 win seasons, a playoff appearance, and an overall winning record—he was let go with one game remaining in the 2015-16 season. While the Xs and Os might not provide the answer to his plummet—coverage by local and national media did. Kelly’s downfall centered more on his communication skills or the lack there of.

Despite his experience/knowledge, Kelly’s inability to connect with a majority of his players, his stubbornness to adapt to his players’ strengths, his failure to define their roles, and his inability to adapt to the NFL environment—all undermined his ability to lead and thus coach (it will be interesting to see if Kelly improves upon these skills as he was recently hired by the San Francisco 49ers). Referring back to Kelly’s tenure with the Eagles, Kenneth Burke’s ideas ring true--effective communication is about bridging divisions and inducing cooperation by creating identification among those in the communication process.

As Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie stated, “You've got to open your heart to players and everybody you want to achieve peak performance. I would call it a style of leadership that values information and all of the resources that are provided and at the same time values emotional intelligence. I think in today's world, a combination of all those factors creates the best chance to succeed."

Lurie’s comments are about communication. As an audience-centered process, however, the group also is part of the communication process. While Kelly might not have been the best communicator it doesn’t absolve the players’ responsibility in the situation. Did the players help or hinder the communication process? Did anyone ask the coach questions such as: How can I support you? How can I be useful? What is needed from me? After all, as stated consistently by former players on the NFL network—the responsibility for a player’s performance falls squarely on the player. They have to be accountable to perform at their maximum level.

This example, reinforces the salience of the communication major. Don’t overlook the communication theories and principles (that focus on sources, messages, and audiences) that can effectively improve the communication within any industry. What you learn in class can and should be enacted in each area of your life. It’s vital to know how to lead AND how to be led. It’s a simple yet complex phenomena that society continues to learn. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sincerely, Dr. Brown
Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the Provost, Professor and Chair,
Department of Communication Studies West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383 610-436-2500
tbrown@wcupa.edu

Message from the Chair - November 2015

tbrown@wcupa.edu's picture

Hello Communication Studies Students,

As you develop your knowledge and talents, don’t overlook co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that can enrich your educational experience at WCU. Being involved in activities outside of the classroom are a great way to develop as a person and as a leader.

One invaluable experience that can often be overlooked is study abroad. Study abroad can heighten your educational experience by exposing you to different perspectives, cultures, and customs. What better way to engage the broader global community than participating in study abroad?

If you have any interest in study abroad, stop by the Center for International Programs (CIP) which is located on the third floor of Mitchell Hall. The CIP holds information sessions on study abroad opportunities that are available to WCU students every day of the week. If interested in study abroad, please contact the office at: studyabroad@wcupa.edu. In addition to learning about study abroad programs affiliated with WCU, inquire about information on scholarships, travel awards, and grants that are available for students.

If nothing else, stopping by the CIP will increase your knowledge and understanding of various study abroad opportunities for WCU students. Study abroad is a great educational experience that can enhance your academic studies as a Communication Studies major.

Sincerely,
Dr. Brown

Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the Provost, Professor and Chair,
Department of Communication Studies tbrown@wcupa.edu

Message from the Chair - October 2015

tbrown@wcupa.edu's picture

Hello Communication Studies Students,

Autumn is a beautiful time of year. Fall colors, cool mornings and shorter days symbolize not only the changing seasons but the unfolding of another academic semester. Assignments, papers and exams are all being given and completed to test your knowledge and understanding of communication events, acts and phenomena.

Given the broad and interdisciplinary nature of the discipline of communication studies, the question often arises, “What can a student do with a communication studies degree?” Recently, this question also was asked by the National Communication Association (NCA), the largest professional organization for communication professors. NCA is completing a two year student learning outcomes project to determine what a communication studies student should be able to know, understand and do. It has been an honor to be named a team leader for one of the six NCA faculty workgroups that is answering this question from a disciplinary perspective.

While the NCA report will be revealed at its upcoming conference, a discipline-defining characteristic is how sources adapt messages to various audiences and the effects of these messages. The focus on source, message, audience and effects was first proposed by Herbert Wichelns several decades ago as he distinguished the emerging field of communication from English. The field of communication studies continues to evolve as we explore the impact of communication in various contexts.

Thus as communication studies majors, you are learning the construction of messages crafted to various audiences and their effects—whether the class is in rhetoric, interpersonal communication, media or family communication. It is the focus on sources, messages, audiences and effects that makes communication studies unique and separate from other disciplines.

As you take courses in the major, keep this disciplinary value in mind. The more you are exposed to different traditions in the discipline, the more you are enhancing your ability to communicate. Therefore, as a communication studies major you have the ability to improve communication in a limitless number of industries from government to social services, from education to media, from marketing to the legal system.

What can a communication studies major know, understand and do? The student should be able to improve the communication of any industry that involves sources, messages and audiences.

Sincerely,
Dr. Brown

Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the Provost,
Professor and Chair,
Department of Communication Studies
tbrown@wcupa.edu

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