Letter From the Chair

During the last two years, the Communication Studies Department has continued to change and grow in significant ways, with most of these developments centering on faculty hires and student accomplishments.

Richard D. Besel

This year the department is delighted to welcome two new faculty members who specialize in interpersonal communication – Dr. Anuraj Dhillon and Dr. Leslie Nelson. Dhillon earned her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut, where her research focused on the role of physiology in relational communication. Nelson joins us after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Missouri. Her research focuses on identity, sense-making, and well-being in diverse family forms. While both of them teach the required interpersonal communication course in the major, they will also teach upper-level elective courses in areas such as family communication and non-verbal communication. Faculty members are genuinely pleased to add them to our ranks.

Last year the department also welcomed Dr. Aubrie Adams and Dr. Emily Ryalls, experts in media effects and media criticism, respectively. The department continues its commitment to provide students with courses focusing on the newest developments in the field. Adams, for example, is an expert in new media, emoticons, and gaming studies, and teaches courses in the area of media effects. Ryalls is a critical media scholar who has published widely on issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality in mediated texts and contexts. After only one year, their presence is much appreciated.

While announcing new arrivals is certainly one of the perks of my position as chair, I know I am only able to do so because of Dr. Bernard Duffy’s recent retirement. Entering the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP), Duffy will now teach part-time. He served as department chair for nine years during his over 30-year career at Cal Poly and has been officially granted the title of Professor Emeritus. Congratulations to Dr. Duffy on a long and illustrious career.

In terms of student accomplishments, current students continue to impress the faculty with their success in debate (including recent efforts in Spanish language debate), involvement with Lambda PI Eta, and participation with the communication studies club. Graduates have likewise continued this momentum in an array of pursuits. Whether entering the corporate world or continuing their educational aspirations in graduate school, students have been nothing short of extraordinary.

I hope the articles you read in this year’s newsletter inspire you as they have inspired me. As always, the department works to improve constantly its teaching and research efforts. We hope your last two years have been as exciting and beneficial as ours.


Richard D. Besel

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