The Department of Communication at St. Edward’s University prepares students for a creative career in one of today’s most challenging and rapidly changing fields — the global and interactive world of communication.
Communication is the cornerstone of everything we do, and one of the oldest disciplines, relying on rhetorical principles that date back over 2,000 years. It also is one of the newest academic fields of study, encompassing public relations, advertising, media, technology, organizational, intercultural, interpersonal, health, nonverbal, listening, family, and team communication, as well as public speaking and rhetoric. Students explore these and other areas of study by focusing on complex ideas, such as how reality and cultural knowledge are produced, shared, maintained, repaired, and transformed through the symbolic process of communication.
The Bachelor of Arts with a major in Communication requires 45 hours of major courses. Students complete five “core” communication courses, totaling 15 hours. Students also choose from one of four concentrations, totaling 30 hours:
Communication majors excel academically, win scholarships and awards, join communication student organizations, attend academic and professional conferences, participate in experiential learning opportunities, and succeed after graduation. The 2022-23 Communication Student Report, 2020-22 Communication Student Report, 2019-20 Communication Student Report, and the 2018-19 Communication Student Report highlight student activities and achievements.
You may wonder why we call ourselves the Department of Communication and not Communications.
The simple answer is that we use the term “communication” to reflect our department’s focus on the humanistic and social scientific study of communication—specifically, the process by which humans use symbols, verbal and nonverbal, to create meaning and form relationships with other humans in face-to-face or mediated environments. This is the essence of what we teach, research, and do in our department.
“Communications,” in contrast, is often used to refer to the products—the messages that are transmitted or distributed—or to the equipment (like wireless or fiber optic cables) that conducts the transmission. While these are integral elements of communication study, they do not form the basis for our program. People tend to use the terms interchangeably, and even some communication departments use communications with the "s." But we prefer “communication” to emphasize our focus on the humanistic and social scientific study of communication rather than the more applied “art” of communicating.
The Communication Faculty present their research at regional, national and international conferences as well as publish peer-reviewed books, book chapters and journal articles. In addition, faculty are commitment to the ethos of service—at the university, in the community and for the communication discipline. The following Communication Faculty Reports highlight faculty engagement and productivity:
Communication majors may qualify for three donor-funded scholarships, created to support the dreams of aspiring Communication professionals. Below are links that share the background, eligibility and student selection procedures of these funds.
Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)
The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is all about making connections. This pre-professional organization helps students be at the right place at the right time and launch careers. The PRSSA Chapter at St. Edward’s University has a distinct advantage of being in the heart of Austin, Texas.
The City of Austin continues to offer promising job prospects in the growing technology infrastructure, entertainment industry, government sector, and medical and science fields. Our Chapter provides out-of-the-classroom experiences that give students enhanced knowledge of the public relations field. Members have access to:
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nancy Reiter-Salisbury
PRSSA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lambda Pi Eta (LPH) is the National Communication Association’s official honor society at four-year colleges and universities. LPH has more than 450 active chapters at four-year colleges and universities nationwide.
Lambda Pi Eta is designed to:
Recognize, foster and reward scholastic achievement
Stimulate interest in the field of communication
Promote professional development and interest in graduate studies among communication majors
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Teresita (Tere) Garza
Topper Radio is a student-run radio station which serves as an active channel of communication for students and faculty of St. Edward's University to express the University's values of high individuality through music, open dialogue and entertainment.
A creative film-making club for students interested in any aspect of film production.
Topper TV is a student-run broadcast network that offers entertainment for viewers at St. Edwards University. They can be found on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where they provide news updates.
The Majors & Minors Fair is an excellent opportunity for departments to connect with first, second year, and transfer students. This event is also a great chance for students to meet faculty and learn more about each major and minor offered in their School.
The Brother Dunstan Bowles Persuasive Speaking Contest is held in honor of Brother Dunstan Bowles, who was famous for his dramas, humor, and dedication to faith. The contest is usually held in October and is open to all students at St. Edward's University. Students perform in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. Each contestant must present an original seven to eight-minute persuasive speech on a current social problem and advocate for change. Cash prizes are awarded to the first, second, and third place winners, but all contestants who participate will receive a certificate for their participation.
The Communication Speaker Series features esteemed communicators--thinkers, artists, and doers--leading through exemplary scholarship in the field and/or creative expression. The program supports the mission of the university and the Communication department by promoting lifelong learning and encouraging the pursuit of social justice through exchange and collaboration. Attendees are introduced to social and cultural issues from unique perspectives and are challenged to think critically about their own. Attendees will enjoy an opportunity to engage in a question and answer session with featured speakers.
Communication majors who have completed high quality research and are interested in attending the National Communication Association (NCA) or Southern States Communication (SSCA) conference need a faculty mentor’s approval and supervision. You can find more information on the NCA's website and the SSCA's website.
When award-winning journalist Marlisa Goldsmith ’11 sees problems or injustice, she leverages the full force of her position in the media to effect change. “I don’t believe our job as journalists is done after our newscasts are over. There’s a certain amount of power and responsibility [in this position]. I’m all about accepting that to enrich lives and the community,” she says.
One of our international students from the Philippines was featured along with his Hot Pot Comedy group. They are creating a movement spotlighting Asian and Asian American struggles through comedy.
Hot Pot performance (Sat. 2/17/2018) at The New MovemenTheater: 616 La Vaca
Dr. Valerie Murphy, esteemed COMM alumna, published a chapter in the Penn State University Press book entitled, Text + Field Innovations in Rhetorical Method.
Victoria Gutierrez Pineda '00 was awarded the St. Edward’s Alumni Achievement Award. Victoria majored in Communication and particularly enjoyed classes in rhetorical and cultural studies. After graduation, she combined her passion for communication and service with philanthropic work as a professional fundraiser. During the last decade, Victoria has conducted over 500 charity auctions, raising more than $40 million for nonprofit organizations. Previously, she served as the director of development for the University of Texas at El Paso in the College of Science. Now she serves as the assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.
Shayma Abu-Esba was an intern in the Marketing Office for three years and graduated in 2013 with a Communication degree. She is now a marketing project manager at CLEAResult, a company that designs, markets and implements energy efficiency programs for utilities, businesses and residential energy customers.
Melinda O'Cañas graduated in 2010 with a Communication degree. She found a rewarding job helping others as a diabetes care specialist at Novo Nordisk, a multinational pharmaceutical company listed on the 2015 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®.
TV/Film Props Department - New York City
Deneice O’Connor is accustomed to high-stakes projects and solving problems on the fly. For the past eight years, she has worked in the props department in film and television in New York City. The job requires creativity, an eye for detail, impeccable organization, charm, and a host of obscure knowledge and skills. “I’m part of the creative process, but I’m also thinking about money and logistics and talking to my vendors and trying to get deals,” she says. “You have to be chipper and friendly and a good communicator and be incredibly organized while also putting out fires. I didn’t go to film school, but St. Edward’s gave me just the right education for this.”
She was featured in the Summer/Spring 2021 edition of the St. Edward's University Magazine
Ever since his parents bought him a video camera when he was 6 years old, Charles Rogers ’09 has been making movies. He brought that passion to St. Edward’s, where he started the Sorin Reel Film Festival as a venue for screening students’ films. “I look back at that experience as one of the most awesome memories I have,” he says.
Dr. Stephen A. King's co-authored book, Terror and Truth: Civil Rights Tourism and the Mississippi Movement, was published by the University Press of Mississippi in August 2023. The book's co-author, Dr. Roger Gatchet, is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
These students were awarded the following departmental scholarships for 2022-23:
Marilyn Schultz Memorial Endowed Scholarship:
The Innes Mitchell Outstanding Student Endowed Scholarship:
Katy Van Zandt
The Marion Albert Leadership Annual Scholarship:
These students were awarded the following departmental scholarships for 2021-22:
Marilyn Schultz Memorial Endowed Scholarship:
The Innes Mitchell Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Communication:
The Marion Albert Leadership Annual Scholarship:
Rodolfo "Rudy" Senties
In 2021, Dr. Teri Varner was awarded the prestigious Educator of the Year by the International Listening Association (ILA). The ILA also awarded Dr. Varner the Top ILA Convention Research Paper Award in 2020.
In addition, Dr. Varner’s co-author article on metacognitive listening strategies was recently published in the prestigious International Journal of Listening: Janusik, L. A., & Varner, T. (2020). (Re)discovering metacognitive listening strategies in L1 contexts: What strategies are the same in the L1 and L2 context?. International Journal of Listening, 1-12., https://doi.org/10.1080/10904018.2020.1833724.
Dr. Varner is featured in “14 Leaders in Their Field” .
Dr. Teresita (Tere) Garza was featured in the Summer/Spring 2021 edition of the St. Edward's University Magazine. Entitled “The Year the Classroom Changed,” the article highlights Dr. Garza's virtuosity teaching and ability to navigate the unpredictability of a global pandemic through innovative teaching strategies.
Dr. Lori Peterson’s co-authored book, Narrating Midlife: Crisis, Transition, and Transformation, was published by Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. As part of the collection, Dr. Peterson co-wrote the introduction and authored one chapter, “And Then There Were Two.”
Dr. Stephanie Martinez also contributed to the collection with her essay, “Ripping off the BandAid: Cancer at Midlife.”
“Narrating Midlife: Crisis, Transition, and Transformation is rooted in a discussion about why it is important to address the midlife years in ways that challenge and interrogate the myths that surround this phase of life. Although readers are free to construct their own meaning after reading each autoethnographic narrative, they are encouraged to consider how the narratives reveal how the authors deal with their own issues communicatively. More importantly, readers are invited to see the power of narrative reframing as the authors seek to understand, interpret, and "live" midlife changes in ways that are empowering and life-affirming.”
Dr. Billy Earnest co-authored the third edition of Lying and Deception in Human Interaction: Knapp. M., Earnest, W. J., Griffin, D., & McGlone, M. (2020). Lying and deception in human interaction. Kendall Hunt.