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 media and 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 media, technological, organizational, intercultural, cultural, gender, health, political, interpersonal, family and group 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 is produced, shared, maintained, repaired and transformed through the symbolic process of communication.
Through coursework and an internship, students explore the many aspects of verbal and nonverbal communication and how it influences human behavior and shapes society. Studies also prepare students for successful communication using a variety of mediums, including print, television, radio, film and the Internet.
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 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 social science departments like ours use communications with the "s." But we prefer “communication” to emphasize our focus on the scientific study of communication rather than the more applied “art” of communicating.
Communication faculty members stay active in their fields and bring their expertise to the classroom.
Innes Mitchell, Associate Professor
Professor Mitchell teaches courses in Media Communication, Gender Communication, Rhetorical Criticism, and Perspectives on Atheism. He has previously taught courses on Political Communication, Persuasion, and Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric. His research interests focused on new social movements and political movements, including Media Reform, New Atheism, and the movement for Scottish Independence. Professor Mitchell’s special topics course, Perspectives on Atheism, is one of the only courses in the country on this subject taught from a Communication perspective. He has also led study abroad courses in his native country of Scotland, at Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh Napier University. His most recent projects focus on visual ethnography and "digital storytelling." He produced a series of short films documenting his long-distance hike of the Scottish National Trail. He is currently documenting his hike of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain, which he completed with his daughter in Summer 2017.
Teresita Garza, Associate Professor
Dr. Garza’s teaching interests, scholarly research and publications are in the areas of rhetorical theory and criticism, popular culture, communication theory, cultural studies, Native American-Chican@ film and communication. Her former students have attended top ranked graduate programs, film schools and law schools. Some have received notable awards such as Fulbright scholarships, academic fellowships and prestigious internships. Many of Dr. Garza’s mentees have successful careers in education, law, government, film, news and broadcast journalism, philanthropy, and some have gone on to win national and international acclaim for their work.
Lori A. Peterson, Associate Professor
Dr. Peterson has been a full-time faculty member for over twenty years. She came to St. Edward's University in 2001 as an assistant professor of communication and currently serves in the role of associate vice president for faculty development and academic programs. Her office is responsible for overseeing and coordinating faculty development in teaching, scholarship and creative expression, advising, pedagogical innovation and faculty participation in the global initiative as well as the academic program review process. Dr. Peterson has extensive experience teaching abroad, in Japan at Asia Pacific University as well as at UCO in Angers, France. She is a self-professed Francophile.
Stephanie J. Martinez, Associate Professor
Dr. Martinez is an ethnographer and communication scholar whose interests are in the areas of organizational communication, health communication, feminism, leadership, service learning, and public speaking. She founded the Brother Dunstan Bowles Persuasive Speaking Contest that will be in its tenth year in 2016. She has led 2 study abroad trips in the last couple years to Angers, France and to Sevilla, Spain. After being awarded a Presidential Excellence Summer Grant, she conducted work on people's perceptions of the media from the 2014 Ebola crisis in Texas. Dr. Martinez is also Director of COMM 1317 - Presentational Speaking.
Billy Earnest, Assistant Professor
Prior to embarking on his graduate career, he worked as a business analyst, technical writer, and account trainer for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Atlanta, from 1990 to 1995. While completing graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, he lectured in Business Communication at UT's McCombs School, from 2003 to 2005. He joined the St. Edward's faculty in 2005 and regularly teaches a diverse set of classes, including Media & Professional Presentations, Rhetoric & Religion, Lying & Deception, and Intercultural Communication. In 2007 Kendall Hunt published his guide to presentation design, "Save Our Slides: PowerPoint Design That Works," a fourth edition of which is now under contract. In 2015 he co-authored the second edition of Lying and Deception in Human Interaction and created the Instructor Resources for the book (also with Kendall Hunt).
Corinne Weisgerber, Associate Professor
Dr. Weisgerber is a social media professor and researcher at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas where she teaches classes on social and interactive media, interpersonal communication, persuasion, research methods, and public relations. Corinne became interested in computer-mediated communication in the early days of the Internet and has been studying the impact of new communication technologies on our relationships, identities, and ways of seeing the world since the beginning of her doctoral studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Much of her latest research has focused on new media and pedagogy, and on digital identity. Her research has been published in academic journals, book chapters, and various online forums and presented at both academic and industry conferences. She also serves as a media expert in Communication & Social Media for the university and the National Communication Association. Fun fact: Corinne was born and raised in Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in the world.
Shannan H. Butler, Associate Professor
Dr. Butler conducts research in the area of new media, pedagogy, rhetorical criticism, film studies, and visual communication. He has presented his research at national, internatinal and regional conferences including the National Communication Association, Eastern, Southern, and Central States Communication Associations, the New Media Consortium, and SXSWedu. In 2010 he was invited to present his work on visualization at the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report general meeting. He has co-authored two book chapters and published several journal articles with his colleague, Dr. Corinne Weisgerber.
Teri L. Varner, Associate Professor
Dr. Varner's ethnographic qualitative research interests range from women of color in American higher education to hair/body politics to increasing the amount of classroom instruction devoted to teaching students how to actively listen in the 21st century. She has over 15 years of diversified experience in higher education including classroom instruction, directing, lecturing and coaching with an emphasis on communication skills enhancement, and oral interpretation. She has more than eight years of performing, directing, adapting poetry, prose, non-fiction and theatrical projects. She is highly skilled in editing and writing academic research and presenting both written and performance based scholarly presentations at national conventions.
The purpose of the Marion Albert Leadership Scholarship is to assist Hispanic/Latina/o American students in completing their higher education at St. Edward's University. This scholarship is available on a competitive basis to undergraduate students of Hispanic/Latina/o background. Awards have ranged from $500-$2,500 (pending funding).
The purpose of the Marilyn Schultz Journalism Scholarship is to assist Journalism minors and Communication majors specializing in Media Arts and Broadcast Journalism in completing their higher education at St. Edward's University. This scholarship is available on a competitive basis to undergraduate students who have completed at least one year of study.
Associate Professor of Communication, Marilyn Schultz helped launch the careers of many young journalists at St. Edward's University. She was also the faculty adviser for the campus television station at St. Edward's. Dr. Schultz brought practical experience, scholarly credentials and a burning enthusiasm to her work as an associate professor of communication at St. Edward's University until her untimely death Sunday, January 10, 2013 after a brief illness. Dr. Schultz also worked as a reporter for an NBC affiliate in Washington that led to a class-action lawsuit against NBC and its affiliates in 1971 seeking equal opportunity and pay for women.
Every April at the St. Edward's Honors Night, the Communication faculty selects one or two students to receive the Outstanding Communication Major award.
Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)
The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications. This student organization seeks to advance the public relations profession by nurturing generations of future professionals. PRSSA has a rich history of support from its parent organization, which offers professional development and networking opportunities to help students launch a career in public relations.
Faculty Advisors: Julie Armstrong, M.A. & Corinne Weisgerber, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Communication
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: Teresita (Tere) Garza, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication
The Communication Society (CoSo) has a 20-year history on the St. Edward's campus. The organization provides social and networking opportunities for Communication majors, but anyone with an interest in communication is welcome to join. CoSo is active in student life and won the "Student Life Organization of the Year Award" just two years ago. In the past, members have attended the National Communication Association meetings in Chicago and Orlando.
Faculty Advisor: William (Billy) Earnest, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication
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 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 the first Friday in April 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. View photos from the most recent contest.
The Communication Speaker Series brings esteemed thinkers from a variety of disciplines to the St. Edward’s University community to encourage new thinking perspectives and critical thought. This program supports the mission of the university and the Communication department by promoting lifelong learning and encouraging the pursuit of social justice. Attendees are exposed to social and cultural issues and challenged to think critically about them. Attendees will enjoy this celebration of creative expression.
Communication majors who have completed high quality research and are interested in attending the National COMM Association (NCA) or Southern States COMM Association (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.
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
Valerie Thatcher, Ph.D., esteemed COMM alumna & award winning contingent faculty member has published a chapter in the new Penn State University Press book entitled, Text + Field Innovations in Rhetorical Method
Victoria Gutierrez Pineda '00 [bachelor's degree] 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®.
Communication major Christine Mafana was one of three undergraduate students featured in a recent scholarship awareness campaign. As a recipient of a Rodeo Austin scholarship, Christine was selected to share her experience with other aspiring undergraduates. Christine’s scholarship was made possible through Rodeo Austin and the Nelson Puett Foundation in partnership with Texas colleges and universities.
We congratulate Christine on her scholarship and thank her for sharing this scholarship opportunity!
Link to the video featuring Christine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c961m3e6z_k
To learn more about this Scholarship: http://www.rodeoaustin.com/about/scholarships/
To learn about more Scholarships: