Department of Applied Communication Studies becomes new denomination for Speech Communication

To keep consistent and better reflect the diversity of the discipline, the Department of Speech Communication has changed its name to Department of Applied Communication Studies, according to faculty.

Applied Communicaton Studies faculty and staff below the sign with the new denomination for the department

The name change successfully underwent university wide and Illinois Board of Higher Education reviews in the past year, according to professor Sorin Nastasia.

Applied Communication Studies Department Chair Alicia Alexander said it was time to change the name to better reflect what the faculty and students do with the degree.

“It better represents the three tracks that we offer in the undergraduate program: public relations, interpersonal communication, and corporate and organizational communication as well as the graduate program of health, interpersonal, corporate and organizational,” Alexander said.

Applied communication faculty scholarship addresses real world problems and needs in the organizational setting, relationships, healthcare settings and more, according to professor Min Liu.

“Our undergraduate senior project students are often working with community organizations to address their communication-related needs and even our graduate students have chosen the option of completing a high-caliber project, which combines theory, methods and creative problem solving skills to address a real-world need,” Liu said.

According to Nastasia, the change was proposed by the department’s faculty body to reflect transformations from a narrower view of communication as training in speech to a broader perspective of communication.

In the past, people have often confused Speech Pathology and Mass Communications with Speech Communication, according to Alexander.

“Our office support staff actually kept track of how many daily calls we received for the Speech and Hearing Clinic instead of for our department,” Alexander added.

Professor Duff Wrobbel emphasized the importance of understanding the discipline and its applications in today’s world.

“What we study and teach is at the intersection of virtually anything else,” Wrobbel said. “We are between you and your spouse, you and your kids, you and your doctor, you and your boss, you and your staff, you and your clients. All the talent in the world only becomes available to others when it is communicated, so your tools for that expression are things like art, dance, writing and us.”

According to Alexander, Applied Communication is useful in many personal and professional contexts.

“Our classes can help students in so many ways from focusing on group communication, effective listening, leadership, conflict resolution, patient-provider communication, professionalism, public speaking, training and development, community relations, public relations; just to name a few,” Alexander said.

The process of changing the name “is going well,” according to Alexander.

“We have changed it on Cougarnet and Banner and all students will need to register for ACS [Applied Communication Studies] for this spring,” Alexander said. “We’re doing our best to keep up so that students and faculty aren’t confused.

In spite of the name change, no requirements have changed for the multiple programs available to students, Alexander said.

According to Wrobbel, the process of changing the name has taken a long time and a lot of work.

“We had a group of faculty members dedicated to getting this through, and they did such a good job that the university is going to use their work as a model for how other departments should make similar changes,” Wrobbel said.

Wrobbel also said he wished the department’s first chair, Dan Salden, had lived to see this.

“He tried unsuccessfully to make this change more than once over the years, and he would have been happy to see it finally happen,” Wrobbel said.

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