Student Shout-Out: Congratulations to the new Lambda Pi Eta members!

This past Wednesday we inducted 22 new members to our department honor society, the Kappa Iota chapter of Lambda Pi Eta! So, today’s Student Shout-Out of course goes to our new members! A big congratulations to each of them!

We had a great event, thanks to the hard work of our Lambda Pi Eta officers, President Nickole Mariona, Vice President Blair Reed, Treasurer Taylor Morton, Public Relations Director Chrissy Romero, and Secretary Alyssa Micciche! Yes, there was a solemn candle lighting ceremony and we pledged our dedication to Aristotle and logos, pathos, and ethos (the L, P, and E of Lambda Pi Eta). Here are some pictures from the event:

Our 2012 Lambda Pi Eta inductees!

Our officers explaining the goals of Lambda Pi Eta

Vice President Blair cracks open some Dom Martinellis!

A big congratulations to each of our new members:

Eunice Ahn

Maude Ballinger

Amy Constable

Azul Corajoria

Robert Curotto

Kathleen de Lara

Elizabeth Ferrari

Emily Genge

Jennifer Hong

Jennifer Horowitz-Short

Alexandria Kaufman

Nickole Mariona

Saman Minapara

Celine Roces

Christine Romero

Erica Sierra

Ajouni Singh

Allison Spillane

Nikka Suleymanova

Molly Thorpe

Jordan Van Dyne

Chantel Wu


Think you have what it takes to be in Lambda Pi Eta? We recruit for new members each spring!


Dons' Doings: Rhetoric Students Attend Lecture by Dr. Clarence Jones

Today’s blog post comes courtesy of Professor Marilyn DeLaure who arranged for our Communication Studies rhetoric students to attend a lecture by Dr. Clarence Jones, the University of San Francisco Diversity Scholar. I’ll let Professor DeLaure fill you in:

A First-Hand Perspective on American Civil Rights

COMS students enrolled in rhetoric courses this fall were privileged to attend a lecture by Dr. Clarence Jones, USF’s Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor, on Thursday, September 20.  Dr. Jones worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1960 to 1968 as a speechwriter, advisor, and legal counsel.  The lecture was attended by students in Rhetoric and the Public Sphere (from all three sections, taught by Professors Burgess, DeLaure, and Sery), Critical & Rhetorical Methods (DeLaure), and Rhetoric of Social Movements (Burgess).

Dr. Jones spoke at length about the power of the written and spoken word, drawing analogies between rhetoric and other arts, including music and painting.  (Jones was trained as a classical clarinetist, and also plays jazz.  His musical background gave him a special skill to hear the rhythms of King’s style, enabling him to write speech drafts that matched King’s cadence.)  At one point, Jones advised his audience to “look at words as if you and your body were a musical instrument.”

Students in Professor DeLaure’s Critical & Rhetorical Methods course had just finished studying King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”  Dr. Jones recounted his role in the Birmingham struggle in April of 1963: as King’s attorney, he was able to visit the leader in his jail cell, smuggling in blank paper, and sneaking out the pages upon which King had penned his now famous letter.  A few months later, Jones was in Washington, DC, helping with the planning of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Jones noted that on August 27, he gave King a few pages he had drafted, which included a simple but powerful metaphor likening the freedoms enumerated in America’s founding documents to a promissory note.  Part way through King’s speech, Jones recalled, singer Mahalia Jackson shouted, “Tell ‘em about the Dream, Martin!”  Jones said he saw King push his manuscript to the side, shift his body position, and then launch into the famous refrains of the latter part of the speech—all delivered extemporaneously.

Dr. Jones took a few questions from the audience, and in his closing remarks, ventured that were Martin Luther King, Jr. still alive today, he would be fighting the attempts in many states to place restrictions upon voting rights (by requiring a government-issued photo ID).  King would be calling for 100,000 people to surround the capitol buildings in each of those states, said Jones, because King believed in the power of the people—“he had complete faith in the power of the people.”

For more information on Dr. Clarence Jones and his distinguished career, see: http://www.usfca.edu/Provost/Diversity/Dr__Clarence_B__Jones/ ”

Dr. Jones speaking to our Communication Studies rhetoric students

Thanks Professor DeLaure for organizing this important lecture! Dr. Jones sat with the Communication Studies faculty at a lunch at the start of the semester, and we were all treated to stories about his work with Dr. King. How wonderful that our students were able to hear him speak as well!


Alumni Spotlight #22: Anne Stone, PhD

It’s been a long nine months…over nine months, actually, since our last Alumni Spotlight. The drought has ended, Alumni Spotlights are back! Woo hoo!

Today our spotlight shines onto 2005 Communication Studies graduate Anne Stone, who is now Dr. Anne Stone, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Communication at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL! Let’s catch up with Dr. Stone!

Anne teaches and conducts research in Interpersonal communication, health communication, and qualitative research methods. I asked Anne how she knew she wanted to be a professor. “At USF I was exposed to communication theory and the concept of using theory to create social change through research. I was also inspired by the ways that professors at USF were able to make research interesting to students and decided that I wasn’t ready to leave the classroom after graduation.”

It can be hard to decide where to go to graduate school, so I asked Anne how she made the decision. “After working closely with faculty at USF I wanted to learn more about health communication so I looked up the top graduate programs with faculty who specialized in that area and applied. I think it is really important to find faculty that will inspire you to do rigorous, innovative research so I looked for people that were excited about their work. I found faculty like that at the University of Illinois and am proud to have completed my MA and PhD under the guidance of those faculty.” Anne’s doctoral dissertation was entitled “We don’t like to call it lying, it’s just therapeutic communication”: Understanding the influence of social support on coping with illness uncertainty.

Dr. Anne Stone, PhD, 2005 USF Communication Studies graduate!

I asked Anne what advice she would share for other students and alums interested in graduate school. “I would tell students who are interested in graduate school to get involved in the department in terms of service and research. I would also advise students to talk with current graduate students at the institutions they apply to so that they can get a sense of the type of work they will be doing and the type of people they will be working with.” Great advice, Dr. Stone!

I also asked Anne what she likes about teaching at Rollins. “Rollins is a lot more like USF with smaller class sizes and I have more control over the classes that I teach which is great. This semester I am teaching Interpersonal Communication (using the Wood textbook like you did when I took the class with you 🙂 ) and Listening. Next semester I am teaching Listening again, Communication and Aging, and Communication Campaigns.”

We are so proud to have another student who is now a fellow Communication Studies professor! Congratulations Dr. Stone!


Faculty Feats: Professor Ho wins service learning award!

All of you students and alums know all about service-learning, as you are/were each required to complete a service-learning course while here at USF. But did you know that if you took Ethnography of Communication from Professor Evelyn Ho, you took the course from an award-winning service-learning professor? That’s right! Professor Ho won the University Faculty Service-Learning Award this past spring!

I know students may feel that they do all of the work for a service-learning course, putting in all those hours at the nonprofit and writing papers, but it takes a lot of time and dedication from the professor of the course as well. Professor Ho won the award for her Ethnography of Communication course for her “commitment to service-learning, development of service-learning opportunities for students, connecting academic experience and public service, and demonstration of leadership in the field of service-learning.”

Award-winning professor, Evelyn Ho

Congratulations, Professor Ho, on this distinguished award! If you have fond memories of Ethnography of Communication with Professor Ho, let us know!


Speaking of… Our new faculty member, Professor Sery!

A lot happened while the blog and I were on leave, including the following: Our department hired a new faculty member! I’m pleased to introduce to you Professor Joe Sery!

I asked Professor Sery a series of questions to help introduce him to you here on the blog. Here we go…

Q: Tell us about your academic background:

Professor Sery: “I attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN for my undergraduate degree and double-majored in Communication and Philosophy. After taking a year off from academia, I entered the graduate program in Rhetoric and Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. Given my office was on the 11th floor, I always liked to think that I took rhetoric to 11 (bonus points if you get the film reference!). I earned my M.A. in 2008 and plan on defending my dissertation this winter. Throughout my PhD coursework, I was also working toward a concurrent M.A. in Philosophy. Needless to say, I have a masochistic love of reading painfully dense texts.”

Q: Give us a brief explanation of your dissertation and research interests.

Professor Sery: “My dissertation is (tentatively) titled “Models of Judgment: Rhetoric and the Public Philosophy of Law.” It addresses the ways in which jurisprudence both shapes and is shaped by public discourse, and the ways that one construction of language and reality is tested against another. Examining prominent public philosophers of law – Richard Posner, Martha Nussbaum, Cass Sunstein, and Ronald Dworkin – I argue that each scholar rhetorically crafts an ideal model of judgment to embody their respective philosophies.  (For example, Posner utilizes the “economic judge” whereas Nussbaum promotes the “literary judge.”) By framing law and judgment in particular ways, these philosophers are able to guide public conceptions of justice and the expectations we place on judges.

Beyond my dissertation, I have a broad range of research interests, including American public address, philosophical pragmatism, freedom of speech, and the rhetoric of inquiry (science, medicine, economics, etc.). I will present two papers at the upcoming NCA National Convention: one on the role pharmaceutical companies play in rhetorically “branding” disease and another on the rhetoric of overturning Supreme Court precedent. I also have an article on protest that will be published in March. Needless to say, I have a masochistic love of writing, too.”

Q: What classes have you taught?

Professor Sery: “Before coming to the University of San Francisco, I taught several courses including Public Speaking, Communication Process (similar to USF’s Communication and Everyday Life), Rhetorical Process (similar to USF’s Rhetoric and the Public Sphere), Interpersonal Communication, Freedom of Speech, and a number of Discussion courses that focused on deliberative democracy and contemporary challenges to social justice. I am also an accomplished mime and taught at the Sorbonne’s esteemed Le Centre de Shhhhh for one very quiet summer. Sadly, I had a falling out with the Chair of the school after a heated disagreement regarding the proper way one becomes trapped in an invisible box. We haven’t spoken since. Well, we never spoke beforehand either, but that was out of professional courtesy rather than mutual animosity.”

New faculty member Professor Joe Sery

Q: How did you become interested in rhetoric and in being a professor?

Professor Sery: “After taking a course on the great issues in philosophy, I knew I wanted to become an academic (and I was in that class by accident! – how serendipitous, or, as I like to say, seryndipitous). As an undergraduate, I spent most of my time focused on philosophy, but the more I read, the more I began to feel that it was too detached from how real people live their lives. We can only question our existence for so long, right? I turned toward rhetoric because it felt like the place where the philosophical rubber hits the realistic road. During graduate school, I came to realize that I adore teaching undergraduate students and I could not imagine doing anything else with my life. Something truly magical happens when a young student is exposed to a new idea or a new way of seeing the world. My time as an undergraduate was life altering and I hope to provide that opportunity for USF students, even if my role is small.”

Q: What are your first impressions of USF, the Communication Studies Department, and San Francisco?

Professor Sery: “I have been immensely impressed by the warm welcome that I have received from the University’s faculty, staff, and students. The scholars throughout the University have an unwavering passion for teaching and their research projects continue to fascinate me. USF has cultivated an impressive atmosphere of intellectual rigor and joyful conviviality, a rare blend that I find inspiring. The Communication Studies Department has only reinforced such inspiration. They have been exceptionally kind and helpful throughout my transition into this new and exciting position. After spending six years in Pittsburgh, I was nervous about starting anew, but the Communication Studies faculty welcomed me as one of their own. I am surrounded by caring and enthusiastic colleagues and I couldn’t be happier.

Although I haven’t had as much time to explore San Francisco as I would like, the few places I have visited have been lovely. I had the good fortune to attend the symphony a couple of times before classes started and I sampled a handful of wonderful restaurants (if anyone has any recommendations, I would love to hear them). As someone who grew up in a town that doesn’t have a stoplight, city life continues to dazzle and, at times, confuse me.  I just need to remember to bring a jacket everywhere.”

Q: What are a few things that you like to do outside of school?

Professor Sery: “I enjoy taking my dog, Indiana (full name: Dr. Indiana Bones, Professor of Barkeology), for long walks around my neighborhood and for romps in the surrounding dog parks. If we’re not out and about, I’m likely reading on my patio (latest reads: Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, and The Political Brain by Drew Westen… I highly recommend all of them) or training for a marathon (California International Marathon is coming up in December!). I’m also an adept pie baker and I make the finest apple pie this side of the Mississippi.”

I can already attest that Professor Sery is an excellent baker, as he brought cookies in last week. Wait, what am I doing? I mean, I am still doubtful about how good of a baker he is, and I definitely need to eat more of his baked goods before I render an opinion.

Please join me in welcoming Professor Sery to our department! He is teaching Rhetoric and the Public Sphere this semester and will be teaching Rhetorical History of the US next semester.