Red Alert: Introducing Professor Kristin Stimpson

By: Taylor Donatell, Senior Communication Studies major

The communication studies department has hired a new full-time rhetoric professor, Kristin Stimpson. Faculty and students warmly welcome Professor Stimpson to USF as a full-time faculty member after working as an adjunct professor for the last few years. Stimpson earned her MBA and Ph.D. in communication studies with an emphasis in rhetoric and language from the University of Texas at Austin and has been assistant and adjunct teaching in the Bay Area since 2013.

I interviewed Professor Stimpson to ask her about her education, career, classes at USF, and personal interests to give communication studies faculty and students a look into the life of our new full-time professor.

Professor Stimpson, full-time rhetoric professor at USF and creator of the upcoming communication studies class, “Rhetoric of San Francisco”

Professor Stimpson, full-time rhetoric professor at USF and creator of the upcoming communication studies class, “Rhetoric of San Francisco”

Tell me about your academic background and how you became interested in the communication and rhetoric fields of study.

Professor Stimpson: “I went to undergrad at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and was a communication studies major and English minor. After graduating, I worked in the marketing industry in marketing associate and manager roles for a number of companies.”

Professor Stimpson worked on marketing teams for companies like MTV and SmashBox and found many callings and interests in her time interning and working post-grad. She had a special interest in rhetoric and fashion and found ways to combine the two interests in her marketing roles.

Professor Stimpson: “I did trend forecasting and analyzed why people are going to be attracted to these colors two years from now and how that’s going influence people’s styles. I also named products [for SmashBox], and worked on marketing campaigns. There was so much rhetoric in my day-to-day, and I loved it.”

Professor Stimpson loved rhetoric so much that she started her own “rhetoric folder” of rhetorical resources she’d created or referenced in her work. This folder of resources reminded her everyday how interested she was in rhetoric, and it inspired her to go back to school and get her MBA and Ph.D.

Why should students take “Rhetoric and the Public Sphere”?

Professor Stimpson is teaching three communication studies courses this semester, “Rhetoric & the Public Sphere,” “Critical Rhetorical Methods” and “Green Speech.” Of all her current curriculum, I asked her why she thought communication studies students should take her “Rhetoric & the Public Sphere” course, which I took a year ago.

Professor Stimpson: [“Rhetoric & the Public Sphere’] is a great introduction to rhetorical theory. It helps round out a communication studies student’s fundamental understanding of rhetorical discourse and its application into everyday life, as well as a solid theoretical background. This class is a great intro to the major. It evokes critical thinking in and outside of the classroom. It gives communications students some tools, knowledge and confidence.”

Be sure to check out Professor Stimpson’s brand new and original course being offered soon, too: “Rhetoric of San Francisco.”

Do you have a favorite reading, article, short story or lesson that you teach?

Professor Stimpson: “I really like teaching Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” It creates really good discussion, and it’s so applicable today. It’s cool that I can talk about this ancient man’s insights into the way people think, and it creates a contemporary discussion, and students always have good rhetorical criticism of it. And I love that the theories are applicable to pop culture and things we do every day.”

What are some of your personal interests or hobbies?

 Professor Stimpson: “I’m originally from Southern California, Chino Hills. I moved to San Francisco a few years ago, and I just love to tour around the city and explore. I love the natural beauty of the city and am really looking forward to teaching my “Rhetoric of San Francisco” class. It’s my dream class! I also like to surf, play the ukulele and hang out with my dog.”

Please join me in welcoming Professor Stimpson to our department and be sure to check out her upcoming offered courses. For more information please visit Professor Stimpson’s list of offered classes at USF and linkedin Profile.


Red Alert: Welcome to our new PR Writing Professor!

I am happy to introduce our new Public Relations Writing Professor, Kimberly Stoddard, on the blog today! Professor Stoddard joins us from BOCA Communications where she works as the senior content and media strategist. She is excited to join us here in the Communication Studies Department at USF and has already been demonstrating her USF pride (seriously, she came to a meeting wearing a USF scarf! I love it!). I asked her to introduce herself and fill us in on her plans for COMS 323.

Q: Tell us about your career in public relations.

Professor Stoddard: “I’ve been working in the communication field for more than 20 years. In that time I have done public relations, analyst relations, investor relations and social campaigns for Fortune 500 and Global 1000 brands, as well as startups. I love helping people find and share their unique voices, communicate clearly and earn positive sentiment. Today, I am a senior content and media strategist with BOCA Communications and The Townsend Team where I works with tech, life sciences and higher-education clients. In the past I’ve been a VP in Hill + Knowlton Strategies’ technology practice — representing Adobe, Qualcomm, SanDisk and TATA Communications — and previously directed accounts at Eastwick Communications and SHIFT Communications. At those agencies, I’ve mentored teammates that have later gone on to run PR at Apple, Box, HP, IBM, Intuit, Texas Instruments and other companies. Nothing makes me prouder than being a small part of my colleagues’ success! I also serve on the board of INFORUM, the Commonwealth Club’s innovation lab, which shares a common mission with USF of being a socially responsible learning community.”


Q: Why take a class in PR Writing?

Professor Stoddard: “In any communication – especially written – people want to immediately know what’s in it for them. So, I’ll answer that question by assuring this course is designed to help you share that value proposition quickly and compellingly. The second big benefit is that I can connect you directly with paid PR internship opportunities in the business sector. PR is a trade, and prospective employers will expect that you have some on-the-job experience before you walk through their doors. Even if you’re not interested in becoming a PR professional, this course will help you master the basics of business communication and the art of written persuasion. Finally, all students will leave this class with a viable portfolio of writing samples, tools and resources they can use to help them secure and thrive in their careers.”

Q: What are you excited about this class?

Professor Stoddard: I immediately connected with USF’s values of doing well by doing good, and I wanted to be a part of that initiative in some small measure. Since I come from the business sector, my goal is to prepare students to succeed in business — specifically in PR writing. Today that means understanding how to solve problems together and how to be resourceful on your own. This course is designed to offer a LOT of independence for students to move forward at their own pace and to get what they want from it. I’m so excited to see what each student brings to the table and to learn from them as much as they do from me and the fabulous guest speakers we’ll have.

Q: What was your first PR class like and how did it differ from your first PR job?

Professor Stoddard: “My first PR class terrified me. I was a journalism major, so PR was always considered ‘The Dark Side.’  I vowed I would NEVER get into PR after that because the course didn’t do a good job of showing the spectrum of PR and the value of learning compelling PR communication. Fortunately, my first actual job was for a PR firm promoting computer graphics like virtual reality and 3D animation decades before these were mainstream technologies, and it was so exciting! I want to bring THAT experience into the USF classroom. As a result, you won’t just hear from me, but you’ll hear from the change makers at companies YOU care about.”

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Professor Stoddard: “I bet students get asked this question all the time, so it’s only fair to turn the tables! Despite spending more than 20 years in communications, I still feel like I’m still exploring this question. Technology is changing our world with unprecedented speed and at unprecedented scale. And that’s exciting! And it also means that we all need to be adaptable, which requires having a LOT of interests. Recognizing that so much change is catalyzing today, I use my volunteer work with the Commonwealth Club’s INFORUM division as a way to bring the most important voices of our era to a public stage. But we can’t forget the past. I’m also fascinated by ancient civilizations and what we can learn from how they communicated in millennia past, so I spend some of my spare time traveling and learning about history and language. Currently, I’m an aspiring author who is working to fulfill a dream of applying my publicist skills to great ladies of our near past. I’m starting right here in San Francisco with a biography of the influential and controversial Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, who you might recognize as the subject of the Dewey monument in Union Square or the founder of the Palace of the Legion of Honor museum. I look forward to learning about the aspirations of each student in my class!”

Please join me in welcoming Professor Stoddard to our department!


Red Alert: Lambda Pi Eta Recruitment is on

Hello everyone!

Do you…

  • LOVE Communication Studies?
  • LOVE taking part in events in the Communication Studies Department?
  • LOVE talking with other COMS majors?
  • LOVE getting to know your professors better?

And do you have…

  • A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0?
  • A COMS major GPA of at least 3.25?
  • No grade lower than a “B-” in any of your COMS classes?
  • At least 60 total units and 12 COMS units completed by the end of this semester?

Continue Reading


Red Alert: Meet our new Program Assistant, Casey

Welcome back to the spring semester! We have a few changes in the Communication Studies Department. #1: We are actually using our social media again! Sorry for the silence over the past year. I was on maternity leave and sabbatical leave, so the social media took a leave with me. Oh, and in case you are new to the blog, I/Me= Doohan. I write/run all of our department social media. #2: I’m back, along with my colleagues Professor Thorson and Professor Ho, who have also been on leave. #3: Professor Jaquemet is now on sabbatical. Which brings us to change #4: We have a new Program Assistant, Casey Trujillo! Let me introduce you…

The new COMS Program Assistant, Casey!

The new COMS Program Assistant, Casey!

Q: What is your educational background?

Casey: I’m from Minnesota, born and raised. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities w/ a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Theatre Arts.

Q: What did you do before coming to USF?

Casey: I was working full time in Finance at San Francisco Ballet.

Q: What do you like about USF so far?

Casey: I love being back in the academic atmosphere! The faculty and staff here have been especially warm and helpful as well.

Q: When is your office (KA 313) open and what can you help students with?

Casey: My office is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm. Students can come to me with any guidance they need about their COMS or ADVT major/minor. I will either help them answer their questions or lead them to the right person who can assist them.

Q: First impressions of USF and the COMS Department?

Casey: First impression of USF: The campus is stunning and everyone has been so friendly, casual, and helpful.

First impression of the COMS department: the students that I’ve met are so incredibly friendly. I’m hoping that it stays this way! Also, the faculty have been very communicative with me so far. How fitting! 😉

Q: Random facts about yourself that you don’t mind sharing?


  • I perform improv through an organization called Leela right here in San Francisco. I have performances monthly. If you’re ever interested in coming to a show, feel free to let me know!
  • I collect carnivorous plants as one of my hobbies. I find them to be incredibly fascinating, yet challenging to grow.
  • I grew up in an extremely rural community. My small town in Minnesota had a population of 991 people!

We are happy to have you here, Casey! Please make him feel welcome next time you are in K-Hall!


Red Alert: Lambda Pi Eta is now recruiting!

We are pleased to announce that the Communication Studies Department honors society, Lambda Pi Eta, is now recruiting new members! If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you should definitely apply for membership!

  • Do you have a 3.0 or higher overall GPA?
  • Do you have a 3.25 or higher Communication Studies major GPA?
  • Have you completed (or will you have completed by the end of this semester) 60 total units, including three Communication Studies courses?
  • Have you received a grade of a “B-” or higher in ALL of your Communication Studies courses?

Lambda Pi Eta is the official honor society of the National Communication Association. The Kappa Iota chapter at the University of San Francisco was founded in 1994. We host a variety of academic, social, and community service activities throughout the year, including Pizza with the Profs, Communication Studies Career Night, Pizza with the Pros, Alumni Speaker Night, Pie Day, and others! We also host a mentorship program for new Communication Studies majors. Becoming a member will mean that you will join a fun and friendly group of COMS majors, get to know other people in the department better, and participate in events designed to help you while you are here and as you plan for life after graduation. Plus, you get honor cords for graduation and your name is printed in the Commencement Program as one of our honors society members! You could also wear a cool shirt like this one:

LPH President Maude rocking our LPH t-shirt!

LPH President Maude rocking our LPH t-shirt!

In short, there is no reason not to join if you meet our requirements!

You can download the application here lambda pi eta application 2014 or pick one up in our main office, KA 313. Applications are due to my office, KA 342, by Wednesday April 16th. I will let you know via email if you are accepted or not by May 1st.

If you are applying (or one of our current members who is not yet graduating) you should know that we are also looking for officers for the 2014-2015 academic year. If you are interested in potentially serving as an officer, please contact me at edoohan@usfca.edu. I hope to see many applications for LPH coming in within the next few weeks!


Red Alert: Meet the new Communication Studies Program Assistant, Christine!

I am so happy to introduce our new Department of Communication Studies Program Assistant, Christine Lee! If you are a current student, you will likely get to know Christine quite well when you visit our department office, Kalmanovitz 313. I asked Christine to share some information about herself with us…

The new Department of Communication Studies Program Assistant: Christine!

Q: What is your educational background?

Christine: “I received my B.A. in Communications at UC Berkeley in 2010. I chose Communications for my degree because of its practicality and usefulness in the real world, most notably in my career interests, which includes education and advertising/marketing.”

Q: What did you do before coming to USF?

Christine: “Before working at USF, I worked as an office manager/principal’s assistant at a new public charter high school in San Francisco. Working in a start-up environment was a great learning experience (although I really don’t miss the 10+ hour work days).”

Q: What you like about USF so far?

Christine: “I love the hustle and bustle of the academic environment. All the staff, faculty, and students are kind and full of positive energy. It’s quite infectious and inspires me to work harder!”

Q: When is the office open and what can you help students with?

Christine: “The department office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5pm. The office may be closed from 12-1pm for lunch but please stop by to check! I am here to help you with just about anything, from scheduling appointments with the faculty to general information about the COMS department. If I don’t have the answer, I will try my best to find out (since I am also curious too). Don’t hesitate to visit the office! I am an open book and would love to share my college and real world experiences.”

Q: Any random facts about yourself that you don’t mind sharing?

Christine: “1. I live and breathe for FOOD. I am more than happy to share food recommendations (and impart your wisdom too!).
2. I am a huge fan of Kobe Bryant.
3. I am ashamed to admit this…but I don’t know how to drive (yet).”

How great is it that Christine was a communication major?! Please join me in welcoming Christine to our department and to USF! We are so happy to have you!


Red Alert: Department of Communication Studies Sweatshirt Design Contest!

This is exciting. I know sometimes when you preface a message by declaring that it is exciting, it may seem like it is not actually that exciting, but that is not the case here.  So, prepare to be excited.  Ready?

I am happy to announce the Department of Communication Studies Sweatshirt Design Contest! Ta da! Here’s the scoop: In the past, every few years we have had students design sweatshirts for our honor society, Lambda Pi Eta. This has always been fun (and special props to Kelly Sanders and Natalie Borges, the two most dedicated wearers of LPH sweatshirts!), but this year we thought we would do something a bit different. We would create department sweatshirts instead! That way everyone can wear them and proudly show off their membership in the COMS department! Ta da! And in order to create department sweatshirts, we will have a contest. TA DA!

Here are the details: We are looking for designs for a department sweatshirt. The winner of the sweatshirt design contest will receive the fame and glory of USF Communication Studies majors, alums, and faculty wearing their winning design, and, as if that is not enough, the winner will also receive a free sweatshirt! Here are the requirements:

  • Submissions must come from current members of the University of San Francisco community or USF Communication Studies department alums.
  • The design must mention, in some form, “Department of Communication Studies” and “University of San Francisco” (abbreviations or acronyms are fine).
  • The design must be appropriate for an academic department at a Jesuit university.
  • Submissions should be sent to me at edoohan@usfca.edu in a PDF format.
  • Design submissions are due by September 15th.

The plan is to have a final slate of designs that will be put to the vote on our facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/USFDONSCOMS). This will take place in September, sweatshirts will be sold during the first two weeks of October, and distributed before the end of fall semester.  We don’t know the price yet, but we will keep the cost as reasonable as possible.

I wanted to make the announcement now so that interested students and alums can work on the design over these long summer months. If you have a design finished in advance of the September 15th deadline, feel free to pass it along! Have fun with this and contact me if you have any questions.

Let the designs start pouring in… (Please).