Dean's Message

College Theme for 2022: Renewal

Vision: A democratic society in which people from all backgrounds can participate fully in civic discourse, building community, and enhancing social capital.

Mission: Preparing communicators to advance a democratic society by undertaking critical academic inquiry, serving the community, and engaging in ethical and professional practice across all communications industries and in related fields.

From the Dean: January 2022

The past few years have given us the opportunity to reflect on what we truly value, while reconsidering how we live out those values in ways that are authentic to ourselves, helpful to others, and meaningful to the society that we all share. For this calendar year, I’ve chosen the theme of “renewal,” in light of input received from faculty and staff at our all-College retreat last August and throughout the fall semester. It’s clear that, after years of continued uncertainties and upheavals in so many areas of our lives, we all need to find ways to renew both our commitments and ourselves.

First, I challenge each of us to recommit to our longstanding College mission of advancing democratic society. In the face of increasing threats to voter rights around the country, we need to renew our focus on the fundamental principle of a representative democracy – the right to free expression via the ballot box. In an age of more-pointed political partisanship, we need to renew our commitment to civil civic discourse, not merely in the abstract, but concretely in our quotidian practice. At a time of rampant misinformation spread via digital media platforms, we need to renew our ability to balance individual free speech with a social responsibility to purvey accurate and truthful information.

Second, I exhort us to examine the ways in which we must renew our curriculum, pedagogy, scholarship, and service. Let’s continue to update our course content, curriculum architecture, teaching approaches, and grading methods, so that our students are prepared for both their professional futures and their civic duties. Let’s think about our research and how we communicate it, so that we both reaffirm our desire to address pressing societal issues at the nexus of communications and humanity, and reinvent ourselves as public scholars who make research-based insights accessible to non-academics. Let’s use our on- and off-campus service activities to model civic participation and to support diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.

Last and not least, I encourage us to reflect thoughtfully and to dig deeply into what renews each of us individually. For some of us, this personal renewal might mean a re-dedication to more rest and healthier habits. For others, this may entail remembering what brings us personal joy and professional fulfillment. Perhaps, a personal renewal means a recalibration of our goals and a redefinition of how we measure progress toward them. Or, we may find that true renewal requires embracing ourselves holistically to regain our personal equilibrium and sense of self.

The reality is that renewing ourselves individually is necessary to nurture collectively the renewal of our community, in which many members feel exhausted. I sincerely hope that this year of renewal will bring us more peace, greater wisdom, and a strengthened College, unified in our mission in service to democracy.


Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR