Communication Studies program rising in the ranks

The Department of Communication Studies boasts 25 scholarly awards in two years

Lincoln Hall steeple

Communication Studies program rising in the ranks

The Department of Communication Studies boasts 25 scholarly awards in two years

Lincoln Hall steeple

The Department of Communication Studies in the College of Liberal Arts has excelled lately and is riding the flanks of some of the top communication schools in the country. Over the last two years, communication studies faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno have been awarded with five national or regional book awards, four chapter or article awards, eight top paper awards, two scholar awards, three teaching or mentor awards and three service awards. To add to this impressive list of 25 awards in two years, Chair and Professor of the Department of Communication Studies Jimmie Manning was recently awarded with arguably the top award in the communication studies industry.

Manning was named the National Communication Association’s 2020 recipient of the Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education. He will be presented with the award virtually this fall during the National Communication Association’s annual convention. This award is given annually to a member of the association who “exemplifies superlative teaching in higher education,” as stated on their website.

The award has been presented since 1988, and Manning marks the first in University of Nevada, Reno history (and in Nevada) to add this accomplishment to his resume.

“It did not feel real at first,” Manning said. “It took about two weeks for it to sink in that I had actually won.”

This prestigious national recognition, in addition to the number of recent department accolades, adds to the notoriety of the communication studies program. Assistant Professor Robert Gutierrez-Perez recently won the 2020 Outstanding Feminist Book Award from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender. His book, This Bridge We Call Communication: Anzaldúan Approaches to Theory, Method, and Praxis, was selected from over 20 to receive this year's award.

Assistant Professor Jenna Hanchey has won two article-of-the-year awards – both at the national level, in addition to a top paper award. She is also part of a group of scholars who are introducing African worldviews, philosophies and theories to the communications discipline.

“We have a top-tier communication program and I love that my colleagues are often winning awards in multiple areas,” Manning said.

“We have scholars who are bold and who are taking the field in groundbreaking new directions.”

Associate Professor Sarah Blithe is one of those faculty members researching, exploring and writing about the taboo topic of sex workers in Nevada.

Associate Professor James Cherney is a recent national scholar award winner and researches and publishes on groundbreaking topics in disability studies and sports.

With just as many full-time and highly regarded faculty as departments from top-ranked institutions, it is further indication that this communication studies program is as competitive and cutting-edge.

“Our department has an amazing social justice focus that allows us to consider how communication can be just as ethical as it is efficacious,” Manning said.

He said faculty in the department are leaders of research in their communication disciplines – just as they are leaders in connecting with and helping to educate well-rounded students.

Manning has served as a faculty mentor, an advisor to student organizations, and has sat on or chaired more than 60 doctoral student committees throughout his career. He has led student service-learning projects to understand communication perspectives in different demographics, and has obtained grants to increase the University’s R-1 Carnegie classification.

The Department of Communication Studies has more than a dozen leaders in the field and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that in his short tenure, Manning is leading the front to make the department as competitive as any.

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