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Dr. Depoe Reflects on 10 Years as Communication Department Head

Dr. Steve Depoe


Dear UC Communication alumni family:

I write this note to you as I approach the close of my 35th year at the University of Cincinnati and the end of a ten-year stint as Head of the Department of Communication (2011-21). I look forward to rejoining the faculty ranks in August, as incoming Head Suzanne Boys takes the reins of department leadership.

We have accomplished some great things over the past decade in the department, including:

• Established new Communication minor (2012) and certificates in Digital Media Engagement and Sport Media and Promotion (2018)
• Established first in-College co-option for sophomores (2015)
• Established new major in Public Relations (2019)
• Started UCommunicate, a student-run strategic communication firm (2014)
• Hosted 50th anniversary celebration (2014)
• Launched new “UC Friends of Communication” organization (2015)
• Focused attention on diversity and inclusion through revision of department mission statement (2017) and addition of course requirement in Communication and PR majors (2018, 2019)
• Gained departmental recognition from the Taft Research Center (2019)
• Started School conversation with Film & Media and Digital Media Collaborative (DMC) (Spring 2019-)
• Developed Ph.D. proposal in Communication with social justice emphasis (Fall 2019-)

Regarding the last two items—both are works in progress. The proposed School of Communication, Film, and Media Studies has gained the endorsement of faculty members in Communication as well the Film and Media Studies and DMC programs. This proposal is now advancing through the college and university approval process. The proposed Ph.D. in Communication has been approved at all levels within the University of Cincinnati, including the Board of Trustees, and now sits before the Chancellor’s Committee on Graduate Studies within the Ohio Department of Higher Education in Columbus. Stay tuned for more information on these exciting initiatives!

I also wanted to recognize some of the considerable achievements garnered by our outstanding faculty members in Communication over the past decade. The list includes:

• Ron Jackson elected as president of National Communication Association (2015-19)
• Gail Fairhurst named Distinguished Research Professor in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (2016)
• Tayo Banjo (2016) and Shaunak Sastry (2017) named A&S Rising Star faculty
• Tayo Banjo wins Fullbright Fellowship (Spring 2020), Niehoff professorship (Fall 2020)
• Shaunak Sastry named as faculty director of The Cincinnati Project (2021)
• John Lynch wins Taft Fellowship (2021-22)

In addition, our graduate students in Communication have won university-wide teaching awards for four consecutive years: Joe Deye (2018), Hadassah Ward (2019), Jana Hockersmith (2020), and Mariam Elgafy (2021). Ms. Elgafy has also been recognized with a teaching award from the Midwest Association of Graduate Studies. Congratulations to these great student leaders!

This past decade also saw the retirement of faculty members Juddi Trent, Teresa Sabourin, Lisa Newman, and Pama Mitchell, as well as the death of Juddi Trent in November, 2020. We miss all of these wonderful colleagues.

Finally, our department’s scholarship base has grown over the past decade, particularly through the creation of the Lisa Newman Endowed Scholarship (thanks to the generosity of alums Tom and Chris Carleton) and the full endowment of the Verderber Challenge Scholarship (thanks to the generosity of alum Kathie Verderber).

We have much work to do in this area—our many students need more scholarship assistance. In particular, our Alumni Scholarship (established in 2009) needs a boost. This scholarship is the only one in the department that delineates a clear financial need eligibility criterion.

I plan to do what I can to support our alumni efforts through UC Friends of Communication, and also to help our A&S Development Office to continue its work to increase the scholarship and financial base of the department (and the new School once it’s established) in the years ahead.


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