Letter From the Chair: Tim Groeling

Dear Alumni, Students and Friends of the UCLA Communication Studies Department-Hello from all of us in Comm Studies, and welcome to our second edition of this annual newsletter. I am delighted to tell you about some of our outstanding students, faculty, and alumni, and also bring you up to date on some of the exciting developments and accomplishments from the past year.The first of these accomplishments is the successful revision and modernization of our Department’s curriculum. You can look at  the new curriculum online here, but the three main changes to the curriculum were:Expanding our core areas beyond mass and interpersonal communication to include two new areas: a) Communication Technology and Digital Systems, and b) Political and Legal Communication. Broadening the curriculum to ensure students take at least one core course in each of the four areas of concentration. Unlike the previous curriculum, students will no longer have to declare a specialization in a specific area of concentration. Instead, after fulfilling their core requirements they will be able to select their own electives based on their own interests.Providing students with a more compelling educational experience by giving them a chance to demonstrate their acquired knowledge and skills to a course project grounded in Communication Studies. These projects will be offered in required courses designated as “Practicum” classes, and will include options like Kerri Johnson’s Negotiation class, where students undertake intense role-playing negotiation exercises, or my own Political Communication class, which requires students learn to edit video and make political commercials for hypothetical presidential candidates. The other major improvement in our department in the last year has been the expansion of our faculty. The first new member of our faculty is Dr. Travis Dixon (UCLA Comm Studies class of 1992!), who joins us as an Associate Professor. Travis replaces Dr. Kyu Hahn, who accepted a position with Seoul National University in Korea last year. Travis is joined by his wife, Dr. Trina Wright-Dixon, who will be serving as a lecturer for Communication Studies and several other departments on campus. In addition to these new hires, two current UCLA faculty members have officially affiliated with us: Chuck Goodwin of Applied Linguistics, and Lynn Vavreck of Political Science. Chuck and Lynn will be providing important counsel and input for the Department as we continue to improve our research, teaching, and initiatives in the future. We have profiles of Travis, Trina, Chuck, and Lynn below to help you get to know them better, and are delighted they have joined Comm Studies!In addition to updating you on some of the accomplishments, honors, and appearances by our faculty, this issue also includes profiles of one of our other faculty members (Francis Steen), and two of our alumni: Taylor Rice ’08, a member of the band Local Natives, and Jonesy Harp ’11, who has been an inspiration agent for change in her Los Angeles community.Finally, this issue will tell you about our 2011 Commencement ceremony, which was one of the largest and most successful graduation ceremonies we’ve ever had. Congratulations go out to our outstanding class of 2011 and our great speakers, Laura Ling and Lee Bearden.If you haven’t yet had a chance to do so, I invite you to visit our Giving page, where you can help assure and enhance the future of Communication Studies at UCLA.  Gifts to Comm Studies are tax deductible and have a lasting contribution to our educational mission. In addition, we have a special need in the Department for old Betamax VCRs and a reel-to-reel tape recorder: if you have one of these ancient devices in working condition and would be interested in helping preserve UCLA history by donating it, please contact me at groeling@ucla.edu.I would also invite you all to become Fans of the Communication Studies Department on Facebook (facebook.com/UCLACommStudies), which is one of the best ways to find out about what’s happening in the Department throughout the year, including special events and guest speakers. So far, more than 400 of you have become fans, and we hope even more will soon.  And, if you are alumni, please became part of our new alumni professional network on BruinWorks.Thank you all, and keep in touch!Tim Groeling, Chair, UCLA Communication Studies Department