Department of Communication Studies

Points of Distinction

The founding of a course called "Rhetoric" in 1890-91 at the then-Iowa State Normal School began what developed into Communication Studies, one of the University of Northern Iowa's most accomplished academic departments.  Some of our points of distinction:

  • Communication Studies faculty members have won 10 Regents Awards for Faculty Excellence since 1997, more than any other department at UNI. (We congratulate Dr. Paul Siddens, our most recent winner of a Regents Award in 2013!) The Regents Awards are the highest honor from the State Board of Regents of Iowa, for "sustaining a record of excellence across the spectrum of faculty endeavors.”  Faculty members have won a number of additional awards for their research, creative works, teaching, advising, and community service records.
  • UNI Forensics is one of the oldest student activities at UNI – more than 100 years old – and has a long history of success.  UNI’s Speech Team finished ranked 10th in the country at AFA nationals for three straight years (2012, 2013, 2014). The UNI Debate Team competes regionally and nationally, and has sent qualifiers to the prestigious National Debate Tournament.
  • UNI’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is one of the most awarded chapters in the nation.  In the past few years, the chapter has won PRSSA Awards for Outstanding Chapter, Chapter Firm (three times), Outstanding Chapter Newsletter, Faculty Advisor (twice) and Professional Adviser (five times). 
  • UNI’s Communication Studies students have been recognized with gold and silver awards for their films and documentaries at the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival, and at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards.
  • Students studying journalism (combining a journalism minor with an electronic media or interactive digital studies major) have won multiple Iowa Broadcast News Association awards for reporting and best overall newscast, and our graduates work for television, radio, print, and online news organizations in Iowa and around the country.
  • Communication Studies students are placed in a wide range of valuable internship experiences, including:  The American Red Cross, Cedar Falls Tourism Bureau, The Colbert Report, John Deere, Entertainment Tonight, the Iowa Governor’s Office, the Iowa Speedway, the Kansas City Chiefs, the National Mississippi River Museum, Seventeen magazine, and WGN.
  • UNI is the only university in the state of Iowa that features degree granting, comprehensive academic undergraduate and graduate curricular programs, along with working production programs, in Performance Studies.
  • Our Communication-Theatre Education major (offered jointly with the Department of Theatre) is the only program of its kind among the three Regents universities in the state of Iowa.
  • Our new Interactive Digital Studies major and minor is the only one of its kind of any university in the state, and is among a handful of interdisciplinary undergraduate interactive digital studies programs in the nation.
  • Communication Studies facilities include state-of-the-art computer labs, 24 multimedia classrooms, 25 digital audio and video editing suites, a renovated auditorium, two television studios, and a performance studies lab in one of the university’s most beautifully renovated historic buildings, Lang Hall.
  • The department faculty consists of 29 full-time faculty, plus adjuncts and graduate teaching assistants, serving over 700 undergraduate majors and minors and about 40 graduate students.