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Faculty Q & A: Timothy J. Brown
What is covered in the University’s Communication Studies program?
Students enrolled in the Communication Studies program are exposed to a range of topics - from media studies, public relations, and broadcasting to the more humanistic aspects of communications, such as interpersonal communications, conflict resolution, rhetorical criticism and persuasion.
No matter what their focus, we expect students to graduate from the program with strong oral and written skills, while acquiring competence in information literacy and research skills. And, while we believe the program prepares students for a number of careers, we organize our upper level courses into three areas: public relations and media studies, rhetoric and public communication and interpersonal and intercultural communications.
About 330 to 350 students are enrolled in the program which is taught by 18 fulltime and approximately 18 part-time faculty. Each faculty member brings a particular level of expertise and professional experience.
How did you come to West Chester?
I received my undergraduate degree here at West Chester University in Communication Studies with a focus on broadcasting. I did an internship at Fox 29 in Philadelphia, and after graduation, I worked as a sports reporter for a newspaper in my hometown of Coatesville, PA. About nine months later, Dr. Klinzing, who was chair at the time, asked me to fill a graduate assistant vacancy. I did and soon realized I liked working in academia, so I went on to get my Ph.D at Ohio University.
I taught at SUNY-Buffalo State College for five years and have been at West Chester University for seven years - the last two I have served as chair.
What are your research interests?
I’m really interested in rhetorical criticism, particularly African American culture and communication, race and representation, and how a person’s cultural background influences his or her perception or understanding of a message.
I think the more we learn about cultural differences, the more we understand each other.
In light of the layoffs at today’s newspapers and other news organizations, what are the career options for communications graduates?
In regard to careers in traditional journalism, what we’re seeing is a shift from news that’s collected and reported by a few large entities increasingly being done on an individual level through web sites, blogging and the like. Although there might be fewer careers in the traditional media, new media has created new opportunities for today’s students. In the end, however, employers in practically every profession are always going to need people with strong communication skills.
A graduate of West Chester University where he received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in communication studies, Tim Brown went on to earn his Ph.D. in rhetoric and public address at Ohio University. Prior to joining West Chester University’s communication studies faculty, he taught at Canisius College and SUNY-Buffalo State College. In 2007, he received tenure and was promoted to full-professor becoming one of the youngest faculty members at WCU to reach this distinction. Tim Brown’s research on African American rhetoric, public speaking and Black masculinity is published is a number of scholarly publications and textbooks. Most recently, he contributed a book chapter entitled, “Scripting the Black Male Athlete: Donovan McNabb and the Double Bind of Black Masculinity” that will appear in Masculinity in the Black Imagination: Contemporary Narratives, Symbolisms and Representations of Black Men (University of Chicago Press).
In 2008, Tim Brown received West Chester University’s Drum Major for Justice Award at its Martin Luther King Day Celebration. In 2009, he received the Eastern Communication Association’s Past President Award for his research and service to the organization--it is the highest award given by the Eastern Communication Association. Tim Brown was appointed chair of the Department of Communication Studies in 2007.