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Chapman announces new School of Communication to launch fall 2016 Lisa Sparks, Ph.D, to be dean

Chapman University is poised to become a leader in the rapidly growing field of communication arts and sciences with the establishment of its new School of Communication, effective this June 1, university officials announced today.  The school will be headed by Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., who was appointed as Inaugural Dean by Chapman President Jim Doti following a unanimous faculty vote.  Classes will commence in fall 2016.

The new school will initially be home to three academic programs – the Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies (COM), the Bachelor of Arts in Strategic and Corporate Communication (SCC), and the Master of Science in Health and Strategic Communication – that are currently housed within the
Department of Communication Studies
in Chapman’s
Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
.  Further innovative programs may be added in the future, said Dean Sparks.

Professor Lisa Sparks smiling

Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., dean of the new School of Communication.

“The mix of theoretical, research and applied perspectives that are emphasized in the two undergraduate majors and the graduate program make the current Department of Communication Studies one of the key offerings at Chapman University — and made the idea of a School of Communication highly feasible,” said Dr. Sparks, noting that — with more than 630 students enrolled as COM and SCC majors combined, plus an influx of transfer students and incoming freshmen — communication studies is the second most-popular undergraduate major at Chapman, following business administration.

“Our new School of Communication will set the stage for the 21
-century scholar, preparing leaders to shape commerce via strategic communication, public opinion, health behavior and communication innovation, via evidence-based research projects, campaigns, academic partnerships and practical applications,” she said.

Department of Communication Studies faculty are among the most productive scholars on the Chapman campus and in the communication discipline, publishing consistently in top academic journals, with more than 60 peer-reviewed research articles published since 2011.  Communication studies faculty have also landed book contracts with highly regarded publishers such as Peter Lang, Wiley-Blackwell and Polity; serve as editors and on review boards for several academic journals; and have received numerous awards and accolades.

Dr. Sparks looks forward to productive partnerships between the new school and other academic units at Chapman, including
Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
, Wilkinson College,
Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences
, the
School of Pharmacy
, the
College of Educational Studies
Argyros School of Business and Economics
.  “The study of communication is applicable to many, many fields, from public relations and advertising (housed in Dodge College) to health and medical professions (Crean College and School of Pharmacy) to education and business,” she said.  “Through these collaborations our students will be well prepared to find meaningful and successful careers in those fields.”

Chapman’s new School of Communication will join more than 50 such schools at preeminent institutions nationwide, including those at USC, Northwestern, Emerson, Rutgers, University of Pennsylvania, Wake Forest, Cornell, NYU, Seton Hall, Syracuse, American University, Miami, and University of Denver.

Mary Platt

Mary Platt is director of the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University

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