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A History of Communication Studies

There hasn’t always been a Department of Communication Studies at Ball State University. The first evidence of an organized department didn’t surface until the 1960s. But our foundations go back much further.

The Beginning...
The 1929-30 college bulletin for Ball State Teachers College lists three courses in the English department related to what we know today as speech communication. In subsequent years, the number of courses grew, and by 1943, English professor Alan Huckleberry was listed as “assistant professor of speech and director of the Speech and Hearing Clinic.” Two years later came the first “fundamentals of public speaking” course within the English department.

During the 1950s, a growing number of faculty members took up specialties that had something to do with speech and communication, including speech correction, radio, and theatre. By 1963, the Department of English was offering a minor in speech, and in 1965, as the Ball State Teachers College evolved into Ball State University, the Department of Speech and Mass Communication emerged with Huckleberry as department head.

New College, New Building
In subsequent years, some parts of the department were spun off into their own separate entities, including speech pathologyjournalism and theatre. In 1996, the speech communication department joined journalism, telecommunications, and the Center for Information and Communication Science in the new College of Communication, Information, and Media. Our department became known as communication studies in 1998.

Today, we have 16 full-time faculty members, some 250 students majoring or minoring in communication studies, and about 30 graduate students. In July 2007, our department moved into the state-of-the-art David Letterman Communication and Media Building, joining other units within the college that are housed in the same or adjacent buildings. The move gave us additional classrooms, facilities for the Debate and Speech Teams, a speech lab, a departmental library, a graduate suite able to accommodate 30 graduate assistants, and faculty offices.