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In memoriam of Dr. Dominic Infante, Emeritus Professor of Communication Studies

Posted Jan. 17, 2014

Dr. Dominic A. Infante, Professor Emeritus in the School of Communication Studies at Kent State University died January 12, 2014, at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio, following a long illness. He was 73.

Dom, as he was known to faculty and staff in the School, wasan internationally renowned scholar and researcher of communication studies. He was also among the school’s most revered colleagues and mentors, known for his devotion to the students, colleagues, and his School.

According to Dr. Paul Haridakis, Director of the School, Dr. Infante was one of the most important figures in the 81-year history of Kent State’s School of Communication Studies. Not only was he a member of the School’s faculty for 19 years, he was the first graduate of the School’s doctoral program. Over the years, several studies of research productivity ranked Dr. Infante as one of the leading scholars in the communication discipline during the twentieth century. He published several books, and dozens of  book chapters and  journal articles. In 1992, Dr. Infante was ranked first in the nation as a producer of research articles in organizational communication. In 1993, a study in Communication Education ranked him sixth in the nation in research productivity among all communication scholars over a 70-year period, since the beginning of the discipline.

While at Kent State, Dr. Infante taught public speaking, communication theory, persuasion, research methods, statistics and several other courses until his retirement in 1995. He also directed several dissertations and theses.  To many of his former students, Dr. Infante was colleague, scholar, and friend,

According to Dr. Carole Barbato, emeritus professor of Communication Studies and Kent State alumna, “Dom was the consummate scholar and professor. His scholarship has contributed so much to our field and to curbing violence in relationships. He lived his dream of becoming a college professor. He lived a good, honest, productive life and will be missed,” Barbato said.

Dr. Infante developed a programmatic line of research and theory of argumentativeness and verbal aggressiveness inspiring many young communication scholars in the field, Barbato added.

Andrew Rancer, Ph.D., one of Dr. Infante’s first advisees, who co-authored several important works with Dr. Infante recalled that Dr. Infante’s impact on the communication discipline was nothing but extraordinary.

“Most importantly, his scholarship was “problem-focused” addressing important societal issues such as domestic violence, corporal punishment, and constructive conflict management through argument. He was also a consummate teacher, able to keep his students spellbound for hours with nothing more than a piece of chalk in his hand,” Dr. Rancer said.

In 1989, Dr. Infante received the Daniel Rohrer Research in Argumentation Award from the American Forensic Association.

In 2012, Dr. Infante was presented the Centennial Award from the School of Communication Studies which recognizes those associated with the school who are nationally and/or internationally recognized for their preeminent contributions to their profession or life's work as they relate to the field of communication. It is the highest honor given by the School of Communication Studies.  The Dominic A. Infante Communication Scholarship was established in 2012.

Dr. Infante earned his master’s of arts and doctoral degrees from Kent State University. He is also an alumnus of Bowling Green State University (B.S., 1962) and Westminster College (M.S., 1967). He started as an associate professor at Kent State in 1976. Previous faculty positions included University of South Florida, State University of New York at Albany and Queens College, City University of New York. His first teaching position was at Austintown Fitch High School, where he served in the English faculty and was the Forensics Coach.

In his mid twenties, he studied voice for three years with soprano Grace Straw Wilson of Youngstown and baritone Bryce Fogle of New York City and was trained as an operatic tenor. Although he loved singing, he decided during this period of time to pursue a career in higher education.

Besides singing, his hobbies included traveling, sports, fishing, boating and shooting American Civil War weapons competitively in the North-South Skirmish Association, where he won many medals.

Dr. Infante was born February 23, 1940, in Youngstown, Ohio, a son of the late Joseph J. and Maline (Vergallito) Infante.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Sandra J. (Piccoli) Infante formerly of Campbell, Ohio; his children, daughter Laura L. (Geoffrey) Peters of Dublin and son Jeffrey A. (Jennifer) Infante of Orlando, Fla.; 11 grandchildren, Wesley, Jennifer, and Dominic Scott, Mary, Lauren, and Geoffrey Peters, Aaron Shaffer, Skylar, Cameron, Caitlin, and Joseph Infante; and two great-grandchildren, Brynn and Mason Scott. He is also survived by brothers, Joseph, James (Terry), and Ronald (Luann) Infante; sisters, Ann Therese Vonovick and Marilyn (Donald) Murcko; and brother-in-law, Val (Sandra) Piccoli.

Friends and alumni of the school are welcome to post comments they would like to share about Dr. Infante on our Facebook page or email comm@kent.edu to have a page administrator post the comment.