History | Kent State University

The Kent State University School of Communication Studies has a rich history dating back even prior to its establishment in 1932 as the Department of Speech:

1930
•    Kent State student is sent to a state contest in oratory, the subject being “peace”
•    Men’s Debate Team earned distinction of being the only team in the Northern Ohio League to defeat the Akron University team
•    Women’s Debate Squad formed

1932
•    Department of Speech established by Board of Trustees

•    Programs established leading toward the baccalaureate degree in rhetoric and communication, speech pathology and audiology, telecommunications and theatre.
•    National honorary forensic fraternity Kappa Gamma Alpha Chapter founded
•    Men’s Varsity Debate Squad formed

1936

•    Coursework leading to the Master of Arts degree in Speech was added to the program

1938-1939
•    The School of Speech is established under the Division of Language and Literature

•    James N. Holm, Ph.D. is appointed by E. Turner Stomp as the first Director of Speech

1943
•    500 crewmen of the 336th College Training Detachment (Aircrew) arrive on campus to complete a speech curriculum during World War II
•    Approximately 2,000 enlisted men completed the program at Kent State University

1953
•    L. LeRoy Cowperthwaite named new head of the School of Speech

•    Kent Debate Team took first place in Carnegie Tech Tartan Tourney, Pittsburgh, PA

1960
•    Music and Speech Building is completed and belongs to the School of Speech. At the time, the building was the largest classroom building.

1968
•    The Doctor of Philosophy program began for Rhetoric and Communication 

1971
•    Dr. Dominic Infante is the first Ph.D. graduate

1973

•    Jim Holm retires and Jerry D. Feezel comes in as coordinator of the Division of Rhetoric and Communication.

1980

•    D. Ray Heisey, Ph.D., becomes coordinator of the Division of Rhetoric and Communication from 1980 to 1983, acting director of the School of Speech Communication from July through December 1993, and then director of the School of Communication Studies, a post he held until June 1996. 

1983

•    The School of Speech separated into three independent schools: Speech Communication, Speech Pathology and Audiology, and Theatre.

1984
•    The Cowperthwaite Lecture series was created after the retirement of Dr. L. LeRoy to honor his service, leadership and dedication to the School of Speech and the College of Fine and Professional Arts.

•     Dr. James N. Holm was honored for his role in the origination of the semi-annual Hyde Park Forum speaking contest some 20 years prior and his leadership over the years as head of Rhetoric and Communication on April 25th.

1988

•    The telecommunications component of Speech Communication merged with the School of Journalism to become the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

1989-1990

•    Speech Communication changed its name to the School of Communication Studies to reflect the breadth and depth of the current offerings within the School.

1992
•    The School of Communication Studies honor society Upsilon Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta is established

2002
•    Four academic programs are united to form the College of Communication and Information: the Schools of Communication Studies, Journalism and Mass Communication, Library and Information Science and Visual Communication Design

•    Dr. James Gaudino was hired as Charter Dean

2003
•    Dr. Angela Planisek is the 100th Ph.D. graduate

2004

•    Dr. Alan Rubin retired as emeritus director of the School of Communication Studies. He began teaching at Kent State in 1982.

2005

•    Dr. Stan Wearden is named director of the School of Communication Studies.

2008

•    School moves to Taylor Hall. Taylor Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places for the events of May 4, 1970. 

2012
•    Dr. Paul Haridakis is named director of the School of Communication Studies
•    Upsilon Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta celebrates 20th anniversary

2016
•    Dr. Elizabeth Graham is named director of the School of Communication Studies
•    The School of Communication Studies temporarily moves from historic Taylor Hall to the Art Building while interior renovations are made to Taylor Hall

2017

•    Taylor Hall Renovation