Kent State Selects Elizabeth Graham as the New Director for the School of Communication Studies

Elizabeth (Beth) Graham, Ph.D., will become the new director of Kent State University’s School of Communication Studies, effective July 1, 2016. Graham currently serves as a professor for the University of Akron’s School of Communication; she served as the school’s director from 2010-2014.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Graham join the College of Communication and Information’s leadership team. In addition to her strong research profile, she offers our School of Communication Studies a range of leadership experiences and expertise,” Amy Reynolds, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information said. “I am impressed with her many accomplishments at Ohio University and the University of Akron, and I am excited about bringing her energy and ideas to Kent State.”

Graham will succeed interim director Jeffrey T. Child, Ph.D., who assumed the position in July of 2015.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Child for his leadership of the school this year,” Reynolds said. “He has been an engaged partner with the college and provided important stability to the communication studies program as it has navigated the transition to a new director. I appreciate his service and commitment to the school.”

When Graham assumes the director role, Child will return to the classroom as an associate professor in communication studies.

“The faculty, staff and students of the School of Communication Studies are excited to welcome Dr. Graham as our next director and work with her to advance the school’s mission,” Child said. “As an alumna of our program, she has maintained a strong connection to our school and is a testament to the skills and abilities of our graduates. She is a respected and well-established scholar in the area of interpersonal and family communication practices and a thoughtful leader who is committed to the communication discipline. It is a delight to now have Dr. Graham as a colleague.”  

Graham says she hopes to continue the tradition of excellence developed by Child and former director Paul Haridakis, Ph.D.

“I am honored to join the School of Communication Studies at Kent State University. The opportunity to work with internationally distinguished scholars, award-winning teachers, dedicated advisors, talented professionals and a diverse student body, is invigorating. I can’t imagine a more fulfilling opportunity,” Graham said. “The school is well positioned to address the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and I look forward to collaborating with faculty to cultivate a collective vision to accomplish school, college and university goals. Kent State is an amazing place; it’s good to be home.” 

During her tenure as director of the University of Akron’s School of Communication, Graham was responsible for the creation of a social media learning lab, with Knight Foundation funding she created the Converged Media Immersion Program and spearheaded the effort to bring Fox 8 (WJW) Akron News Bureau to the school. Prior to her work at the University of Akron, Graham worked at Ohio University; she held the role of director of undergraduate studies for the School of Interpersonal Communication until 1999, then became the school’s associate director until 2002 when she served as the university ombuds. She has held the positions of professor, associate professor and assistant professor, dating back to 1987.

Her teaching and research interests include: communication in reconstituted families, instructional communication, particularly students’ re-envisioned reading habits and the uses and effects of digital textbooks (e-books and e-readers) and measurement and data analytic issues and trends in communication research. She has published in Communication Monographs, Communication Education, Communication Quarterly, Communication Research Reports and Communication Teacher. Graham has also co-edited Communication Research Measures Volume I and II: A Sourcebook. Her research has been recognized through top paper awards from the National Communication Association and Central States Communication Association.  She serves on the editorial board of several communication journals.

Graham is active with many professional organizations. Currently she is involved with The National Communication Association, The Eastern Communication Association and Central States Communication Association.

Graham earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication from John Carroll University, a Master of Applied Communication Theory and Methodology from Cleveland State University and a Doctor of Philosophy in communication from Kent State University. She was awarded the School of Communication Studies’ Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010.

For more information about Kent State’s School of Communication Studies, visit The School of Communication Studies is one of four schools in the College of Communication and Information. More information about the college is available at

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