After a decade of visionary leadership for the Department of Communication Studies, Professor Greg Dickinson is embarking on a new chapter. As he moves on from his role as department chair to director of the newly established Joe Blake Center for Engaged Humanities, we reflect on his remarkable tenure and lasting impact.

Departmental Achievements Under Dickinson’s Leadership

Colorado State University Communication Studies chair and ACT Film Festival producer Greg Dickinson talks about the festival at a VIP reception, April 16, 2016.

With Dickinson’s leadership and strong collaboration, the Department of Communication Studies has experienced remarkable growth and innovation. A few notable accomplishments include:

  • Conferring more than 1,800 degrees
  • Introducing a nationally recognized online BA program in collaboration with Ellie Light
  • Developing a successful PhD program in partnership with Professor Kari Vasby Anderson
  • Raising $1.6 million for the department and creating or endowing eight new scholarships that support undergraduate and graduate students
  • Increasing professional development opportunities for faculty, staff, and graduate students
  • Professionalizing and promoting CCA faculty

The department has also seen the expansion of several important initiatives. The Center for Public Deliberation continues to deepen its work throughout the community as it approaches its 20-year anniversary thanks to the outstanding efforts of Professor Martín Carcasson, Associate Professor Katie Knobloch, and Sabrina Slagowski-Tipton.

Dickinson also played a part in developing the ACT Human Rights Film Festival alongside Professor Scott Diffrient and managing director Beth Seymour. The festival has grown into an integral community event, drawing nearly 2,000 attendees this year.

Dickinson’s Personal Accomplishments and Awards

Professor Greg Dickinson holding his WSCA Distinguished Scholar Award

Dickinson’s dedication to the field of communication studies extends far beyond his role as department chair. His scholarly contributions and leadership have earned him respect among colleagues and students alike. In February 2024, his commitment to excellence was formally recognized with the Western States Communication Association (WSCA) Distinguished Scholar Award.

This prestigious award acknowledges Dickinson’s sustained impact on the field. This includes 30 years of research, 28 peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and chapters, co-authorship of four books – with a fifth forthcoming – and numerous presentations at academic conferences. Additionally, Dickinson provides exemplary service and mentorship through WSCA and on Colorado State’s campus.

Colleagues and peers have praised Dickinson for his achievements. One former WSCA president and colleague said, “Perhaps more than any other scholar of rhetoric, Dickinson has fundamentally shaped and transformed the discipline’s concern with spatiality, materiality, embodied being, and public memory.”

Reflections and Lessons Learned

As Dickinson looks back on his time as chair, he shares his gratitude and insights.

“Because I have had the privilege of working with each member of our department, I have a deep and detailed appreciation of the remarkable creativity and commitment of our community,” Dickinson said. “I have been inspired by all the folks in the community to do my own best work each day.”

He also reflects on valuable lessons learned during his tenure.

“I have discovered that problems are best solved by taking time, gathering information and perspectives, and letting decisions age for a little bit,” Dickinson said. “Additionally, it is better to listen than to talk. There is much wisdom in this community if I take the time to listen.”

This collaborative approach Dickinson has fostered over the past decade has set a strong foundation for the department’s continued success. As the department enters its next chapter, it is well-positioned to build upon these achievements under new leadership.

New Leadership

Headshot of Professor Elizabeth Williams

As of July 1, 2024, Professor Elizabeth Williams succeeds Dickinson as chair of the Department of Communication Studies. Williams is a professor of organizational and health communication and is an affiliate faculty member in the Colorado School of Public Health. Having contributed to the department since 2011, she is well positioned to lead it into an exciting new era.

Dickinson expressed confidence in Williams’s leadership, noting her innovative work as director of undergraduate studies and her role in maturing the PhD program. “She will draw on strong relationships across campus to build the reputation of the department,” he said.

Looking Ahead

As Dickinson moves forward, his legacy of growth, innovation, and community engagement will help shape the Joe Blake Center for Engaged Humanities. The center will foster a faculty fellowship program to fund engaged humanities research and foster interdisciplinary collaborations, furthering Dickinson’s commitment to advancing the field.

Dickinson’s decade of leadership has set a strong foundation for the department’s future success. His scholarly contributions, mentorship, and visionary guidance have not only elevated the Department of Communication Studies but have also made a lasting impact on the broader field of communication.