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Department of Communication Events

Upcoming Events

2015 B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture

The Department of Communication's 29th annual B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture will feature a talk by Dr. Sharon Jarvis, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin. 

sharon jarvis headshotThe talk, titled “What does voting mean?”, will be presented Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. in the Languages and Communication Building (LNCO), Room 1110. The event is free and open to the public. In Jarvis’s address, titled What Does Voting Mean?, she will present original research on how voters have been portrayed in news coverage of presidential elections, how citizens respond to these portrayals, and why journalists treat voters as they do. Her key findings show how coverage is more likely to depict voters as pawns of elites than as engaged actors, how the pawn frame increases cynicism about politics and frustration with the media, and how journalists are surprised to have sidelined voters so steadily.

On Friday, Oct. 23, at 10 a.m. in LNCO 2120, Jarvis will conduct an informal seminar, titled “What Counts” When Examining Texts:  Computerized Content Analytic, Qualitative, and Rhetorical Approaches, which is also free and open to the public.

Jarvis teaches and conducts research on political communication, language use and persuasion. She is the author of The Talk of the Party: Political Labels, Symbolic Capital & American Life (Rowman & Littlefield) and a co-author of Political Keywords: Using Language that Uses Us (Oxford University Press). Her articles, chapters, and reviews have appeared in Journal of Communication, Political Communication, Political Psychology, American Behavioral Scientist, Communication Quarterly, Communication Studies, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, among other outlets.

The B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture was established by the Department of Communication in 1986 to recognize the late Fisher’s outstanding achievements as a communication scholar and to provide a forum for presenting original research and theory in communication. The Department of Communication is proud to celebrate 29 years of continued scholarly excellence celebrated by the B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture. 

Past Events

2015 Communication Awards Banquet

Our 60th annual Awards Banquet was a huge success! We awarded a record number of student scholarships and awarded five outstanding community members with our highest honors.

See more photos from the event.

Award Winners

From Left to Right: Jeffrey Swinton (accepting Distinguished Service award for Heidi Sorensen Swinton): Kelly Murdock, Alumni Achievement Award; Sofia Lingos-Papaliodis, Alumni Achievement Award; Tim Lyman, Service to Journalism Award; Chuck Sharp, Alumni Achievement Award.


Skip Branch honored at annual Town and Gown Forum

Skip Branch honored at annual Town and Gown ForumSkip Branch honored at annual Town and Gown Forum

The Department of Communication honored Alan (Skip) Branch as this year’s Parry D. Sorensen Distinguished Lecturer at the Town and Gown Forum held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2014, at the Little America Hotel. Each year, the event celebrates the important role professional communicators play in the education of University of Utah Communication students and honors the distinguished career of the late Communication Professor Emeritus Parry D. Sorensen. In his tenure at the U, Sorensen created countless professional internships to ensure that experience in the professional workplace is an integral part of the U students’ education.

Branch’s talk, titled Persuade Me? An Analysis of the Role of Persuasive Messages in Strategic Communication, drew from his extensive experience as an advertising and PR professional and highlighted the myriad types of persuasion in everyday life. He reviewed guest lecturers he had hosted in his Communication class who spoke on how persuasion was essential to topics ranging from magic and fundraising to law, fashion, torture, and politics.

Branch was most recently a partner at Riester, an integrated marketing and communication firm in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. He graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in English and has since acquired 45 years of professional experience in advertising and public relations. During his many years as a partner at Riester, Branch served as executive vice president and manager of the Salt Lake office, on the executive management team, and as a new business director, among other titles.

The Town and Gown Forum concluded with a reception where students, alums, and community members gathered to honor and celebrate Branch and the late Professor Emeritus Sorensen. The night was, by all accounts, a great success. 


 28th Annual Fisher Lecture Held October 2,2014

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Historical Scholar to Discuss Debate in the Antebellum U.S.

Professor Angela G. Ray (pictured above), a renowned communication scholar with a specialty in studying the history of the Clionan Debating Society in the antebellum United States, presented the Department of Communication’s 28th annual B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture, titled “A Green Oasis in the History of My Life”: Race and the Culture of Debating in Antebellum Charleston, South Carolina on October 2, 2014.

Ray, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, will narrate the history of this remarkable debating society established in 1847 by a group of young African American men, drawing on unpublished and rarely examined manuscript archives. Comparing the Clionians to other debating clubs throughout the country, she will seek to assess the significance of debate as a popular educational practice in the antebellum United States, especially in relation to race, gender, economics, national and regional belonging, and political turmoil. On Friday morning, Professor Ray will conduct an informal seminar, Writing Rhetorical History in Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Contexts: The Case of the Nineteenth Century U.S. Lyceum, which also is open to the public.

“Ray’s historical research on the culture of debating in the South, with regard to vital issues of race, gender, politics and beyond, offers an important message for the field of communication and the public at large, and we are thrilled to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Fisher Lecture with Ray as our distinguished lecturer,” says Department Chair Kent Ono.  “Her award-winning research in rhetorical criticism and history is as timely now as ever before, and attending her lecture is an opportunity not to be missed.”

Ray received her PhD in speech communication from the University of Minnesota and her MA in drama and theatre studies from the University of London.  Her research has been published in many places, including the Quarterly Journal of Speech and Rhetoric and Public Affairs.  Her latest book, The Lyceum and Public Culture in the Nineteenth-Century United States, was published in 2005 by Michigan State University Press. Her book has received five national awards, including the National Communication Association’s Diamond Anniversary Book Award and the James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address.

The B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture was established by the Department of Communication in 1986 to recognize the late Fisher’s outstanding achievements as a communication scholar and to provide a forum for presenting original research and theory in communication. The Department of Communication is proud to celebrate 28 years of continued scholarly excellence celebrated by the B. Aubrey Fisher Memorial Lecture.


Communication Department Hosts Garff Family Luncheon

Garff Family Luncheon
Among those attending the Garff Family Luncheon were, from left to right, University Development Officer Arthur Swindle, Howard Hart, Michael Rutter, Linda Garff Rutter, Christopher Rutter, Royal L. Garff Family Trustee Robert Garff, Legal Counsel David Salisbury, Joanne Garff Hart, and Ray Hart.

Maxine R. Garff, 1917-2014
Maxine R. Garff, 1917-2014

On Monday, May 5th, the Department of Communication hosted a luncheon honoring the memory of the late Maxine R. Garff who passed away on February 28, and to provide the occasion for the presentation of an estate gift from the Royal L. Garff Family Trust. Mrs. Garff created the Royal L. Garff Endowed Scholarship Fund in 1993 to pay tribute to the distinguished University career of her husband, Professor Emeritus Royal Garff. Following his death in 1994, Mrs. Garff became an active member of the John R. Park Society, with the establishment of her planned gift to the Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Garff Family Luncheon
Posing with the Royal L. Graff Traveling Trophy awarded annually to the top debate team at the Great Salt Lake Invitational Tournament are Howard Hart, Ray Hart, Joanne Garff Hart, Michael Rutter, Linda Garff Rutter, and Christopher Rutter.

During the luncheon, family members shared special memories of Maxine and Royal, and reminisced about the entire family’s affection for the University of Utah. Daughters Joanne Garff Hart and Linda Garff Rutter presented the estate check to Communication Professor and Director of Development Robert Avery. Robert Garff, Trustee, Royal L. Garff Family Trust and David Salisbury, Garff Family Trust Legal Counsel assisted in the presentation.

The estate gift combined with a major gift from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and other gifts in memory of Mrs. Garff resulted in an increase of $145,500 in the Royal L. Garff Endowed Scholarship Fund. The Department of Communication expresses its sincere gratitude to the entire Garff family for their ongoing support of the department.

Link to Donation Page

Last Updated: 8/25/16