The word legacy invokes many thoughts, emotions, and relationships. On this page we highlight former Department of Communication faculty and staff members who have either (a) moved on or passed away, or (b) moved to other positions after lengthy time and influence here. In both cases, they left a mark here – a positive impact through their research, teaching, commitment to students, and paving new paths with leadership. They will forever hold meaning in the Department.
To nominate someone for this page, please email Department Chair David Domke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
William (Bill) Ames was a member of the faculty, and Director for a time, at the UW School of Communications from 1957 to 1989. A journalism historian, Ames is best known for his groundbreaking work on the political press of the early 19th Century in the U.S. A key publication that came from this research was “A History of the National Intelligencer” (1972).
Ames was originally from South Dakota, where he received his B.A. from South Dakota State College. He earned his M.S. from Iowa State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He taught several years at Iowa State University before coming to the UW. He received the James Schwartz Award for excellence in journalism education and research from the Greenlee School of Journalism at Iowa State University in 1987. Ames also wrote a book with current Emeritus Professor Roger Simpson titled “Unionism or Hearst: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Strike of 1936” (1978).
Ames was active in community endeavors, including the Democratic Party. He served as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Ames passed away in 1989.
“He was a gifted teacher, who inspired hundreds or thousands of students during his 30-plus years at the University of Washington,” said Gerald Baldasty, UW Provost and Professor at the Department of Communication. “He cared deeply about the political process and democracy, which is reflected in his teaching and research, as well as his work outside of the university.”
While colleagues may describe Haig Bosmajian as one who mostly kept to himself, his former students expressed that he was engaging, approachable, and “the best teacher I ever had.” He was a Professor of Speech Communication at the UW for 35 years from 1964 to 1999. Sadly, he lost his battle to prostate cancer on June 17, 2014.
In one of his most popular classes, the Rhetoric of Social Movements, Bosmajian taught how rhetoric and propaganda strategies are used, for worse or better. While some may have shied away from teaching about movements in the rebellious era of the 60s, his wife said it was “an amazing time to begin his career because of the social unrest.” His last book, “Anita Whitney, Louis Brandeis, and the First Amendment,” bears witness to his life-long commitment to our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
A bench was installed in the quad to honor Bosmajian, where he would have had a direct view from his office in Raitt Hall. Read more >>
An advertising expert and renowned professor, Lawrence Bowen dedicated almost 30 years teaching at the UW Department of Communication. Students sought out his classes, and those students became the backbone of the advertising profession in the Northwest. Bowen passed away in March 2016.
Bowen will not only be remembered as an academic, but also a soldier, father, husband, and best friend. He served in the Air Force for eight years and was married to his wife for 59 years. They have three sons together.
Still known for making the best Texas-style chili in town, which she invited students over for at the end of each quarter, Pat Cranston taught at the UW School of Journalism for more than 35 years, where she was the first tenure-track woman professor. She helped start KCTS and KUOW, where she was the News Director, and became the first woman president of the Broadcast Education Association. Cranston retired in 1990.
The Pat Cranston Student Creativity Endowed Fund in Communication supports Communication students in their pursuit of professional opportunities for which a small amount of funding would make a huge difference. The goal is to support student creativity in many forms, so that students can take a chance on an idea. Support this fund>>
Senior Lecturer Mike Henderson retired in 2013 after dedicating 19 years to teaching the next generation of journalists. Known for his unique sense of humor and ability to impart knowledge to students, Henderson taught eight to 10 courses most years. He oversaw the Olympia Legislative Reporting Internship Program for nine years and co-taught an opinion-writing course with a Seattle Times journalist each fall quarter. He taught his Writing for Mass Media class for the 60th and final time during the summer of 2013. Read more >>
After joining the faculty of the UW Department of Communication in 2003, Kaplan experienced an apparent heart attack, which led to an unexpected death in 2006 at age 53. But her legacy in journalism lives on. Born in Chicago to parents who weren’t afraid to participate in avid activism, Kaplan chose a different path than her two siblings who both became attorneys. Kaplan became the Metro Times news editor from 1989 to 1991, after four years at the Detroit Free Press. She was recognized for illuminating the lives of ordinary and overlooked people – sleeping in tents to report about the homeless, working in the fields to write about migrant workers, and sitting through countless patriot group meetings to find out about their politics.
Upon leaving the newspaper industry, Kaplan started a tabloid produced by inner-city teens and returned to college to finish her undergraduate degree. She continued her education by earning a master’s in social science at the University of California-Irvine and a doctorate in journalism and mass communication at the University of North Carolina. While teaching narrative journalism as an assistant professor at the UW, Kaplan started a website for students to showcase their work – now the goal of the Kaplan Quarterly.
Every year, the Department of Communication gives five outstanding students a Kaplan Award for their excellence in narrative writing in the categories of: people on the margins, strong writing style, a human personality profile, a strong epiphany, and an important public issue. This award is presented in honor of Deborah Kaplan, who was known for her no-quit attitude, relentless investigative reporting, and in-depth interviewing. Support the Deborah Noel Kaplan Endowed Fund here >>
Gladys Engel Lang
Gladys Engel Lang was a professor emerita of sociology, political science, and communication at the University of Washington – and one of the most accomplished women sociologists and communication theorists of her generation. She began her career as a graduate student researcher for the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead, and later earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Chicago – where she met fellow sociology student Kurt Lang, who became her husband and research partner. The husband-wife team conducted several renowned studies of media influence, some of which were summarized in books and used in journalism classes.
Lang, who was born and reared in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passed away on March 23, 2016 at age 96 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her master’s degree in Sociology at the UW. After nearly 30 years teaching in New York, Lang returned to Seattle in 1984, and retired from teaching in 1990. She stayed in Seattle until June 2014, when she and her husband moved to Massachusetts to be closer to their children. Read more >>
Don Pember joined the University of Washington faculty in 1969 and served as a mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students. He received the UW’s prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award in 1973 and was recognized two years later for excellence in teaching by the Carnegie Foundation. He retired in 2002. He is the author of two immensely influential textbooks, Mass Media and America (went through 6 editions) and Mass Media Law (now in its 18th edition).The Don Pember Journalism Endowed Fund was established by Communication alumnae Maggie Walker and Micki Flowers in honor of Professor Don Pember. Many other donors, both alumni of the Department and former students and colleagues of Pember, also contributed to the establishment of the scholarship.
To help support scholarships for journalism students, with preference for community college transfer students or journalism students with a strong interest in media law, click here.
From 1978 to 2013, Professor Gerry Philipsen was an asset to the University of Washington, and more specifically to the Department of Communication. In 35 years, he held numerous positions: Professor, Chair of Speech Communication, Secretary of Faculty, Departmental Graduate Program Coordinator, and mentor. In addition, he was the Founding Director of the Center for Local Strategies Research in 2009 with the mission to “support research that informs and assists efforts to develop and implement practices and policies for meeting human needs in local communities.”
Philipsen’s academic specialty is the ethnography of communication, the descriptive-comparative study of culturally distinctive ways of communication. He is the originator of speech codes theory, an empirically grounded, testable, and tested scientific theory. He has frequently taught fieldwork methods to graduate students in a dozen different disciplines and to the more than thirty students whom he has supervised toward completion of the doctorate in communication.
To add to a long list of honors and awards, which includes the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1984 and the Faculty Distinguished Contribution to Lifelong Learning in 2000, Philipsen was chosen as an NCA Distinguished Scholar for his career-long record of outstanding scholarly work. He received the award at the National Communication Association’s 99th Annual Convention in Washington D.C.
In November 2013, the newly revitalized UW Debate Union started an annual Gerry Philipsen Debate Forum to honor Philipsen’s dedication to debate as an educational and knowledge-building tool. Watch Philipsen’s Chat with the Chair upon his retirement.
A fund was set up in honor of Philipsen to support student engagement in debate. Support this fund here >>.
Thomas Scheidel (M.A., 1955; Ph.D., 1958)
Described by his colleagues as a leader, empirical scholar, and advocate for higher education, Dr. Scheidel spent the last 20 years of his career at the UW, serving first as the Chair of the Department of Speech Communication, and then five years as the Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Scheidel moved to Washington in 1953, married his wife Frances in September, and was drawn to the University of Washington for his graduate work due to its strong debate program. Finishing his Masters in 1955 and his Ph.D. in 1958, Scheidel taught for two years as an instructor and assistant professor at the UW Department of Speech Communication, but then looked for other options. He taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for seven years and the University of Wisconsin before returning to the Pacific Northwest. During his 12 years as Chair, Scheidel said he focused on gaining national stature, excellence in teaching, and improving the status of the Department.
The Department of Speech Communication established the Thomas M. Scheidel Annual Faculty Lecture series in recognition of his two decades of service, which has carried on past the merger with the School of Communications in 2002 to the present Department of Communication. The series brings distinguished scholars to the Department to meet with and lecture to faculty and students pursuing advance communication studies, perpetuating Scheidel’s legacy of excellence in scholarship. Dr. Scheidel was inducted into the Communication Hall of Fame in 2014.
After more than two decades of exemplary service to the Department of Communication, Director of Academic Services David Sherman retired in March 2014. Sherman was the friendly face of the advising office beginning in 1986, overseeing its evolution into the Communication Commons—a holistic center for student development, aid and research.
From managing the Department’s myriad class programming to helping navigate a sea of add-codes, Sherman’s knowledge, work ethic and approachability earned him admiration from students and faculty alike.
To commemorate his time in the Department, Sherman sat down with Chair David Domke for an unscripted chat about his beginnings at the Department, his love for helping students and the quality time he would soon be spending with his kayak.
A constant presence in the halls of CMU for 16 years, Diana Smith turned in her keys at the end of Summer 2012. Referred to as the ‘mother hen’ for undergraduate students, Smith sent out notification emails, made sure everyone was registered for courses and had applied to graduation on time. She also had many passions outside of the Department as a talented artist, dancer, and animal enthusiast.
Keith Stamm grew up in Wisconsin, where he earned all three of his degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1968, he had short teaching stints in Alaska, North Dakota, and Indiana before heading to the Northwest. Stamm joined the faculty at the UW in the School of Communications in 1973 and remains an emeritus faculty member.
Stamm taught and conducted research on the role of mass media in public understanding of environmental issues, and was very committed to involving graduate students in research projects to help them get published. Another major research stream he developed dealt with the contributions of media (especially newspapers) to the development of community ties, which is reflected in his most important academic book, “Newspaper Use and Community Ties.” Stamm is on the Editorial Board for the Journalism Quarterly (which he was Associate Editor of from 1987 to 1991) and the Mass Communication Review, has countless articles to his name, and was the author or co-author of three academic books.
Upon his retirement in 2005, Stamm channeled his passion and ventured into the realm of non-academic book writing. He published a fly fishing memoir titled, “Quest for Home Water.” Stamm is also passionate about rockhounding, gem cutting, and silversmithing, which culminate in original jewelry designs that he gives to family and friends in the form of rings, pendants, belt buckles, earrings, etc. He continues to fish and explore the waters of the Cascades, Rocky Mountains, and British Columbia, often backpacking into remote areas. He resides in Seattle where he is active in the Olympic Fly Fishers as club scribe and fly tying instructor.
Barbara Warnick devoted 26 years to the University of Washington, showing an undying commitment to the Department of Speech Communication, her students, and the field of rhetoric. She joined the faculty in 1980 and was Chair during a difficult time when budget cuts were eliminating departments. She, along with others, fought to keep Communication alive.
Barbara Warnick edited the Quarterly Journal of Speech from 1996-1998 and was an active member of the NCA community for many years. She is fondly remembered by her former students and colleagues, to whom she devoted so much of her time and energy. Her research lives on in the pages of our journals and in the books she wrote.
Barbara Warnick began her career studying belletristic rhetorical theory, then turned to the study of online rhetoric in the early days of the internet.
She also was a scholar of argumentation, publishing much research and writing a popular textbook in the area. In addition to her work on various NCA committees, she was an active member of the Rhetoric Society of America, being designated an RSA Fellow in 2010 for her research, service and teaching. She also served as a president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and on the steering committee of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric. Barbara Warnick chaired two departments of communication, at the University of Washington and then later at the University of Pittsburgh.
Barbara Warnick died on Friday, June 26, 2020. She had been suffering from dementia and died peacefully in the memory home where she was residing. She is greatly missed.
Details about her life can be found in her public obituary:
A tribute to her influence from the academic department where she spent most of her career can be found here:
To support the Barbara Warnick Endowed Fellowship, which provides financial assistance to graduate students in the Department of Communication, click here