UW Students, Faculty, and Alumni Honored at 2017 NCA Reception

Department colleagues, friends and supporters gathered last month in Dallas for the UW Communication Annual NCA Reception.

NCA’s 103rd Annual Convention celebrated “Our Legacy, Our Relevance.” According to Ronald L. Jackson II, NCA First Vice President, the convention presented “compelling scholarly programs and events that energize and elevate conversations pertaining to our legacy and our relevance as a field.”

University of Washington Communication professors who presented at the conference included Leah CeccarelliJohn CrowleyRalina Joseph, and Valerie Manusov.

“The NCA UW Reception was arguably the highlight of the conference,” Dr. Ceccarelli said. “This year, it began with a touching tribute to Tom Scheidel, with impromptu memorial speeches from his former students and colleagues.”

Known as a leader, empirical scholar, and advocate for higher education, Dr. Thomas 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.

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.

“The reception was well attended,” Dr. Ceccarelli noted, “It’s always a wonderful opportunity to catch up with alumni and meet prospective new students.”

Three graduate students were also honored by the NCA, with judges selecting their work as “Top Student Papers” in the Political Communication Division. Rico Neumann and Devon Geary co-authored a paper on how the way in which U.S. presidents discuss Islam has changed over time, which they wrote in their research group led by Department chair, Dr. David Domke.

The paper is a systematic assessment of broader trends and patterns in American presidential discourse about Islam of the past eight decades (FDR to Obama). Using a content analysis of a large sample of all references to Islam and Muslims in presidential speeches, remarks, interviews and news conferences, Neumann and Geary examine aspects such as the geographical context in which these invocations are embedded (e.g., domestic, foreign), the extent to which religious diversity is articulated (in the form of linkage to other faiths and religions), and the extent to which rhetorical appeals based on faith (e.g., “Islam”) and people (e.g., “Muslims”) were made.

“Having our work recognized nationally by NCA’s Political Communication Division as part of the Top Student Paper panel this year was rewarding,” Neumann said. “Moreover, having two contributions from our department on the panel was truly an honor.”

Doctoral candidate Lauren Fine’s award-winning paper, focusing on how students’ political views change during college and how the political views of their professors can help predict that change, was written during Dr. Mako Hill’s statistics course.

“It was cool to have two of the four top student papers be from the UW,” Fine remarked, “it really spoke to the caliber of our program.”