Academic journal article Communication Studies

Presidential Reflections

Academic journal article Communication Studies

Presidential Reflections

Article excerpt

I have had the honor and pleasure of serving on the Executive Board of the Central States Communication Association from 1999-2002. As President-Elect, I planned the 2000 conference in Detroit. Then I served as President when our annual meeting was held in my home city of Cincinnati in 2001. From an officer's perspective, I can say that CSCA is fiscally viable and rests on a solid organizational structure with committed leadership and a loyal core of membership. Our annual conference offers diverse programming and a full venue of social and networking opportunities. We offer professional development to those new in their communication careers and we recognize and reward excellence in scholarship and teaching. Our journal publishes high quality original scholarship which represents the diversity of the study of human communication, regardless of philosophical, theoretical or methodological underpinnings. Our organizational health should not be taken lightly, for we have had a remarkable recovery from the mid 1980's when a financial crisis brought the Association to the verge of folding (Trent, 1999).

Let me offer my vision of trends and issues facing CSCA early in the new millennium. Some of these issues are not new, but have presented challenges to our Association for many years. Others are unique to this time and place in our Association's history. While they are separated for the sake of organization of this article, many of these issues intertwine. Each one impinges on each other and affects the entire Central States Communication Association.

HOSTING THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE

For many, the annual conference is the major reason for belonging to the Association. The conference is the largest undertaking and most visible activity of the Association, followed closely by the publication of our journal, Communication Studies. Much of the behind-the-scenes work of the CSCA leadership and membership is done in support of the annual meeting. During my tenure on the Executive Board, issues of programming, attendance, and conference site were on the forefront.

Conference Programming

In planning CSCA's conference program, questions of breadth, balance, and quality of programming become paramount. When one examines the totality of programming at our annual meetings, the breadth of topics and formats becomes apparent. The 2001 meeting included sessions from twenty interest groups. This number has grown from eleven interest groups in 1981 and fifteen interest groups in 1993. At our last conference, there were panels on argumentation, communication theory, health communication, intercultural communication, performance studies and theater, mass communication, rhetorical criticism, public relations, and political communication, among other topics. This breadth of programs encompasses a wide cross-section of our discipline and ensures that there is something for everyone. The neophyte can profit from exposure to the range of topics our field addresses. However, there are drawbacks to our breadth of programming. The proliferation of interest groups has a splintering effect with fewer of us attending sessions outside of just one or two areas of specialization. With a proliferation of specialized programs comes a larger total number of programs and, in many cases, smaller audience sizes for any one program. Indeed, in 1999, I made a point of surveying the audience size of numerous programs at various times of day at the start, middle, and end of our conference. Dozens of sessions had just a handful of listeners. Because of this, I made a conscious decision to reduce the total number of sessions scheduled for Detroit in 2000. The challenge of including sessions for twenty different interest groups remains, however. The sheer variety of topics which we include at our annual convention makes it difficult for attendees to share a common professional language and have even a semblance of a common convention experience. …

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