Communication Department faculty wearing regalia at commencement

About Our Department

Founded in the 1970s as the Journalism, Broadcasting, and Speech Department, the Communication Department is one of the largest academic departments at Buffalo State. 

We are largest and the first professionally accredited communication department in the SUNY system of 64 colleges and universities.


The Communication Department voluntarily aligns itself with standards of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), the official body evaluating professional programs for students in newspaper and magazine journalism, advertising and public relations, radio and television broadcasting, photojournalism, and related fields.

The department has been accredited since 2008 when it became the first school in SUNY to be accredited by ACEJMC. It is one of only eight schools in New York State with professionally accredited communication programs. 

The initial 2008 provisional accreditation was followed by full accreditation in 2010. The department was reaccredited in 2014 and again in 2020.

What It Means to Students

Your degree will carry more weight because it comes from a school that is in the 15 percent of communication programs throughout the nation accredited by ACEJMC.

Accreditation is an assurance to students, parents, graduate schools, future employers, and the public of our quality performance, based on an extensive review and outcomes measured against national standards.

Advisory Board

Communication advisory board

Established in 2018, the Communication Department Advisory Board, composed of 10 alumni and four non-alumni in the communication field, provides feedback on curriculum, student portfolios, internships and jobs, and scholarships.


Journalism Alumni
Matt Bove, Sports Director, WKBW-TV
Stevie Berberick, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts, Washington & Jefferson College

Media Production Alumni
Amber Sherman, Freelance First Assistant Director and Founder of Beyond Film School
Micheal Peters, Virtual Reality Content Development, Crosswater Digital Media

Communication Studies Alumni
Michelle Houston, Syracuse University
Alyssa McNamara, Communication Consultant

Public Relations and Advertising (formerly Public Communication) Alumni
Kandis Fuller, Communication Manager, Univera Healthcare
Angela Berti, Marketing and Public Affairs Manager, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Public Relations Master's Alumni
Kevin Smith, Assistant Project Manager, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
Amy Carothers, Brand Manager for Marketing, Evans Bank
Jennifer Fortune, Media Director, FIFTEEN

Non-Alumni Media Professionals
Lee Coppola, Dean Emeritus, St. Bonaventure University
Shannon Specht, Public Relations Manager, The Martin Group/Martin-Davison Public Relations
Rod Watson, Urban Affairs Editor/Columnist, The Buffalo News
Sandy White, President, Mustard Seed World Consulting Group
Michael Wooten, Anchor/Managing Editor, WGRZ-TV


Chair: Deborah Silverman

Associate Chair: Meg Knowles

Chair: Annemarie Franczyk. Members: Joe Marren, Ann Liao, Therese Fuerst, Meg Knowles

Bylaws and Elections
Chair/1-year Dorothea Braemer, 2-year Joe Marren, 3-year Annemarie Franczyk

Chair/1-year Ann Liao, 2-year Dorothea Braemer, 3-year Meg Knowles, student member

Chair/1-year Ruth Goldman, 2-year Meg Knowles, 3-year Ann Liao

Chair/1-year Bruce Bryski, 2-year Therese Fuerst, 3-year Ruth Goldman, student member

Student Enrichment
Chair/1-year Latrese Myers, 2-year Joe Marren, 3-year Tammy McGovern, ex officio member Bruce Bryski, student member

Technology and Production
Chair/1-year Meg Knowles, 2-year Dorothea Braemer, 3-year Ruth Goldman, professional staff Brian Milbrand, student member

Alumni Relations
Chair/1-year Therese Fuerst, 2-year Bruce Bryski, 3-year Mike Niman, alumni member, student member

Chair-Appointed Positions
Parliamentarian: Annemarie Franczyk
Recording Secretary: Dorothea Braemer
Website: Meg Knowles 
ACEJMC Accreditation Monitor: Joe Marren

Diversity and Inclusiveness Plan

The Communication Department will continue its commitment to diversifying its faculty and working to meet the needs of its diverse student population.

Strategy – Curricular Diversity. We will continue to offer a comprehensive curriculum that presents concepts of diversity and inclusiveness, both to increase knowledge and understanding among students and to better prepare students for the diverse environment in which they will live and work. (cf. Buffalo State Strategic Plan, Goal 1, Focus Area 1)

  • Action Step – Inclusive Pedagogy. We will continue to utilize inclusive pedagogy in updating current curriculum and creating new curriculum

             Oversight: Curriculum Committee
             Metric: #/% syllabi documenting inclusive pedagogy

  • Action Step – Class Resources. We will use texts and other materials that appropriately cover material related to diversity and multiculturalism, or will adopt or create supplemental materials to accomplish this.

               Oversight: Curriculum Committee
               Metric: # texts or supplemental materials used in courses, including online materials

  • Action Step – Experiential Learning through Global & Local Collaborations. We will continue to facilitate service learning opportunities in our classrooms, promote local, national and global internships, and work to increase the number of opportunities for integrated learning, including learning communities in and outside of Buffalo (cf. Buffalo State Strategic Plan, Goal 1, Focus Area 1). We will continue to promote affordable international experiences for our students (cf. Buffalo State Strategic Plan, Goal 1, Focus Area 1)

               Oversight: Student Enrichment Committee
               Metric: # of syllabi documenting service learning; statistics on students participating in international programs

Strategy – Student Diversity. In addition to attention to diversity and inclusiveness in recruiting efforts outlined in Goal 2, we will cultivate, promote, and support our diverse student body. (cf. Buffalo State Strategic Plan, Focus Area 1).

  • Priority Action Step – Assessment. We will research through focus groups, surveys and other methodologies the knowledge, attitudes and opinions of students concerning issues of diversity, inclusiveness and multicultural/global understanding as they relate to each major. These will be conducted as part of the department's assessment program.

              Oversight: Assessment Committee 
              Metric: Research report  

  • Action Step – Networking. We will promote scholarships, internships, professional service prospects, networking through professional organizations, and other educational opportunities of particular interest to students of under-represented populations.

             Oversight: Department chair
             Metric: # of student applicants from under-represented populations      

Strategy – Faculty Diversity. We will utilize effective strategies for recruiting and retaining as diverse a faculty as possible and to invite members of under-represented populations to interact with students. (cf. Buffalo State Strategic Plan, Goal 1, Focus Area 3)

  • Priority Action Step – Visitors. We will be proactive in including members of under‐represented populations among invited guests, speakers and presenters within the department. Each faculty member who uses guest lecturers will be encouraged to invite members of under-represented groups.

          Oversight: Department chair
          Metric: # visitors     

  • Action Step – Full-Time Faculty. We will strengthen our hiring process and engage in effective outreach in soliciting applications for faculty positions with particular attention to recruiting under-represented populations.

          Oversight: Recruitment Committee  
          Metrics: Job descriptions; posting data; applicant statistics   

  • Action Step – Diversity Hires. We will continue to take advantage of SUNY opportunities to hire qualified persons with diversity credentials even when local funding for new hires is unavailable.

          Oversight: Recruitment Committee 
          Metric: # offers made to candidates   

  • Action Step – Part-Time Faculty. We will actively solicit the Western New York professional media community for applications from members of under-represented populations. We will support part-time faculty from under-represented populations by lobbying for better pay and providing mentorship and other staff development opportunities.

          Oversight: Department chair, full-time faculty                                                    
          Metric: # of part-time faculty hired from marginalized communities

Strategy – Advocacy. The Communication Department will advocate for diversity and inclusiveness and an appreciation of diversity as it relates to both the scholarship and practice of communication. (cf. Buffalo State Strategic Plan, Goal 3, Focus Area 1)

  • Priority Action Step – Diversity Education. We will provide forums and resources to students, alumni and media professionals on issues related to diversity within the communication context.

          Oversight: Faculty Concerns Committee 
          Metric: # resources provided  

  • Action Step – Community Involvement. We will maintain an involvement both academically and professionally through membership in and working relationships with professional and media organizations focused on or representing diverse and under-represented groups.

          Oversight: Department chair                                                            
          Metric: # of events, memberships, and professional activities   

Graduation & Retention

Colleges and universities calculate retention rates to track the percentage of students who enroll as freshmen and continue for subsequent semesters.
We are proud that our retention rate is higher than Buffalo State overall, and higher still than the average for public colleges in the United States.

2018 freshmen: 60.2% continued for 2019
(compare 58.2% Buffalo State; 70.3% all US public four-year colleges Offering Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees Only continued for 2018)

2017 freshmen: 69.7% continued for 2018
(compare 60.9% Buffalo State; 70.3% all US public four-year colleges Offering Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees Only continued for 2017)

2016 freshmen: 57.1% continued for 2017
(compare 66.2% Buffalo State; 69.9% all US public four-year colleges Offering Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees Only continued for 2017)

2015 freshmen: 75.8% continued for 2016
(compare 68.3% Buffalo State; 70% all US public four-year colleges Offering Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees Only continued for 2016)

2014 freshmen: 74% continued for 2015
(Compare 71% Buffalo State; 64% all US public four-year colleges continued 2015)

2013 freshmen: 74% continued for 2014
(Compare 73% Buffalo State; 64% all US public four-year colleges continued 2014)

2012 freshmen: 83% continued for 2013; 73% continued for 2014
(Compare 75% Buffalo State; 72% all US public four-year colleges continued 2013)

2011 freshmen: 82% continued for 2012, 71% continued for 2013
(Compare 74% Buffalo State; 67% all US public four-year colleges continued 2012)

2010 freshmen: 79% continued for 2011, 66% continued for 2012
Data provided by Buffalo State Office of Institutional Research

Our History

2010s. The department received full accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications in May 2010. Communication faculty offices and labs moved out of Bishop Hall and into the newly renovated B-Wing of Buckham Hall in 2017. New additions to production facilities included the Stripes Media Lab, an audio recording studio and one-button mini-studio.

2000s. The department became one of the five largest departments at Buffalo State, the largest department in the college's School of Arts and Humanities, and the largest communication program throughout the entire SUNY system. A Communication Studies major was added in 2002. The department received provisional accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications in May 2008.

1990s. The department's first computer lab was installed in the basement of Bishop Hall. Broadcasting studios for radio and television were outfitted in what once was the swimming pool of "the old gym," the lower level of the Theater Arts Building. In 1999, the department restructured itself academically to provide a core set of courses for all majors, reflecting the trend toward the convergence and overlap of the various communication disciplines.

1980s. A public communication major was added in 1987. In the late 1980s, the department formalized two new majors: journalism and broadcasting, as well as the speech minor. In 1989 the department was renamed the Communication Department.

1970s. The Communication Department at Buffalo State had its beginnings in the early 1970s, when the Speech and Theater Arts Department added radio and television broadcasting to its curriculum. At the same time, the college offered a separate journalism program. In 1977, these programs were combined with the creation of the Department of Journalism, Broadcasting and Speech, with majors in each of these three areas.

  • Deborah Silverman (2018-present)
  • Joe Marren (2011-2018)
  • Ron Smith (2003-2011)
  • Janet Ramsey (1998-2003)
  • Mel Netzhammer (1993-1998)
  • Rik Whitaker (1984-1993)
  • Julia Piquette (1981-1984)
  • Ron Rabin (1977-1981)

Learning Objectives

The Communication Department has adopted ACEJMC’s professional values and competencies as its program learning objectives for its four B.A. degree programs and its M.S. degree program:

  • Law: Students will understand and apply First Amendment principles and the law appropriate to professional practice relevant to the major.
  • History: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communication relevant to the major.
  • Diversity: Students will demonstrate an understanding of gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity, equity, and inclusion in domestic and global societies and their significance in the major.
  • Visual Communication: Students will understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information relevant to the major.
  • Ethics: Students will demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity.
  • Critical Thinking: Students will think critically, creatively and independently.
  • Research: Students will conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communication professions in which they work.
  • Writing: Students will write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communication professions, audiences and purposes they serve.
  • Editing: Students will critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy, fairness, clarity, creativity, effective storytelling and/or professional style as appropriate to the major.
  • Statistics: Students will apply basic numerical and statistical concepts appropriate to the major.
  • Technology: Students will apply tools and technologies appropriate to the major.
  • Public Speaking: Students will demonstrate competence in professional speaking and presentational skills appropriate to the major

In line with ACEJMC recommendations, our master’s degree program has one additional learning objective:

  • Contribute to knowledge appropriate to the communications professions in which they work.

Mission, Vision, and Values

The Communication Department of Buffalo State is ...

... a faculty of scholars
Serving the communication disciplines by creating new knowledge and effectively sharing existing knowledge within a community of scholars and media professionals.

... a faculty of educators
Preparing students to think analytically and creatively, communicate clearly, act ethically, and succeed professionally

Adopted 2001; Revised 2018

The Communication Department at Buffalo State embraces the tension inherent in offering a quality professional education within a liberal-arts context. The department will continue to provide a comprehensive array of specialties that is reflective of our mission, consistent with our vision and values, and appropriate to our resources.

Adopted spring 2004

As a collegial and dedicated group of faculty and staff both individually and collectively dedicated to this mission, the Communication Department holds the following values:

Academic Excellence
In its relationship with higher education—at Buffalo State, within the State University of New York, and beyond—the Communication Department values the ideals and best practices of academic excellence. We provide opportunities for students to think critically, discern ethically, solve problems creatively, and communicate effectively.

Service Excellence
In its relationships with students, the Communication Department values the ideals and best practices of service excellence. We give priority to student interests and needs in matters such as course development, scheduling, faculty accessibility, and the creation of a climate of encouragement and mutual respect.   

Communication Primacy
In its grounding within the communication disciplines, the Communication Department values communication as the essential basis of democracy and as the vehicle for providing information, analysis, and advocacy. We uphold the highest professional standards and practices of the media and communication professions.

Quality Performance
In its relationships with employers and graduate schools, the Communication Department values the ideals and best practices of quality performance. We maintain high professional standards and seek to develop graduates who meet and exceed these expectations.

Social Responsibility
In its relationships with the community, the Communication Department values the ideals and best practices of social responsibility. We offer leadership, scholarship, creative work and service to the communication and media professions, adding to the quality of life in Western New York and beyond.

Adopted 2004; Revised 2013