State’s basic speech class receives national honor

State’s Department of Communication Studies and Theatre is basking in the glow of an honor that speaks for itself. The National Communication Association named the department’s fundamentals of speech class as the best in the nation. In winning the NCA’s

Pictured from left are: Karla Hunter, Laurie Haleta, Joshua Westwick and  Andrea Carlile after receiving the National Communication Association award.

Pictured from left are: Karla Hunter, Laurie Haleta, Joshua Westwick and
Andrea Carlile after receiving the National Communication Association award.

annual Program of Excellence Award, SDSU’s course beat out every basic course offered at colleges across the nation.

The Basic Course Division of the NCA has been recognizing top basic communication courses in the country since 2007. The award is designed to celebrate outstanding basic communication courses that can serve as models of best practice for other institutions.

“I am thrilled beyond words that we have been recognized at this level,” said Joshua Westwick, assistant professor of communication and speech. “I think it says a tremendous amount about our basic course, our faculty, our administration and ultimately, this university.”

The NCA, founded in 1914, is based in Washington, D.C. It advances the communication studies discipline by supporting research and scholarship while also promoting free, ethical communication.

Laurie Haleta, head of the communication studies and theatre department at State, started teaching SPCM 101—or Speech 101 as it is commonly known—more than 30 years ago as a graduate teaching assistant. She went on to become the coordinator of the program before taking over as department head.

“I have seen this course grow and transform into one of the nation’s best,” Haleta said. “It is simply thrilling to think back over all of the decades of work and dedication that many hundreds of faculty and staff have devoted to our program. All of the effort has transformed this course.”

The strength of the program lies in its tradition, Westwick agreed.

“This award was recognition for years and years and years of hard work and commitment to student success in public speaking,” he said.

It is a great honor for the course to be given an award from the national organization, said Elizabeth Tolman, a communication and speech professor at SDSU.

“The award reflects the work that Dr. Westwick has done for the basic course, as well as how Dr. Laurie Haleta has worked to enhance this public speaking course through the use of the textbook and the high expectations that have been set for this course,” Tolman said.

Vanessa Condon

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