The Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre (COMM)

Professors: J. J. Schmidt, M. E. Beadle; Associate Professors: D. R. Bruce, B. G. Brossmann, K. L. Gygli, M. O. Finucane (Chair); Assistant Professors: C. Buchanan, C. DeVoss, S. Park; Instructor: S. Park; Visiting Instructor: W. J. Weaver

The Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre offers students three areas of concentration within the major: Communication Studies, Digital Media, and Integrated Marketing Communication. Within each concentration are pathways that students use to focus their learning based on their interests. Each area offers students the theory and praxis that will enable them to flourish in our ever-changing, convergent communication environment. The Russert Department is a nationally recognized program.

The National Communication Association defines our discipline as follows:

“Communication as an academic discipline relates to all the ways we communicate, so it encompasses a large body of study and knowledge. The communication discipline includes both verbal and nonverbal messages, as well as messages that are sent through mediated channels such as the phone, computer, radio, and television. Textbooks, academic journals, and electronic publications provide a body of scholarship and theory about all forms of human communication. In the journals, researchers report the results of studies that are the basis for an ever-expanding understanding of how we all communicate.”

We are pleased to include theatre courses as part of the major.

Program Learning Goals in Communication.

Graduates of the Russert Department will have the knowledge and ability to:

  1. Create, present, and advocate ethical messages in a variety of communication forms for diverse audiences.
  2. Evaluate message effectiveness and ethics.
  3. Analyze how audiences receive, interpret, and react to messages.
  4. Apply communication theories and perspectives to specific contexts.
  5. Implement a research methodology appropriate to their area of study.

The major provides students opportunities to develop critical thinking and communication excellence in writing and speaking. Students complete foundational courses and then develop their own program with the assistance of a department advisor. When applying to major in communication, a minimum GPA of 2.25 is required.

Department facilities include the WJCU-FM radio station, the Marinello Little Theatre, Kulas Auditorium, the debate lab, the multimedia lab, and the Klein Television Studio, where students learn studio and field production/editing.

Internships and independent study opportunities provide students with experiences beyond the classroom. Students gain experience in a communication industry while earning academic credit. The department has an established network of internships in the Cleveland area—one of the country’s largest communication markets. Internships are available at major media outlets, including television, radio, newspapers, and cable companies; public relations and advertising agencies; corporate and non-profit organizations; and theatres.

Recent John Carroll Communication alumni have careers in broadcasting and journalism, public relations and advertising, sales and promotions, law, marketing and management, theatre administration, and education, as well as with foundations and nonprofit organizations. The major is an excellent foundation for those who desire to pursue graduate study in communication, theatre, management, education, public affairs, or law.

The department is named in honor of the late Tim Russert ’72. Mr. Russert was an American icon. He had a magnetic presence as the managing editor and moderator of NBC's Meet the Press , the longest running, most popular and most influential of the Sunday morning political talk shows during his tenure. In 2016, his family donated a permanent display from Mr. Russert's Meet the Press set and video excerpts from his historic interviews to the University. The display, located in the O’Malley Center Atrium, keeps Mr. Russert’s memory alive on campus and is a reminder of the collaboration that resulted in the creation of the exclusive NBC/JCU Meet the Press Fellowship.

Graduates of the department are eligible to apply for the Meet the Press Fellowship, awarded to a graduating senior motivated to pursue a career in political journalism. The fellowship is a nine-month (September-May) position at Meet the Press , NBC’s leading public affairs program, and requires a broadly-based background in Communication and Political Science courses. For more information, consult the website