Brief History of the Department of Communicology
– Bill Sharkey, Professor, Department of Communicology
On Sept 30, 2010, Dr. Kelly Aune (Chair of the Department of Speech) submitted a request from the Dept. of Speech faculty to change the name of the Department of Speech to the Department of Communicology to the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Dr.Thomas Bingham. On Oct. 12, 2010, Dean Thomas Bingham sent a supportive letter requesting the name change to the Manoa Chancellor, Dr. Virginia Hinshaw.
On Feb. 25, 2011, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Reed Dasenbrock, sent a memorandum to Dr. Thomas Bingham (Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities) stating that the Chancellor approved the Department’s “request to change the name of the Department of Speech to the Department of Communicology” [emphasis in original].
Dr. Kelly Aune and the Speech faculty then proceeded to request that Dean Bingham assist us in having the degree conferred changed as well. On May 6, 2011, Dr. Thomas Bingham (Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities), wrote a memorandum to President M.R.C. Greenwood requesting that the degrees conferred be change from a BA and MA in Speech to a BA and MA in Communicology. On June 3, 2011, President M. R. C. Greenwood approved the change of degree from Speech to Communicology.
Both the department name and the degree conferred became effective beginning the Fall 2011 semester. Undergraduate and graduate students graduating Fall 2011 onward receive a BA or MA in Communicology, respectively.
The teaching of Speech at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa (originally named “the College of Hawaii”) began during the 1910-1911 school year through the English Department, in which Public Speaking and Argumentation And Debate were taught by Prof. Arthur L. Andrews. The English Department additionally offered courses in English composition and theatre (Fujimoto, 1949).1 In 1919, Olive Day, head of the English Department of the Territorial Normal School, began a push for Speech and Speech correction in the public school system. This evolved into the English Department at the University, and in 1925, a course labeled Practical Phonetics was added. In 1936, a division of Speech was established within the English Department. In 1937, a Graduate studies program in Speech was added. The English Department continued to offer additional courses in Speech up through 1946. One of the main goals of the Speech courses was the “correction” of oral English use in Hawaii. In fact, the 1939-1940 catalogue states that “Permission to enter the junior year as a candidate for a Bachelor’s degree is dependent not only upon academic standing but also upon proficiency in oral and written English.” Courses such as Voice and Diction, Speech Correction, Sounds Of English were added to the curriculum. Also, in 1943, courses in new technology were added (i.e., Radio Broadcasting, Radio Speech). Partially due to the pressure to place greater weight on oral English proficiency to be admitted to the University in 1944, an argument was made to detach the Speech courses from the Department of English.
The Department of Speech was formally established December 1946, was chaired by Dr. Bower Aly, and consisted of seventeen staff members. The 1947-1948 school year was the first full year in which professors and instructors of Speech, instead of English instructors, taught in the classrooms. And in December of 1947, the University of Hawaii was, for the first time, represented at the annual Speech Association of America convention in Salt Lake City, UT. By this time, the Department of Speech offered a total of thirty-six courses (100 – 300 levels) that covered the areas of Speech Production, Speech Pathology, Rhetoric, Speech Forensics, Radio Broadcasting, and Theatre/Drama, and employed 1 Professor of Speech, 8 Assistant Professors of Speech, 9 Instructors of Speech, 2 Visiting Professors of Speech, 2 Assistants in Speech, and 7 Graduate Assistants.
By 1967, the Theatre courses had been moved to a Drama Department, the Speech Pathology and Audiology courses had moved to their own department within a new college, and linguistics was being offered in the department. During the 1966-1967 school year, the department discussed changing its name from the Department of Speech to the Speech-Communication Department (Rider, 1967). Rider argued that the field of Speech had changed over the years and had moved beyond the study of public speaking, debate, oral interpretation, phonetics, and related subjects. The field now was also interested in human communication (i.e., interpersonal, face-to-face interactions) and alternative research methodologies that were being used in the social sciences.
In 1972, the undergraduate degree was split into two programs: the Communication program (social science emphasis) and the Speech program (a humanistic, practical arts emphasis) (1977 Departmental Review). The graduate MA in Speech-Communication was continued until it was phased out during the 1974-1975 year.
In 1975, the Board of Regents established the two programs as two separate departments. Over the ensuing years, the Communication Department moved toward instruction and research focusing on human communication and communication technology and media, while the Speech Department focused primarily on communication skills (i.e., Personal Speech, Public Speech, and Aesthetic Speech) (1977 Departmental Review). The Communication Department applied for and received approval for their MA program by 1977 (1977 Departmental Review); although the Department of Speech did not provide an MA for another 11 years, the department still offered “courses for the benefit of those students who wish[ed] to continue the study of speech after obtaining the baccalaureate degree” (p. 4, Program Review Report, 1984).
An MA in Speech was approved by the Board of Regents in 1988, and the Speech Department began offering MA classes toward the MA in Fall 1989 (1989-1990 Academic Program Review). The new MA program coincided with the Departments successful evolution from a performance/skills and humanities-based undergraduate department to one that excels in instruction and research on the science of Communication or, more appropriately, Communicology.
1 The history of the Department of Speech from 1910-1948 was taken from the thesis of Sumie Fujimoto (1949).
Department of Speech (1977). Department review. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.
Department of Speech (1984, February). Program review report. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.
Department of Speech (1989-1990). Academic program review. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.
Fujimoto, S. (1949). A History of the Speech Training Program of the University of Hawaii to 1948 (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.
Rider, R. (1967). The why of changes in the Speech curriculum at UH. Pacific Speech, 2, 1-7.