COLA Connections Newsletter: December 2015

School of Communication Celebrates 30th Anniversary

On Friday, October 16, the School of Communication held its 30th Anniversary Gala at the historic George Eastman House in downtown Rochester. The gala was hosted in the middle of a series of communications-themed events that took place during Brick City Weekend, October 15 - 18. Celebrating the 1985 establishment of the School of Communication’s first BS degree, Professional and Technical Communication, the gala carried a heavy air of nostalgia and warm thoughts toward the school’s storied history.

The gala also paid tribute to the late Diane Hope, who passed away earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. Diane held numerous titles during her 28 years at RIT besides being a founding member of the Department of Communication. Diane was a Caroline Werner Gannett Professor in the Humanities, the Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, the Chair of Professional and Technical Communication and a William A. Kern Professor in Communications. A champion of environmental studies and constant source of inspiration for many attending the gala, her presence was dearly felt throughout the evening.

School of Communication Director Dr. Patrick Scanlon officially kicked off the evening by walking guests through the cultural touchstones of the School of Communication’s founding year of 1985, which included the discovery of the Titanic and the release of Microsoft’s Windows 1.0. Dr. Scanlon also highlighted the school’s beginnings and very first students.

“For a while there it seemed like the odds weren’t with us,” said Dr. Scanlon. “But the best part about this job, really, is the students that have come through that we keep getting to see.”

Dr. Scanlon then introduced Dr. David Neumann, who paid tribute to Diane Hope with a touching speech in her memory. Neumann happily recalled the atmosphere of Diane’s busy office, the “uncanny way she combined her scholarly interests with a calling for social justice,” and her driven, caring attitude toward her many pursuits.

“Tonight, we are here to celebrate our past, our journey and our future,” Neumann said. “We’re one large extended family but we have similar roots, and those roots are firmly based in the foundation of what Diane and Bruce [Austin] did 30 years ago. Otherwise, really, we wouldn’t be here tonight.”

The importance of the School of Communication’s compelling origin story resonated in the stories swapped between guests and the toasts to the memories of those who were unable to attend the gala.  Overall, it was a touching, memorable evening for all involved.