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UK Communication Head to Lead National Group

James Applegate, a UK professor of communication, has been elected president of the National Communication Association (NCA). With nearly 10,000 members, this is the world's largest association of communication teachers and researchers.Photo of James Applegate

"I feel very honored by this appointment," says Applegate, who has been at UK since 1977. "Professionally, it means a lot of work in addition to my research and teaching. I do think it will be a boost for our communication program here at UK." Applegate also plans to stay on as department chair, he says, "assuming my faculty wants me to continue."

As president-elect, Applegate will plan the association's national convention in Seattle in the year 2000. He will assume the office in 2001.

Applegate is primarily interested in ways to strengthen "outreach for the discipline," he says. "First, given the success of our communication program here at UK as one of the most heavily funded research programs in the discipline -- we have secured almost $15 million in NIH support in recent years involving almost half of our faculty -- I want to strengthen the discipline's ties with major sources of extramural research funding. Communication issues dominate much of society's thinking about its problems and their solutions. We need to secure the research support needed to help address those problems," he says.

Applegate also plans to continue his involvement in a partnership between the National Communication Association and the American Association for Higher Education to foster service learning initiatives across the country. "Service learning is a collaborative learning format that engages students in community-based research and action. It enhances learning, improves communities, and encourages our students to recognize that an education comes with responsibilities to society as a whole," Applegate explains.

"I'm also interested in building on a partnership with the Pew Charitable Trust and other higher education groups to make communication a leader in discipline-based 'preparing future faculty' programs," he says. "UK has one of the large institutional grants in this area, so I am very familiar with the current program. This program is crucial to the development of the next generation of the professoriate."

One further goal of Applegate's is in the area of race and diversity. "I think it's important to carry on work begun by our predecessors, engaging our best scholars and teachers to help this country address its challenges and opportunities in the area of race and diversity," he says. "The NCA has taken a leadership role in President Clinton's recent conversation on race. We are exploring partnerships with the Justice Department to provide resources to communities confronting the pain of hate crimes to resolve the conflicts those produce.

"Our discipline has the knowledge and research/teaching expertise to be a part of building a more civil, inclusive society for women, men, persons of color, whites, homosexuals and heterosexuals while maintaining our commitment to First Amendment freedoms."