A brief history of the School of Communication

The School of Communication traces its roots to the beginning of Buchtel College in 1870. The College offered courses in rhetoric, elocution, (the art of speaking clearly and well, with correct enunciation), and public speaking.

The first graduate of Buchtel College was Susie Chamberlain (1873), later Chamberlain Cole, who returned to Buchtel College as a teacher of reading and rhetoric. Students were required to complete speech training to demonstrate their ability to share their education with others. We continue that same tradition to this day, wherein all UA students are required to complete at least one basic speech course.

The School of Communication existed under the name “Speech and Theater” throughout much of the 1900s. It became a separate Department of Mass Media – Communication in 1977 when it was separated from Theater, and Theater became a new department, too.

During the 1950s, ‘60s and much of the ‘70s, the department was housed in Kolbe Hall, which included television studios and radio station WAUP-FM. The department moved to Guzzetta Hall in 1976. The call letters of the radio station changed in 1989 to WZIP-FM, and the department became the School of Communication in 1990. To meet the needs of the growing school, Kolbe Hall was renovated and expanded. The School of Communication returned to Kolbe Hall in 1998 where it resides today.