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Phone: 401-277-5000

URI Providence Campus

Communication Studies


Here are a few of the communication studies instructors you’ll meet along your degree path!

Danielle Alfano,

Danielle received both her BA and MA in Communication Studies here at the University of Rhode Island.  After teaching at various Universities in Kentucky and Georgia, she rejoined the communications department teaching COM 100 and 221. Research fields of interest: nonverbal communication, small group communication, and nontraditional education

Mark R. August,

Mr. August has an M.A. in Communication Studies (concentration: Speech Communication Studies), a B.A. in Speech Communication (concentration: Business and Professional Communication) and a B.S. in Business Administration (major: Marketing). Prior to his teaching at URI, Mr. August gained his sales and marketing experience in the consumer electronic industry. His responsibilities included product knowledge training, regional and national trade shows, and seminars to improve the techniques of his sales forces. Mr. August worked individually and in small and large group settings to enhance the presentation skills of many. This experience has provided Mr. August with a well-rounded background in communications to bring a pragmatic and enthusiastic approach to public speaking and persuasion in the university setting.

Mr. August joined URI in 1995 and has taught public speaking, interpersonal communication, persuasion, and honors public speaking.

Regina A. Bell

Having an extensive and rewarding career in Public Relations, Ms. Bell creates an insightful opportunity for students to investigate Public Relations and Communication strategies pertinent to today's competitive marketplace. A graduate of Bryant University and URI, Ms. Bell has managed multifaceted, strategic campaigns to complement the goals of a major corporation. As the host of "School Biz", a weekly show airing on Cox3, Ms. Bell recognized the outstanding accomplishments of students and educators. In addition, she has instructed numerous educators, parents and students in Internet Safety and the effective use of technology, both in the classroom and at home.

As a graduate student at URI, Ms. Bell selected Organizational Communication as her course of study. Her passion for this topic was illuminated in her thesis focusing on the credibility of women in
male-dominated organizations. A life-long learner, Ms. Bell will share her passion for organizational communication and the world of Public Relations with her students. She is teaching Introduction to
Communication, Public Relations Strategies and is an advisor for the Public Relations Students.

Kathleen Brown,

Sharman Brown,
Lecturer and Internship Coordinator 

David Bettencourt,
Adjunct Professor

David Bettencourt is an adjunct Professor at the University of Rhode Island, serving jointly in Film Media and Communication Studies. Since finishing his studies at the graduate film program at Boston
University, he has been teaching film, documentary, and communication courses at a number of New England universities. David is also the producer/director of the independent feature documentary, "You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park," which hits local cinemas in September of 2007. 

Nancy Burns-Fusaro,

Nancy Burns-Fusaro is an instructor in the Communication Studies Department. She has taught Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication (both online and face-to-face), Small Group Communication and Communication Fundamentals. Her primary research interests are in media, interpersonal communication and persuasion.

Dr. Guo-Ming Chen,
Professor of Communication Studies

Research Interests: As an intercultural communication specialist, Dr. Chen was the recipient of the 1987 Outstanding Dissertation Award presented by the NCA International and Intercultural Communication Division. His primary research interests are in intercultural/organizational communication, including the areas of global communication, communication competence, conflict management, and Chinese communication behaviors. In addition to serving as an editorial board member of different professional journals, Dr. Chen has published numerous articles and edited and co-authored over ten books and special issues, including Foundations of Intercultural Communication, Communication and Global Society, Chinese Conflict Management and Resolution, Principle and Theory of Chinese Communication, and five special issues of Intercultural Communication Studies on Chinese and East Asian communication. Dr. Chen is also a co-editor of Intercultural Communication Studies and China Media Research.

Dr. Chen joined URI in 1986. His teaching interests include interpersonal/intercultural/organizational communication, research methods, and global communication.

Dr. Rachel Dicioccio,
Assistant Professor 

Crystal Fonseca,

Upon graduating from URI’s Communication Studies Department in 1999, Crystal worked as a Paralegal and as a Park Naturalist for RI’s Department of Environmental Management at Colt State Park in Bristol, RI. Crystal also created environmentally based outreach programs and worked closely with RI elementary schools and the Audubon Society delivering presentations ranging from topics such as oceanography, species identification (plant, tree, bird), organic gardening, etc.
Missing academia, Crystal returned for her Masters and taught Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication as a Graduate Student Teaching Assistant. Among her achievements at the University, Crystal received the Graduate Student Teaching Award and the Outstanding Graduate Student Award. Crystal discovered her passion for teaching and decided to make a career of it.
Crystal’s research interests include environmental communication, health communication and social cognition. Her masters thesis, Self-Concept, Self-Monitoring, and the Relationship of Human Social Interaction, examined how individuals construct their self-concept through interaction style, and how their pre-existing interaction style affects how people integrate social cues, and encode and decode messages. Crystal has also authored and published two scholarly papers: Arguing Communication and Culture (2001) and Individual Differences and Cross-Situational Consistency of Dyadic Social Behavior, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2005).
After graduation, Crystal received a Lecturer position and has taught Communication Fundamentals, Public Speaking, Advanced Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and Small Group Communication via traditional face-to-face, blended, and purely asynchronous settings. She is currently developing courses in Environmental Communication and Health Communication.
When not teaching, researching or editing textbooks, Crystal enjoys gardening, painting, collecting antiques and going to plays. Crystal and her husband, Mike, are expecting their first child in May 2006.

Dr. Geoff B. Leatham,
Assistant Professor

Research Interests: Dr. Leatham's research interests have ranged widely in the fields of interpersonal, small group and organizational communication. Research topics have included how cognitive processes affect small group decision-making communication, what makes conversations boring, and how to effectively warn people about the dangers of natural disasters. In addition to publication in journals like Human Communication Research and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, accounts of Dr. Leatham's research have appeared in Glamour and Redbook.
Dr. Leatham joined the University of Rhode Island in 1997 after teaching at the University of Hawaii, Arizona State University and Southern Oregon University. He is most frequently found teaching research methods classes and organizational communication classes, but considers himself a utility infielder as a teacher, filling in wherever there is a hole that needs to be plugged.

Kirsten Maar

Kirsten joined the faculty in the fall of 2000 as a full-time lecturer. She originally joined the faculty in 1994 as a part time lecturer. Her teaching interests include argumentation and debate, public speaking, interpersonal communication, small group communication and teamwork. Her research interests include contract negotiations, teamwork and diversity in the workplace.

When she is not teaching, you can find her with her two boys at any major sporting event, or playing broomball.

Kevin McClure

Research Interests: Dr. McClure is interested in rhetorical theory and criticism, which is to say that his primary focus is on the role of language in our meaning-making processes and the meanings we make. His focus on language's role in human affairs intersects with such disciplines as philosophy, literary criticism, history, sociology, psychology, postmodernism, film, poetry, music and religion.
Dr. McClure joined the faculty in 1996. He teaches courses in rhetoric, criticism, American public address, history of ideas, persuasion, and introduction to communication studies.

Joanne Mundorf

Joanne Mundorf is a Lecturer in the Communication Studies Department.  Her primary research interests are intercultural, visual  and mass media.  She has teaching experience in intercultural, visual, interpersonal, persuasion, media, and online course instruction.

Steven Pennell
Instructor, Communication Studies
Coordinator for the Arts and Culture Program,
URI Feinstein Providence Campus

Vince Petronio,
Assistant Professor
Coordinator of Communication Studies, URI Feinstein Providence Campus

Since earning his M.A. at the University of Illinois in 1976, Vince Petronio has been teaching at URI in Com Studies. In 1996 through 2005 he was the manager of IT for the Feinstein Providence Campus and was an adjunct for COM. He came back to the faculty full time in January 2006. He first started teaching Online in 1996. He trains other faculty in using WebCT. He teaches courses in Interpersonal Communication, Group Discussion, Oral Interpretation of Literature, Ancient Greece and the Oral Tradition, and Ancient Rome and the Oral Tradition.

His area of research is Distance Education/Computer Mediated Communication.

Tracy Proulx,

Vanessa Wynder Quainoo,
Associate Professor of Communication Studies

Dr. Vanessa Wynder Quainoo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. Originally from Illinois, she is a graduate of Wheaton College, IL, Western Illinois University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Dr. Quainoo's primary interests are social rhetoric and race discourse. She has a profound regard for the power of the spoken word to create community and shared justice. Along with her Communication degrees, Dr. Quainoo has a degree in theology and sustained interest in the African American Church. She is an ordained minister and serves as an international director for an West African women's empowerment organization. At present her research includes, the analysis of sermonic texts by African American women clergy and the role of the African American spiritual in the works of Maya Angelou. Dr. Quainoo offers courses in oral performance, race and media, and the rhetoric of the civil rights movement.

Abran J. Salazar,
Associate Professor in Communication Studies

Research Interests: Dr. Salazar's research interests center on the study of communication processes in small group and health contexts. His work on group communication has been concerned with identifying the conditions under which groups are likely to perform well or poorly, and how groups can be used as forums to promote learning, creativity, and individual health. His research in health communication has concentrated on social support networks, particularly how these networks help individuals achieve desired behavioral changes, such as giving up smoking or adhering to diet regimens. He has recently become interested in the role of tacit knowledge in the transmission of cultural values. His research has appeared in Human Communication Research, The Western Journal of Communication, The Southern Journal of Communication, Health Communication, Small Group Research, The Handbook of Group Communication Theory and Research, and elsewhere.
Dr. Salazar joined the University of Rhode Island in the fall of 1999 after having spent the previous eight years at Texas A&M University. His has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in health communication, interpersonal communication, group communication, and social science research methods in communication. In the spring, summer or fall, when not spending time in the classroom, behind the computer, or wrestling with his sons, he can be found on the closest pond, lake or river, kayaking or flyfishing (or flyfishing while kayaking ;)) Winters were made for sledding.

Rick Smith,

Dr. Kathleen Torrens,
Assistant Professor 

Dr. Lu Wei
Assistant Professor

Dr. Wei is interested in communication technologies in the social context. His specific research interests include diffusion of innovation, technology acceptance model, digital divide, knowledge
gap, social capital, etc. Dr. Wei has published a number of articles in Chinese and American refereed journals.

Dr. Wei joined URI in 2007. He teaches courses in social and cultural aspects of media, electronic media programming, and new media studies.

Susan Weitzner,

Dr. Stephen C. Wood
Professor of Communication and Film Studies

Research Interests: In a bibliography of rhetorical scholars, Dr. Wood was once categorized as an "eclectic rhetorical critic." Actually, that's very accurate since his research, while always rhetorical, has varied widely. His doctoral dissertation, for example, studied the technical mediating variables of television arguing a rhetorical intervention perspective. He has published articles and books on argumentation and debate, and has an entire line of research on the rhetorical dimensions of baseball as a cultural phenomenon. He has published articles on the early manifestations of the free speech and the trial of John Peter Zenger, and published research on Eisenhower, Reagan and Clinton. Dr. Wood published a book with Dr. David Pincus, Reel Baseball a seminal work exploring the cultural intersection of baseball and film from 1898 to present.

Dr. Wood joined URI in 1982 and served as director of intercollegiate debate for ten years prior to becoming department chair (1982-2004). His teaching interests include public speaking, advanced public speaking, interpersonal communication, television criticism, argumentation & debate, rhetoric of sports films, organizational communication and new applications of communication technology.
Dr. Wood is an award winning photographer; the following examples have won 1st place in various art shows. Also, Doc Wood is a folk musician recording on the Neoga Music label.

Yinjiao Ye
Assistant Professor

Yinjiao Ye joined the University of Rhode Island in 2006. She holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from The University of Alabama. Her teaching interests include advertising, health communication, and
communication research methods. Her current research focuses on advertising, consumer behavior and health communication. Her academic work has appeared in journals like Journal of Promotion Management and China Media Research, and she has authored several book chapters about
media entertainment and sex in advertising.