Georgia Southern University’s Communication Arts Department was founded in 1969 and the department has had seven chairs since its founding, each of which has brought several changes to GSU.
The Communication Arts Department’s former chairs include Clarence McCord, Ernest Wyatt,David Addington, Hal Fulmer, Ginny Rowden and Chip Cox, and Pamela Bourland-Davis currently serves as department chair.
Clarence McCord (1969-1983)
McCord, the first department chair, received his Bachelor’s degree from Louisiana College in 1956 and his Master’s degree in public education from Louisiana State University 1962. He graduated with a Ph.D. in speech sciences and linguistics from LSU in 1968.
Before working at GSU, McCord taught for two years at Howard Payne College in Brownwood,Texas. At the end of those two years McCord and his wife Jean learned his contract would not be removed.
McCord had applied to several other colleges with no luck, until he finally received a phone call from GSU, then called Georgia Southern College.
“There was a look of astonishment on his face,” Jean McCord said. “He finally said, I got a job.’ I replied, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Georgia Southern College.’”
McCord had received his position at GSU without ever applying due to recommendation from Waldo Braden, department head at LSU, Jean McCord said.
The Department of Speech and Drama was developed under McCord in 1973, during which time the department became School of Arts and Sciences under Warren Jones Jr.Hal Fulmer, former department chair and a student under McCord, said McCord was tough but fair toward his students.
“He expected, even demanded, a lot from us as students,” Fulmer said. “But even in all the ‘old school’ approach that he had, I think most of us realized he cared about us andour success.”
McCord passed away April 17, 2003. The Communication Arts Department established the Clarence W. McCord Scholarship the same year in honor of his time as chair.
"The very best teachers, I think, always leave you as their student wishing for one more officevisit, one more lecture, one more opportunity to interact,” Fulmer said. “That’s how I feel aboutDr. McCord.”
Ernest Wyatt (1983-1985)
Wyatt became the acting department head in McCord’s leave of absence. The two collaborated on a plan to change courses from five hours to four and to combine all department faculty into one building.
Wyatt announced a bid acceptance in 1984 for the new building. Journalism classes werea dded to the department in addition to speech and broadcasting.
Chip Cox (1985-1987)
Under Cox, a focus on mass communications was added to the curriculum.
Ginny Rowden (1987-1989)
Rowden became the first female department chair after Cox’s departure.Several new degrees were added under Rowden’s leadership, including journalism, speech andtheater.
David Addington (1989-1996)
During Addington’s time as chair, the Communication Arts Department was now under the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences in 1994. Classes were cut down to two hours.
Hal Fulmer (1996-2002)
Fulmer served as head of the Communication Arts Department chair from 1996-2002. He currently works at TroyUniversity. (Photo courtesy: TroyUniversity Dean’s Office)
Before arriving at GSU, Fulmer received his associate’s degree from Darton State College, then called Albany Junior College.
He later received his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees from GSU, University of Georgia and LSU, respectively.
Under Fulmer, the bachelor’s degree of Communication Arts with emphases was removed, and the emphases became majors themselves.
In addition to his role as department chair, Fulmer also served as an internship coordinator for public relations majors alongside Bourland-Davis.Fulmer said, like McCord, he expected a lot out of his students which ended up preparing them for post-grad life.
“I was always proud of the fact that we worked so hard that when [the alumni] would get theirinternships and first jobs, they were so ready,” Fulmer said.
Fulmer now serves as the Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate & First Year Studiesat Troy University.
Pamela Bourland-Davis (2002-present)
Dr. Pamela Bourland-Davis is the current chair of Georgia Southern’s Communication Arts Department. She is thelongest running chair to date. (Photo courtesy: HerCampus Georgia Southern)
Bourland-Davis received her Bachelor’s degree at GSU and her Master’s in journalism at Arkansas State.
While completing her Master’s degree, Bourland-Davis was contacted by McCord who was in need of a temporary professor at GSU.
She returned a year after graduating and taught journalism for three years before attending UGA for her Doctorate degree.
During her time as chair, the department went through several location changes, starting in campus trailers and moving to Veazey Hall, and eventually ending up in Sanford Hallin 2014.
The department also added the Center for Art & Theatre in 2008, which Bourland-Davis said brought several new opportunities for students.
“It greatly enhanced the opportunities for our students and their being able to learn in state-of-the-art contemporary facilities,” Bourland-Davis said.
Bourland-Davis is the department’s longest-standing chair to date