Tusculum develops communication program in greater depth to build on longtime strengths at the university

GREENEVILLE – Recognizing the value of a communication program, Tusculum University has created an academic department and Bachelor of Arts in that field and tied it in with the institution’s robust fine arts initiatives.

Dr. Kurtis Miller

The university has launched the Communication and Fine Arts Department within the College of Civic and Liberal Arts. Wayne Thomas, the college’s dean, has also named Dr. Kurtis Miller, an assistant professor of communication, to serve as the department’s chair.

The new communication degree offers concentrations in arts outreach administration and theatre. In addition, Tusculum has established a separate Bachelor of Arts degree in arts outreach administration. Tusculum also provides the art and design program, which has offered concentrations in studio art and visual communication design for years and now has added a concentration in museum studies. Plus, Tusculum has a music program, which includes the Tusculum Band.

All of these fall under the umbrella of the new Communication and Fine Arts Department.

“Dr. Miller’s leadership has inspired us to offer these exciting new programs at Tusculum,” Thomas said. “He has worked tirelessly to champion the development of communication as a program that will enable us to expand other academic areas in which we have excelled for years. He is a gifted instructor and an all-around tremendous colleague, and I am confident he, our students and our faculty are headed to impressive new heights.”

Thomas said communication is an attractive degree option because of its multiple dimensions and the enjoyment inherent in that field for degree recipients. In addition, creating this program enables the university to build on many strengths that have existed at Tusculum for decades. That is particularly the case with the Arts Outreach initiative, which has impacted the cultural lives of thousands of people in East Tennessee.

“We wanted to build a program that mobilized that reputation in an academic way, and creating a Communication and Fine Arts Department is the perfect avenue,” Thomas said. “In Greene County and the rest of the region, we punch above our weight in arts programming. With so much interest in that element of life in the community, it is appropriate for us to place additional emphasis in that area through this new department and enhanced academic opportunities.”

Previously, communication was a concentration under the English program, but this restructuring utilizes it to its fullest potential and highlights its importance in its many forms, Thomas said.

Dr. Miller earned his Bachelor of Arts in communication, with a concentration in speech and theatre from Anderson University in South Carolina. He also holds a Master of Arts in communication from the College of Charleston in South Carolina and a doctorate in that academic field from Purdue University in Indiana.

He has served at Tusculum since 2016 and is the faculty parliamentarian and coach of the university’s debate team in addition to his teaching responsibilities. Dr. Miller is also a captain in the Army National Guard, who served in Afghanistan and Poland.

“Tusculum is exceptionally strong in all facets of the Communication and Fine Arts Department, with many dedicated faculty members who are committed to its success,” Dr. Miller said. “It is an honor to be entrusted to lead a department that will embody our mission to provide active and experiential learning for our students. The structure of this department and its many offerings will produce degree recipients who are equipped as career-ready professionals.”