Posted on December 15, 2021 by Communication Department
After 25 years of service, Dr. Richard Ward retired in the summer of 2021. Ward’s retirement caps a 38 year teaching career, which began in 1978 at Northeast Louisiana University. Ward departed from teaching on two separate occasions: once to work at Universal Pictures in California and then again to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. The rest of his time was spent here at USA as a professor of radio, TV, and film, which would later be renamed digital cinema and TV.
Ward says Film History is his favorite subject followed by television history. “I’ve always loved film comedy from the silent era, starting with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, through the early sound period with Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields,” Ward said. When asked about his fondest memories within the Department of Communication, Ward remarks, “Wow. I don’t know where to begin. He added, “You don’t spend 25 years at a place unless you love it.” Ward mentioned that he has enjoyed so many of the students and faculty he has encountered throughout his career pointing to the old cliché, “If you find a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Ward served as interim chair of the department for the last two years before retiring. Since retiring, Ward continues to teach one class part time online. He says, “I hope I can get back to my research and writing project on the history of color television in the US.” Beyond that, he is enjoying being a full-time family man and grandfather.
Since Ward’s retirement, the department welcomed its first female chair, Dr. Pavica Sheldon (above). Sheldon is originally from Croatia, but comes to us from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. She has been teaching since 2007 and is a professor of communication studies. Sheldon earned her PhD from Louisiana State University.
When asked about her biggest challenges for this academic year Sheldon said, “I am still trying to learn about the institution, our policies, and overall, who does what. The first month, however, was the busiest.” Sheldon has several goals for the department. “Our number one priority is enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate programs.” She added, “I want to see our programs grow.” She also wants to work on retaining our current students in the department. Sheldon adds, “We have amazing facilities and great faculty. I am not sure that many people outside of the region know that.”
Sheldon enjoys teaching at the graduate level. She said, “I like teaching graduate-level courses in interpersonal communication, although I have had the most fun in public speaking classes.” Sheldon adds, “I am an active researcher. I study how people use social media in a variety of settings: interpersonal communication and relationships and also during crises.” Sheldon is the author of three social media books. The department of communication welcomes the leadership of Dr. Pavica Sheldon.