Share This Page

McCandless man honored by Duquesne University

| Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted
Ronald Arnett, 61, of McCandless, recently received the Duquesne University’s President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship for 2013

Decades of scholarship have brought Ronald Arnett to another high point in his academic career.

Arnett, 61, of McCandless, recently received the Duquesne University's President's Award for Excellence in Scholarship for 2013.

“It is a significant honor to be a part of the university's longtime tradition of scholarship,” said Arnett, chairman of the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts.

He has been with Duquesne since 1993.

Arnett has written nine books and 70 scholarly articles. His topics included communication ethics, communication pedagogy, philosophy, theology, psychology and sociology.

Arnett's interest in rhetoric was piqued at Manchester College, a liberal arts school in Indiana. He remembered Paul Keller as “one of the finest teachers I've ever known,” he said.

Keller encouraged Arnett's interest to learn all he could about communication. That spark first came from his parents and later from others who kept him on his career path.

Arnett majored in theology, psychology and English at Manchester and then pursued a master's degree and doctorate in interpersonal communication at Ohio University.

“Communication needs to be studied,” he said. “It's an ongoing chain of engagement with the history and social characteristics of a given moment.”

Arnett directs a department of 11 faculty members, about 200 undergraduates, 70 doctoral and 50 master's degree students. Communication and rhetorical studies professor Janie Harden Fritz was a member of the search committee who welcomed Arnett to the campus.

“He had a sensitivity to the humanities and the tradition of Duquesne that was rooted in rhetoric and philosophy,” Fritz said.

As he teaches, Arnett prefers to concentrate on what is being said, not how it's said.

He can trace the changes in communication from the Industrial Revolution when “processes and procedures had a dominant impact on the industrial world.”

“We're not teaching the skills of being a blacksmith anymore,” he said. “We're not in a knowledge culture now, but a learning culture.”

And if learning is to happen, real connection begins when one recognizes the need “to understand your neighbors before you understand the content (of their communication).”

Arnett sees social media as a kind of technological wave offering “multiple strands to connect to the human condition.”

He's not bothered by texting but, rather, by its lack of content.

He cautions that when users are “burned in the banality of blurring public and private discourse, we get back to the same issues: How smart are you? What do you bring to the conversation — not just your interest in a new toy.”

It's difficult for Arnett to choose whether his favorite activity is classroom teaching or writing.

“I get smarter in the classroom, too,” he said. “A teacher needs to be the first learner in the classroom, not just the teller.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.