SoC Welcomes New Director, Dr. Richard Besel

After a national search led by the faculty of the School of Communications (SoC),  Dr. Richard Besel accepted the position of Director of SoC and began his new role in July, 2019.

SoC’s New Director, Dr. Richard Besel

Richard Besel’s interest in the communications field was first sparked as a sophomore in high school when he joined his school’s competitive debate team. His first debate was about climate change and things came full circle when he returned to the topic in graduate school. Dr. Besel’s areas of expertise include rhetorical theory, history, and criticism; environmental communication; science communication; media studies; and political communication.

Dr. Besel earned all three of his degrees in Illinois; a B.A. from North Central College, an M.A. from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before serving in his role as SoC Director, Dr. Besel chaired the Communication Studies Department at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). His new position at GVSU allows him to return to the Midwest after twelve years on the West coast. Both he and his wife are excited for life in Michigan…snow and all!

Richard is most looking forward to working alongside the SoC faculty and students and looking for new opportunities to grow and develop both the SoC and GVSU as a whole. When asked what some of his goals are, he said:

“I think one of the worst things that you can do as an incoming director is to assume that you know how to do everything. Developing the SoC is something we should do together. I want to find the strengths that we have and try to maintain those or make them better. I also want to figure out the places where we have room to grow and the potential to do new things and make that happen. This will vary from major to major and from time to time, but I really just want to listen to the people who are here.”

Besel enjoys helping others become engaged lifelong learners, critical consumers of persuasive messages, and effective producers of engaging content. When asked from where he gains his inspiration for leadership, Dr. Besel said:

“I have been fortunate enough to work with great leaders. I’ve seen the way they lead and I want to do the same. I want to do things not in just a way that works, but in a way that makes sense for the people that I’m trying to help.”

We are confident that Dr. Besel will play a critical and significant role in further developing the SoC. Please join us in giving Dr. Besel a warm welcome!