Tarleton’s communication studies gets new department head

STEPHENVILLE (August 14, 2017) — Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason changed hats this summer when she became head of the Department of Communication Studies at Tarleton State University.

She previously led the university’s Department of Diversity and Inclusion. She joined the faculty in 2012.

“I’m honored,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to dive deeper into the discipline, to be more connected with student experiences, particularly the hands-on learning we offer so often in communications.”

The Department of Communication Studies, part of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, offers concentrations in journalism and broadcast, public relations and event management, and in professional and relational communications. About 300 undergraduates and 50 graduate students are working toward communication studies degrees.

Helvie-Mason, who is also a communications professor, intends to be a hands-on leader after spending much of her first semester listening to faculty and students.

Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason

“Then I’d like to better understand some of our specialized  programming,” she said, “really great programs—Texan News Service, wedding and PR event management, and the Texas Social Media Research Institute, along with the new Texan Debate event.”

College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean Kelli Styron said Helvie-Mason’s commitment to student success is an asset to communication studies.

“Communication studies has seen a 23.1 percent growth since 2013,” Styron said. “Dr. Helvie-Mason’s leadership will assist all faculty, staff and students in managing that growth without sacrificing quality instruction.”

The new department head grew up near Muncie, Ind. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication at Purdue University and her master’s and doctoral degrees at Ball State University.

“I am a first-generation college student with a passion for learning, but I discovered my passion for teaching when I went for my master’s degree,” she said.

Additionally, she is certified in University Teaching and Learning from Ball State and was a doctoral fellow at Washington State University.

Before coming to Tarleton, Helvie-Mason was the director of diversity and inclusion at Southern University in New Orleans.

She firmly advocates study abroad programs and regularly accompanies Tarleton trips. She was introduced to the concept during her doctoral program with a six-week visit to China.

“It helps me to teach intercultural communications and all my diversity loves as well,” she said. “It gives me a broad perspective.”