Virginia Tech’s Department of Communication earned the Program of Excellence Award from the National Communication Association’s Basic Course Division. 

This recognizes Virginia Tech as a best practice model for other programs across the country.  

At Virginia Tech, the basic communication program includes a two-semester freshman sequence for communication and other majors; public speaking, a course primarily for non-communication majors; and CommLab, a resource center in Newman Library for students from any major.

“Collectively, these courses encourage students to develop practical discourse skills necessary for success in college and in future careers such as interacting with teams, making in-class presentations, and communicating with peers, professors, and the public – in person and in writing,” said Robert E. Denton Jr., chair of the Department of Communication. “The courses cover the breadth and depth of human oral and written communication, and all are pioneering in terms of content and delivery. Our basic course offerings are judged as unique to the discipline and worthy of distinction,” said Denton, who also holds the W. Thomas Rice Chair of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Center for Leader Development.

“This award is a testament to the initiative and hard work of many graduate students and faculty,” said Marlene Preston, assistant department head and director of the communication undergraduate programs. 

Preston developed two of the courses, including the Interchange Model for Public Speaking and the two-semester skills course. She also created the new model for Virtual Public Speaking in 2010 with faculty colleague Brandi Quesenberry, who is the current director of public speaking. 

Virginia Tech’s CommLab was established with a Student Success Grant awarded to John Tedesco, Beth Waggenspack and Preston, who now directs the lab along with Quesenberry.  

One of the reviewers remarked that “this is an exceptional program that has really sought to improve and innovate in response to feedback…” Another reviewer noted Virginia Tech’s program “seems to have a robust assessment effort, creative design, and extraordinary faculty buy-in … The hallmark of an exceptional program is its recognition that development is a continual process.”



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