This edition of Who Makes Millersville Special features Robert Spicer ’00, assistant professor of communications & theatre.


Robert Spicer


Q: Where did you go to college? What did you major in?

A: I did my bachelor’s degree in speech communication at Millersville University and my master’s degree in broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media at Temple University. I am currently completing my Ph.D. in media studies at Rutgers University.

Q: What inspired you to study communications?

A: When I started my undergraduate education, I was an art education major. One semester in my sophomore year I took my first art education course and found I really did not enjoy it. At the same time I was taking Introduction to Communicology with Dr. Isaac Catt and loved the course. I talked to Dr. Catt about switching my major to communications. I found communication theory fascinating in that first class. Even though I was in the broadcasting option, I chose to go to grad school because I found I was more interested in research and teaching than working in television or radio.

Q: What is your past experience as a professor?

A: I started as an adjunct professor at Millersville University 10 years ago. I was teaching here as well as Ursinus College, York College and DeSales University. After doing that for six years, I applied for a tenure track position at DeSales, where I taught for four years until I applied for the appointment here at Millersville.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a professor?

A: I love ideas, and I love when an idea clicks for a student. There is something very satisfying for me when I have a great discussion in a class about some idea that gets a great reception from the class. I also love when a student is excited about a project, and I get to hear about their work. Then seeing that student succeed, that’s the best part for me. I had a few students present research papers at a pop culture conference last year. One of them won the “Best Undergraduate Paper” award for that conference. Seeing my student win an award for a paper she wrote for my class made me happier than winning an award myself.

Q: How did you first come to Millersville University?

A: I was a student at Millersville as an undergraduate, and I had a wonderful experience here. I learned so much, I had great professors and I really liked the idea of coming back and becoming a colleague and continuing to be a part of this program.

Q: What do you love the most about Millersville?

A: I have been a part of this campus since 1996 when I was a student. I just like it here. I’m not sure I can point to one thing I love about it, I just love being here.

Q: What classes do you teach at Millersville?

A: Right now I am teaching Communication Research Methods, Communication Theory and Introduction to Audio/Video. In the past I have taught a wide variety of courses, including Introduction to Mass Communication, Media Law, Radio Production, Pop Culture, Journalism and Persuasion.

Q: What is your favorite class to teach?

A: My favorite class to teach is either Introduction to Mass Communication or Media Law. I really love law; a large part of my dissertation is about court cases dealing with free speech issues. I find the course to be challenging, and it’s a lot of work, but it is very rewarding and makes for interesting discussion.

Q: You are the new advisor for Communication Studies students. What are you looking forward to the most about this position?

A: I’m really looking forward to meeting a new group of students. I think it’s going to be fun for me to get to know them and learn about their goals and what they want to get out of their education at Millersville.

Q: Along with teaching, you’ve also done research and written publications on political media and pop culture. Why are you so interested in those topics?

A: I’ve always been interested in politics. I was just a kid during the 1988 presidential election, but I paid attention to it and knew the candidates. I remember sitting up and watching the election results on television during the 1992 presidential election, as well. When I was a kid I loved social studies and government classes. So I think there has always been an interest there for me. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I’ve always loved politics.

Q: What was your favorite research publication to work on? Why?

A; My favorite publication so far is coming out later this year in the Jefferson Journal of Science and Humanities. It is the last chapter of my dissertation in which I argue for the creation of a campaign ethics council. Because of the First Amendment, it is actually difficult to make it illegal to lie in political campaigns, so I argue for a non-statutory means of accountability for politicians when they tell a lie on the campaign trail. I liked writing that one because it mixes discussions of the law, the First Amendment and political philosophy, three of my favorite topics.

Q: For you, what’s the most challenging part about research? What’s the most rewarding?

A: The most challenging part of research for me is doing quantitative work. I’m more of a qualitative scholar, but I’m trying to learn more about quantitative methods. To incorporate that into my work has been a challenge, but I have enjoyed it.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as an educator or a researcher?

A: I think my greatest accomplishment has just been the amount of work I’ve gotten done over the last five years. I have been teaching four courses every semester and doing my doctoral work and I have somehow managed to get five publications and numerous conference presentations done at the same time. Just managing the fact that I’m being pulled in multiple directions is an accomplishment.

Q: You are the proud parent of two young children. What do you enjoy most about being a parent?

A: My favorite part of parenting, at least at this stage, is just having fun with my kids. I love walking to the park or going out in the yard and playing ball with the kids. I just enjoy being around them, spending time with them, talking to them. I look forward to sitting around the dinner table at the end of the day and hearing about what they did in school.

Q: Is it difficult balancing parenthood and teaching?

A: It can difficult because work always comes home with me. I always have papers to grade, a paper to write or lecture notes to work on, so it can be difficult to pull myself away from my desk and just be present. I have learned to turn the computer off when it is time to be with the kids and to concentrate on my work when the kids are in bed.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside of class?

A: Other than just spending time with the kids, my favorite thing to do is watch baseball. I’m a big Baltimore Orioles fan. I played bass when I was younger, so I intend to pick that up again after I’m done with my dissertation. I like just sitting down and watching a movie or TV with my wife. I’m also an avid bicyclist, although I haven’t had much time for that this semester.

Q: What are your favorite television shows, movies and books?

A: Right now my favorite shows are “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones.” I also like the Walking Dead comic book. I still read a few comic books occasionally. I’ve been enjoying “Saga,” “Nowhere Men” and “Revival.” Most of the real reading I do is political philosophy and media studies.





This article has 5 comments

  1. Rob presents ideas to his students using real-life present-day examples and information. His teaching style and dedication to the field of communications is commendable. Rob has sparked an interest for comm research within me, and I hope to be accepted into the ECA conference with his course paper. I would pinpoint his strength generally as “caring.” He cares about his students. He cares about his research and uncovering the why, while always caring about the various roles he holds. Overall, his humor and down-to-earth vibe makes me want to be in his class learning!

  2. I love Professor Spicer! I am in Introduction to Audio and Video with him right now, and although there have been some challenges along the way in my personal life I have found that this course he teaches is very beneficial. You can tell that Professor Spicer is committed and has a passion for communications. I look forward to taking Communication Research with him next semester, especially since research is one of the things he is passionate about!

  3. Rob is a great professor! He is very enthusiastic in the classroom and shows interest in his students!

  4. It’s nice to know there are dedicated, young scholar/teachers like Robert Spicer among the faculty here.

  5. Interesting interview–I enjoyed reading about Robert Spicer and his various activities, interests, likes, strengths, and family time.

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