Jim Haney Steps Down; Rhonda Sprague Steps Up
Aaron Krish

The University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point Division of Communication appointed Dr. Rhonda Sprague as the new chairwoman of the department after Dr. Jim Haney decided to not seek a third term; Dr. Sprague started in the position on August 1, 2012.

Haney explained that the procedures for the Division of Communication indicate that the head of the department should not serve two consecutive terms. Haney served two three-year terms as division head, including 13 months as the interim Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

“I told my colleagues in early March that I wanted to return to full-time teaching in the fall and did not plan to seek another term as division head,” Haney said. “This change will give me a chance to teach more classes, something I truly enjoy, and more time to engage in research. I believe the occasional administrative change is healthy for both organizations and administrators.”

Haney is returning as a full-time professor of communication and will teach a variety of public relations classes, as well as serve as the division’s internship director, which oversees students in both the arts management and communication majors.

When the current division head does not seek an additional term in his/her position, the selection process requires that the faculty interview candidates during a candidate forum. Once every candidate is interviewed, the faculty nominates someone to the dean of the college, who then reviews the nominations and appoints the new division head. Dr. Rhonda Sprague was appointed the position.

“Dr. Sprague will do a wonderful job as the new leader of the division. She knows our curriculum well and truly cares about student success. I am confident she will be an outstanding advocate for our program,” Haney said.

​Newly appointed Chairwoman Rhonda Sprague.
Photo by Samantha Feld.​
“It’s an honor to have been elected to this position by my colleagues. Being the head of such a diverse and dynamic department is going to be both challenging and rewarding,” Sprague said.

As division head, Dr. Sprague will be teaching two fewer courses than what a full-time professor would normally teach. However, she will continue to serve as the faculty advisor and as part of her teaching responsibilities, she will continue to serve as the undergraduate advisor, while teaching Communication 100, introducing the program to new majors.

“I would like us to keep the momentum we’ve been building for the past several years. We’ve seen an increase in majors in both Communication and Arts Management. We’ve also made some significant academic changes to both programs,” Sprague said.

While the change in curriculum is the largest change within the last few years, the department itself will not see any dramatic changes for the upcoming school year. The division is excited about its new 3500-square foot television studio, as well as welcoming three new faculty members.

“When we have a vacancy to fill, we don’t automatically just fill it with someone with the same characteristics. Instead, members of the faculty discuss what our curriculum might be missing and determine what type of colleague we need based upon that assessment,” Sprague said.

Sylvia Mikucki- Enyart, Ph.D. from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign, Chris Shofner, MFA from the University of Cincinnati, and Andrew Stoner, M.A. from Ball State University, and ABD at Colorado State University will be joining the Division of Communication faculty teaching a variety of classes in the Interpersonal Organizational, Media Studies, and Public Relations emphases.

“We will continue to provide excellent academic opportunities for our students and are excited to continue working with our student organizations to strengthen our co-curricular activities in the upcoming year,” Sprague said.