Robert Westerfelhaus has been awarded a Fulbright Lectureship for 2009-2010. He will serve as the Distinguished Fulbright Chair at the Instytut Anglistyki of the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, located in Lublin, Poland. As such, he will teach courses in film, mass media, and American popular culture.
Dr. Westefelhaus came to the College of Charleston from the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), where he taught as an assistant professor for three years. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Ohio University (OU), from which he earned two awards for rhetorical scholarship and was named Graduate Student of the Year (1998). Dr. Westerfelhaus earned his B.A. from Ohio Dominican University (ODU).
Dr. Westerfelhaus loves teaching. While at OU, he was nominated for the Teacher of the Year Award. At UHD, his teaching earned him recognition as a Success Builder. In 2004, he was recognized for his teaching with our own Distinguished Communication Faculty Award, given jointly by the college chapters of Lambda Pi Eta and the Public Relations Student Society of America. In 2008, he was given the ExCEL Award for Outstanding Faculty of the Year for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Westerfelhaus has taught courses in communication ethics, intercultural communication, media criticism, rhetoric, and communication theory. He also teaches graduate courses in communication theory and qualitative research methods.
Dr. Westerfelhaus is also passionate about his research, which applies critical, rhetorical, and semiotic theories to communication issues related to ethics, religion, and American popular culture. As an undergraduate, an essay he wrote about ethics took second place in a national contest sponsored by Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. In 2000, he won the Religious Communication Association's Dissertation of the Year Award. He has presented more than 50 competitively chosen conference papers (nine of which were top ranked); served as a chair, participant, or respondent for as many panels; and has published articles in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication Quarterly, Southern Communication Journal, Text and Performance Quarterly, Western Journal of Communication and other high profile peer reviewed journals. He has also published chapters in several edited volumes, including Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice (4th ed.), Critical Approaches to Television (2nd ed.), and Communicating Ethnic and Cultural Identity. Dr. Westerfelhaus' reviews have appeared in such academic journals as Homiletic and Review of Communication, and his expertise has made him a much sought after referee/reviewer by journal editors and conference planners. In addition to his numerous academic publications, he is also frequent contributor to various newspapers.
Dr. Westerfelhaus is no stranger to service and community involvement. While at UHD, his service included a term as faculty senator and work as assistant chair for the Department of Arts and Humanities. While in Texas, his volunteer work with Parish Social Ministries earned him recognition as a Volunteer of the Year (2001) by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. Since arriving in Charleston, Dr. Westerfelhaus has served as a member of the board of directors of a local branch of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, an international Catholic charitable organization devoted to serving those living in poverty. At the College of Charleston, he has served on numerous department and college wide committees. Dr. Westerfelhaus is also quite active in international, national, and regional communication associations.
In addition to those already mentioned, highlights of Dr. Westerfelhaus' many awards and honors include his being named an Ohio Regents Scholar, and membership in Delta Epsilon Sigma, Kappa Gamma Pi, and Phi Kappa Phi.
Dr. Westerfelhaus lives on James Island with his wife, Penny, and several darling dachshunds.
M.A. and Ph.D., Ohio University
B.A., Ohio Dominican University
Honors and Awards
- Fulbright Lectureship for 2009-2010
- 2008 ExCEL Award for Outstanding Faculty of the Year for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences