The James Pedas Communication Center

— A Collaborative Learning Community —

Collaborative workspace inside the James Pedas Communication Center

The $6.5 million James Pedas Communication Center is a collaborative learning community where students engage in film, TV, radio, news production and other multimedia-rich experiences preparing them for today’s information society.

Students from all majors will acquire communication literacy and presentation skills to prepare them for what comes next.

Building features include sophisticated labs and studios, dynamic classrooms and learning spaces, a new Office of Admission and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

The official dedication is Saturday, October 4 during Homecoming Weekend.

— About James Pedas —

Dr. James “Jim” Pedas ’50 H’89 (right) and his brother Ted, have a long history in the entertainment industry. In the 1950s, he and Ted established Colt 45 Records, a recording company that launched the musical career of Don Covay (who wrote “Chain of Fools” and “Mercy Mercy” among others). The Pedas brothers later partnered to acquire several drive-in movie theatres. Later, with another partner, they bought a film distribution franchise and never looked back. They have been involved in numerous film ventures over the years including owning the Circuit/Showcase theatre circuit; owning a small part of Cinema 5 Ltd.; forming their own distribution company, Circle Releasing Corp., and forming their own production company, Circle Films, which was one of the foremost backers of 1990s American independent cinema. Among their most noted productions are the Coen brothers’ debut and sophomore films, “Blood Simple” (1984) and “Raising Arizona” (1987). They also formed Circle Management Company to oversee their investments in real estate and commercial development and Circle Parking to operate parking facilities in the Washington, D.C. area.

The Farrell, Pa., native earned a Bachelor of Science in economics from Thiel College and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Professional Accomplishment in 1980. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Thiel and was named trustee emeritus to the Board of Trustees. He has received many awards for his work including Washingtonian of the Year (1973) and the American University’s Award for Contribution to Film Culture (1985). He is a supporter of many philanthropic endeavors, including establishing an Intellectual Property Chair at George Washington Law School. He has served as a director of the National Capital Bank of Washington since 1973.

President VanAken, Ted Pedas and Jim Pedas

Bob Batchelor and Jim Pedas

— Meet the Faculty —

Bob Batchelor, Ph.D.

James Pedas Professor of Communication

“The roadmap to success today begins and ends with communication skills. Employers tell us again and again that what they really desire in young workers is the ability to communicate, think critically and understand contextual links that lead to higher order skills. The [center] will be a home for students to build these skills as a part of their overall education.”

A noted cultural historian and biographer, Bob is the author or editor of over 24 books, including John Updike: A Critical Biography and Gatsby: A Cultural History of the Great American Novel. Additionally, Bob is the:

  • Editor of the “Contemporary American Literature” book series
  • Founding editor of The Popular Culture Studies Journal
  • Member of the editorial advisory boards of The Journal of Popular Culture and the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning
  • Director of Marketing & Media for The John Updike Childhood Home Museum

Bob also serves as the Executive Director of the James Pedas Communication Center and Communication Department Chair.

Victor D. Evans, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Communication

“The Pedas Center will house a state-of-the-art HD studio that will allow both television and film students to use the equipment that professionals work with every day. This will make them very marketable in the industry by giving them experience that many won’t have. That definitely excites me!”

Victor has been teaching in higher education for over nine years. Before teaching, he was an entertainment journalist, working with many organizations in both New York and Los Angeles, including:

  • Entertainment Weekly
  • People
  • US
  • MTV
  • Guest Informant
  • BET

He also worked as an entertainment producer for Headline News at CNN in Atlanta, Georgia.

Victor is a documentary filmmaker whose production company, At CrossRoads Productions, creates media literacy videos to educate adolescents on various multicultural issues.

Laurie J. Moroco, Ph.D.

Professor of Communication

“I am ecstatic to see the culmination of efforts come to fruition. We have transitioned from ideas and conversations to a beautiful, state of the art communication center where students will flourish academically and professionally.”

Laurie primarily teaches courses in communication studies such as:

  • Intercultural Communication
  • Persuasion
  • Small Group
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Senior Seminar

Her research is in the field of interpersonal communication and relationship development. Her dissertation focused on the idea of phenomenological distance in relationships. Currently, she is working on research in the area of social media and the effects on relationship.

She recently worked on two documentaries including producing the student-led service learning documentary project on homelessness in Mercer County and she co-produced a documentary on social media entitled, “Social Networking: Maintaining Relationships in a Digital Age.”

— Media Gallery —



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