Title: Communication Professor and Department Chair
Company: University of Pittsburgh
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Lester C. Olson, Ph.D., Communication Professor and Department Chair at the University of Pittsburgh, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in speech and communication.
For more than 35 years, Dr. Olson has been a beloved academic leader in the Department of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh, serving as faculty and department chair since 2014 in addition to teaching a full slate of undergraduate and graduate-level speech and rhetoric courses. Born into a Minnesota farming family “of modest means,” Dr. Olson was first encouraged to pursue a college education by his high school guidance counselor, adding that it “would not otherwise have occurred to him” to pursue higher education. He enrolled at Moorhead State University, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics, rhetoric, and public address in 1977. He continued his education at Pennsylvania State University, working as a teaching assistant in the Department of Speech Communication before being awarded a Master of Arts in speech communication in 1979. Dr. Olson completed a Doctor of Philosophy in communication arts at the University of Wisconsin in 1984, and joined the University of Pittsburgh the same year as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication.
In 1988, Dr. Olson spent a quarter at the University of California Davis as a visiting assistant professor of rhetoric and communication, and in 1990, he rose to become an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Since 2005, he has been a tenured full professor. Regarded as an expert on visual rhetoric, public address, and rhetorical criticism, Dr. Olson has been extensively published in professional journals and presented at a broad range of conferences and symposia. He is the author of “Emblems of American Community in the Revolutionary Era: A Study in Rhetorical Iconology,” 1991, “Benjamin Franklin’s Vision of American Community,” 2004, “Visual Rhetoric,” 2008, “Human Rights Rhetoric,” 2012, and more, and has been lauded as a Fellow of the Rhetorical Society of America and a Centennial Scholar of the Eastern Communication Association. Since the mid-1990s, Dr. Olson has published a dozen of articles concerning the works of Audre Lorde. He considers this body of work to be some of the most important of his career. Lorde’s family has been supportive of his work on her over the decades.
Dr. Olson is a member of the Rhetoric Society of America, the National Communication Association, and the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, as well as Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma, both honors societies. He has traveled the globe as a lecturer and teacher and has been honored for his contributions to the discipline with the James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award from the Speech Committee Association, the 2005 National Communication Association’s Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award and 2010 Golden Monograph Award, among many other distinctions.
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