The graduate level of the Department of Communication was not hindered by its small size when it recently ranked best in the nation according to a survey conducted by the National Communication Association (NCA).

The NCA survey for 2003-04, which critiqued 132 graduate and doctoral programs across the nation, gave high marks to the department in all five of its eligible categories. The department was ranked first in interpersonal and small group communication studies, first in intercultural and international communication studies, second in organizational communication studies and 17th in mass communication studies.

The department, consisting of 14 tenure-track faculty members and 22 graduate students, was ranked higher than universities such as the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University, according to a December 8 university press release.

“The rankings are evidence of the strong intellectual impact of our research and the wonderful reputation department faculty have as scholars and as mentors of outstanding graduate students,” said department chair Michael Stohl in the release.

Karyn Riddle, a fourth-year graduate student in the communication department, said the individual talent of the professors and instructors contributed to the department’s success as a highly valued academic entity.

“I would attribute a lot of our high rankings to the faculty,” Riddle said. “The large number of high quality, high caliber faculty is what probably sets us apart the most.”

Among its faculty are past president of the International Communication Association (ICA) and department director Howard Giles, who is the president-elect of the ICA, and Ronald Rice, the co-chair of the UCSB Center for Film, Television and New Media.

Second-year graduate student Emily Moyer-Guse said she is pleased with the results and the department. Moyer-Guse also said the size of the department is an advantage rather than a disadvantage.

“The benefit of a small department is the resources are more available,” Moyer-Guse said. “You can also get a lot more attention from the faculty. When it’s a small department, it’s easier to get that time to get to work with professors.”

Stohl said the UCSB department must compete against schools with a 35-plus faculty.

“For a faculty as small as ours, these results are extremely gratifying,” Stohl said.

Because of the award, Stohl said the department is under pressure to keep their reputation high.

“To be so highly evaluated by our peers across the country is a joy as well as a challenge,” Stohl said. “We will continue our efforts to maintain and enhance the level of excellence that has been achieved.”

Since the last National Communication Association survey released in 1996, the department increased its rank in all areas. In interpersonal and small group communication the department elevated eight places, in intercultural and international communication it climbed seven, and in organizational communication it leaped ten, the press release said. According to the press release, the mass communication category did not exist in the 1996 survey.