“Every university needs at least one Socrates — a faculty member who has the best interest of the university at heart and is not afraid to voice those interests, rattle cages or play the devil’s advocate with the intent of arriving at reasonable outcomes. Jon Bruschke is Cal State Fullerton’s Socrates.”Mark Hoven Stohs, professor of finance and member of the CSUF Academic Senate Executive Committee
For his passionate pursuit of justice, equity and truth and his tireless efforts to improve the lives of all Titans, Jon Bruschke is the recipient of this year’s Faculty Leadership in Collegial Governance Award.
The professor of human communication studies’ strong, fearless voice has been heard across the university and in the community through his work in the Academic Senate and Senate Executive Committee, the CSU Academic Senate, the field of debate, and numerous other positions and committees at the state, campus, college and department levels.
Bruschke received the award at the Academic Senate meeting today (April 8), which was exceptionally emotional due to the recent death of Jack Bedell, professor emeritus of sociology and president of the CSUF Emeriti Association, and the December passing of Nancy Fitch, professor emeritus of history.
“It is overwhelming to receive this award on the same day that we honor Jack Bedell and Nancy Fitch,” said Bruschke. “To have your name on the same list as those two is incredible. I’m speechless. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I appreciate this more than you know.”
Leading in the Academic Senate
Bruschke ’88, ’90 (B.A., M.A. speech communication) became a member of the Academic Senate in 2006 and has served multiple terms. He has been involved in writing and advocating for a wide array of resolutions, on topics from redirecting funds for instructional purposes to improving the university’s assessment policy. As co-editor of the “Senate Forum” digital publication, readership has grown substantially and helped spread ideas across, and outside of, the campus.
In 2016, Bruschke was elected as the CSUF representative on the Academic Senate of the CSU, where he has worked on such resolutions as protecting CSU personnel from digital and politically motivated attacks; advancing an Open Access policy allowing faculty to archive their work in CSU libraries; protecting faculty intellectual property and academic integrity; and endorsing Project Rebound.
Transforming the Field of Debate
Recognized on campus for his signature Hawaiian shirt and sandals, Bruschke is renowned nationally in the debate community for his contributions that have transformed the intellectual sport. Greg Achten, director of debate at the Harker School in San Jose, stated that there is no other person who has done more to provide debate opportunities for students while also supporting debate administrators than Bruschke.
“Jon was the driving force behind the establishment of an Urban Debate League in Orange County that provided opportunities for hundreds of students at underserved public high schools to experience the benefits of debate.
“He was also the first person to realize the potential in moving debate administration online,” Achten continued. “He designed tabroom.com, the website now used for all high school and collegiate debate tournaments in the country. This work was so impressive that Jon received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Debate Coaches Association.”
During his time as coach of the speech and debate team at CSUF, Bruschke resuscitated the intercollegiate tournament hosted on campus each January and put the university back on the national debate map. For his work in this area, the 2004 National Debate Coach of the Year received the Lucy Keele Service Award from the National Speech and Debate Association and the Lifetime Service Award from the American Forensics Association.
Innovating Human Communication Studies
Bruschke joined the College of Communications in 1997 as a lecturer after completing his doctorate in interpersonal and argument at the University of Utah. His expertise is in argumentation, legal communication, interpersonal communication and quantitative research methods, although he also has studied gender equity, trial fairness with the free press and deception in the United States.
Since 2016, Bruschke has served as chair of human communication studies, where he has created department personnel standards, improved enrollment tracking, refined the committee election process, improved the tracking of lecturer evaluations and contract status, and even conducted front-lawn graduation ceremonies for 2020 graduates amid the pandemic.
He played a central role in the renaming the department’s degree “communication studies,” which has resulted in it becoming the fastest-growing major in the college.
Colleague Irene Matz, associate professor of human communication studies and last year’s Faculty Leadership in Collegial Governance Award winner, described Bruschke as “an intoxicating leader — one who shows courage to make difficult decisions, listens to all voices, respects those who differ in perspective and respects all moving forward with dignity and inclusivity to a better tomorrow.”
K. Jeanine Congalton, associate professor of human communication studies, added, “Jon is a selfless advocate for others. The fact that he challenges standing or proposed policies is a testament to his concern that CSUF’s governance benefits students, staff and faculty. His analyses and debating of those policies are for the sole purpose of enhancing the Titan community.”