Arthur Ranney

Rank/Title: Professor and Department Chair
Teaches: Journalism and core classes
Advises: All emphases and minors; Exponent; WSUP radio
Office: 609 Pioneer Tower
Tel: 608.342.1619

I am an accidental academic. After a self-imposed—and lengthy—hiatus from a sketchy undergraduate career in higher education, I decided that work would always be a four-letter word until I had the credentials to pursue something more meaningful than a paycheck. Seeking an edge in the journalism job market, I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Cincinnati but got carried away and followed that up with a master’s in journalism from Ohio State. During my master’s program, I decided that my work in media would have more impact if I taught it as well as practiced it, and that notion has worked out very well. Advising the student newspaper and radio station has allowed me to not only engage in the practice of media, but to have an influence on how future generations of media practitioners will approach their work. The epiphany in the master’s program led me to a Ph.D. in communication, also at Ohio State. (Of course, I worked summers in the newspaper industry as a way to continue to feed my habit of eating. And of seeing my name in print.)

Prior to landing in academe, I worked at a variety of jobs: retail sales, X-ray technician, auto mechanic, millwright, petroleum research technician, motorcycle courier, newspaper reporter, editor, photographer, and copy editor (there are probably more, but you get the idea). I have won awards from the Associated Press for reporting and continue to write fiction and nonfiction, as well as rock music with annoyingly cerebral lyrics.

My research interests generally focus on submerged and disenfranchised groups; I often present my work at the National Communication Association annual conference and have contributed chapters to a gender reader and to a book on how to finish a dissertation. Finishing a dissertation is much more difficult than starting one, as many people will tell you.

As an instructor, I have been known to chide students for their tendency to engage in a practice Paolo Freire has termed the “pedagogy of the oppressed.” In that model of education, the instructor treats students like little piggy banks into which one drops coins of knowledge. (“Are you calling us pigs?” a student asked once. “Yes,” I replied.) I prefer Freire’s notion that to learn, one must engage authority in a dialogue, rather than simply accepting the worldview of the authority, whether the authority is in the front of the room or in the front office.

I have modeled that behavior—engaging authority—for my students and for my colleagues by participating in the system of shared governance that is one of the hallmarks of the University of Wisconsin System. From the beginning of my career at UW-Platteville in 1998, I have served on numerous committees and commissions and believe that my participation has made a positive contribution to the university and its students. For example, in my first round as chair of the University Undergraduate Curriculum Commission, I designed and implemented a paperless system for submitting documents when the monthly mound of paper to peruse began to assume Steven King-like proportions. In my current role as chair of the UUCC, I have shepherded, at times with an iron crook, the process of reviewing every general education course the university offers to ensure that each course conforms to the university’s new model of general education.


  • Ph.D. in communication from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, September 1994. Focus on video and rhetoric. Dissertation title: A Schema for the Construction and Assessment of Messages of Empowerment. Faculty adviser: Sonja K. Foss.
  • M.A. in journalism from The Ohio State University, September 1988. Specialty areas: English and cinema.
  • B.A. with honors in English from the University of Cincinnati, March 1987. Writing Certificate from the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

UW-Platteville career

  • August 2012 to present
    Professor, Department of Media Studies, University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Appointed chair effective January 1, 2013.
  • January 2011 to August 2012
    Special Assistant to the Provost and Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
  • August 1998 to January 2011
    Professor, Chair, Department of Communication Technologies [now Media Studies], University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Promoted to associate professor August 2003, tenure awarded August 2004. Promoted to full professor August 2008. Appointed department chair for the first time July 1, 2008.

Teaching at UW-Platteville

  • Basic Newswriting and Reporting
  • Applied Communication [Publications and Radio]
  • Desktop Publishing
  • Photojournalism
  • Editing for the Media [formerly Editing for Print]
  • Project Reporting and Writing [formerly Advanced Reporting]
  • Communication Law
  • U.S. Investigative Journalism 1963-Present [formerly History of U.S. Journalism]
  • Video for the Web
  • Senior Seminar
  • Internships
  • Independent studies

Other duties and activities

  • Adviser to the Exponent, the student newspaper
  • Adviser to WSUP, the student radio station
  • Adviser to FarmHouse Fraternity
  • Adviser to Motocross Club

Governance and committee service

  • Faculty Senate (vice chair, chair)
  • BILSA Equity and Diversity Committee
  • BILSA College Council
  • BILSA Alumni Committee
  • UW System Faculty Representative
  • Campus Planning Advisory Committee
  • Technology Oversight and Planning Committee
  • Provost Search and Screen Committee
  • University Undergraduate Curriculum Commission (secretary once, chair twice)
  • College of BILSA Rank, Salary and Tenure Committee
  • Communication Technologies (now Media Studies) Department Review Body
  • Bylaws Committee
  • College of BILSA Curriculum Committee
  • University Graduate Council

Selected awards

  • Nominated for 2006 Regents Teaching Excellence Award for individuals
  • BILSA Academic Advisor of the Year, 2008-09


  • National Communication Association
  • Wisconsin Newspaper Association
  • College Media Advisers
  • Associated Collegiate Press
Arthur L. Ranney, Professor and Department Chair

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