Dr. Janie Fritz

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Photo of Dr. Janie FritzProfessor and director of the B. A., M.A., and Ph.D. programs in the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies.

For the last 27 years she has been a fixture here on campus. "The reason I wanted to come here (to Duquesne) is because there was a sense that you could take God seriously here. Not in the sense that you wear your profession on your sleeve but that there's a mission and it's grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition. At the time I was not Catholic, I was on the journey. But landing here was a good place because it's ecumenical, it's open, but yet there's a sense of mission and calling and purpose that takes our relation to the divine seriously. When I step foot on campus I can feel that."

Raised in northeast Georgia and still carrying her Southern twang, when not on campus Dr. Fritz has a passion for her horses, singing and playing bluegrass.

In talking about her work it is a balance between teaching, writing, mentoring and performing the other various tasks she is responsible for. "You've got to be willing to work at Duquesne. You need to be a wonderful teacher but you also need to publish. We work from a scholar-teacher model in our department. You have to be discerning. Not everything needs 100 percent of your attention. You can't do everything. I've learned that."

Of mentoring Dr. Fritz says that, "mentoring is a shared labor among doctoral students, professors and the student who raises their hand and says I need help."

Last month Dr. Fritz started her five-year term as the William Patrick Power, C.S.Sp. Endowed Chair in Academic Leadership. "I'm really excited about that." In that new role she is working on a book on interpersonal communication ethics.

The rise of the digital era has brought its challenges and Dr. Fritz is looking to examine that and answer some key questions about how we grapple with this change as a society. She sees digital responsibility as a huge issue. "Empathy is down. How can we not lose the human connection?, she asks. "We designed a course "Communication Empathy and Civility in a Digital Age" to discuss this with students. In the class they even use some of past scholars work - "Some of the voices of the past have a lot to tell us about the future. We take the best of what's been written and the best of what's being written now."

"The bigger change I think isn't the communicative devices but rather our sense of narrative ground. What do we believe in? What do we stand for? There's so much contention in the public sphere."