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2024 Distinguished Professor Richard M. Perloff Honored for More than 40 Years of Service to CSU

2024 Distinguished Professor Richard M. Perloff

The name Richard M. Perloff, Ph.D. has become synonymous with Cleveland State University since he first stepped on campus in 1979, which is one of the many reasons why CSU proudly named him Distinguished Professor at the 2024 Spring Service Awards.

It is the highest honor conferred by the University, awarded to only one professor per year. The recognition first went to Samantha Baskind, Ph.D. of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2022, then to Milena Sterio, J.D. of the College of Law in 2023.

Dr. Perloff has spent nearly 45 years serving the CSU community as a nationally recognized scholar in communication, psychology and political science, and it’s no surprise that his accolades also span decades. 

He was honored by the Press Club of Cleveland with the award for Best in Ohio Essay Writing in 2018. Dr. Perloff also earned an Excellence in Scholarship Award and Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016. His theoretical article in communication theory won the 2014 University of Amsterdam School of Communication Research McQuail Award for the best article advancing communication theory, and he earned15 first or second-place awards for feature and essay writing from the Press Club of Cleveland and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists from 2009-19. Dr. Perloff also won a Distinguished Faculty Award for Research in 1999. The Dynamics of Persuasion, Dr. Perloff's scholarly persuasion text, was named Outstanding Book of 1993 by Choice, a division of the American Library Association that published a yearly list of Outstanding Academic Titles. Its 8th edition was released in June 2023.

Dr. Perloff is a frequent contributor to an assortment of news outlets, including and The New York Times. He has also been published in Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

“It’s a challenge, but really lots of fun, to write pieces that everyone can relate to, think about, perhaps reflect differently on or disagree with, but maybe, I hope, with a little more understanding of a different view of the issue,” said Dr. Perloff.

Midwestern born and raised

A native of West Lafayette, Ind., Dr. Perloff earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, where he wrote for The Michigan Daily, the University’s independent student newspaper that has operated for more than 130 years. He would move on to the University of Pittsburgh, Wisconsin-Madison and Ohio State University for his Master’s, Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellowship, respectively, before making his way to CSU as a visiting assistant professor.  

"I have been at Cleveland State for all of my professional life," Dr. Perloff said. "My professional and intellectual affiliation has been here at Cleveland State, where I have really developed as a person, as a scholar and as a writer." 

Dr. Perloff was continuously selected to take on leadership roles at CSU as the School of Communication evolved. He was elected the final chairperson of the Communication Department in 2003, then became the University's first-ever director of the School of Communication when it officially transitioned from the Department of Communication in 2004. During his seven years as director, the school added three new majors: Film & Digital Media, Journalism & Promotional Communication and Communication Management.  

"I never thought I'd really like teaching, but it's infectious; it keeps you healthy and happy, and you hope you do some good," Dr. Perloff said. "You're sharing what you love with students, but you can't be in your world—you have to partake in where they are." 

Renowned for his work in persuasion, Dr. Perloff teaches courses in persuasive communications and attitudes, as well as political communication. He has written a handful of books on the dynamics of news and political communication, including the award-winning The Dynamics of Persuasion. 

"Persuasion has been one of my loves, having taught the course for decades, making it a mainstay on the grad level, and teaching, I think, the only undergrad persuasion course on campus," Dr. Perloff said. "I love persuasion theory, and so I'll focus on things like tattoos to help students appreciate that attitude objects serve functions or help people cope, a part of attitude functions theory, a classic in the field."

Not surprisingly, excellence runs in the family. Dr. Perloff’s son, Michael, is an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, D.C. His daughter, Catherine, works as a platforms reporter for Adweek, an advertising publication based in New York, N.Y.

From chalk and whiteboards to digital classrooms

Four decades of experience have allowed Dr. Perloff to showcase his talents in connecting different topics and relating them to student experiences in the classroom and beyond, mastering the art of engaging a classroom.

“If I were to pinpoint what I would consider to be his most remarkable, polished skillset, it’s his ability to see linkages between different fields of expertise, how what he does can relate to others and vice versa,” said Robert Whitbred, Ph.D., the director of CSU’s School of Communication. 

“When he’s giving an example of a persuasion theory, the direct one-to-one match is there and easy for the class to understand. That takes time. That takes expertise. That takes a willingness to continually look for ways to improve and revise things to make it better.”

The decades-long Viking has become a maestro during his multiple weekly lectures. He conducts an ensemble of student voices and responses, quickly applying them to real-world scenarios. Even during virtual sessions, Dr. Perloff continuously keeps students involved with discussions and presentations and encourages student answers during lecture times. 

“He has been remarkably adaptable to integrating new technologies into his teaching,” Dr. Whitbred said. “He does it in a seamless way that is meeting students’ expectations for what an effective college course should be.”

Dr. Whitbred also noted Dr. Perloff’s ability to mentor and work with undergraduate and graduate students to produce work and articles that are presented in state, regional and, in some cases, international conferences. 

“That’s providing opportunities for not only working with students but helping them create the next generation of scholars in the field,” he said.

Join CSU in congratulating Dr. Richard M. Perloff for being named the 2024 Distinguished Professor!