Wilbur Schramm - Photo from the University of Illinois Archives.

Wilbur Schramm (1907-1987)Edit

At the forefront of the creation of the study of Communications was Wilbur Schramm. Often, a person’s perseverance is built from the experience in their own life of their shortcomings. This is where Schramm found his passion and drive to excel at his education. When most people would have given up, Wilbur had the courage to believe in himself, a fine quality to get him through his trials in life. Things would have even more different for him, if the depression of the 1930’s had not forced him to stay in the University setting engaging in research, while working 6 part-time jobs.

Eventually, his stuttering issues worked themselves out with some help from leaders in the field, and his constant practice to limit its effect on his speech. Wilbur made his way into the university setting again, this time to teach, and to spread his knowledge to graduate students. The primary focus was teaching fiction writing at the University of Iowa. While he could have ended up with a teaching career and publishing more of his own short stories, World War II led Wilbur to Washington, where he, along with many other social field scholars of the time, were hired by the Office of Facts and Figures (OFF). It was during this time that the field of communications study took hold, as the minds were aligned in their efforts for the war. His vision for the field came together while serving as the Director of the Education Division of OFF, and later at the Office of War Information (OWI).

After working in Washington, Schramm relocated to Iowa City, and upon learning of him coming back, the administration at the University of Iowa wanted him to accept a position as director of the School of Journalism. The university is still recognized at one of the leading institutes in the United States for the degrees from the programs created from Schramm. These degrees were the first to have “Communication” in their name. He created the first Doctoral program for mass communications in the U.S.

Outside of teaching, Wilbur would write short stories, some of which made it into the Saturday Evening Post.Edit

Notable Contributions to the fieldEdit

The model that Schramm designed, accounts for the sender, message, and reciever, that would be standard for any communication. However, where his model is unique is that it incorporates the challenges that the message has to get to the audience. There is an aspect called "noise" where the message could be interrupted at any point in the process. The model also includes a method where the receiver has a way and method to give feedback to the sender. Edit

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