This fall break, just like every fall break, thousands of Gannon students travel home for some rest and relaxation. However this fall break when the students leave for home, hundreds of scholars from around the state, the U.S. and even the world, will be arriving on campus taking their place.

This year Gannon is hosting the 74th Annual Pennsylvania Communication Association Conference. The conference is being held Oct. 18 through 19. The theme of this year’s conference is, “Communication as a Liberal Art: The Historical Roots of the Discipline.”

In addition, a pre-conference has been added to the agenda. The premise of the pre-conference is based on Albert Camus’ philosophy of communication. Students from Gannon University have been rehearsing Camus’ The Misunderstanding just for this event. The play will be performed the Oct. 17 and 18 in Club LaRiccia, and illustrates Camus’ concept of absurdum in interpersonal communication.

During these three days, more than 30 communication scholars will present on their area of expertise. The session topics range from Culture Conflict and Crisis, to Analyzing Communication of the 21st Century, to Using Tuesdays with Morrie to Teach.

Professor of communication at Gannon, Brent Sleasman, Ph.D., currently serves as Pennsylvania Communication Association Vice President. Dr. Sleasman and Professor Mary Carol (MC) Gensheimer have led preparations for this event for nearly two years.

The coolest part of the conference is: This is my class. I take an event planning course with MC and Dr. Sleasman every Tuesday and Thursday for three credits. Talk about your hands-on experience. We’ve spent the semester reading, writing, designing and listening to guest speakers on this event and possible events Gannon may host in the future.

In August and September we studied how to prepare for an event of this size, including finding a location, selecting the food on the menu, security measures and all the details in-between. We learned how to use graphic tools like Adobe Illustrator to create organizational charts of the PCA.

Later we spent time surveying the best spots of downtown Erie to make maps for the participants when they arrive. I even found places in the Waldron Campus Center that I never knew existed – that too went on a map.

Throughout the course, we listened to guest lectures on public relations and crisis management, security, catering, location planning and grant writing. Each speaker had, in some way, been involved with the planning of this conference, and shared with us their behind-the-scenes stories. We studied the history of this organization, and then each person in the class became a registered member of the Pennsylvania Communication Association.

During the pre-conference and conference, each class member will be acting as a host for the event. We’ve all gotten our itineraries with our specific responsibilities listed, but we also have the perks of being PCA members. Not only do we get to enjoy the delicious meals that we have selected, but we also get to listen to lectures from experts in our field, and bask in the knowledge that we’ve all helped to make this event a success.