“I don’t think most students understand what a department chair is,” Joseph Borrell said, sitting in his office in Rowland Hall.
Borrell is the department chairperson for the communication/journalism department. “It’s a very interesting job,” he said.
Borrell, a native of “the deep south,” came to Shippensburg University in 2001 to teach communications, specifically electronic media.
In 2009, on the brink of his 40th birthday, he was elected chairperson for the department while on sabbatical.
“This is what happens when you don’t show up for faculty meetings,” he joked.
Though his undergraduate degree is in economics, Borrell has been in the broadcasting business since he was a teenager.
Borrell loves the changing nature of the business, noting that he used a teletype at his first radio station job.
“This has been such an amazing time for the communication/journalism industry,” he said. “We’re blessed here at Shippensburg to have really amazing technology.”
The small-town environment of Shippensburg is a big change from Philadelphia, where Borrell lived while pursuing his doctorate degree at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I love the culture here, not just the town, but the campus too. There’s a tradition of working together.”
Borrell currently lives in Chambersburg with his feline companions, Buddy and Busco.
Outside of work, he likes to stay active in the community. “A unique aspect of Shippensburg is that it is a small community,” he said.
“It is always interesting to run into students around town. I think students forget that we [faculty] have a life.”
He also enjoys music and attending concerts. “I really, really like music, I have eclectic taste.”
Faced with the realization that the music he grew up with is now considered “oldies,” Borrell credits his 12-year-old daughter for keeping him “up-to-date” with the latest music.
Borrell said that one of the most rewarding parts of his job is preparing students for a career in communications and keeping in touch with former students.
“I’m happiest at graduation. It’s rewarding to see students achieve professional success in this business.”
Borrell also enjoys working with graduate students in SU’s master’s in Communication Studies program and with enforcing bonds with alumni.
Through working with graduates of the communication/journalism program, he has learned that the ties students make at SU are long-term, and he encourages students to keep those ties strong.