People You Should Know: Ric Calabrese

By Emily Lapinski

January 15, 2014

Speaking and communicating clearly is something everyone has to do to succeed in their job and progress through their career. While seasoned rhetoric is a skill that is often downplayed everyday, a lack of communication skills can lead to major problems when it comes to career and personal life.

Many college students believe that as young adults who have retained relationships consistently through their lives, their communication skills cannot get better and are fine just the way they are.

Try telling that to Professor Ric Calabrese.

For the past 47 years, Calabrese, a professor in the communications department, has helped Dominican introverts and extroverts alike become stronger communicators.

Calabrese started teaching at Dominican in 1967 when the school was still called Rosary College most of the faculty consisted of Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.

He was offered two other teaching positions at the time, but once Calabrese came to Rosary College, he knew he found his new academic home.

“I knew I loved it the first time I walked in and met Sister Gregory who interviewed me,” Calabrese said. “Just as…every other student here, I was impressed by the beauty of the campus and sensed the warmth of the sisters.”

Calabrese has found his career as a communications professor extremely rewarding because of the ability to physically see change in his students.

“Communication skills are learnable, and if you can motivate the students to take the risk of developing the skills, you can actually see them utilizing what they learned by the end of the semester,” he explained. “It is very rewarding to see that you’ve actually made a difference.”

To Calabrese, communication skills are an essential element for students to have when interviewing for jobs after college, something Dominican as an institution strives to instill in its graduates.

“There is a lot of literature that shows that there is a correlation between one’s communication skills and the likelihood of them being noticed in an organization,” Calabrese said.  “The people that know how to network and present themselves are the ones that tend to be fast-tracked. Dominican wants everyone who graduates to be able to write well, but we are also concerned that they are able to present themselves well orally.”

Whether teaching students to express their emotions more or showing them how to slow down their speech patterns may sound easy, Calabrese explained how difficult teaching interpersonal communications skills could be since every student has varying levels of comfort.

“The challenging part is convincing students that in order to grow they have to take some risks. At this age, students are very self-conscious about being perceived as different and have a hard time leaving their area of comfort. Motivating them to take a risk is hard and most of the risks I ask them to take are asking them to become more helpful. I want them to help other people and become leaders in society.”