Travis Russ, teaching communication through art
Interviews | Feb 11, 2016 | Gabelli School of Business
By Victoria Cleveland
Associate Professor Travis Russ does more than teach at the Gabelli School of Business. He helps to train minds through theater. Find out more about him in this interview, edited only for length and clarity:
Q. Tell us about your job and what you do at the Gabelli School of Business.
A. I’m an associate professor in Communications and Media Management. This is going on my ninth academic year. On the undergraduate level, I teach the business communications courses and career exploration course, and on the graduate level, I teach the leadership communication course and communication for entrepreneurs, The Storytelling Project, and a series of other courses. What ties everything together is that I teach students the theory and applied perspective to enhancing their communication effectiveness in the workplace.
A. When I moved to New York City, I went into corporate training at Macy’s headquarters, and I taught their executives pretty much the same skills of how to be an effective communicator within that context. I was teaching everybody from people in the finance department to people who worked in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade how to work better by being a more effective communicator. Then I worked at Starbucks’ corporate office doing a similar job.
Q. What do you like to do in your time away from work?
A. I am the artistic director of LifeJacket Theater Company. I started my own theater company, and we produce Off-Broadway shows. It was started approximately one year ago. We have a new show that will be produced Off-Broadway in May about the life of Edward Gorey, a 20th-century writer and artist, and it will be performed at HERE Arts Center. It will be a fully professional production with a three-week run.
Q. How do you see the business world mixing with the artistic world?
A. It’s very rare to have a communication department in a business school, so I think that says a lot about Fordham and the Jesuit philosophy of cura personalis, of teaching the whole person. Students are not just getting the important finance, accounting, and marketing skills, but they are also learning how to articulate their ideas out in the workplace and in the world.
There is a marriage between the great idea and the ability to articulate it. We’re exploring the option of building the relationship with arts and sciences.