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Thomas Mwanika

Obituary of Thomas Mwanika

Dr. Thomas J. Mwanika It is with great sadness that I share with you the passing of Thomas Mwanika, SUNY Cortland professor emeritus of communication and media studies, who died during the final week of January, having suffered a stroke some years ago. Thomas, the founding chair of SUNY Cortland’s Communication and Media Studies Department, joined the university in 1983 and retired in 2014. He was known as a dedicated, innovative and student-centered teacher and scholar. He received a doctorate from Michigan State University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Wisconsin. His teaching and scholarship focused on communication research, statistical methods, intercultural communication and general semantics. Tom developed and taught the general education course COM 380: Presentation Competency as well as electives in communication research, statistical methods, intercultural communication and general semantics. During his career at SUNY Cortland, Tom was acting coordinator of International Studies and director of the Clark Center for International Education. As a visiting professor, he taught at Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. In turn, Tom hosted that university’s scholar and journalist Ilie Rad. He served as project director for the State University of New York-Kenya Educational Partnership project (SKEP), funded in part through USAID, and presented his scholarship at numerous state and national conferences. Tom was an early user of classroom technology, including Blackboard and WebCT for both online classes and classroom instruction. He chaired his department twice and served on numerous departmental and university committees, including the Center for Intercultural and Gender Studies Advisory Board. The Communication and Media Studies Department created the Thomas O. Mwanika Award, presented to students for outstanding research, leadership, and character. The Wright-Beard Funeral Home in Cortland is handling arrangements which are pending. The preceding was composed by SUNY Cortland President Dr. Erik J. Bitterbaum. To offer online condolences, please visit