Melissa Cook portrait
Phone: 724-503-1001 x3376
Office: Burnett Center Office #010 or Academic Affairs Suite-Thompson, 2nd Floor


Ask me about....

The posters on the wall speak volumes--I am a Bruce Springsteen fan. Ask me how many live concerts I've attended, all with my sister by my side. I teach an FYS course centered on social and political advocacy in modern American music. I enjoy acting as the faculty mentor for the W&J Softball team.

Melissa Cook, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Communication Arts; Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Degrees: Ph.D. Rhetoric, Duquesne University; Masters of Public Administration, University of Pittsburgh; B.A., Washington & Jefferson College

Melissa A. Cook, Ph.D. joined W&J College as an assistant professor of Communication Arts in 2016 and served as Department Chair from 2017-22. Dr. Cook teaches courses in public relations, rhetoric & communication theory, communication ethics and political communication, and she also teaches in the conflict & resolution studies program. In 2022 she was appointed Associate Dean of Academic Affairs-student support. You can find her in Burnett office #010 or in the Academic Affairs suite of offices on the 2nd floor of Thompson.

Prior to returning to W&J, Dr. Cook was an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at St. Vincent College, and the director of the College’s Fred Rogers Scholars Program. From 1998 to 2004, Melissa taught as an adjunct instructor in W&J’s Theatre and Communications department while she was completing her Ph.D. in Rhetoric at Duquesne University. She is a proud alumna of W&J, Class of 1990, and the University of Pittsburgh (GSPIA).

Dr. Cook brings management and leadership experience from her work in non-profit organizations and banking. Her research interests include communication ethics as they apply to organizations, communities, families and personal relationships; presidential campaign rhetoric; and public relations. Her dissertation title was, “The Scholarship and Praxis of Communication Ethics: Rhetorical Interruptions in Historical Narratives.” In collaboration with Dr. Annette Holba, Dr. Cook edited the book Philosophies of Communication: Implications for Everyday Experience, published by Peter Lang Publishers in 2008.

Dr. Cook is the faculty advisor for the W&J Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), where students host alumni and friends of the College who are PR professionals for monthly meetings. These professionals share their expertise with the students and some invite us to tour PR agencies and businesses in the Pittsburgh area.

The Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Honor Society recognizes the academic accomplishments of students who major or minor in communication arts. Dr. Cook is the faculty advisor of LPH and holds an annual induction ceremony each year. LPH members act as tutors for our department and participate in community building and philanthropy in the city of Washington.

Melissa and her husband, David (W&J ’89) live in Washington with their children, Catherine (W&J ’18) and David, Jr (W&J ’22), and their dog, Finn.


  • Cook, Melissa A., and Annette Holba, editors. Philosophies of Communication: Implications for Everyday Experience. Peter Lang, 2008. Link to entry