It is with profound sadness that the College of Arts, Media and Design announces the passing of Professor Dale Herbeck. An exceptional teacher, administrator, and scholar, Dale was a leader in the field of Communication Studies and a beloved and award-winning educator. He will be sorely missed.
An expert on communication law, cyberlaw, and freedom of expression, Dale served as chair of the Communication Studies Department from 2012 to 2021 and undertook the mission of motivating and recognizing student scholarship. Dale’s unparalleled investment in the development of the Communications Studies department had a profound effect on teaching, enriching the student experience with innovative courses, strong instructors and a cohesive plan of study.
As department chair, he worked tirelessly to reform the curriculum, adding a dozen new courses, reinvigorating summer course offerings and doubling the size of the tenure-track faculty through intensive search processes, while always prioritizing the interests of students and faculty. He worked to ensure faculty were in a position to do their best research and creative work, giving the department a national and international profile. After 10 years as Department Chair, he returned to the faculty in 2022.
As a teacher and mentor, he was sincerely invested in helping students grow both intellectually and professionally, frequently remarking to colleagues that teaching was the best part of his job. He was known to attend undergraduate student presentations at academic conferences, supporting with a continuous thumbs up from his seat in the audience.
“Dr. Herbeck worked to put people in the best position to succeed and support them however they needed,” says Communication Studies Chair María Elena Villar. “If you needed a kind word of encouragement to get through your day, you could always count on him, but if you needed an hour-long phone call to talk through an issue, he was there for that as well. He would check in to make sure those around him had what they needed—not just to function, but to thrive.”
Dale’s leadership and excellence has been recognized by the National Communication Association, the American Forensic Association and the Commission on Freedom of Expression, organizations in which he also served as president and committee chair. Among dozens of other honors and awards, in 2006 he received the discipline’s highest award in this area: the Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship on Freedom of Expression from the National Communication Association. He produced eight editions of the field’s premier textbook, Freedom of Speech and published more than 50 book chapters and peer-reviewed articles. He was also the editor or associate editor of a dozen journals in Communication Studies, as well as an office holder in multiple professional associations.
Dale studied Communication and Political Science at Augustana College before receiving his Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa in 1988. Prior to joining Northeastern University, he was Professor of Communication Studies and Department Chair at Boston College, the Phi Beta Kappa chapter of which awarded him a Teaching Award for his excellence in the classroom.
On behalf of the entire college, Dean Elizabeth Hudson extends deepest condolences to Dale’s family, friends, students and colleagues.