Founding Director of both the Graduate
Program and of the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center,
Emeritus (2009) Professor of Communications and Media Studies,
Phelan came to Fordham as Chairman of the then Communications
Department to redesign the curriculum in 1968 when Marshall McLuhan
was Schweitzer Professor of Communications. He later designed
and established the graduate program in Public [Interest] Communications.
An activist among many public interest groups, Phelan has addressed
the UN NGO Committee for Disarmament at the UN Non-Proliferation
Renewal Treaty Conference, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
during the anti-apartheid hearings, and the Biennial Congress
of the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as international
conferences on communications and politics in London, Madrid,
Dubrovnik and elsewhere. He has appeared on CNN's International
Hour as well as local cable political affairs programs and was
the writer and talent for WFUV's Politics of Media series during
the Gulf War and the presidential elections of 1988 and 1992.
Author of the "media" and "advertising"
entries for Routledge's 1996 Encyclopedic Dictionary of Ethics
and Society, Phelan has addressed media systems in the context
of ethics, political economy, and literary criticism in all his
major books: Apartheid Media: Disinformation and Dissent in
South Africa (1987), done in association with the Yale-Wesleyan
Southern Africa Research Program; Disenchantment: Meaning
and Morality in the Media (1980); and Mediaworld: Programming
the Public (1977).
His work has won the public praise of scholars
such as Herbert Schiller, James Carey, Leonard Thompson, and
Leonard Doob and of activists such as Robert McChesney and the
late Michael Harrington.
His Ph.D. in Communications was earned under
Charles Siepmann at NYU and he was Research Affiliate for post-doc
work at Yale's Center for International Studies. At Fordham College
Phelan has served as Senior Evaluator of the Values Program and
as Seminar Director for the Honors Program for a decade. At various
times he has initiated and offered the Public Communications
Ethics Seminar; Senior Values Seminars in Dissent, in Censorship,
in New Media Politics and undergraduate Honors Seminars in Mass
Opinion. Since the renewal ratification of the Non-Proliferation
Treaty Phelan had instituted an on-site Seminar in NGO Communications
at the United Nations. This led to further courses on Think Tank