Founding Director of both the Public Interest Communications
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 Department's Graduate Program as well.
An activist member among many public interest
groups, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National
Media Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, 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
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 [USC], James Carey [Columbia], Leonard
Thompson [Yale], and Leonard Doob [Yale] and of activists such
as Robert McChesney of Free Press [Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]
and Michael Harrington, Chair of Democratic Socialists of America
and creator of The Other America.
Phelan's 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 and Area Studies,
Southern Africa Research Program.
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
as well as 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 had led to further courses on Think Tank
Lobbying as well as the establishment with James Van Oosting
[Fordham] of Moral Citizenship and Media Literacy.