Melissa Newman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Communication
Department of Communication Studies Chair

Dr. Melissa Newman joined the Communication Studies Department in 2015. She has served as a communication professor for the past 14 years at schools in Texas, Nebraska, and California. Newman is personally committed to the mission of PLNU as one who shapes, instructs, and mentors students in a “learning community where grace is foundational, truth is pursued and holiness is a way of life.” She loves teaching, advising students, and mentoring them as they pursue their vocational calling. Most recently, Dr. Newman was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award at PLNU (2021).

As a communication scholar, Newman is interested in how people use messages to create meaning, interpersonally and within organizations, and how the social influence of communication affects all aspects of public and private life. For her dissertation, she conducted in-depth interviews with Christian young adults across the U.S. to explore how they used Facebook for religious and/or spiritual purposes and if they perceived any satisfaction from doing so. She has also written on the importance of media literacy as it relates to young adult Instagram use.

Prior to working in higher education, Newman worked as a national event planner for two major national ministry conventions, served as an international sales representative for a publishing company, and worked in marketing for a sports news network.


  • Ph.D., Organizational Communication and Journalism, Regent University
  • M.A., Communication, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • B.A., Speech Communication, Colorado State University, Fort Collins

Courses Taught

  • Principles of Human Communication - COM 1000
  • Small Group Communication - COM 2020
  • Introduction to Research in Communication - COM 2065
  • Organizational Communication - COM 3040
  • Leadership Communication - COM 3045
  • Professional Speaking for Career Settings - COM 3060 
  • Communication Internship - COM 4021
  • Communication Training and Development - COM 4050
  • Communication Theories and Research - COM 4065
  • Rhetorical Critical Communication - HON 1001 (Humanities Honors Program)

Experience in Field

  • Associate Professor of Communication, Point Loma Nazarene University, 2015 – present  
  • Assistant Professor of Communication, Dallas Baptist University (DBU), 2002 – 2015
  • Adjunct Professor, San Diego City College, 2013 – 2015
  • Adjunct Professor, Lamar University, 2015
  • Adjunct Professor, Nebraska Wesleyan University, 2007 – 2011

Awards and Honors

  • Academic Advisor of the Year, Dallas Baptist University, 2004 
  • Fellow, DBU Summer Faculty Institute on "Christian Liberal Arts Education,” 2002
  • Winner, Joann Slaughter Community Service Award, 1995
  • Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Inducted 1992

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • Newman, M.J. (April, 2019). Posting the Sacred: Young Adults Use of Social Media for Religious Expression. Paper presented at Popular Culture Association National Convention, Washington D.C.
  • Newman, M.J. (2018). My little princess: Exploring mothers' experiences of their daughter's parasocial relationships with Disney princesses. Visual Inquiry: Learning & Teaching Art, 7:2, pp. 141-51, doi: 10.1386/vi.7.2.141_1
  • Newman, M.J. (February, 2018). To Princess or Not to Princess: The Challenge of the Mindful Mother. Paper presented at Western States Communication Association Convention, Santa Clara, CA.
  • Newman, M.J. (2017). Decolonizing Disney Princesses: Maternal Restrictions on Parasocial Princess Interactions. Paper presented at Popular Culture Association National Convention, San Diego, CA.
  • Newman, M.J. (2015). Image and identity: Media literacy for young adult Instagram users. Visual Inquiry: Learning & Teaching Art. 4 (3) pp. 221–227.
  • Newman, M.J. (2013). “Liking” Facebook: An Investigation of Faith-Based Uses and Effects of the Social Network among Christian Young Adults (Doctoral Dissertation). ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013.