In our increasingly polarized society, it is easy for one to lose hope in the goodness of humanity. Niall Brennan, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication, serves as a living example of what it means to be good and be good to others. 

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Brennan moved to Fort Collins, Colo. with his family at the age of six. He attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art history, and ended up staying in California for four years. After working in retail, software and publishing, Brennan earned his master’s degree in media studies from the New School in New York City. 

Following his graduation from the New School in 2000, Brennan remained in New York to continue careers in advertising and social media. Eventually, he traveled to London, England to receive his Ph. D. in media and communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He notes that the United Kingdom attracted him due to its strong tradition of cultural studies. 

Brennan continued his service for others in London by simultaneously educating students in the media and communication fields at LSE and Birkbeck College. 

Brennan also taught English in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the experience from which his fluency in Portuguese stems. 

After returning to New York from Rio, Brennan served as adjunct faculty in Fairfield University’s department of communication from 2013 until 2015. He would go on to achieve the title of assistant professor in 2018, which he still holds to the present day. 

Upon asking Brennan if there was any noticeable change after becoming a full time faculty member at Fairfield, he remarked, “I assumed a new title, a new role, which I welcomed into the classroom. I made a long-term commitment to my students, Fairfield University and to myself.” 

It is clear from this that Brennan is deeply committed to the well-being and success of his students, and to the social mission of Fairfield University. 

This semester, Brennan is teaching “Mass Media and Society,” “Reality Media and Society,” and “Capstone: Research Methods.” He expresses that the benefit of taking a course in the communication discipline is that it provides students with the opportunity to see the various intersections between courses. 

Brennan is also the chair of the Admissions and Scholarship Committee, just winning reelection this past week. He is also on the committees for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Liberal Professional Studies. 

Brennan’s scholarship includes, “RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Shifting Visibility of Drag Culture: The Boundaries of Reality TV.” He briefly summarized his co-edited book as a “multinational, cross perspective view on the television show, ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’” and how this show has reshaped drag culture in the United States and abroad. Brennan is currently working on a new book on drag in the digital era.

For students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brennan offers some of his advice. “Communication is key” between student and instructor. He specifically expresses the importance of remaining connected as a community during these uncertain times. Brennan closed our conversation with a direct message to the student body. 

“I am a representative for inclusivity and diversity. I am a contact for all students who feel outside the main framework of campus culture and a faculty representative of the LGBTQ+ community.”

The next time you see Dr. Brennan around campus, I encourage you to approach him. Brennan is a tremendously understanding and thoughtful individual that truly cares about students. It is people like him that make Fairfield a home. 

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