Anand Rao

Professor of Communication and Department Chair

  • Fredericksburg VA UNITED STATES
  • Communication and Digital Studies

Dr. Rao specializes in communication and social media issues.




The stereotype of current college students goes something like this: they spend most of their time glued to their smartphones, are more comfortable texting than talking, and live and breathe social media.

Anand Rao, professor of communication at the University of Mary Washington, doesn’t disagree that new technologies have shaped Millennials, but, for him, the principles of good communication carry over into the realm of social media. In fact Dr. Rao teaches an upper-level communication course on social media, in which students explore the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly digital world.

Dr. Rao also is the director of UMW’s Speaking Intensive program and the Speaking Center. His articles have been published in journals and books on such topics as rhetoric and the courts, and political debate, and he has delivered numerous scholarly presentations throughout the United States and around the world. Recently, he was a technical and creative consultant on College Sports Television’s documentary about the National Debate Tournament, and he worked on his own documentary on collegiate debate and the Mary Washington Debate Team.

Dr. Rao has worked with students on local film projects and directed UMW’s entry in the 48-hour Film Project. Dr. Rao also studies uses of new media, including social networking, blogging, micro-blogging, and convergence media presentation to communicate in interpersonal and broadcast settings. Dr. Rao helped develop UMW’s new major in Communication and Digital Studies, and he currently serves as its program director.

A member of the Golden Key national honor society, Dr. Rao was the recipient of the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship and was selected by the Committee on International Debate and Discussion to represent the United States on a debate tour of Japan in 1993. He currently is vice-chair of the National Association of Communication Centers and is past president of the American Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology.

Areas of Expertise

Public Speaking
Social Media


University of Pittsburgh


Post-Graduate Studies

University of Pittsburgh


Graduate Studies

University of Pittsburgh


Undergraduate Studies

Media Appearances

Teaching Tip: Navigating AI in the Classroom

Inside Higher Education  online


Anand Rao, professor of communication at the University of Mary Washington, introduces students to low- and no-code options to build their own generative AI tools in his special topics course on digital studies.

View More

The Age of AI: AI in the Classroom

With Good Reason  online


Many teachers are scared about the impact AI will have on cheating. But Anand Rao of the University of Mary Washington says most of his students will be using AI in the workplace once they graduate. So he encourages them to use AI on assignments and coaches them on how to use it appropriately.

View More

Professors Turn to ChatGPT to Teach Students a Lesson

The Wall Street Journal  online


Rao discussed the impact the generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, will have on knowledge production.

View More

Show All +


GREAT LIVES: Gandhi's influence on the American civil rights movement

The Free Lance-Star

P. Anand Rao


While touring India in 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Mani Bhavan, the house where Mahatma Gandhi had lived in Mumbai. It was in this home that Gandhi launched his Indian movement for truth and nonviolence, called satyagraha. The home had been turned into a museum, and the upstairs room where Gandhi had slept still held his mattress and shoes. When King visited, he asked if he could spend the night in that room, saying, “I am not going anywhere else. I am going to stay here, because I am getting vibrations of Gandhi.” The curators pulled two cots into the room, and Rev. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, spent the night next to Gandhi’s mattress. Soon after, King told All India Radio that he had decided to adopt Gandhi’s methods of civil disobedience as his own.

View more

Supporting Advocacy, Deliberation, and Civic Learning in the Classroom

UMW Faculty Learning Community

P. Anand Rao et al.


We live, teach and learn in complicated times. As faculty in higher education, we have the opportunity to help uphold the civic purpose of higher education. We are accustomed to helping students navigate academic information, and to equipping them for more standard academic tasks. Through thoughtful course design, we can also help our students become better consumers and evaluators of less traditionally academic information: from critically interpreting what they read and see in the news media, to engaging the arguments of their friends, peers and family members. Further, we can challenge our students to use these evaluative skills to engage in debate and advocacy activities around critical issues of the day.

View more

Powered by