Barbara Irwin


Ph.D. in Communication, University at Buffalo.
M.A. in Communication, University at Buffalo.
B.A. in Communication and Psychology, University at Buffalo 2108 Office: LY 321

Barbara J. Irwin, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Communication Studies department where she specializes in the areas of broadcasting and mass communication. Her research interests include the behind-the-scenes development and creation of television programming, children’s media, the study of daytime soap operas, and the impact of the mass media on today's society. Dr. Irwin is the founding director of the Canisius College Video Institute, which engages students in the production of social documentaries and service-oriented videos – all connected by the theme of social justice. These projects promote discourse on ethical, social and cultural issues relevant to the world today.  To date, the Video Institute has produced projects for over 90 non-profit organizations and has sent students around the world to produce documentary films. Dr. Irwin works closely with students to guide them as they develop their video and film projects, many of which have earned national awards and have been screened at film festivals. She also directs the Internship Program in Communication Studies, placing students in positions that help prepare them to pursue careers in their chosen field. A best-selling author, Dr. Irwin has co-authored two books about television's highest-rated soap opera, The Young and the Restless. Prior to joining the faculty at Canisius, Dr. Irwin worked at WNED-TV on, among other projects, the Emmy Award-winning PBS television series, Reading Rainbow. A native Buffalonian, she lives with her husband, James and their Labrador retriever, Juno, a certified therapy dog who often visits Canisius to help students de-stress.


  • Faculty Fellow, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Chosen by selection committee to participate in discussions, presentations and interactions with major studios, production companies, the networks and their top production and programming people. (Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 2011)
  • Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award – Presented by the Alumni Association of Canisius College in recognition of teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to the academic world. (May, 2009)
  • Alpha Sigma Lambda, Beta Kappa Chapter, Canisius College – National Honor Society for Adult Learning in Continuing Higher Education member (inducted May 2006).
  • Lambda Pi Eta, Nu Upsilon Chapter, University at Buffalo – National Communication Association Honor Society member (inducted October 2003).


Cassata, Mary and Irwin, Barbara (1996). The Young and the Restless: Most Memorable Moments. Los Angeles: General Publishing Group, Inc. (NY Times Bestseller)

Irwin, Barbara and Cassata, Mary (1998). The Young and the Restless Special Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition. Los Angeles: General Publishing Group, Inc.

Irwin, Barbara J. & Cassata, Mary (2012, March). The American Soap Opera Genre at the Crossroads: An Analysis of its Past, Present, and Future. In Our Time Digest, Hallwalls Edition. This article accompanied Buffalo – Our Time, Artist Sarah Baker’s art installation devoted to soap opera. Hallwalls Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Irwin, Barbara J. & Cassata, Mary (2010). Perspectives on the State of the U.S. Soap Opera. In S. Ford, A. DeKosnik, & C.L. Harrington (Eds.), The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.