Associate Professor, Rhetoric and Public Communication
What year did you start working at NIU? 1988.
Where is your hometown, and where do you live now?
I was born in Covington, GA, and now live in DeKalb, IL.
Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
B.A., University of Vermont; M.A., Northern Illinois University; Ph.D., University of Missouri — Columbia.
What do you like about working at NIU?
It has been the great honor of my life to return to Northern where I earned my M.A. degree. I came back because I really enjoyed the faculty in my department.
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Please attend class and stay in touch with your professor! If you must miss class, please e-mail your professor to explain your situation. We really do care about your success in class, but we can't help a student if they don't reach out to us.
Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
My research focuses on American political communication and presidential rhetoric specifically. It is important for students to critically engage in these topics. Teaching students how to evaluate a presidential speech or a political campaign spot is particularly important every fall during elections.
What do you hope students take away from your class?
I hope students become more critical consumers of political communication in all of its forms.
What is your favorite campus event?
My favorite event is marshaling at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ commencement ceremonies every December and May. I truly enjoy watching my students graduate!
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
Graduating with my Master of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from NIU.
Who has influenced your professional path?
My M.A. advisor, Dr. Richard Johannesen, who was also later my department chair when I returned to NIU, has greatly influenced my professional growth and focus.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I originally wanted to be an astronaut, but participating in high school debate and forensics led me to an undergraduate debate scholarship. I still enjoy judging debate and speech rounds.
Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I am a longtime member of the National Communication Association as well as regional and state associations that promote the teaching, research, and practice of oral communication.
What community organizations are you involved in?
I am currently president of the DeKalb Lions Club, and president of the Friends of the NIU Libraries. I am also the worthy patron for the DeKalb Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, and serve as senior warden for the DeKalb Masonic Lodge #144.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy golfing in the NIU Golf League every summer.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I can't believe that I have been teaching at NIU for 30-plus years! Every day is still a great adventure in learning something new and engaging my students in new communication research.