Kathryn ‘Kate’ Cady

Kathryn ‘Kate’ Cady

No two sessions are ever the same in the communications classes taught by Kate Cady, Ph.D.

Through much of her instruction is in lecture halls filled with new students each semester, to many her class feels more like a small coffee shop, where thought-provoking discussions, openness, patience and unparalleled learning are expected for everyone.

On the first day each semester, Cady presents her classes with a survey. The results give the students a say in their experience, helping tailor the class to their desires and learning styles.

Cady then welcomes them to break into debates and discussions on pertinent topics, no matter how controversial, inspiring students to learn and defend their views.

“She takes the values and policies chosen by the students and morphs her curriculum to reflect those results, creating a unique classroom experience for everyone involved,” student Alec Heaton said. “I have never seen such flexibility in an instructor and such skill is something to be truly appreciated.”

For many years, Cady’s teaching style has earned her excellence in undergraduate education awards from her department. In 2019, she earned an NIU Presidential Excellence in Undergraduate Education award.

“I can never put into words how inspiring and driven Dr. Kate Cady is,” student Alexis Marckess said. “I never thought a professor could motivate me to attend a three-hour-long night course in the middle of a DeKalb winter.”

Cady said she’s thrilled by the award, and by knowing that students see her as a helpful resource.

“I am so honored and touched by winning this award. I want students to critically learn about our culture and diverse people, while also knowing that I am supportive of them and on their side,” she said. “It seems my students have understood that. It feels amazing to me.”

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