Dr. Tammy Jeffries joins the WKU Department of Communication in the fall of 2014 as a Visiting Minority Scholar. Dr. Jeffries brings with her a passion for teaching, a record of scholarly achievement, and interest in continuing conversations on race in the department, college and university.
Dr. Jeffries visited the department early in the spring semester to interview and teach a class, and on February 20, 2014, presented a lecture to students and faculty on an “Autoethnographical Exploration of Racial ‘I’dentity.”
Dr. Jeffries earned her Ph.D. from the University of South Florida in August, 2013. Her dissertation analyzed interpersonal communication textbooks to uncover the assumptions of diversity education they contain. She discovered they presented diversity as an issue of national distinctions and differences, or intercultural, rather than as related to racial and ethnic relations within the United States, or cross-cultural. Dr. Jeffries plans to teach Interracial Communication, continuing Dr. Carey’s legacy in the department.
Dr. Jeffries comes from Michigan, where she has been teaching for the past year. We are looking forward to having Dr. Jeffries as part of our program faculty.
Check out senior Sarah Beach’s honors thesis on teen girls’ blogs. Way to go Sarah!
‘A New Kind of Body Project: Blogging and the American Teen Girl’ by Sarah E. Beach.
Dr. Cecile Garmon planned to visit the United Kingdom this May with Department of Communication students, yet her study abroad program has since been canceled. The aforementioned trip would have run from May 18th through May 31st. The trip promised to be valuable as students would have had the opportunity to choose specific areas in politics, art, social structure, religion, and history in an effort to examine the aspects of British leadership communication reflected in those fields. “We had some unique experiences planned,” Dr. Garmon explained, “such as a private tour of Parliament with an interview with a sitting member of Parliament.” The cancellation comes as a disappointment to Dr. Garmon who is no stranger to study abroad programs. “I have taken students to study abroad for nearly 40 years,” she said, recalling trips to Spain, Mexico, England, France and Scotland.
Though the trip offered a shorter stay compared to Study Abroad programs like Harlaxton and Semester at Sea, Dr. Garmon recognizes the value of shorter trips overseas. “The shorter visits are easier to schedule. Students and faculty are all very busy and a shorter trip can provide a great variety of experiences.” Dr. Garmon also admits that shorter stays allow less time to become acclimated to the culture, which creates a need for strong programs. Though shorter trips abroad are cheaper, she does speculate that financial burdens led to the lack of participation in the program. On a positive note, Dr. Garmon thinks that in the spirit of becoming a university with international reach, the array of Study Abroad programs that WKU offers has increased competition between the programs themselves as they seek to recruit students.
Dr. Garmon has not relented on stressing the importance of study abroad programs, despite the cancellation. She believes that Communication majors specifically have more room to send their talents abroad than other disciplines and while the lessons they learn in the U.S. are valuable, actual cross cultural adventures abroad are vital. Dr. Garmon commented, “We can talk about it extensively in class, but there is no substitute for the actual experience.” The setback has not put any damper on Dr. Garmon’s yearning to travel, and while there are no Study Abroad programs on her agenda in the near future, she plans to go overseas very soon.
Dr. Mittie K. Carey, the WKU Department of Communication Visiting Minority Scholar, leaves a legacy of care, insight, and inclusion as she finishes her two year term on our faculty. The department celebrated Dr. Carey with a farewell luncheon on May 7, 2014.
Dr. Carey earned her Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Memphis in the spring of 2012. Her dissertation, “The Freedom Faith Speeches of Prathia Hall: Uncovering a Hybrid Rhetoric of Protest,” formed the basis of special topics classes at WKU.
Dr. Carey focused departmental attention on civil rights, women, and rhetoric through the graduate and undergraduate courses she taught. Field trips to Memphis’ Civil Rights Museum, world café conversations on race, and a course on Interracial Communication found expression here because of Dr. Carey. Further, Dr. Carey served on a university level committee devoted to diversity and inclusion across the campus.
Dr. Carey returns to Memphis at the end of her appointment to rejoin her husband and family. We wish her well in all she does, knowing her talent will take her far.
This semester, we welcomed a new course in the Department of Communication, offered to students in the spring 2014 semester only. Dr. Riverson Rios, a visiting professor from Universidade Federal de Ceará in Brazil, taught the course. With a Ph.D. in Computer Science, Dr. Rios was delighted to teach students about cyber culture and help them to understand how the digital world is changing the way we communicate. Dr. Rios has abundant experience through his research and teaching this course at universities in Canada and Brazil. Through his years of experience, he has acquired a variety of literature to share with students.
The special topics course allowed the students to focus on several pieces of literature centering around a variety of topics related to the World Wide Web. Each student created his or her own blogs. They were encouraged to post their own ideas and thoughts about specific topics that can be accessed by anyone. Since technology has become a necessity in our personal and professional lives, Dr. Rios, encourages students to study topics that can be applied to all careers. Students also had the opportunity to create a presentation and write a research paper on any topic they chose.
Dr. Rios hoped students would further their knowledge about a specific aspect of the cyber culture, be able to apply that to their fields of interest and create new knowledge about it. The students were very enthusiastic about their one-time opportunity to take this course because of its relevance.
Elyse Madigan, a student enrolled in the course pointed out, “This course has really opened my eyes about the underlying aspects of the internet and how our communication is connected.” Dr. Rios stated, “Technology is a part of everyone’s life. That’s why it is important to know more about what is going on, how the web is changing our lives, our culture, our society, our educational system, our government, our relationships with people, our brains.” Dr. Rios brought a unique perspective of the cyber world to our university, and we have welcomed this idea of technology in the Department of Communication.
Studying abroad is an important and constantly evolving component of a WKU education. In fact, it has become such an anticipated part of students’ college experiences that individual departments have begun creating specialized Study Abroad programs so their students can study abroad within their major.
Dr. Donna Schiess led the most recent Department of Communication study abroad trip to Australia, particularly Melbourne, Warrnambool, and Fiji Island. Sites visited on the trip included the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, Lady Bay Beach, and the Wildlife Park exhibit, where students were given the opportunity to interact with wild kangaroos, wallabies, and koala bears. This trip was Dr. Schiess’ first opportunity to teach abroad, and she said, “I really enjoyed it.” When asked what she felt was the biggest benefit for Communication students of the trip, she stated, “I feel the interactions with some of the Australian students and teachers were great for them because they were able to see the differences in educational practices in communication. Not everything can be learned out of a book, so it was a lot more experiential for them in regards to learning and observing intercultural communication practices.”
Paige Freeman, a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, enjoyed her time on the trip, describing it as “life-changing, peaceful, and fun.” She said her favorite part of the trip was “interacting with the Fijians and observing their style of communication and love for celebration through music” because she felt that part of her communication background was also a “reflection of music.” Further, she described the most challenging part of her trip was also an interaction with the Fijians as she tried to learn parts of their language and found that “it was very different and consisted of different forms of communication but shared the same meaning.” While abroad, Freeman completed courses in Intercultural Communication and Special Topics in Communication. She suggested other potential courses that could benefit from being taught abroad would include Leadership Communication and Small Group Communication.
All students and faculty, both from WKU and Australia’s Deakin University, benefitted greatly from the cultural interactions inspired by this Study Abroad trip. To see future study abroad opportunities at WKU and in the Department of Communication, visit https://www.wku.edu/studyabroad/.
Close to thirty competitors met on May 9, 2104, presenting persuasive speeches prepared in COMM 145 and 161. A first rate set of judges, including coaches from the world and national champion WKU Forensic team, evaluated and ranked the first and second round of speeches. Celebrity judges John Lyne (Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, department alumnus and award donor), Larry Winn (Emeritus Professor of the WKU Department of Communication), Dean David Lee (Dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters), Blair Thompson (Co-director of COMM 145 and 161) and Helen Sterk (Head of the Department of Communication) chose the top winners.
Representing the best speeches in COMM 145 were
¨ First place: Tabitha Heller. Instructor: Patricia Witcher. Glasgow campus.
¨ Second place: Brittany Murphy. Instructor: Donna Schiess. Main campus.
¨ Third place: Sydney Moad. Instructor: Gina Lyon. Dual credit student.
Representing the best speeches in COMM 161 were
¨ First place: Erica Plummer. Instructor: Jessica McClanahan. Main campus.
¨ Second place: Elvis Meskovic. Instructor: Gayle Allison. Main campus.
¨ Third place: McKinze Vowels. Instructor: Stacey Gish. Main campus.
Congratulations are due to everyone who competed. Being nominated as the best speaker from a class is an honor. Competing creates new skills.
And it is an honor to win. Congratulations go to all of the students who took first, second or third place.