The spring semester of 2014 saw two momentous events in the department. We hosted our first ever Executive in Residence, Kari Warberg Block, and we held a Student Recognition Dinner to honor our Lambda Pi Eta, Communication Ambassadors, and International Association of Business Communicators members, as well as our outstanding research award winners, graduate teaching assistants, and outstanding alumna of the year (see these full stories elsewhere in the newsletter). Both the Executive in Residence and the recognition dinner will become yearly standards within the department.
Events such as these build the culture of the department. Over the past several years, we have developed the theme that ‘Communication is key to a better self, better life, and better future.’ Two years ago, alumnus John Rowley, political campaign consultant and partner at Fletcher/Rowley in Nashville, led two savvy grad students, Ryan Dearbone and Ian Brandon, and me through a brain-storming process that led us to our focus on keys as our department’s ‘condensation symbols.’ A condensation symbol crystallizes meanings. For us, ‘key’ has provided a visual and metaphoric point of focus for what we in the department do, why we do it and how it works.
So, when we choose events, we look for those which support the idea of keying into the future through learning how communication theories and skills open the locks of jobs and the whole range of challenges our students will encounter. In the fall, we bring in a disciplinary superstar researcher and teacher and in the spring, a charismatic and successful professional person. Together, they show students how learning unlocks achievement. And then, we will gather together to celebrate our students’ successes and service. That’s a great way to end the year!