Meet Dr. Kathy Denker, Associate Professor of Communication Studies who just got elected second VP of the Central States Communication Association. Dr. Denker holds a PhD from the University of Missouri and has been with Ball State since 2009. In this interview, she shares her story and perspectives as an educator, researcher and communication leader.
Could you share the personal journey that led you to become a Professor in Communication Studies?
I came to the field of communication studies late, switching from a variety of majors before hand and finally finding my passion and the interpersonal communication class that I took. After completing an independent study my senior year, my project advisor encouraged me to apply to grad school. I went to graduate school at the same place I got my undergraduate, not knowing where else to look. And it was in my graduate assistantship for my masters that I found my passion. Working with students who were reticent or highly apprehensive and getting them comfortable in a public speaking situation felt like a major win. My research turned towards classroom issues that would help students succeed, and what encourages a voice in the classroom. After my masters program, I worked for a bit, but then found my way back into applying to graduate programs to get a PhD so that I could teach for the long term. The classroom is where I find the most purpose, my passion, and my motivation.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My main philosophy statement is over 2 pages long, so I will do my best to give you a short summary! As a teacher, it is my joy to share with the undergraduate and graduate students the transformative power and agency that can be achieved through the study of communication. Communication allows us to connect meaningfully with others, to influence decisions, to motivate change, and to transform society.
What is your research focus?
I am interested in exploring how power and voice work in interpersonal and instructional communication contexts.
You just got elected to leadership in the Central States Communication Association (CSCA). Could you share why you decided to run for office?
I have been attending CSCA since I was a masters student at UNO, it has always been a great resource for me in my career. I have had the opportunity to serve in division leadership, as the exhibits hall coordinator, and as member at large for the organization. This was the second time that I was asked to run, and I felt like I was getting to a place in my career where I would have more time to devote to this. I am hoping to give back just some of what all this organization has given me.
What are you hoping to accomplish as CSCA’s Second VP?
Helping the organization continue its strong traditions, learning where I can help, building further the Next Leader’s Network programs that I started with Tiffany Wang last year, supporting the important initiatives under way in the organization, listing to the needs of members and supporting them, giving back some of what the organization has given to me, and then moving through leadership.
What was the proudest moment in your career?
That is a hard one, I have really enjoyed watching our graduate students win teaching awards and present papers at national and regional conferences.
Can you share one thing that people don’t typically know about you?
I am a stress baker/ cooker- I really enjoy making treats as a distraction from my work and/or a break in the week.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am very thankful for my department, my chair, Glen Stamp, and everyone at BSU for supporting me in my work here.
Room: LB 306