Meet Dr. Peggy Fisher, a faculty from the Department of Communication Studies who is retiring this May after 26 years at Ball State. This faculty spotlight honors her outstanding contributions inside the classroom and for the Muncie community as a whole.

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Could you share the personal journey that led you to become a Professor in Communication Studies?

What led me to teaching was my experience as a Teaching Assistant in the Basic Public Speaking course while I was completing my Masters Degree and Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University. As an undergrad, the thought of becoming a “professor” was the furthest career option from my mind. When I stepped in front of my first class of eager students and began to really think about the importance of what we would be covering in that class, I knew I was hooked and being a teacher is what I wanted to do.

What is your research focus?

My research has been focused on engaged learning such as internships, volunteering, and service learning.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Along with teaching the “content” of the class, my goal is to show students how relevant and useful the material is, and how it can impact their lives. I use the content to teach life lessons—how to foster healthy relationships, how to keep moving forward despite adversity, the importance of being patient and realizing there is so much more to people than meets the eye.

Could you tell us more about your focus on teaching life lessons to your students? How does it translate to the projects your students are involved in?

I get that students won’t remember everything we talk about in class.  We all love stories and hands-on learning, and so I try to teach through narratives and experiences that they are likely to remember. I use stories of my own, as well as the ones students bring to the table.  When working on a community project with students, I give them the responsibility of writing their own story—one they can be proud of—what they want to get out of the project.  My role is to help them get as much out of the experience as possible, to empower them and challenge them, and provide the resources they need on their journey. I make it a point to process their experiences and relate them back to communication principles.

Group of students posing at the top of the bell tower of St. Mary Church in Muncie

Peggy Fisher’s 2019-2020 Immersive Learning Students at the top of the bell tower of St. Mary Church in Muncie.

Could you tell us about your involvement in the Muncie Community as a whole?

I am a firm believer in giving back to the community. Since 1999 I have been a volunteer at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department, and the gift shop are some of my favorite places to volunteer. I also helped Feed My Sheep Muncie, Inc. become its own nonprofit over 20 years ago. FMS serves over 1,300 free meals on Thanksgiving Day and delivers groceries to those in need. I also helped start Dream Nest: A Division of Special Needs Prom. This organization does bedroom remodels for children with special developmental needs. We are planning for our next remodel this fall—after we have all been vaccinated.

What has been the proudest moment in your career?

My proudest moment came in the fall of 2020 when I received the BSU Outstanding Teaching Award. It meant so much to be recognized for something I dedicated myself to.

Can you share one thing that people don’t typically know about you?

I started piano lessons at the age of 59. I never really learned to read music and never played an instrument. Piano is certainly a challenge for me, but I keep plugging along.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I will really miss all my friends, students and colleagues when I retire this May, and want to thank them for all their support over the years.

Related: Ball State Students Preserve History of Muncie Church in Videos and Book (Ball State University blog)