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Open Letter

My career is invested in rhetoric and communication studies, in diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and advocacy, and in democracy, community, and civic engagement. The importance of communication skills and familiarity with rhetorical techniques for both professional success and civic welfare cannot be understated. I am committed to developing undergraduates’ critical thinking, visual, written, oral, and aural skills, and to encouraging new generations of knowledge-producers through graduate study. With more than sixteen years of full-time experience, I have been affiliated with programs in communication and media, English and speech communication, discourse studies, women’s and gender studies, Africana studies, and sociology. With twenty years of teaching experience, I have taught more than 30 distinct courses at the 100- (first-year) through 600- (graduate) levels in communication, rhetoric, discourse studies, and media. I have also been the faculty sponsor for undergraduate internships and served on senior thesis, master’s thesis, and doctoral dissertation committees, in addition to working with honors students as the faculty advisor to the Delta Omicron chapter of the Lambda Pi Eta communication honor society. In my courses, students are exposed to diversity in communication to improve their oral and aural skills, whether in public, interpersonal, or organizational contexts, and to improve their critical thinking for professional and civic engagement. The effectiveness of my teaching has earned both a mean and mode score of 4.6 on a scale 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) in course-teacher evaluations. Student comments indicate that I make the classroom a welcoming and safe space, that my teaching is energetic and clear, and that I try to make classes fun. Integrating digital resources into my classes since 2004, I am familiar with assorted techniques and technologies for online, hybrid, and hyflex education. At SUNY Cortland, I have served on the college’s Online Teaching Group since summer 2020 and acted as one of the pilot faculty for the campus switch from Blackboard to D2L. With the onset of COVID-19, I led the pivot from fully in-person to fully online instruction for all eleven sections-per-semester of public speaking. This involved creating asynchronous options for Spring 2020 and then developing a combination of synchronous instruction and asynchronous resources for the 2020-2021 academic year, including faculty training and the curation and provision of digital materials. I have served as both a member and chair of departmental curriculum committees in Communication and Media Studies at SUNY Cortland and in English and Communication at SUNY Potsdam. In this capacity, I was -and continue to be- active in both programmatic and course development and assessment. I chaired the Communication and Media Studies Department Curriculum Committee while it redesigned its Communication Studies major, minor, and concentrations in public relations/advertising, journalism, and popular culture in the 2021-2022 academic year, and I shaped the development of our forthcoming offerings in social media by bringing the resources of the Social Media Professors Community Group to the department and by initiating discussions for the development of a strategic communication student firm, to be implemented in the future. At SUNY Potsdam, I served both the English and Communication Graduate Committee and the college’s Graduate Affairs Committee – bodies that dealt with graduate program development, revision, recruitment, and funding. For the master’s program in discourse studies, I developed and executed a communication audit for the department’s use in considering program revisions, and I created a survey at the request of the program director to assist with recruitment efforts. Beyond curriculum development and program recruitment, I am experienced in assessment and accreditation practices. I have participated actively in the external review process of my departments at SUNY Cortland and at SUNY Potsdam, and in the Middle States review and accreditation processes at SUNY Cortland, SUNY Potsdam, and the College of St. Rose. I developed the program assessment instruments for the Speech Communication major at SUNY Potsdam, and at SUNY Cortland I developed the assessment rubrics for the public speaking courses and guided the work in crafting the assessment instrument for the Presentation Skills General Education requirement. In addition to teaching, developing, and assessing curriculum for communication programs at both SUNY Cortland and SUNY Potsdam, I am experienced in promoting those programs, acting as a departmental ambassador at open houses, contributing to the development of promotional materials, and implementing new ideas to boost the department’s visibility, such as affiliation with Project Censored, the U.S. Media Literacy Week, and Free Speech Week. My scholarship is concerned with rhetoric of the popular arts, with interests in depictions of war and the military and depictions of politics and campaigns, focusing on the intersections of art, identity, communication, and representation, and I am particularly concerned with matters of inclusion and democracy. Invested in visual-verbal rhetoric, my scholarship considers such things as politics in a converged media environment, discourses of war, and representations of gender and race. Since 2010, I have published two books in academic presses, twenty-one chapters in peer-reviewed anthologies, three peer-reviewed and one invited journal article, plus an assortment of other scholastic works – all while teaching a 4/4 or 3/3 load. My work has been recognized with several honors, including the John P. Wilson Fellowship of the New York State Communication Association, the Past Officers’ Award and the Distinguished Research Fellowship of the Eastern Communication Association, the SUNY Potsdam President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, and faculty membership to Phi Kappa Phi. As a recognized expert in the intersection of politics, the military, and comics, I have been interviewed by the Washington Post, Newsy, and other media outlets, and have been an invited speaker with the National Park Services in Boston, Border Town Comic-Con in Oregon, San Diego Comic Con, Radford University, the Sorbonne, The Ohio State University, Microsoft, and Farleigh Dickinson University. I have been a regular participant in the National Communication Association (NCA) and Eastern Communication Association (ECA) since 2002 and in the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) since 2007. With lifetime memberships in NCA, ECA, RSA, and the New York State Communication Association (NYSCA), I am deeply invested in the discipline and integrated into the larger communication and rhetoric communities. I am currently serving as the chair of the Rhetoric and Public Address interest group of ECA and have previously chaired the Political Communication interest group. I am on the Michael Pfau Outstanding Article award committee of the Political Communication division of NCA and on the NCA Convention Committee. I am the Immediate Past President of NYSCA. I am serving for the second time on a conference planning committee for the interdisciplinary Digital Frontiers/Digital Cultural Studies Cooperative non-profit community. Additionally, I am on the editorial team for the Routledge Advances in Comics Studies series, the inaugural editorial board for the Home Front Studies journal, and served the editorial board for the Lambda Pi Eta Journal during its brief tenure. With experience in varied service and leadership positions at both departmental and college levels, as well as in the larger academic community, I am familiar with many aspects of governance, personnel, curricular, operational, fiscal, and student oversight. I have a history of involvement in college governance as a member of SUNY Cortland's Educational Policy Committee, and as a member of SUNY Potsdam's Faculty Senate, Arts & Sciences Council, and General Education Committee. Through this experience, I understand the channels and procedures, opportunities and limitations, for a college's maintenance, change, and growth in policies and programs. As the conference planner for the 2021 NYSCA conference and as the faculty sponsor for the SUNY Potsdam chapter of Lambda Pi Eta from 2011 to 2017, I have experience with event planning, fundraising and budgeting, group communication, multi-party coordination, scheduling, decision-making, and Parliamentary Procedure. As chair of the SUNY Cortland Presentation Skills Committee, I oversee the approval process for courses seeking to fulfil the Presentation Skills requirement within the General Education program (something I also did for ten years as Oral Skills Coordinator at SUNY Potsdam). And, as coordinator/director of public speaking in Communication and Media Studies, I supervise the curriculum and assessment for approximately twenty annual sections of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking course and direct the hiring decisions for adjunct instructors of public speaking. In addition to annually reviewing and recommending applications in the adjunct pool, I have experience in personnel matters through service on multiple search committees and as the current the chair of the Communication and Media Studies Personnel Committee – a committee I have served in different capacities for three years, including during a revision of the department’s personnel policy documents. I have also served on the Arts & Humanities Personnel Committee at the college level and was involved in personnel decisions during all eleven years of my time at SUNY Potsdam where my department operated as a committee-of-the-whole. As an undergraduate academic advisor to communication and interdisciplinary majors and minors since 2006, I meet with 30 to 40 undergraduate students regularly for scheduling and, occasionally, disciplinary purposes. I help to guide students through the undergraduate degrees and through the internship, employment, and graduate school search and application processes. I am committed to supporting and expanding diversity, equity, inclusion - including accessibility, and justice (DEIJ) in the academy. I serve on SUNY Cortland's Antiracism Task Force (currently as a member of the Policies and Procedures Subcommittee and previously on the Educational Programming and Dialog Subcommittee, which I co-chaired), and on the Sexual-Orientation & Gender Identity Expression committee. While at SUNY Potsdam, I served on the Diversity & Inclusivity Action Coalition and worked with the student group P.O.W.E.R, which successfully advocated for systemic changes following a series of racist and homophobic threats the college received in 2015. Expanding DEIJ is an ongoing process, and so I regularly seek out and partake of workshops for inclusion and belonging, with topics such advocating for justice, fostering more inclusive classrooms, improving accessibility, and mitigating biased hiring practices. In my classroom, I am working to embrace more principles of universal design, eliminate ableist policies, and increase diverse representation and voices. As Vice President of NYSCA, I implemented a Land Acknowledgement as part of the annual conference and the use of pronoun stickers with conference badges, and I assisted in the creation of a code of conduct and the establishment of a code of conduct review committee. I am excited by the prospect of leveraging my assorted experiences and networks to continue, and advance, the work of my insitutions and the success of my students. With service and leadership experience at multiple colleges and in multiple communication associations, and with twenty-plus years of undergraduate and graduate teaching and program development experience, I understand the value of both tradition and innovation.