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How Communication Scholars Think and Act

A Lifespan Perspective


Julien C. Mirivel

Every great scholar begins as a student. But what does it take to get there? And what is the journey like? This book explores the lifespan development of some of the best-known communication scholars in the United States. Grounded in 30 in-depth interviews, personal stories, and communication theory, the book reveals the nature of human development, the curvature of disciplinary thinking, and the values that drive communication professionals. With powerful examples from great thinkers and teachers such as Robert Craig, Valerie Manusov, and Gerry Philipsen, the book shows that communicating well is a slow, gradual awakening toward others. How Communication Scholars Think and Act is designed to inspire students and faculty alike to persevere in the face of setbacks, to learn about communication more deeply, and to improve human relationships across contexts. This is an ideal text for courses in communication theory, interpersonal communication, and introductory courses to the field. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to become a communication professional.

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Chapter 2. What Is the Nature of the Communication Professorate?


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When I met Bill, I met my future. As a young sophomore in college, entering a 2000-level course in your chosen major was exciting. On the first day, Bill stood with pride, introduced the questions of the course, spoke with efficient tempo, moved in the classroom to reach students, and smiled often. As a communication professor, Bill’s presence, standing well over 6 feet tall and wearing sneakers, jeans, and a polo, was influential. His gestures and speech were both precise and welcoming, especially when describing concepts. He was, quite simply, a great teacher.

Bill introduced me to the communication discipline and became my mentor. He led me through an independent study on the origins of language use, drove me through the landscape of Iowa to go fishing, listened to my thinking, and encouraged me to write every day no matter what. He was the first person I called when I received my GRE scores, and one year at the field’s national convention, I drove 3 hours across the central coast in California to see him for one evening. From my perspective, Bill embodied what it meant to be a professor and a scholar. Now I am my own person, but for a long time, I just wanted to be like Bill.

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