The Future of Education: Identifying Challenges and Opportunities in Pandemic Learning

Public Program
April 29, 2021
A Virtual Public Program

The panelists focused on how COVID-19 has changed higher education and how these changes relate to best practices in teaching and learning, including issues of diversity, equity, and access in higher education.



Trevor Parry-Giles

Trevor Parry-Giles, Executive Director, National Communication Association

Trevor Parry-Giles graduated from Ripon College and holds an M.A. from the University of New Mexico and a Ph.D. from Indiana University. In addition to his NCA position, he is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland where he is also an affiliate faculty member with the Department of African American Studies and the Graduate School Field Committee in Film Studies. Dr. Parry-Giles's research and teaching focus on the historical and contemporary relationships between rhetoric, politics, law, and popular culture. He is the award-winning author or editor of four books and his research has appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, the Journal of Communication, and elsewhere. Dr. Parry-Giles is a Distinguished Research Fellow and a Distinguished Teaching Fellow of the Eastern Communication Association. In 2019, Parry-Giles received the University of Maryland's Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.



Vinita Agarwal

Vinita Agarwal, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication, Salisbury University

Vinita Agarwal is Associate Professor of Communication at Salisbury University, where she teaches courses in health, digital, and international communication.  She is the author of Medical Humanism, Chronic Illness, and the Body in Pain: An Ecology of Wholeness, which theorizes ecological, relational, and dialogic understandings of whole-person care in health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic illness management. In addition, she has published in journals such as Health Communication, Journal of Patient Experience, Qualitative Health Research, and Journal of Advanced Nursing. Agarwal is Chair of the National Communication Association’s (NCA) Teaching and Learning Council, and Associate Editor of Frontiers in Communication (Health Communication)

Mindy Fenske

Mindy Fenske, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of South Carolina

Mindy Fenske is Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). Fenske’s research and teaching lie at the intersection of performance and rhetoric with interests in (material, corporeal) embodiment at the intersection of class and gender. At the UofSC, Fenske is former Director of the Speech Communication and Rhetoric Program and winner of the Mortar Board Excellence in Teaching Award. Fenske is also a recipient of the National Communication Association’s (NCA) Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies and the NCA Golden Anniversary Monograph Award.

Alanna Gillis

Alanna Gillis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, St. Lawrence University

Alanna Gillis is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at St. Lawrence University. Her research explores race, class, and gender inequality in higher education. She is currently working on projects investigating the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on higher education, with a specific focus on its impact on students. Her work has appeared in Sociological Forum, Qualitative Sociology, Socius, Teaching Sociology, and Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education.

Chris Gurrie

Chris Gurrie, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Communication and Speech Studies & Director of the Master of Arts in Professional Communication, University of Tampa

Chris Gurrie is Associate Professor of Speech in the Department of Communication and Director of the Master of Arts in Professional Communication at The University of Tampa. Gurrie studies immediacy, audiences, and communication education; and is currently working on the efficacy of fitness communication as a micro area of study within the broader communication sub-disciplines. Gurrie was recently elected as President of the Florida Communication Association where he held previous posts as vice president, and editor of the Florida Communication Journal.


Matthew Hubbs

Matthew Hubbs, Ed.D., Dean of Academics, Westcliff University

Matthew Hubbs is the Dean of Academics and the Accreditation Liaison Officer at Westcliff University. Dr. Hubbs, initially trained as a counseling psychologist, has spent more than a decade championing student achievement as an educator and administrator in higher education. His capacity for strategic planning, organizational leadership, and operational optimization has contributed to substantial institutional growth and improvement. Most recently, Dr. Hubbs played a key role in Westcliff University’s acquisition of Western State College of Law, which preserved academic futures for hundreds of students.


Shannon Borke VanHorn

Shannon Borke VanHorn, Ph.D., Professor, Valley City State University 

Shannon Borke VanHorn is Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and School of Education and Graduate Studies at Valley City State University. With a background in instructional design, her research interests include instructional communication and instructional technology. Vanhorn has published articles in several journals, including Argumentation and Advocacy, Communication Quarterly, Journal of Communication Pedagogy, Communication Research Trends, and Qualitative Research Reports. In addition, she presents faculty development workshops and conference sessions on effective course design and teaching in the online environment. VanHorn was a member of and subsequently chaired the National Communication Association’s (NCA) Teaching and Learning Council from 2013-2020.


A Public Program of the National Communication Association.