NCA 2020 Second Vice President Election Spotlight

This December, NCA members will be asked to vote in its annual election. One position on the ballot for 2020 is the election for Second Vice President. The candidates, developed by the Nominating Committee, are Walid Afifi from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Bonnie J. Dow of Vanderbilt University. 

Balloting for the election will open on Tuesday, December 1 and will close on Monday, December 28 at 5 p.m. EST. All individual members of NCA as of November 30 are eligible to vote in the election. If you are eligible to vote and do not receive an electronic ballot on Tuesday, December 1 or if you would like to request a paper ballot, please contact NCA’s National Office at inbox@natcom.org.

To help ensure you receive your electronic ballot, please note the ballot will be coming from “NCA Election Coordinator" (noreply@directvote.net). Please ensure that your spam filter allows this email to get to your inbox by adding this email address to your address book.

2020 NCA Election Ballot

Second Vice President
One will be elected with a term beginning in January 2021

  • Walid Afifi, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Bonnie J. Dow, Vanderbilt University

 

AfifiVision Statement – Walid Afifi

I joined the National Communication Association in my first year as a graduate student (in 1990- 91), the same year that I attended my first NCA conference (in Chicago). I grew up academically in NCA and, hence, value the opportunity to run for 2nd VP and pursue a number of goals that are critical at this point in time

My journey in the discipline started at the University of Iowa as an undergraduate, moved to the University of Arizona as a graduate student, and then the University of Delaware, the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) as faculty member. Between that first year in the discipline and now, I have served the association in several roles. My first was as a reader for the Student Section in 1992. Since then, I have served as Chair of the Interpersonal Communication division (2004), as division representative at the NCA Legislative Assembly (2004-2005), as a member of the Units Task Force (2009-2011), the NCA Bylaws Task Force (2011-2012), and the Task Force on Inclusivity in the Discipline (2014-2017), and, most recently, as Chair of the Task force on the NCA Center for Community, Collaboration and Change (2017-2019), and as a member of the NCA Security Working Group, formed to help shape the response to events that occurred at the 2019 NCA conference, among many other roles. These experiences – many involving close collaboration with current and past Executive Directors – have given me important insights into the fabric of NCA. Outside of NCA, I have served as department Chair at the University of Iowa, as Graduate Director at both Penn State and UCSB, and as both Chair of the Interpersonal Communication division and member of the Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Access Task Force at the International Communication Association, where I was recently elected as a Fellow. Finally, I was a member of the Human Rights Commission while at Iowa, and am currently a member of the Campus Climate Council and am Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at UCSB. These experiences have put me in close conversations with faculty and students holding a wide range of epistemological and methodological approaches, in spaces of active work on issues spanning staff, undergraduate, graduate, and faculty ranks, have provided experience managing large budgets, and addressing a range of constituencies. They have also provided learning opportunities for successfully managing a range of leadership challenges.

This is an important moment for NCA. It is the first 2nd VP election since the necessary disciplinary disruption brought about by the Distinguished Scholar “controversy” and the first 2nd VP who will be elected with an eye toward a post-covid NCA. Of course, these events occurred within an already-evolving NCA landscape that reflected important gains in some areas and ongoing struggles in others.

I consider the credibility of NCA to be largely tied to the quality of scholarship that our members produce and the strength of the instructional practices within our discipline. We can do better on both. The quality of our scholarship and our teaching is integrally tied to the inclusivity of our knowledge production and instructional practices.

Here are five goals that have energized my decision to run for 2nd VP of NCA. They are grounded in an acknowledgement of the value of our work, the integrity of our scholarship, and a willingness to challenge the obstacles that stand in the way of advancement. If I were to be elected, I would work toward:

  1. …a more inclusive discipline, across all levels of education, and forms of instruction and knowledge production/scholarship.
  2. …a discipline that values community engagement as a more central part of its DNA.
  3. …a discipline that is a leader in the quality of its scholarship, both humanistic and scientific (see also: goals 1 and 2).
  4. …a discipline that that is a leader in instructional innovation and support.
  5. …an association that is more active in advocacy for freedom of speech and basic human rights.

I would also work actively to create a post-covid conference experience that is centered on a commitment to safety and health and continues the richness of the in-person experience, but also takes lessons from the best of what we are learning about the affordances that on-line spaces offer for expanded access.

I look forward to continuing NCA's long-standing efforts to diversify the conference panel experience in ways that elevates the level of scholarship in “traditional” paper panels, and encouraging innovation in other types of formats for presentation, including the newly-developed “Research in Progress” formats to facilitate development of early-stage projects, as well as the promotion of “Research in Practice” panels to advance conversation with communities, and “Disruption” panels to create spaces to discuss challenges with which our discipline struggles (e.g., creating inclusive spaces), as well continuing and expanding rich conference spaces for instruction-focused topics.

I am committed to listening as a central ethic of leadership, and to seeking out voices that are absent from existing decision-making spaces. Towards that end, I will bring together and empower Task Forces tied to each of the goals I have laid out, charged with proposing concrete solutions to the challenges they are addressing. I will ask that they create multiple avenues for membership input and regularly update members on their progress. I will personally hold regular online “Listening Exchanges” during my time as 1st  VP and President, will create multiple spaces and opportunities for feedback, and will maintain a web space from which members can follow progress on various initiatives pursued during my tenure as 1st VP and President.

I recognize the histories of oppression upon which our discipline is built. I am committed to raising voices that will help make change and seek to to challenge association structures that prop up those histories and/or maintain existing inequalities.

I would be an honor to serve the discipline in this capacity. I ask for your vote.

 

DowBonnie J. Dow, Professor of Communication Studies and Dean of Academic Affairs, College of Arts & Science, Vanderbilt University. www.bonniedow.com

I am proud to be a nominee for Second Vice-President of NCA. For the past thirty years, NCA has nurtured my scholarship, my teaching, and my development as an academic leader. 

I have been fortunate to serve in several capacities that give me familiarity with NCA’s mission and operations:

  • Member, NCA Executive Committee
  • Chair, NCA Publications Council
  • Editor, Critical Studies in Media Communication
  • Chair, NCA Doctoral Education Committee
  • Member, NCA Legislative Assembly
  • Member, NCA Nominating Committee
  • Member, NCA Golden Monograph Award Committee
  • Member, NCA Winans-Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship Committee 

My research, teaching, and mentoring have been recognized with several awards: 

  • Bonnie Ritter Outstanding Book Award, NCA Feminist and Women’s Studies Division
  • Francine Merritt Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Lives of Women in Communication, NCA Women’s Caucus
  • Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award, NCA 
  • Lambda Award from NCA’s LBGTQ Caucus for Outstanding Contributions to the LBGTQ Academic Community 
  • Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, NCA 
  • Winans-Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship, NCA 
  • Mentoring Award from by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt
  • Ernest A. Jones Faculty Advisor Award from the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt
  • Sandy Beaver Award for Outstanding Teaching from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, University of Georgia 
  • John J. Sisco Excellence in Teaching Award from SSCA
  • Two Time Faculty Mentor, NCA Doctoral Honors Seminar 

NCA’s Challenges

I seek this office at a time of great uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has created stunning obstacles to academic life and practice—from our modes of pedagogy to our financial models to our very livelihoods—and we will feel the reverberations for years. At the same time, our nation is confronting its failure to live up to its commitment to equality. Clear evidence of that failure has resulted in principled protest and righteous demands to remedy the racial injustice that undermines our country’s foundational promises of freedom. And these issues intersect: the toll of the pandemic on people of color and other vulnerable communities has dwarfed its impact on privileged white communities. We are experiencing profound divisions and disparities. 

What does this mean for NCA? At the most basic level, it means a renewed commitment to the relevance of our mission, the study of “all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry.” Every problem that ails us, as a discipline and as a society, calls for communication expertise: in our classrooms (virtual though they may be), in our research and creative expression, and in our service. Most importantly, in our dealings with each other. We are the scholars, teachers, and artists who know how to bridge boundaries, how to listen mindfully and mediate conflict, how to use language with careful intention and knowledge of context.

Our knowledge and abilities are crucial in our dramatically changing circumstances. We must use them to educate our students toward citizenship for a better world and we must insist on the relevance of our research and creative practice to help create that world. Equally as important, we must recognize our obligation to serve our discipline, and each other, as scholars, teachers, artists, and citizens who believe that we can work together to create a more just future for our association, our campuses, and our communities. 

Goals and Vision

NCA’s strategic plan pledges us to the support of “inclusiveness and diversity among our faculties, within our membership, in the workplace, and in the classroom” as well as to advocacy for “inclusive, positive, just, and safe academic workplaces to policymakers, campus administrators, and the public.” These crucial commitments have acquired a new urgency that underscores our moral responsibility to interrogate the ways that structures within and around NCA perpetuate white privilege and enable systemic racism. As a white academic, I am implicated in these issues; as a feminist scholar committed to intersectional analysis, I have engaged with them for decades. I have grappled with them in my scholarship and teaching, in my past service for NCA, and in my work as an academic administrator. I pledge to continue that work as an NCA leader.

My experiences as an associate dean, helping to manage and lead a complex organization with a diverse population of faculty and students, has educated me in profound ways, particularly recently while dealing with the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. My experience in non-profit leadership in my community, particularly in arts organizations now struggling in unprecedented ways, has provided additional experience in dealing with crisis. 

Many of the questions I have struggled to answer in these various contexts are the same, and they would guide my approach to NCA’s challenges: how do we serve our community in the face of so many constraints? How do we identify and adapt to changing needs among our diverse constituencies? How do we maintain and build our connections to our multiple publics? Especially important, how do we aid, protect, and empower the most vulnerable and disempowered among us?  

My approach to these issues draws upon foundational beliefs underlying our practice as Communication teachers and scholars: that decision-making must be inclusive of diverse stakeholders; that communication based on sound argument and reliable evidence can alter perspective; and that communities whose members talk and work together can effect transformative change. 

My priorities as an NCA officer will be the development of structural paths to create a more diverse and inclusive association whose members feel supported in doing the teaching and scholarship that inspires them and that works toward a better world for our students, colleagues, and fellow citizens. We must explore new ways to identify leaders that represent and enact inclusivity, new modes of scholarship, teaching, and creative expression that speak to the most pressing social justice issues of our time, and new paths for disseminating our ideas to the rest of the academy and to the public at large.

These are strategies for resilience. Resilience requires adherence to our core values combined with creativity and openness to alternative ways of thinking and doing that will enable us to move toward a better future. I am committed to contributing my knowledge and experience to that journey on behalf of NCA.