NCA Inside & Out

Photo of Paaige Turner

Letter from the Executive Director

May 9, 2017

Over the course of my academic career, I have repeatedly been asked, “Why?” Why would you choose a Ph.D. over an MBA? Why would you choose a teaching/research institution over a Research 1? Why would you commit to a consulting or university service project when you are still an Assistant or Associate Professor? Why would you choose to be an administrator? Why would you leave an academic position to become the Executive Director of the National Communication Association? To each question, my response has been, “It allows me to use my knowledge in the service of what I am passionate about—the scholarship and teaching of Communication.” These choices are not endings, but transitions that have allowed me to apply my skills and knowledge to success in a new venue. As the new Executive Director of NCA, I will draw upon my scholarship and education in rhetoric and organizational communication; my experiences as a faculty member, administrator, and consultant; and my relationships with our members. My background, combined with my willingness to identify and trust the expertise of others, will allow me to sustain and deepen the National Communication Association’s ability to support a diverse membership and disseminate the value of Communication studies and education.   

As an association, we are vibrant and diverse. Our membership includes teachers, scholars, practitioners, rhetoricians, social scientists, social constructionists, and logical positivists, and diverse ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and much more. We face shared challenges such as garnering the respect we deserve from our academic colleagues, shifting student demographics and interests, increased scrutiny of the “value” of higher education, and declining funding for education and research—all of which increase the need to translate our research and promote our expertise to a wide range of internal and external audiences.

NCA must be a catalyst and conduit for identifying and disseminating promising ideas among its members. NCA must also provide members the opportunity to reflect on and disseminate information regarding the role of Communication in diversity, public dialogue, science/technology, education, and other pressing global issues. Finally, NCA must amplify the voices of its members to external organizations, the media, funders, and policymakers to ensure that members of our discipline are recognized for their ability to contribute to analyzing and helping to meet the challenges facing our world, and not simply as the designers of the PowerPoint presentation used to describe them.

I am committed to finding paths for inclusion that honor unique perspectives while representing the needs of NCA. This process is worth the effort it entails, because innovation rarely comes from one voice. It is when voices clash and resonate that new ideas emerge, something I learned in my first undergraduate rhetoric course at the University of Oregon with Dr. David Frank. Over the next few months I will be gathering information using many of the techniques I learned in my first graduate research course at Purdue University with Dr. Glenn Sparks. I have already begun this process by attending all four regional conferences this spring to listen to you—my colleagues. If I did not get a chance to meet and talk with you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the National Office or say hello at our 103rd Annual Convention this November in Dallas.

In my new role as the Executive Director of the National Communication Association, I look forward to working with you to support the discipline about which we all are so passionate.