Walid A. Afifi to Lead NCA as President in 2023
Walid A. Afifi (Ph.D., University of Arizona), who was NCA’s First Vice President in 2022, will now serve as the Association’s President, effective Jan. 1, 2023. It has been a long and fruitful relationship, said Afifi who joined NCA as a first-year graduate student in 1990, the same year he attended his first national convention in Chicago. “I grew up academically in NCA,” said Afifi whose leadership succession began in 2021 as Second Vice President.
Afifi is a professor in the Department of Communication and an Associate Dean for Community Engagement at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB). During his tenure at UCSB, he also directed the Center for Middle East Studies from. In 2020, Afifi, an author of more than 80 articles, chapters, and books, was elected a Fellow in the International Communication Association. Afifi’s research focus considers uncertainty and information-management decisions. His work led to the development and refinement of the Theory of Motivated Information Management, which he says, “accounts for the factors that jump-start and guide people through the process of deciding whether to seek information from specific others about important issues.” That work, Afifi added, “has increasingly focused on chronic uncertainty, resulting in the advancement of the Chronic Uncertainty Framework.”
In addition to his research, Afifi is an award-winning educator whose teaching has been widely recognized, including by UCSB which awarded him the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity's Esteemed Ally Award and its Margaret T. Getman Award for "extraordinary commitment to the growth and development of students and to the quality of student life at UCSB."
Afifi, who is of Palestinian and American ethnicity, was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon until age 14 when he and his family fled the Lebanese Civil War in 1982, seven years after it began. They immigrated to Iowa City, Iowa where Afifi eventually completed his bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies at the University of Iowa—and began his “journey in the discipline.” Afifi would return to his undergraduate alma mater as Chair of the Department of Communications Studies.
For more than three decades, the Communication scholar and longtime NCA member held multiple positions and leadership roles within the nearly 6,000-member Association before he was elected its first officer of Palestinian descent in 2021. As he looked forward then to his succession to NCA President, Afifi spoke about his ardent goals for the Association, its members, and the discipline. Among them was “creating multiple spaces and opportunities for feedback,” tracking progress, and ways to stay engaged with the initiatives he planned to pursue during his tenure. For Afifi, creating a new narrative and opportunities for all to communicate, began with a close-up look. “I recognize the histories of oppression upon which our discipline is built. I am committed to raising voices that will help make change.”
Afifi resides in California with his wife, Tamara, and their two children.