posted July 19, 2012

Respected National Conference Established at Hope College Returns

Isolde Anderson

A long-running, nationally known professional conference in communication is returning to its roots after 11 years away.

Co-founded by a Hope College faculty member and held at the college from its debut in 1985 through 2000, the week-long “NCA (National Communication Association) Institute for Faculty Development” is returning to Hope on Sunday-Saturday, July 22-28.  Approximately 40 communication professors from small colleges and universities around the country and abroad will be attending addresses and seminars led by top scholars in the communication field and discussing current research, pedagogy and the essential undergraduate communication curriculum.

The conference was co-developed by Dr. Joseph MacDoniels, who taught at Hope from 1972 until retiring in 2001, and by Dr. Roger Smitter, former executive director of the NCA.  Following its tenure at Hope, it was held at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and then at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.  It will be held at Hope the next five years.

The framework and focus established by MacDoniels and Smitter remains so well respected that the event’s association with Hope has continued even during the years since it was last held on campus.

“Everyone calls it the ‘Hope Conference,’” said Dr. Isolde Anderson, who is an associate professor of communication and chairperson of the department at Hope and is coordinating the conference this year.  “Because it’s easy to say and it’s just got our stamp on it.”

“It has a national reputation,” said Anderson, a member of the faculty since 2003 who has attended seven times.  “Before I even came to Hope College, I heard of the Hope Conference.  It was from my graduate school professors at Northwestern University who mentioned what an excellent conference that it was, and that I should consider attending.”

This year’s conference will feature seminars in training and development, ethnography, social media, group process, intercultural communication and public address.  Each day will also open with a keynote address by one of the seminar leaders in addition to including other activities including opportunities for the participants to network.

The six seminar leaders and keynote speakers are:  Dr. Steven Beebe, who is the Regents and University Distinguished Professor, chair of the Department of Communication Studies and associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at Texas State University-San Marcos and is also president of the NCA; Dr. Laura Ellingson, who is an associate professor of communication and women’s and gender studies at Santa Clara University; Dr. Nicole Ellison, who is an associate professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University; Dr. Larry Frey, who is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder; Dr. Thomas Nakayama, who is a professor of communication studies at Northeastern University; and Dr. David Zarefsky, a professor emeritus in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University.  In addition, Dr. Patrice Buzzanell, who is a professor of communication at Purdue University, will participate as a scholar-in-residence, consulting with attendees on pedagogical, curricular, disciplinary and scholarly matters.

The NCA began sponsoring the conference in the summer of 1997.  The association presented MacDoniels and Smitter with a Presidential Citation in 1997 for creating the summer conference, and also presented MacDoniels with the Samuel L. Becker Distinguished Service Award in 2006, recognizing him especially for his central role in establishing the event.