NCA Institute for Faculty Development

The National Communication Association Institute for Faculty Development began at Hope College in 1985 to bring consistency in speech and communication curricula across the board.

After attending various conventions for the Speech Communication Association throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Joe MacDoniels (Hope College) and Roger Smitter (Albion College) realized they had an opportunity to change the way communication curricula was talked about. The first NCA Institute for Faculty Development conference took place in the summer of 1985 as the “Essential Curriculum Conference.”

Like many of their fellow professors, MacDoniels and Smitter were interested in bringing consistency to communication curricula across liberal arts colleges. During the first two years of the conference, professors settled on six core areas of communication that should be central to any communication curriculum:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Public speaking
  • Small group communication
  • Mass communication
  • Communication theory
  • A capstone course

Hope College continued to host the conference for the next 15 years, and then again from 2012–2016 after a 10-year break. Conference topics have varied since those first two years of debate and organization. Speaker topics have included nonverbal communication, the dark side of communication, family communication, work-life balance in organizational communication, media convergence, rhetoric of visual culture, Native American rhetoric, storytelling, self and society, and ethnography.

Seminar leaders have included notable communication scholars and academic leaders like David Zarefsky, Kathleen Turner, Carole Blair, Brenda Allen, Martin Medhurst, Patrice Buzzanell and Larry Frey. Nearly 800 faculty from across the U.S. and abroad have attended the conference.

In November 2014, the Department of Communication at Hope College received the Presidential Citation for Service from the National Communication Association “in recognition of outstanding service to the discipline” for hosting the conference.