College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts
Modesto A. Maidique Campus
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Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building
11200 SW 8th Street Miami, Florida 33199
PH: 305-348-7500 | Fx: 305-348-6717
E-Mail: carta@fiu.edu

Faculty Highlights

/Faculty Highlights
Faculty Highlights 2017-04-07T16:08:27+00:00
Jason Chandler, A.I.A.David DolataRobert E. Gutsche, Jr.Michael NamkungCamilo RosalesMoses ShumowSigal SegevWeirui WangLynne M. Webb

chandler

Associate Professor  

CHAIR Architecture and

Landscape Architecture and Urban Design

VIEW BUILDINGS

 


Why did you choose this profession/field?

I live with the decision of an eighteen year old who thought about art school, but found architecture at Cornell University.

What made you want to teach at FIU?       

In 1998, I was practicing in Miami, and a former classmate invited me to the School of Architecture for reviews, and I thought it would be a great place to teach.

Describe your research…

My research activities focus on building construction systems and their integration into architecture and urban design. As a practicing architect, I have been fortunate to build in Miami and test my design proposals in an urban context. Over the past two years, my architectural practice has worked to design and build an affordable micro-apartments project. These micro-apartments are conceived as a prototype for the city. As compact infill urban buildings, these structures can be built incrementally over time on small or large lots. Small-scale development expands the participation of the growth of a city to its local constituents. With capital that is embedded in the local populous, the genius loci will engage the particulars of culture and neighborhood identity.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

I have been lucky to be able to work in both academia and in practice. As an academic, the entirety of my time at FIU as a teacher and administrator has been enormously gratifying. As a practitioner, to have maintained a practice that engages the complexities of Miami and to have that work recognized is also an important accomplishment for me.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Over the past four years, I have been lucky to have funding to support student travel in my Infill Housing Studios. Students visit Savannah, Georgia and document small-scale infill housing examples. The firsthand interaction with the built form cannot be simulated, and the authority of place allows our students to understand the power of the built form.

Tell us how your research has influenced your teaching?

The Infill housing studio for students parallels my practice’s work in affordable housing.  Pedagogically, the infill micro-apartment project requires students to reconcile a highly restricted urban site and embrace its potential repeatability. Tight site dimensions require students to solve spatial problems three-dimensionally and empirically account for all their design decisions. Repeatability requires students to develop street facades that reconcile the internal logic of their design with an understanding of the scale of the street.

How would you describe the department you are a part of?

The Department of Architecture is a collegial group of faculty with a diverse set of interests. The students are also very diverse and energetic. We are always doing something great – just read eFolio! It can be found on the department’s webpage.

How does your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

I was very lucky to have great teachers who loved architecture. I inherited their passion and feel it motivates me to make the department the critical center of architecture in our community.

Professor

School of Music


Why did you choose this profession/field?

Actually, it chose me. I grew up in Buffalo, New York in a very Catholic environment where you were encouraged to go out and change the world by doing something socially relevant. I worked my way through my first degree (BA in Social Sciences from Niagara University) as a musician and never thought about it as a profession until one of my professors released me by recommending that I bloom where I was planted, and that was in music. I’ve always loved being involved in artistic activities and enjoyed university life. Now I get to revel in it every day as my work is my play.

Describe your research/creative work/professional activities.

My activities are more or less evenly divided between scholarship that produces books and articles and performances on the lute and theorbo that result in concerts and CDs depending what’s coming up next. My primary research areas are 15th–18th century performance practice (tunings and temperaments, tablature, and lute technique) and Italian lute music, vocal music, and poetry. A lot of what I and my partners in Il Furioso do is discover music that has been forgotten, lost, or overlooked, and write about it, make scholarly editions of it, and record it for the first time. The Castaldi CD is all about that.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

The CD of the music of Bellerofonte Castaldi, Battaglia d’amore with my group Il Furioso for the London label Toccata Classics and my recent book, Meantone Temperaments on Lutes and Viols for Indiana University Press.

How long have you been teaching at FIU?

12+ years

What made you want to teach at FIU?

Out there in the world, FIU is known as a dynamic, innovative institution where you can run with your ideas. Administrators trust you to do your job, which leads to an exceptional amount of independence as well as the ability to make significant changes in a relatively short period. A perfect example is Global Learning. I was fortunate to have been involved in creating one of the first five GL courses, Artistic Expression in a Global Society on behalf of CARTA. And now FIU is recognized as a national leader in GL. How cool is that? CARTA is also a splendid example. We’re a little like the USA. Originally several disparate units cobbled together as one more out of necessity than choice, CARTA has grown into FIU’s 3rd (or is it now 2nd) largest college where students and faculty have the freedom and support to take new ideas to fruition in record time. I love being a part of such a diverse and exciting college with students and faculty who share my mindset and values. Here it’s not about what you can get but rather what you can do. There’s no place I’d rather be.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I like to ask my music history students, “How will what we are talking about right now help you today in the practice room, in your ensembles, or in your teaching?” As a relatively new country with much less history than our European brethren, in America the study of history is often oddly relegated to second class status as if it’s just dry names and dates. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In music, not only is it the story of our profession, it can tell you many practical things such as what to practice and more importantly what not to practice. By understanding each era’s style and musical priorities, a musician can focus valuable practice time on what matters rather than what doesn’t.

Tell us how your research/creative work/professional activities influence your teaching.

Other than that it makes me more proficient in the specific areas I teach, it gives me a sense of what a professional musician is expected to know. There’s so much information available that it’s difficult for students to know what to focus on. My job is to help them make those decisions.

How would you describe the department of which you are a part?

We have wonderful students who do not take the educational opportunity FIU has afforded them for granted. They are kind and charitable to each other and well-adjusted enough to not determine their self-worth by ephemeral things. Their interest lies in the work for its own sake, and their creativity seems to know no bounds. And, they are extraordinarily dedicated. Our students also understand that accomplishment takes time. They appreciate the rewards of delayed gratification and recognize that progress can be slow, but that working on something regularly with diligence and discipline yields long-term rewards.That’s why our students are so successful in their post-FIU endeavors, musical or non. Because they are self-starters, they can do anything.

The performance faculty are all fabulous musicians and devoted and dynamic teachers. Many are known throughout the world, and most of us are widely recorded. Though by any standard, the academic faculty is rather small for the size of our student body, our students receive an exceedingly rigorous education in music theory, history, education, music business, and composition. When they leave here they are well prepared for whatever comes their way. The academic faculty are well published and leading scholars in their disciplines.

How do your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

Having made my living for many years as a performing musician before beginning my career as an academic, I am intimately acquainted with how competitive it is in the real world and have experienced much of what our students are facing. Coming from modest circumstances, I had to work all the way through my university training just as many of them do, and like many of my students, I’m the first Dolata to earn a college degree. Also, I am equally at home in performance and scholarship and as my research area blends the two, I believe I offer a holistic view of the profession. Since I still actively record and give concerts, like our students, I have to balance practicing and studying and have constant deadlines, so I really do know exactly what they’re going through, and therefore, I think I’m in a good position to help them succeed.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I get to spend my time doing what I like to do around energetic students who are positive and engaged in life. Hearing them practice is a sign that all is well in the world. And I never take for granted the luxury of being able to study and practice music and spend my days sharing it with my students.

What is your hometown?

Buffalo, New York. It is a city whose spirit very much shapes your character. Buffalonians tend to have unparalleled resilience due to the often-vicious though magical winters and many challenges the city has faced over the years. It is dynamic, energetic, and colorful with a wonderful history, spectacular architecture and parks, and a long-standing and thriving art scene. Situated across the Niagara River from Canada, Buffalo is an exciting melting pot of diverse and strong ethnic neighborhoods where its denizens speak their native languages or dialects and the cuisine is the real deal from the old country. There is nowhere else I would have rather grown up.

Where is your favorite spot on campus?

Our campus is so beautiful that there are too many to pick just one.

What is the one thing you wish everyone knew about FIU?

What a fantastic education students receive for very little tuition. We’ve got to be the best deal in the country.

What was your first paying job?

My brother Steve and I were paperboys for the Courier Express in the morning and then the Buffalo Evening News after school. Because we worked as a team, we had the neighborhood sewn up.

What is your favorite television show?

Buffalo Bills football and Buffalo Sabres hockey. Buffalonians are fiercely loyal and ever hopeful. Other than that Masterpiece Theatre and period dramas,

What is playing on your iPod?

Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, R.E.M. I cannot listen to classical music without actively listening. Nor can I listen to any music late at night because I would never get to sleep, After evening concerts, I just assume I’m going to be up half the night with the tunes rattling around in my head.

What do you do when you are not working?

My favorite thing in the whole world: anything with my wife, Mary.

Videos:

robertAssociate  Professor

School of Journalism and Media

Why did you choose this profession/field?

Journalism has been a passion of mine since childhood, really. So being able to help shape the next generation of journalists and digital communicators through education, research, and community engagement makes for a spirited life.

What made you want to teach at FIU?       

FIU’s dedication to urban, public education was a big draw for me, and South Florida has proven to be a great location for diverse and energized communities and classrooms that keeps me engaged and committed to our students and communities.

Describe your research/creative work.

Through my research, I examine journalism as a social institution and a cultural force, particularly in terms of how news shapes ideologies of race and geography. Local to South Florida, my research interrogates communication and social action surrounding sea level rise through eyesontherise.org.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

When I was a reporter, landing on the Chicago Tribune’s Page One with a single byline and reporting national news for The Washington Post set the bar high for what I then considered accomplishments. Now, I am proud of producing meaningful participatory research that engages citizens, students, and professionals to critique and challenge our fields of communication.

How long have you been teaching at FIU?

Five years.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching introduces and engages students with subordinate ideologies to measure the possibilities for evoking social change through critical/cultural scholarship and media production.

Tell us how your research has influenced your teaching.

Whatever I seem to be working on in my scholarship, it seems, my students are also working on in my classes. In other words, I attempt to bring my works-in-progress into the classroom, whether it be a book I am writing, a couple of journal articles, or a theoretical set I am struggling with. Students, then, become a central part of research – and I tell them that – and that creates for complex course discussions and activities.

How would you describe the department of which you are a part?

The Department of Journalism + Media continues to evolve as a digital-centric storytelling environments, one that attracts and produces students interested in creating social change.

How do your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

It’s vital for professors to have a blend of both professional experience and philosophical training in order to expose our students and others in the field to contradiction, to issues of power, and to the possibilities – and potential consequences – of innovation.

namkungAssistant Professor

Department of Art + Art History

Why did you choose to be artist?

Being an artist wasn’t much of a choice. The drive to make art began when I was young, although I didn’t take it very seriously. The voice became more persistent over time, and I couldn’t ignore it any longer, so I jumped in.

Describe your creative work…

My art practice is interdisciplinary. I draw on the language of sports training and athletic performance to make drawings under physically strenuous conditions. Through performance, video, installation, and the participation of others, I investigate questions of process, materiality and perception, specifically in terms of their relationship to the body.

A deep knowledge of workout regimens and routines gained over a 20-year career as a professional athlete directly informs my practice. In my ongoing Drawing Gym project, I use strenuous exercise to push the concept of drawing beyond conventional visual representation—making direct contact with the world, in search of a meaningful gesture. Drawing Gym has had many iterations over the past nine years, including public workshops, participatory drawing installations, the Drawing Gym Performance Group, and a social practice project in which I studied to become a certified personal trainer to work with individuals over longer periods of time.

My current project, called Dragan (Old English for to draw / to drag / to pull) revolves around interviewing people who use drawing in South Florida in various contexts, both within and outside of the art world. The interviews will be published online starting this summer. You’ll be able to follow the project at draganproject.org.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

I’ve honored for having been given many opportunities to run Drawing Gym workshops for both children and adults over the past five years at universities, galleries, museums and conferences both in the US and in international venues.

How long have you been teaching at FIU?

3.5 years

What is your teaching philosophy?

I don’t believe that an artist can make much meaningful progress until they are able to experience a tangible sense of failure. Even well-laid plans combined with a solid effort can result in work that falls flat, so the question then becomes how to respond to things not turning out as you’d hoped. Teaching students to be resilient and disciplined isn’t easy or straightforward, however, and so I use a variety of strategies that challenge students’ patience and expectations. I aim to cultivate criticality in my students, so that they understand what it means to set their own bar and then live up to it—to become much more self-directed in their learning.

Tell us how your creative work and professional activities influence your teaching.

The work ethic I’ve developed from being a competitive athlete influences many of the values that influence my teaching—particularly in regards to the importance of discipline, focus, and determination. I’ve always been interested in the way we make meaning from the work we do—whether through sports, art, or daily living. In my artwork, I’m preoccupied with how the drawn mark creates meaning—for both maker and viewer. This spills over into what I expect from my students—that they search out and find meaning in their own work, as well as understand signification as a complex process.

How would you describe the department of which you are a part?

Eclectic. Or like a band of pirates.

How do your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

My background in physical training and athletic performance is the field from which my drawing vocabulary emerges. My sense of what it means to draw—and to make art in general—comes from the ways in which athletes experience concepts like practice and performance. Coming to an academic art and art history department from a field and a body of knowledge that is considered not only far from the domain of the visual arts but from the academy in general gives me a distinct perspective. I think a successful pirate ship is probably one in which the crew has a wide range of skill sets, and I like to think my combination of skills and experience create a unique niche in the context of cultivating young artists, or pirates.

Art Work

rosalesAssociate Professor

Department of Architecture

Why did you choose this Architecture?

Interesting, I think I wanted to have something creative. I only considered two professions in my life, chemistry and architecture, because I think both have great potential for creativity…very early on I was looking for something formal but also poetic and scientific, when I discovered it in architecture it was one of those loves at first sight. I didn’t look back.

 

What made you want to teach at FIU?

I wanted to have contact with Latin America. I worked in New York for a number of years, and I was looking for where to go after New York since I knew I wanted a family, and Miami was a logical thing for me. I was able to stay close to my client base in Central America.

Describe your research and creative activities…

Right now my research is in two areas, on sustainability, for which I am participating in a large grant that is ongoing. And the other is writing a book on something I call “Spatial Transparency, which is something that I really enjoy.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

Building my own house.

What is your teaching philosophy?

It’s to bring value. Life is short, and we can easily lose time. If I can bring value, I feel good. Value is some type of positive or practical knowledge, something useful, even if it’s theoretical.

Tell us how your research has influenced your teaching?

I teach what I research. It’s one and one. There’s no difference between my academic life and my professional life. I tend to teach what I have learned by experience. Experience is immensely important for teaching; you must test the reality of what you hold as important.

How would you describe the department you apart of?

“Exciting. We have good people.”

How does your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

I bring a lot of experience. Fifteen years before coming here, and I’ve never stopped working in my professional practice. I love architecture, and I bring some of that in my teaching too. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot, which seeps into my teaching as well.

mosesAssistant Professor

School of Journalism and Media

Why did you choose this profession/field?

Academia is a second career for me. I spent the first 10 years of my professional life working in documentary filmmaking, helping to produce films for PBS, Discovery, History Channel, and National Geographic. However, I always had the idea that at some point I would like to return to school and pursue a Ph.D. and then a career in higher education. After moving to Miami with my spouse in 2006 and spending time working in Spanish-language television, I was accepted into the Ph.D. program in the School of Communication at the University of Miami. Upon completing my doctorate in 2010, I was offered a tenure-track position in the department of journalism and broadcasting in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication – and I’ve been here ever since!

Describe your research/creative work/professional activities.

Most of my work is focused on the confluence of media and geography in South Florida. Building on my dissertation, an ethnographic investigation into the work of Venezuelan journalists in Miami, I’ve published work that looks at transnational identities among diasporic communities and how media is both produced and consumed by immigrant journalists and audiences. I’ve also looked more broadly at the content of Spanish-language media in immigrant communities, focusing on both the coverage of elections as well as immigration and the environment. In 2015, I edited a book examining mediated communities, media literacy, and engaged citizenship on a global scale. More recently, I’ve been investigating press coverage of incorporation and annexation efforts in Miami-Dade County, and the mediatization of neoliberal environments along Biscayne Boulevard in Miami’s upper Eastside.

This past year, much of my professional and creative work has been focused on Liberty Square, Miami’s oldest public housing project. These efforts have included a summer reporting initiative by my digital media capstone students, examining the past, present and future of this historic development. I helped to organize a conference that looked at media narratives in this community, and during the spring of 2016, a second group of digital media students worked on a community Wi-Fi initiative that has been another focus of my efforts in the community. Right now, I’m completing a documentary on the community that is an outcome of a fellowship I was awarded by Images and Voices of Hope, a journalistic group connected to the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

This month I received final notice from the FIU Board of Trustees that I have been awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. This was a huge accomplishment for me professionally and one of which I’m especially proud. I am also proud of my work, and that of my students, that has been connected to Liberty Square and Liberty City. I think community service and engagement work is so important for my students and I’m pleased at the way the work has been received, recognized – including a Faculty Engagement Award from FIU in 2014 – and continues to make an impact in and around the community.

How long have you been teaching at FIU?

I just finished my sixth year of teaching at FIU.

What made you want to teach at FIU?

I was very fortunate to end up at FIU. It was the only tenure track position available in Miami when I finished my doctorate, and I wanted to stay in the region because my family is here and I didn’t want to uproot them from their home and community. I think my combination of professional and research background helped me to land the position, and I’ve been so pleased to be here. Our students are incredibly hard-working and really embrace and acknowledge all that the pursuit of a higher education will mean for them, their families, and their future success.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I want my students to become critical thinkers and responsible citizens, in addition to the professional training that they receive while here. As such, I’m always looking for ways to engage them in material and projects that will push them outside of the zones of comfort and force them to examine the world around them through new lenses of understanding.

Tell us how your research/creative work/professional activities influence your teaching.

Because I have been so deeply engaged in understanding the region we call home, with all the benefits and challenges that living in a multicultural urban environment presents, I have found that most of the projects I present to my students challenge them to also engage on a deeper level. I want them to seek out new stories, connect with unfamiliar communities, and find ways to create media and content that leverages the rich cultural milieu in which we all live.

How would you describe the department of which you are a part?

I think our department is a nice mix of researchers and professionals, which is exactly what our students need. They are able to have professors who will push them to engage in academic research, critical thinking, and writing, while others will guide them through the rigorous process of preparing to join a challenging and constantly changing industry.

How do your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

I think I bring a balance of professional experience and research that allows me to create classes that also offer a similar mix. I believe strongly that journalism and media courses can be both theoretically rigorous while at the same time offering students the chance to gain the skills and experiences that will make them competitive upon graduation.

SigalAssistant Professor

Department of Communication

Why did you choose this field?

I chose to work as an academic because I love to research and learn new things and this profession allows me to study, search for and research information to discover new things and contribute to the body of knowledge about consumers and how they make their purchase decisions.

Describe your research and professional activities.

The overarching goal of my research agenda is to understand consumers’ interactions and behaviors given the ever-changing realities of the market and the media–be they cultural, environmental, or technological. Thus, my research lies at the intersection of marketing, consumer behavior and advertising, examining how consumer’s experiences shape their decisions, and how that should guide strategic messaging.

My research generally focuses on two areas: (1) green (environmental) advertising and (2) the effect of culture and acculturation on consumer behavior. In the past 20 years advertising has been playing a major role in generating more public awareness about environmental issues, communicating a green brand image, and driving consumer demand for green products. My research in this area focuses on understanding the role of communication and advertising in shaping and driving consumers’ pro-environmental behavior and their responses to persuasive pro-environmental communication. The second research interest is related to culture and cultural adaptation of immigrant consumers. In this context, my research focuses on the role that culture, acculturation, and ethnicity play in shaping the behavior of ethnic consumers, particularly Hispanics, and the elements necessary for tailoring communication and message strategies to address their unique, culturally driven needs effectively.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

A published paper in the Journal of Advertising which it’s the top journal in the discipline of advertising.

How long have you been teaching at FIU?

I have been teaching at FIU since the Fall of 2007.

What made you want to teach at FIU?

The multicultural body of students and faculty. The vibrant environment that provides a lot of freedom to initiate, create and innovate.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is rooted in the notion that educators transfer fundamental knowledge through a holistic approach with the ultimate goal of preparing the future generation of professionals who will make a difference in their communities and society. I encourage students to appreciate the complexity of social phenomena and help them develop an independent and critical perspective by integrating the knowledge they acquire in class with their own way of processing information.

Tell us how your research influences your teaching.

I develop my course curricula to leverage new points of view from my own research and that of other communication academics. For example, in the multicultural communication courses and seminars, I often integrate relevant theories that guided my research projects and inform students about the recent findings from my research projects.

How would you describe the department of which you are a part?

I am proud and honored to be part of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations with its wonderful team of faculty and staff. This team is made of brilliant hard-working people that are ready to create, invent and innovate every day. Our team is very dynamic, energetic and fun-to-be with. Excellence in teaching, research and service is a commitment that our team is making every day.

How do your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

My career started in various professional positions in marketing communication (both in the private and government sectors). As such, think I bring to my students the best of both worlds. In one hand, I can teach concepts and use first-hand examples that are real experience driven and on the other hand, I can bring them the most recent knowledge that emerges from academic research.

Recent Publications

“Is Your Product Really Green? A Content Analysis to Reassess Green Advertising” VIEW

“Acculturation and consumer loyalty among immigrants: a cross-national study”  VIEW

headAssociate Professor

Department of Communication

Why did you choose this profession/field?

I was a journalism major at college. I observed the impact mass media have on people’s decisions and their construction of the social reality. I started to become passionate about understanding the role media play in the society, and particularly media effects, including both of the positive and negative effects, on people in general and underprivileged populations in particular.

Describe your research/creative work/professional activities.

My research interests center on stigma and communication; information seeking and processing in health and persuasive communication; and the use and effects of social media. My recent research projects focus on examining health messages that promote or inhibit health-related stigma.

What are your two proudest professional accomplishments?

In 2012, my research project regarding online health information seeking among Chinese immigrants in the United States won the AEJMC emerging scholar award.

Also, not long ago, I knew my tenure was officially approved by the university. I agree with one sentence in the approval letter: “the granting of tenure is one of the most important awards a university can make to its faculty.” To me, that’s the end of one chapter and the start of a new chapter.

How long have you been teaching at FIU?

6 years.

What made you want to teach at FIU?

The student body is diverse at FIU. They come from different cultures, backgrounds, and families. They work hard to overcome various challenges. As a teacher, I am more than happy to help them achieve their goals. Besides, many of them have part-time or full-time working experience, I can learn a lot from my students.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe my responsibility is to help students become active learners. In teaching, I acknowledge individual differences so that teaching is tailored for students with different needs, characteristics and motivations.

Tell us how your research/creative work/professional activities influence your teaching.

My research enhances my teaching interests on health and risk communication, and the use of multimedia platforms to achieve teaching effectiveness. It also helps me understand the essence of strategic communication and apply my knowledge in teaching.

How would you describe the department of which you are a part?

Collegial and loving.

How do your background and experiences strengthen this academic department?

My background enables me to teach a variety of courses such as communication research, principles of PR, multicultural communication, and health, environmental and risk communication in both undergraduate and graduate programs. My research on health communication and social media also strengthens the department’s expertise in this area.

 

Publications

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15213269.2016.1142381#.V3LPwvkrKCg

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10410236.2014.957376

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10903-014-0106-8

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215001727

 

webbProfessor

Department of Communication

Why did you choose this field?

As a freshman, I enrolled in a large Intro to Sociology class.  It was my first course in behavioral sciences and I found the material fascinating but the professor incredibly boring!  I slowly became convinced that I could do a better job explaining human behavior than this renowned scholar.  I was only 18, but I don’t think I was wrong.

Communication, more than other specializations in the study of human behavior, focuses on action. We teach theory, but also skills. We apply theory to real life to provide options for communicating more effectively with others.

Given the current popularity of social-construction-of-reality theory across all social scientific disciplines, an argument could be made that all scholars who study human behavior now understand that it is through discourse, interaction, and communication that humans literally construct social life.  In other words, communication is the essential skill for influencing social reality.

What made you want to teach at FIU?

Before coming to FIU, I was teaching at the University of Arkansas, a beautiful place in the Ozark Mountains. I loved my colleagues, my chair, and my students. But I missed Florida. I taught at the University of Florida from 1980 to 1990 and, from that moment to this, I knew Florida was my true home state. Furthermore, Miami is one of my very favorite cities in the U.S. (along with New Orleans and New York).  I am thrilled beyond words to have the opportunity to live here. Professionally, I remain very excited to be on the ground floor of starting a new academic major. Also, I love public universities. I graduated from Penn State and the University of Oregon.  I’ve taught at multiple public universities including the University of Memphis and the University of Hawaii.  I’m a very strong supporter of public education.  FIU is right for me in every way!  I feel very blessed to be here.

Describe your research…

I examine messages. I look closely at messages in problematic interpersonal interactions.  For example, I recently published a study documenting that dating partners’ emotional intelligence influences their conflict styles.  My research often focuses on family communication in challenging situations.  For example, I co-edited a book on family communication during crises. Each chapter examined communication during a different crisis such as divorce, cancer, death of a child, job loss, and homelessness. Each chapter describes how families can be incredibly resilient; many families effectively survive the worst imaginable events. Based on the findings across 14 chapters, my co-editor and I developed a model of effective family communication during crisis.”  For more on the topic, find Dr. Webb’s publication, Communication for Families in Crisis.

My research often looks at points of darkness to learn how effective communication can illuminate the darkness and diminish negative impact on relationships. For example, one of my most recent publications reports original research on how managers cope with workplace bullying. Another reports how deployed soldiers communicate to effectively maintain relationships with their minor children back home. I believe in the restorative power of effective communication to heal and to build. Full text downloads of over 70 of Dr. Webb’s publications are available for free at researchgate.net.

What are your proudest professional accomplishments?

In 2015, I won the Michael Osborn Teacher-Scholar Award from the Southern States Communication Association.  It is the highest award they bestow as it recognizes excellence in research, mentoring and teaching. What a tremendous honor to know my colleagues across 15 states acknowledge my contributions to the discipline!  Then, in 2016, I was named an FIU Top Scholar.  However, nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing my students win their own awards and achieve professional success.  I bask in their glory!

What is your teaching philosophy?

I teach Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Management, so in a word:  Empowerment. I want to provide my students the knowledge and skills to be the architects of their own relationships. Also, frankly, I want to get into their heads; I want my class to be the one that they’re always thinking about. The material I teach is awe-inspiring.  I want them to experience that awe.

Tell us how your research has influenced your teaching?

Almost four decades of research has convinced me that anything that interests me is understandable. When I conduct research, I ask a question about which I do not yet know the answer—a question that I will get closer and closer to answering through my studies.  I want to help students believe they can have that kind of power in their personal reality—that they can seek what interests them and get closer and closer to having it through effective communication and research skills. I help students envision positive relationships, learn how to build them through effective communication, and how to solve relationship problems though effective communication if both partners want to do so.

How would you describe your department?

Young. This is only the fourth year of the department. There are growing pains.  We are maturing as a scholarly community, in part, by transitioning from being primarily teaching oriented to adding a research focus as well.

How does your background and experience strengthen this academic department?

I have over three decades of experience working at very-high research universities.  Sometimes the things that upset students, staff, and scholars early on in their academic careers don’t matter much later on.  In other words, my experience affords me a longer term perspective on the issues that we should be upset about and work to change versus the issues that will simply work themselves out over time.

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