-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
Communication Studies Professor
Communication Studies Professor
Joan Conners enjoys the researching, advising, teaching, and learning experiences
offered to faculty of Randolph-Macon College.
“It is like a juggling act—professors have so many roles,” Conners shares. “I’m
always impressed by how much my colleagues do! They are innovative in their classes,
organized in their advising of students, involved in college committees, and active
in research and other activities.” Conners is currently working on the Curriculum
Committee, as well as CASE (Committee on Assemblies and Special Events) and likes
to see how all aspects of the college connect.
A Collaborative Department
“I think I’ve always enjoyed the combination of communication studies and politics,”
says Conners. She earned her B.A. in Broadcasting & Electronic Communication
at Marquette University, her M.A. in Mass Communication at Marquette University,
and her Ph.D. in Mass Communication at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. After
teaching at a small college in Colorado, she and her husband moved to Virginia.
She joined the R-MC faculty in 2003.
Conners teaches communication
studies classes, including Communication Law and Ethics, Gender Issues in
Communication, American Campaign and Elections, and Media and Diversity.
“It’s exciting to see the Communication Studies program grow, and to have the opportunity
to teach new courses as well,” she says. Conners has also collaborated with
Chemistry Professor Nora Green
and Sociology Professor Denise Bissler on
First-Year Experience (FYE) courses.
“One of the benefits of a small, liberal arts college is that faculty mingle throughout
departments,” says Conners, who enjoys working with other professors both inside
and outside of her own department. In 2012, she and Bissler edited The Harms of
Crime Media together. “The edited collection was actually the third stage
of working with Denise on the topic of media crime,” Conners explains, referring
to the FYE they collaborated on together as well as research involving the TV show
CSI. “It was great to collaborate, to share ideas, compare approaches,
and be involved in interdisciplinary work on the project, since I brought perspectives
from mass communication, and Denise brought perspectives from criminology into the
Research and Hobbies
When she is not teaching, Conners enjoys researching campaign communications, especially
the analysis of media coverage on U.S. senate races. She is also fond of political
cartoons and is currently working on an essay about the infamous political figure,
former Congressman Anthony Weiner, and his scandal’s representation in political
cartoons. The essay will be included in a collection that focuses on political scandals;
the book will be published by Continuum Press.
Conners also has a deep allegiance to the Green Bay Packers, a fondness for movies,
a big heart for her beagle, and a recreational-biking interest, which she shares
with her husband. She enjoys the new renovations
on campus and has a respect for R-MC’s historic buildings, especially Neville
House, where her office is located.
Advice for Yellow Jackets
“Approach every class with an open mind,” Conners advises students. “I value the
liberal arts aspect of the college, and a lot of students may see that as challenging.
However, a class you are required to take may end up being surprisingly interesting
to you. You won’t know if you don’t try it!”