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Keeping up with Drury's Department of Communication

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Faculty Spotlight: Q & A with Dr. Charles Taylor

Communication faculty and students welcome Dr. Taylor back to The Shew

charles_t670Dr. Charles Taylor, professor of communication, is transitioning back into life at Shewmaker after serving 14 years as the vice president of academic affairs at Drury. While technically on sabbatical during the Spring 2015, we tracked him down to discuss his return to the department. Effective Fall 2015, he will step up to serve as director of the M.A. in Communication program and will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the Drury CORE and communication department.

Who are you?

“Wow, that’s a tough question. Boy one of these days when I grow up, maybe I will figure that out. Well, I am a teacher at heart, a scholar in the sense that I am really committed to research that advances my ability to be a better teacher, former vice president of academic affairs (10 years), and somebody who is immensely happy to be back in Shewmaker. I left Shewmaker and moved over to Burnham around 2001. I feel very much at home in  Shewmaker. I’m also a husband, father, cardinals fan, and caffeine addict.”

You were talking about scholarship and being committed to growing as a teacher. What are your plans for getting back into writing? 

“I try to subscribe to the advice that is attributed to a lot people, but I believe it was Karl Marx who said that you have to write something every day. You can’t set it aside and figure that you will come back to it at some point. I suspect it’s like swimming or running or anything, if you get out of it, you will become soft. I have written a fair amount. While I was in my administrative position, most of my scholarship focused on broader higher education kinds of things. In order to jump back into my scholarship, I spent a little over a week at the British Library in London before the spring semester started where I spent a lot of time in the archives and working on rhetoric of science material. So if it all goes well, I should have a few articles to submit by the end of the spring semester.”

This is your first semester back in The Shew. What are you teaching?

“Technically, I am on sabbatical, but I am teaching CORE 103. This past fall I taught CORE 101 and I didn’t want to leave those students hanging because I have a really good group of CORE students. An unexpected vacancy occurred in the leadership of the communication master’s program, so I have agreed to step into that role. So, you could say I’m enjoying a semi- sabbatical. But in the fall, I am scheduled to teach Senior Seminar, COMM 211, CORE 101, and the first course in the graduate sequence.”

You have taught CORE  101 from its beginning. Is that true?

“The first class I ever taught at Drury was Alpha Seminar, which is sort of the forerunner for the CORE 101. I have been here 18 years and I think have taught Alpha or Core for 15 of those years.”

B2k7P8IIMAAIL2bYou took your CORE group on a trip last year? What was the point of the trip?

“Yeah, Dr. Maxson and I took our CORE 101 classes to Memphis. His class addressed social protests and music, and mine focused on politics and rock ‘n roll. Memphis is sort of one of those points of intersection, where race, politics and music all come together. It was great. Terrible weather, it rained the whole time. But it was good.”

Do you think your role as Vice President of Academic Affairs has influenced the way you approach teaching?

“Usually, that question comes in reverse. Does your role as a teacher affect your role as VPAA. But I think probably so. In that kind of institutional position, I have had the opportunity to see the remarkable variety of talented teachers we have on this campus and can borrow best teaching practices from all kinds of people. Another thing that I think is important about being over in Burnham is I got to see the department evolve over time. The field of communication has evolved significantly in the 14 years that I have been out of here. If nothing else, the explosion of media has changed the way we communicate and with whom we communicate. This whole thing with 140 characters, and tweeting, is not my forte. But I think integration into new media will make me better. I’m just feeling really excited about making the transition back to full time faculty status.”

You mentioned the whole 140 characters thing, but you do have a Twitter account?

“I do! I think it has probably helped me in being more succinct and cutting to the chase. If we as faculty want to connect with students, we have to meet them where they are — and that’s the digital world in which they live. I credit Regina Waters and Jonathan Groves for queueing me in to the meaningful aspects of Twitter and making it more than just 140 characters of whatever happens to cross your mind. Additionally, these new media can help me get important information in front of my students in a way that email cannot.”

Final thoughts?

“One other thing I should have said when you asked who I am. I am also an email addict. Caffeine and email are my two fixes. I tend to respond to emails anytime night or day.”