posted September 22, 2006

National Association Honors Joseph MacDoniels

Dr. Joseph MacDoniels, a retired member of the Hope College communication faculty, is being honored by the National Communication Association (NCA) for his career-long service to both his profession and the association.

MacDoniels, who retired from the Hope faculty in 2001 after 29 years at the college, is receiving the Samuel L. Becker Distinguished Service Award, one of only two national awards given by the association each year for service. He will be honored during the NCA's Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 16-19.

MacDoniels is recognized especially for his central role in establishing the NCA's long-running "Essential Curriculum Faculty Development Conference in Communication," which was held at Hope from 1985 to 2000 and continues at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

"While Joe has served the National Communication Association in many ways, it was this conference that has had the longest lasting impact on the discipline," said Dr. Roger Smitter, who is executive director of the NCA and who co-developed the conference and ran it with MacDoniels for many years. "It has attracted well over 400 participants who take the knowledge they gained back to their home campuses to improve their curricular offerings."

"Clearly, Joe was the visionary behind the conference," Smitter said. "He saw the need for such a conference to bring a coherence to the undergraduate curriculum in communication. He was also able to recruit some of the best known scholars in our field to provide the seminars at the summer conference."

Prior to establishing the summer conference, MacDoniels helped create a caucus within the NCA for faculty from undergraduate institutions. Both, Smitter noted, provided faculty with a connection to one another and the broader discipline, and ultimately boosted the effectiveness of the NCA itself.

"One of the unexpected outcomes of the summer conference at Hope was the creation of an extensive network of colleagues who engaged in research and outreach," he said. "This strengthened the National Communication Association. Joe's work has played a role in helping NCA become the premier professional association for faculty who teach in the communication discipline."

The NCA presented MacDoniels and Smitter with a Presidential Citation in 1997 for creating the summer conference, and in 1994 they received the Federation Prize from the Central States Communication Association for a peer mentoring program they developed.

During his years on the Hope faculty, which included 17 years as chairperson of the department, MacDoniels also played a leadership role in helping design the curriculum of the college's department of communication and in hiring outstanding faculty to match the program's emphases. The department received national "Program of Excellence" recognition from the Senior College and University Section of the NCA, then called the Speech Communication Association, in 1995, and regional recognition in both 1989 and 1991.

MacDoniels is a 1963 graduate of Culver-Stockton College, which presented him with an Alumni Recognition Award in 1993, and is currently on Culver-Stockton's board of trustees. He completed his master's at George Williams College in 1965, and his doctorate at the University of Kansas in 1972. Prior to pursuing his doctorate he was a captain from 1966 to 1969 in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Army.

Founded in 1914 by a group of "speech teachers" whose goal was to demonstrate that speech was an academic discipline, the NCA has always supported the study, research and practice of ethical and effective communication. The NCA, which publishes nine scholarly journals, has 8,000 members, most of whom teach communication courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. More than 5,000 of the members gather for the annual November conference, which features more than 1,200 scholarly and research-driven panels.