By: Moira Bonadonna – Staff Writer
On Friday, Nov. 22 at 12:30 pm, Donald Yoder will accept the inaugural Distinguished Faculty Award given by the Basic Course Division of the National Communication Association at a conference in Washington D.C.
The award is presented to people who serve as “exceptional” role models, have at least 15 years of experience, and have served at least five of those years as a chair or basic course director. Yoder is the basic course director at the University of Dayton and has an excellent reputation for working with students.
“He puts everything he has into this job, and makes sure the students come first,” said Nick Michel, a senior electronic media major and former student in Yoder’s Communications 202 class.
Joseph Valenzano, assistant professor in the Department of Communication, also said to be nominated for this award, a nomination letter providing a brief rationale of qualities of the nominee must be given, as well as at least two letters of support from colleagues.
Cheri Simonds, a professor and director of communication from Illinois State University, nominated Yoder for the Distinguished Faculty Award, and was seconded with a letter from Thomas Burkholder, a professor and acting communication department chair from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Valenzano said.
Two other faculty across the nation, one from the University of Nebraska, and one from Northern Illinois University, are receiving the award this year as well.
Yoder expressed his feelings upon being notified of his winning of the NCA award in an email to Flyer News.
“It was a surprise to receive this award,” Yoder said. “I have been teaching at UD since 1989 but I have been involved in the Basic Communication Course since 1976 at Iowa State University and Creighton University.”
He said he has also been either the assistant director or director of the basic course at four different schools, the president of the Basic Course Division at NCA twice, and he has co-hosted the Basic Course Directors’ Conference three times.
Yoder said he has also written textbooks and teacher manuals, published multiple articles about the basic communication course, and has presented many convention papers and panels at state, regional and national convention on topics relevant to teaching, designing and administering the basic communication course.
Through teaching at UD, Yoder said he has learned both the value and need of teaching basic communication skills to students so they can interconnect in a variety of different contexts.
“Many students already assume they are experts in communication,” Yoder said. “Unfortunately, employers frequently disagree with that self-assessment.”
He said it is gratifying to see when students finally “get it” and understand what good communication requires.
“It is even more satisfying to see them exceed those standards when they communicate inside and outside the classroom,” he said.
Yoder said “the award is humbling,” and there are several other more deserving candidates for this award.
“It is gratifying [however] to think that I have made a small contribution to the field and that at least some of the work I have done has made a difference,” he said.
Yoder impressed his students as well.
“Dr. Yoder as a professor was really great. He made it a really personal class with real life examples, and was definitely helpful,” Michel said. “He gives so much of himself to his students. He definitely deserves this award.”
Valenzano praised Yoder’s achievement and said it is a testament to the impact he has across the country on the basic course.
“He’s really humble because he doesn’t recognize that he’s had this big of an impact,” Valenzano said. “Speaking as somebody who’s actually felt that impact, I can tell you that he means a lot to a lot of people around the country. I think that this is an award developed with people like Don in mind.”
“He really is a great asset to the university,” Michel said. “He’s one of my favorite professors here.”