The ‘Yoda’ of UD communications passes

By: VIC BENTLEY – COMMUNICATIONS

“There are multiple realities, based upon our meaning for everything. Yours and mine might be different. Therefore, our reality can never be discovered until people recognize the inside person to find out his or her truth.”

I can still hear the echo of his voice, this wise professor, whose name, “Dr. Yoder,” reminded me of the wise teacher from the movie Star Wars, Yoda.

This was only the first lesson I learned of Dr. Yoder’s in his course on communication theory, one of the most fascinating subjects taught at the University of Dayton. Indeed, words are powerful messages that create meaning for all of us.

It’s been said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It can kill, humiliate, destroy, or it can heal, encourage and inspire. Dr. Yoder understood that, and this is why he taught us so well.

He knew the power of a label and how it can harm or heal. His most fervent message to us was about choice and the “Interpretive Theory.”

“Dr. Yoda” was always finding ways to use labels to create positive meanings for us. His frequent classroom jokes and stand-up comedy routines with his teaching partner, Dr. Teri Thompson, were the stuff of legend.

He also created his own phrases like F.U.F.F (Fire Up For Friday). You could not take their communication theory class without leaving wiser and happier. They knew how to make you feel better and help you remember the most important things.

Additionally, you couldn’t leave their class without feeling an amazing resonance about at least one of the theories taught there. For me, it was the “Symbolic Interactionalism” of George Herbert Mead. I was especially struck by the
“Cipher in the Snow,” the story of a boy who collapsed and died in the snow, for no medical reason, after being treated as a nonentity by his parents, teachers, and other children, the victim of “symbolic manslaughter.”

It seems to me that if words can kill, then they can also heal and empower and inspire.

While I was inspired by the wise words of “Dr. Yoda” and Dr. Thompson, I had the honor of becoming a radio announcer at UD’s WUDR radio station, broadcasting my radio show, “Victoria’s Inspiration and Information.” I took what I learned from them to shape my radio program.

I’ll never forget how proud Dr. Yoder was of me when I told him, “I’m using one of the theories you taught me in the radio station!” During every show, I encouraged everyone to speak positive, encouraging words to each other, and I played only positive, encouraging music.

Sometime in early fall 2014, someone decided to turn me into a “Cipher in the Snow.” But because of great UD professors like Dr. Yoder, Dr. Thompson, and Mr. Kelley, I am still here today, still hoping to make a positive difference in the world.

It is my hope to send out this powerfully positive message again. Speak life. Speak love, and always F.U.F.F.