CHC Faculty as Teacher-Scholars

By Mike Mackert

One of the things that I most value and appreciate about The University of Texas at Austin is the degree to which the institution and its leadership emphasize the importance of both research and teaching for faculty. I’ve been to the last few orientations for new faculty on campus, and every time the message is clear on the value of bringing research into the classroom and the benefits that can come from students working on research. This is why “teacher-scholar” is a popular term on our campus.

As I think about the CHC, it truly serves as a model for how faculty on our campus can thrive as both productive scholars while also excelling in the classroom and advising graduate students. We have leading experts in many areas of health communication, and our affiliates have been recognized repeatedly on our campus with a variety of teaching awards.

A good example of this teacher-scholar model comes in the form of recently published article in the journal Communication Education. In “Health Communication: a Future Direction for Instructional Communication Research,” lead author CHC Associate Director Erin Donovan – along with four other CHC faculty affiliates from both the Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School – makes the case for health communication as an ideal context for advancing research into communication education. There are a variety of reasons this is the case, not the least of which is that improved health communication education in many contexts could lead to tangible improvements in the health of patients and populations.

The fall semester is kicking off right now, which means CHC faculty are launching new research projects and starting new classes on a variety of communication topics. I’m proud of the work our affiliates do in their research but also the classroom, serving as examples of how teacher-scholars can bring together the best of research and education to the benefit of both.