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Dean shares knowledge on writing books, teaching

Taylor Sinclair

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Angela Trethewey and Michael Shea at the Distinguished Alumni event at the Albert E. Warrens Reception Center April 11, 2014.
Photo Courtesy Jason Halley/University Photographer

Angela Trethewey, dean of the college of communications and education, was a graduate student at Chico State in 1988, where she completed her undergraduate and master’s degree. After finishing her education, she went on to be a professor at multiple universities.

“My first academic job was here at Chico State when I was a master’s student,” she said. “It was clear to me that was home. Being in a classroom felt like exactly where I could make some contributions.”

She grew to love communication theory through a class she took at Chico State which inspired her future writing and teaching.

“I remember when I was an undergraduate here and took a class on communication theory, and every day when I came out of that class the world looked a little different,” Trethewey said. “That every theory is a lens and so it brings some things into focus and others recede, and that’s really interesting to me.”

Trethewey continued her education at Purdue University to earn her Ph.D. and went on to begin her career as a professor.

“I was then recruited to go to ASU where I stayed for 17 years,” Trethewey said. “The first book project I worked on was a textbook, ‘Organizational Communication, Balancing Creativity and Constraint.’ One of the things we worked on in that textbook was to think about writing for students in ways that would engage students, to provide a context for thinking about the material.”

Along with teaching, Trethewey has published three books with a fourth on the way.

“I think I’m a labored writer,” she said. “I think what I’m passionate about are the ideas and teaching. Writing is a tool to help me do that, to share ideas and to engage audiences.”

Trethewey expresses her personal interests through her books and commits to writing what she knows best, she said.

“I only write about what I’m interested in,” she said. “I’m working on a book project right now on an introduction to communication theory. That’s interesting to me because theory is a way to think about solving problems.”

Trethewey’s next book focuses on everyday problems that she has personally encountered and how to solve them.

“What we are trying to do in this book is take problems in the workplace, in our relationships, how we develop and sustain relationships,” she said.

Not only is Trethewey a published author and dean, she is also a feminist scholar, she said. Feminism is something that is significant to her teaching and personal beliefs.

“I think what I’m broadly interested in are notions of gender relations,” Trethewey said. “As a social constructionist, I believe that we create our worlds and we socially construct our workplace, our families, our identities and gender is one of those social constructions.”

After teaching and writing multiple books, she decided to return to her alma mater 22 years later for a job opportunity that made her drop her job of 17 years at Arizona State University.

“I’ve always had such a special place in my heart for Chico,” Trethewey said. “I was quite content at ASU, but I think someone may have sent me the job announcement. I thought I can’t pass up an opportunity to go back and to give back to a place that gave me so much.”

Taylor Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or @TaySinclair17 on Twitter.

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Dean shares knowledge on writing books, teaching