Elizabethtown College’s Spring 2017 Faculty Scholarship Lecture on business communication strategies was held Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Susquehanna Room of Myer Hall. Led by Dr. Tamara Gillis, professor of communications, “The Evolution of Business Communication: Managing Corporate Communication Assets” fostered a scholarly discussion regarding the challenges of consulting on and analyzing corporate use of communication assets.
The idea to host faculty lectures on campus rather than simply bringing in outside speakers came to fruition with President Carl Strikwerda’s inauguration in 2011-2012.
“The Faculty Scholarship Lecture Series is intended to highlight the exceptional scholarly activity of our full professors at Elizabethtown College,” Dr. Kristi Kneas, Dean for Academic Affairs and Faculty Development, said.
In academia, a full professor has served six or more years at the rank of assistant professor before being tenured and promoted to the rank of associate professor. An individual then serves six or more years at the rank of associate professor before being promoted to the rank of full professor. At each stage of a professor’s career, the standards of academic and professional excellence increase.
“When we recognize a full professor, we are acknowledging that the faculty member has clearly established himself or herself as an outstanding teacher, a well-known and highly respected scholar in his or her field and a valuable contributor to the life of the College and the community,” Kneas said.
As a full professor at Etown, Gillis embodies all of these qualities and more. With expertise in the research areas of change management, civic involvement, effective organizational structures and the impact of new media, Gillis currently teaches courses in corporate communications and research at Etown.
Her most recent works include the second editions of “The IABC Handbook of Organizational Communication” and “The Essentials of Employee Communication.”
Prior to teaching, Gillis worked as a corporate consultant, acquiring experience in advocacy, healthcare, employee communication and administration. She led the International Association of Business Communicators Executive Accreditation program at Royal Roads University and currently serves as a fellow for both the International Association of Business Communicators and the Royal Society of Art in London.
In 2014, Gillis was awarded the Earnest R. McDow Award for Excellence in Public Relations by the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society.
With nearly 30 years of professional and academic experiences under her belt, Gillis delivered an informative lecture concerning her personal research in corporate communications to a room full of fellow faculty members, current students and alumni. She established that her lecture, much like her research, would be a combination of textbook and cookbook—it would first inform the audience of why things work and then give examples of how various organizations that she has worked with have been successful using certain communication strategies.
“Research has always been a part of what I do as a practitioner and as an academic,” said Gillis. “I can’t imagine not having research in my life.”
Sophomore Kelly Simkins found Gillis’ lecture to be particularly intriguing as someone studying both communications and business at Etown.
“It was interesting to hear about how she took her set of tools and skills to other companies to help them get the word out about what they were all about,” Simkins said. “She was able to supply the help that these companies and organizations needed, even when they thought that they needed something else entirely.”
According to Gillis’ observations, the field of communications is all about understanding the other—the receiver of the message. Organizations should always be considerate of who they are trying to communicate with, as the target demographic should drive the selection of a medium of transmission that is appropriate for the specific message an organization wishes to send.
At its best, communication should be an interactive transition between two or more parties and all communication practices should contribute to the success of organizations. Communications is an ever-evolving field and no one quite knows what the next stage of evolution will be.
“140 characters – maybe that’s too many, maybe it’s not enough, maybe it’s all about Facebook video now,” Gillis said. “No one knows, but we’ll keep watching.”
By the end of the lecture, Simkins felt more aware of the deep appreciation that she has for professors on this campus and how meaningful it is that these professors are willing to speak outside of class on their areas of expertise.
“It’s important to highlight professors for all of their hard work and all of the time they take to teach us students about their field of study,” Simkins said. “They do not have to dedicate all of their resources on us students, but they do it to help us go further in our futures.”