~ By Nancy Barragan, student writer for the College of Arts and Humanities

Dr. Marnel Niles Goins, a Fresno State professor in the Department of Communication, has been elected as vice president for the Western States Communication Association, a professional organization for communication scholars.  

Niles Goins will be the fourth WSCA president from Fresno State. This is a four-year commitment that has became a tradition among faculty with the Fresno State Communication Department.  

WSCA has had three past presidents from Fresno State: Dr. Kathy Adams (2002), Dr. David Natharius (1988) and John Wright (1962).

“WSCA is a bit smaller but a lot more intimate,” Niles Goins said. “You get to know more people and it reaches people differently than the bigger associations.”

Her new position began in February 2018 as first vice president. She will progress to president-elect in 2019, president in 2020, and then immediate past president in 2021.

Niles Goins said the second year is dedicated to planning the 2020 conference, which tends to be the biggest and busiest year of the entire four-year commitment.  

“One of my goals is to increase the diversity of the organization as well as the diversity of the people who attend the conference,” Niles Goins said. “I also want to have a conference theme that is really inclusive but also challenging. Based on the conference theme is how people determine if they should submit a paper or not and so I want to challenge the people that are writing their papers.”  

Dr. Douglas Fraleigh, chair of the Communication Department, said, “Dr. Niles Goins is an excellent fit because she has outstanding leadership skills. This fall, she was given the Outstanding Leadership Award by the CSU Fresno Women’s Association, based on all the good work she has done on campus and in our professional organizations. Her work ethic, organizational skills and creativity are all important reasons that she is a strong leader. I have always been very impressed with her ability to be the type of leader that is called for in a given situation. When someone needs to take charge and get a project done well, she excels at taking the lead. She is equally adept at working with a group to reach a collaborative solution.”

Niles Goins first became a WSCA member in 2007 but it wasn’t until 2010 that the association asked for a faculty member from Fresno State’s Communication Department to assist with being a local host in the 2011 conference in Monterey, California.  

Fraleigh said, “Dr. Niles Goins’ election is important to our campus because it is an honor to have a professor at our university being selected to serve as the president of the preeminent scholarly organization in the western region for our discipline. Our students often benefit from Dr. Niles Goins leadership because she gets students involved in her leadership projects.  When Dr. Niles Goins was the co-host for the WSCA Conference in 2011, our students played a big role in helping to put on the conference. It was a great hands-on learning experience that our graduates can use as they take on leadership roles for putting on events in their careers and communities. They also benefit because she can share her leadership experiences with our students in her teaching and mentoring.”

That’s when she began to make an impact by volunteering her time and incorporating one of her communication courses, which had 40 students, to help with planning the events and registration and later on having 15 of them attend.

When Niles Goins first came to Fresno State in 2007, Dr. Kathy Adams encouraged her to attend the WSCA conference.

Niles Goins said, “I remember her telling me you have to make sure you go to Western. And I don’t even think I went my first semester. … After that, I went and I understood why she said that because it is important and it’s just a great association to be a part of.”

Dr. Kathy Adams, a communication professor and chair of the Media, Communications and Journalism Department, said, “My involvement in WSCA began when I was a doctoral student at the [University of Utah] beginning in 1976. … The initial motivation is simple — that is what ‘wanna be’ scholars did — part of being socialized into our professions as professors was to be able to present original research to the public and receive feedback — you did this at conferences. WSCA was the regional conference for me because I was at the University of Utah and we were expected to go, present and socialize with the top scholars in our areas. WSCA is easy to like and serve because you cannot replace the social, professional and personal connections made there.”

Niles Goins agreed: “I think it’s a part of who we are as a faculty to go to WSCA and participate. We have so many people that go to the conference that are chairs of interest groups and who are presenting papers including undergraduate and graduate students. It’s just kind of expected as far as department culture and being a part of Western.”