New Faces: Philosophy welcomes Dr. Katherine Adams as Interim Chair

Dr. Katherine Adams

The College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State encompasses nine departments and the Armenian Studies Program.

Each year, new faculty are brought on to elevate the academic offerings here at Fresno State. These new faculty members bring innovative research, diverse fields of study and technical expertise to our college, inspiring new ways of thinking throughout our many disciplines.

This year, Dr. Katherine Adams takes over the Philosophy department as Interim Chair.

Dr. Adams is past chair of the Department of Communication and Media, Communications and Journalism.  She is the recipient of their 2015 Paul Sheehan Outstanding Service Award. She has been an active member of Western States Communication Association (WSCA) since 1983 and serves as one of their Past Presidents, receiving their 2019 Distinguished Service Award.  She has published in the Western Journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, and exchanges:The On-Line Journal on Teaching and Learning in the CSU.  She co-authored Aubrey Fisher’s (deceased) Interpersonal Communication: A Pragmatic Approach textbook. In addition, she co-authors two small group textbooks: Communicating in Groups: Applications and Skills and Effective Group Discussion: Theory and Practice.

Dr. Adams’ academic interests include interpersonal communication, pragmatic approaches to relational communication, naturalistic inquiry of communicative phenomena, and communication theory.  Her primary teaching interests are in interpersonal communication and communication theory and has taught courses in small group communication, gender and communication, research methods, persuasion, and argumentation. She was an original member of the faculty for the CSU Smittcamp Honors college, designing an honors course in invitational rhetoric. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Utah and her B.S. and M.A. at the University of Wyoming.


Question: What are you looking forward to as the Chair of Philosophy?  

Answer: Chairing a department of faculty who are not of your home department always allows me to meet and appreciate another group of talented faculty. I have been a fan of philosophy for a long time and now I get to roam the halls with “real” ones who can expand my knowledge–and I get the inside information of some of these great thinkers. I also thrive in an environment of new challenges.

Q: Can you tell us how you became involved in your specialty area?  

A: I began college as a political science major and then changed to sociology. Then I landed in an introduction to communication course with an outstanding teacher who helped me see just how central human message behavior is to our humanity. Interpersonal communication is also tied, originally, to my doctoral mentor and his love for exploring the intricacies of our one-on-one relationships. Humans are hardwired to connect and I never lose interest in how to facilitate connection and manage, without losing our sanity, the myriad of contradictions we face in human connection.

Q: Who or what has inspired you the most in your field?

A: I have so many who have inspired me and often I do not realize it until I am able to reflect on this 40+ year journey. My field has gone through so many upheavals historically to try and gain respect in the academy. It is a field with no consensual definition of the very phenomenon it purports to study: communication; which simply fascinates me. The scholars who have taught and inspired me are my doctoral mentors at the U of Utah who taught me the question is more important than the answer. The scholars whose work I loved reading because they taught me different ways to see communication dynamics or they simply had the gift of intellectual curiosity. I would also add that the young scholars just in the beginning of their journey who also inspire me–faculty I work with in my field who are so much smarter than they even realize and have no clue this ol’ professor learns so much from them.

Q: What are some memorable moments at Fresno State?

A: Too many to name. When I walk this campus and visit particular rooms, there so many traces of conversations, discussions, decisions, laughter and, yes, tears. I sat on a bench by Speech Arts and talked about having children with someone who became the co-parent to my two kids, for example. So many moments of “aha” in classroom discussions where light bulbs go off and we are forever changed. Moments too of real struggle between professor and student that hurt deeply; sometimes reconciliation occurs and sometimes it simply doesn’t. My memorable moments are just that–these fleeting “moments” both filled with joy and tears yet all of them fold into my history here.

Q: What’s a fun fact people might not know about you?

A: I dreamed of playing outfield just like Mickey Mantle.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: Never assume where your life is going–there is so much more waiting than you can ever dream possible.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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