Missouri State University

Dr. Kelly S. Wood

  • Associate professor and transfer advisor
  • Bachelor’s in communication, 1988, University of Dayton
  • Master’s in communication, 1990, University of Dayton
  • Doctorate in communication studies, 1995, The Ohio State University

Communication professor wants students to experience "great learning"

Dr. Kelly Wood thinks a professor should be more than someone who lectures and gives tests. Instead, she wants to be a mentor.

Dr. Kelly Wood has taught at Missouri State for 16 years and has won many awards and honors for teaching and research. “When I am (a student's) advisor, I am the one person they can go to when they have a question about almost anything. I hope when they think of me, they think: ‘She’ll know how to help!’”

You are being profiled because students say you’re a great teacher. What do you think makes a teacher great?

I would rather think about it as great learning. I won’t just hand out a PowerPoint of a lecture because I don’t want to tell students what to think. It’s not about me having information and just handing it to you; after all, students can find anything they need to know about communication theory online. Instead, I help them learn how to apply the information. That’s what great learning is — collaboration, engagement, excitement and the “a-ha moment” when they see how theory can be used in real life.

What is communication as a major?

It’s the study of how we develop relationships and how we communicate messages. It can be as big as communicating to a group by giving a speech or posting a video online, or as small as a doctor meeting with a single patient. We study how businesses get out their messages to the public, how friendships and romances develop, how your background can influence your interpretation of the world around you — we cover so many areas. Communication majors become experts at how to give the right message, at the right time, in the right way!

How can studying communication help students succeed?

When we survey employers about the top 10 qualities they seek, “communication skills” is always in the top five — and usually in the top three. Employers want employees who can lead meetings, give speeches, get along in a team, get the public’s attention in a positive way, build strong personal relationships and mentor others. Communication classes can teach all of that.

How would you describe the students at Missouri State?

Driven. Many of them are so excited to be here. They are enthusiastic and open to learning new things. They are competitive and want to be ready for the best job out there.

How does your department make sure students are successful after college?

Our students have a good job-placement rate because of experiences such as internships and volunteering in their fields. We also have activities, like our annual “Com Week,” to get students connected to possible employers and successful alumni. We rarely hear of a student who doesn’t have a job in the year after graduation.

Why is Missouri State a great choice for students interested in communication?

You will have such great teachers in all areas. Most of them have experience actually working on campaigns, in public relations, in health communication — they have lived what they’re talking about. And the faculty will get to know you — you are not a faceless student who is a stranger. You will have a one-on-one experience because we have a good faculty-to-student ratio: Our classes in the communication majors range from 18 to 25 students.

What types of jobs do communication majors go on to do?

Almost any kind of business will need professional communicators because all businesses need someone to tell the story of who they are! Our graduates work in public relations, social media, promotions, advertising, pharmaceutical sales, medical equipment sales, fundraising and counseling. They have gone on to law school or become teachers. They have worked in political advocacy, running campaigns and writing speeches. They have worked in government and for nonprofit agencies. Our program is broad enough you can try classes in many of these areas, or specialize in one of them.

What is your favorite place on campus?

Right now, it’s Siceluff 126. It’s our new collaborative classroom. That sounds so geeky, right? But it’s a wonderful room. It has laptops, flat-screen TVs that can do all kinds of high-tech things, tables for students to work in groups — it’s just so engaging and I absolutely love teaching in it.

What is one of your most quirky extra credit assignments?

I am a runner, so I give students extra credit if they walk, run or volunteer at the annual Missouri State Homecoming 5K! That’s just my way to try to share a healthy habit.