By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Ashley R. Kennard, Ph.D., is being honored by the Ohio Communication Association with its 2023 Distinguished New Teacher Award.

The association, one of the nation’s oldest state communication organizations, hands out its annual awards to “celebrate excellence in research, teaching, and service.”

Kennard’s Distinguished New Teacher Award specifically recognizes “promising new faculty who have demonstrated a consistent record of excellence in teaching,” who are in their first five years of professional teaching, and who have “demonstrated overall effectiveness both in the classroom and through service to their department/campus.”

Kennard, an assistant professor of Communication, has been teaching at Ohio Wesleyan since 2019. Her courses include Intercultural Communication, Conflict Management, and Stereotypes, Stigma, and Polarization. She also helps teach Ohio Wesleyan’s Bridge Program, a free, three-week, immersive experience held over the summer to provide incoming students with the skills and self-confidence they need to thrive at the university.

Kennard’s teaching and research focus on intercultural and intergroup communication, attitudes and persuasion, media effects, and health communication. She is especially interested in how these topics relate to matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She currently is working on a project to examine the impact of racialized media representations on policy support. Kennard’s work has been published in top-tier communication journals, including Human Communication Research, The Journal of Health Communication, and Communication Research.

She was nominated for the award by Ohio Wesleyan colleagues Dawn Chisebe, chief diversity officer and faculty member in the Department of Africana, Gender, and Identity Studies, and Phokeng Motsoasele Dailey, Ph.D., associate professor of Communication and chair of the Department of Journalism and Communication.

In her recommendation letter, Dailey writes: I only recommend individuals for awards whom I feel are exceptional in their work. Dr. Kennard is one of these individuals. … With an emphasis on personal growth and global citizenship, she encourages students to become their best selves by challenging their existing schemas and closely evaluating their communication skills, particularly their writing skills. Students are exposed to diverse global perspectives and introduced to critical analyses of existing hegemonic cultural structures through coursework and in-class discussions. She designs assignments in a way that challenges students to integrate theory and praxis and urges them to examine the role of communication in social advocacy, social justice work, and the dismantling of contemporary systems of oppression.”

Kennard will receive her Distinguished New Teacher Award on Oct. 6 during the Ohio Communication Association’s 87th annual conference in North Canton, Ohio. The conference will explore “Sparking Change Through Communication.”

Learn more about Kennard and Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Journalism & Communication at

Source, Photo: OWU

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