Saint Mary’s professor earns service recognition
Alaina Anderson | Thursday, March 27, 2014
Saint Mary’s College announced that the Indiana Campus Compact awarded assistant professor of communication studies Terri Russ the 2014 Brian Douglas Hiltunen Faculty Award for Scholarship of Engagement.
Russ, one of four recipients of the award, encourages experiential learning by creating opportunities for students in her Public Communications class to interact with adults and children of the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
She said the classroom is important for learning things like theory, but going outside the classroom is also very beneficial.
“We need to find ways to expand theory and put it into practice, so by breaking down the classroom walls and taking the classroom out to the public, we get to do that, and I believe it has more real world value,” Russ said.
Senior Allison Priede, a member of the public communications course, said Russ has made an impact both in the community and within the classroom.
“This class has made a huge impact on the community by uniting two different groups that benefit from one another,” Priede said. “The students benefit by using our knowledge of communication outside the classroom and learning from a diverse group of people.
“It makes us reach outside our comfort zone and challenge ourselves.”
Senior Fernanda Amado is president of the organization Lend an Ear, an outgrowth of the public communications class that takes students to the Center for the Homeless. Amado said the course opens students’ eyes to the greater community.
“Those who are homeless are people who have fallen on some hard times,” Amado said. “The answer isn’t to shun them, but to lend a helping hand.
“I believe that Terri’s course succeeds in disproving the negative stereotype of the homeless and helps break down the ‘walls’ of preconceived notions.”
Priede said Russ has inspired and helped her become the best person she can be.
“One thing Professor Russ taught me was something not everyone finds in a classroom,” she said. “She taught me how to push myself and never let myself get left behind.
“Professor Russ showed me that the most important things I’ll learn in college don’t always come from a textbook.”
Michael Kramer, associate professor of communication studies, said Russ is an inspiration to her students and other faculty.
“Anyone who can point to something out in the world and say that I’ve had an impact on that, or I’ve helped people by using communication theory and ideas, should inspire all of us who are in the field of communications,” he said.
Since Russ’s arrival, Kramer said she has worked hard to try and engage with the community, and that is what the award is about, “engaging with the community and bringing ideas to help people in real situations.”