Dr. Barbara Irwin,
In the latest edition of “Meet the Professor,” get to know beloved Communication Studies Professor Dr. Irwin!
How long have you been at Canisius and how did you end up working here?
I’ve been at Canisius for nearly 28 years! I came to meet Dr. Marilyn Watt, who was then chair of the department, when I was finishing up my doctoral studies. I wanted to learn more about the Communication Studies program at Canisius. While we were talking, Dr. Watt informed me that the department would be hiring a full time faculty member for the upcoming academic year. She invited me to speak to a group of students involved in the campus television station, and that summer, I interviewed for the position and was hired.
What made you want to become a Communication Studies professor?
The funny thing is that when I decided to pursue my PhD, I did so simply because I enjoyed graduate school and I thought it would be nice to have a PhD. I wasn’t sure what I would do with the degree, but knew it would help me in whatever career I chose to pursue. Throughout my graduate studies, I continued to teach undergraduate courses and discovered that I truly enjoyed teaching and working with students. I’ve always loved the media, and was fortunate to teach media-related course and to be involved in several research projects that tapped into my interests. I also had a great mentor (Mary Cassata) who encouraged me to pursue this.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?
It’s difficult to identify one favorite memory. I’d have to say any time when I’m laughing and enjoying time with students and colleagues is the best.
What are you most proud of from your time here?
I’m probably most proud of having established the Canisius College Video Institute (originally through a Peter Canisius Distinguished Teaching Professorship). Because of the extraordinary talent and dedication of our students, it’s grown far beyond my wildest imagination. We’ve produced service-oriented videos for nearly 100 non-profit organizations to help them advance their missions. We’ve sent students around the world, and we’ve produced 21 documentary films that address issues of social justice. I believe in the power of using video and film to give a voice to the voiceless and to bring about positive change.
Do you have a favorite class to teach and why?
I always enjoy teaching COM 205 – Mass Communication & Society. It’s often one of the first Communication courses students will take. There are often quite a few freshmen in the course, and it’s fun to work with them and see them get acclimated to college life as the semester progresses. Honestly, I enjoy all of the courses I teach. While they’re all media-related, there’s an interesting range of topics, and the media are always changing, so that makes the courses “new” every time I teach them. I like that.
Any fun facts/things about yourself you would like alumni to know?
-Everyone probably already knows that I have a dog named Juno who is a certified therapy dog. She loves visiting with Canisius students and making them smile.
-I love Snoopy!
-I play the piano, but I’ve always wanted to play the guitar, so I need to get back to my lessons one of these days.
-I love summertime (tennis, golf, biking, swimming, long walks)
-I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like
-The ringtone on my phone is the theme from The Young and the Restless