s her students say, Melanie Morgan has
a knack for making even the murkiest,
An associate professor in the Brian
Lamb School of Communication, Morgan
is a recipient of the 2017 Outstanding
Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory
of Charles B. Murphy—Purdue’s highest
undergraduate teaching honor.
Morgan arrived at Purdue in 2001 as an
assistant professor and was heavily involved
in the direction of COM 114: Fundamentals
of Speech Communication. She was later
asked to develop a course that applies
those fundamentals to science, showing
how complex data can be presented in an
accessible, engaging way. The result was
COM 217: Science Writing and Presentation.
Morgan also teaches a communication course
focused on quantitative research methods.
“One student said to me, ‘You teach
things to people that they don’t want to learn
and make them have fun doing it. You teach
statistics to COM majors and communication
to science students,’” Morgan says. “I had
never really thought of it that way before.”
Although communication is her specialty,
Morgan doesn’t spend much of her class time
speaking. She keeps her lectures short and
sweet—no longer than 15 minutes. Rather
than standing at the podium, she prefers to
step back and let the students engage with the
material in a more hands-on manner.
“I try to create an environment where
students feel free to try new things, share
ideas that may be new to them, and take
chances,” Morgan says. She enjoys watching
them experiment and put the pieces of
information from each class period together
like a puzzle. Morgan always hopes that
students walk away not only with an enhanced
understanding of the content but also with
new perspectives on the world.
Outside the classroom, Morgan serves
as the graduate director in the Brian Lamb
School of Communication and as interim
associate dean of the Graduate School.
She also frequently lends her expertise
to publications such as The Journal of
Communication, Health Communication, and
Communication Studies. But at the end of the
day, her true passion lies in teaching students.
This is why she considers the Murphy Award
the most meaningful honor of her career—it’s
a reward for doing what she loves the most.
By Sam Watermeier. Photo provided by Melanie Morgan.
Dorsey Armstrong and Melanie Morgan were surprised in the spring by their colleagues with the
news of being named recipients of the 2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory
of Charles B. Murphy. Photos by Rebecca Wilcox (page 28) and Mark Simons (this page).