Mizzou Memories by Steven A. Beebe, PhD '76

As a 22-year-old doctoral student, I remember being quite intimidated by my older, wiser, and more-experienced fellow students during my first semester of doctoral work at Mizzou in fall 1973. I was scared. I nonetheless plunged in and did the best I could. I remember struggling with the Introduction to Graduate School course (nicknamed “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” by the second-year doctoral students). But with the support of empathic (empathetic?) faculty and my fellow students, I somehow had a successful first semester, followed by other positive semesters. I remember the strong sense of community that emerged from within my cohort of doctoral students. And I remember learning much about communication. Studying small-group communication with John Kline, interpersonal and nonverbal communication with Mary Jeanette Smythe, and instructional methods with Jim Gibson are indelible memories. I learned how to be a teacher not only from Paul Nelson, director of the basic course, but from my office mate for all three years, Tom Willett, an experienced and master teacher from William Jewell College.

Toward the end of my course work, I had the privilege of being in Loren Reid’s last graduate class. In the waning weeks of that semester, my classmates and I convinced Professor Reid to set the syllabus aside and just talk to us about his experiences in this discipline. His normally twinkling eyes seemed to sparkle even brighter as he regaled us with behind-the-scenes tales to help the organization known today as the National Communication Association (NCA) find its footing.  One of my life highlights was visiting Professor Reid not long before his 109th birthday to bring him greetings from the NCA as its 99th president; Loren Reid had been the 57th NCA president.

My wife, and frequent co-author Sue (who also took graduate courses at Mizzou), and I are delighted to support current and future doctoral communication students at MU. Switzler Hall is a place of distinction not only on the University of Missouri campus but also in the history of the communication discipline. I look forward to seeing Mizzou communication studies doctoral students continue to take their place teaching, researching, and leading throughout the world. It is an honor to give back to a place I love—a place where I learned the importance of being part of a supportive learning community.

Steven A. Beebe

Steven A. Beebe, PhD ’76, with his wife, Sue. The Beebes donated $100,000 in
support of graduate student education in communication.