By Grace McNamara
Tom Hall wasn’t sure he wanted to teach Communication at a higher level until he had already began pursuing his master’s degree. As an associate professor of Communication Studies, Tom specializes in Organizational Communication.
Tom grew up mostly in Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas in the late ‘80s. After deciding to major in Communication and English, he found his passion in both written and oral communication. “I had some excellent professors there that got me really interested in that field,” says Tom.
Although his initial intention was to attend law school, Tom went a different route and ended up working for a while. He owned his own business, worked in Walmart’s management as a corporate trainer, and ultimately decided to go back to school. He received his master’s degree from the University of Arkansas Little Rock. About halfway through, he realized he enjoyed teaching and research and began applying for graduate schools. Tom earned his PhD from the University of Oklahoma.
“I have been fortunate enough to be hired here in 2003 and I’ve been here the past 15 years,” says Tom. “I really consider Iowa our home. Our kids, this is what they know, they’ve grown up here.” Although he was hired to primarily teach Org Comm, Tom enjoys that UNI’s Communication Studies Department gives him the opportunity to teach many different courses including Intro to Research Methods, Qualitative Research Methods, Organizational Culture, and Org Comm Assessment. He also enjoys teaching Leadership, Communication, and Citizenship. “It’s not just the subject matter I love. I have the highest concentration of fantastic students I’ve ever had in one class,” explains Tom.
With an interest in written communication, Tom utilizes his past business experience when tying it into his work. As for research, he and a fellow UNI professor recently finished a project dealing with corporate social responsibility and stakeholder analysis. This project took a cultural approach to studying organizations and issues of organizational culture.
As the director of graduate studies for the Department of Communication Studies, he likes that he has the opportunity to work with and advise a great mix of students who want to be practitioners or are more academically inclined. “Those are the things that make this a positive place to work,” he says. “We have such a large department and so many excellent students and a large group of colleagues that work great together.”
“Obviously I think UNI is fantastic, I think the community is fantastic, and I think Iowa is fantastic. All of those things make it great, but at the end of the day it’s the people we interact with that make or break something. After 15 years here, I am just excited to be working with the folks I’m working with,” says Tom. “We’ve hired so many awesome young faculty members in the past five years. I really like the health of the department.”