Terry Schliesman, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication Arts
How did you discover Western?
In 1998, my wife and I were looking for an adventurous place outside of the Northwest, where we were raised. Western seemed like an amazing place both in the classroom and its surroundings. We've never been disappointed with the place, having raised three children in the Gunnison Valley, and worked as teachers at Western and the local school district. We even left in 2004 for work back in the Northwest, but a year later an opportunity at Western opened up and I was hired back. We've never second-guessed or regretted that decision. Each and every day, I walk onto Western's campus with anticipation for what awaits me.
What are some of the highlights of your career?
Leading an effort to create and implement the Strategic Communication emphasis in Communication Arts, which has grown 400 percent since 2012. Also, watching our graduates transition from Western to successful media-related jobs across the country. This includes the Branding Manager for Vail Resorts (Hannah Eflin '13), Media Buying Supervisor for MediaSmith in San Francisco (Cody Hazen '13), PR and Events Representative for FirstBank in Denver (Harmony Neal '15) and Special Events Director for City of Brighton (Amy Porter '10). There are many more graduates to list, but the point is, I am ecstatic for and proud of these young professionals. Each of them learned ways to excel at Western and have applied their experience to move upwardly in respective careers. One other highlight is the work I do with Colorado school districts, facilitating labor negotiations in cooperation with the Colorado Education Association.
What most excites you about your field?
Our communication systems continue to evolve at a dizzying pace. Social media has flipped the old communication models upside down, and that makes this period of our lives fascinating to live through (and study). Also, there seems to be no shortage of organizational and individual conflict and discourse, which creates job security for folks in applied communications, like facilitators and media-content creators. I'm also forever excited to work with university students who aspire to change our world, who want marketable skills worth respectable salaries, or who just want to find their place in society. I'm one of the lucky few who help transform high school graduates into citizens. I'm 25 years into this profession and still excited to step into the classroom and delve into the great conversation of learning.
What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?
The best thing I love about Gunnison is its proximity to nature. My favorite activities include a quiet walk along the Gunnison River with my springer spaniel, Ellie Mae. Ice fishing on one of 20 lakes. Ham and eggs at the W. A bonfire in our backyard with the Milky Way above. Horseshoes on Wednesday nights. Camping. Fly fishing. Photographing wildlife. Driving to Crested Butte for a fancy dinner. POW at 9:10 in the morning. Walking on a campus sidewalk and seeing the smile on a student's face when it's 10 degrees below and the snow sparkles. Being home with my best friend and wife, Laura, and preparing dinner for friends and family. The sunrise and sunset ... and no traffic.