Professor Series: Jody Roy

Communication professor reflects on her recent research and a quarter-century at Ripon College.

By Connor Renshaw

“I am fully in the category of having been here since before you all were born,” says professor of communication Jody Roy. Having began teaching at Ripon College in 1992, Roy now has 25 years of experience at the school. While pursuing her graduate degrees, Roy also taught at Indiana University.

According to Roy, after so many years teaching, she has too many memories to pick out just one that stands out to her. Instead she prefers to focus on her teaching experience as a whole. “One thing that is very unique for me is that I have students whose parents were my students,” she says.

Roy has also taught students who then went on to become professors. She remembers the day she met current Ripon College communication professor Steve Martin while he was still a student here. “Steve and I actually met our first day here, my first day as a professor, his first day as a student, “ Roy says, “not realizing we were looking for the same room at first we were both lost and looking for a room in Todd Wehr, and that’s how we met, and now he’s my colleague.”

As well as teaching, Roy also conducts research. Over the past few years, Roy’s research has focused on how speech anxiety affects those who are currently, or have recently been incarcerated.

“It’s actually quite a big problem for a few different reasons,” says Roy. “It can interfere with the prisoner’s participation in certain programs that would require a certain comfort level with public speaking to be effective. It can become a big issue upon release for things like job interviews, so I have been developing some guidelines for prison educators, prison counselors and others to use in helping people overcome that potentially debilitating problem.”

During her research, Roy has also found what she considers to be issues with how the prison system approaches communication.

“Some of the activities that are most likely to keep a person from re-offending or violating probation conditions and being sent back to prison actually assume a comfort level with face to face oral communication that many people who have spent time in prison have had very little formal training in,” Roy says. “The most surprising thing to me has been the extent to which oral communication is important for that particular population with incredibly high stakes such as freedom on the line, and the assumption that they would just have that skill even though there’s no reason whatsoever for them to have that skill.”

When she isn’t teaching or conducting research, Roy spends time with her family and two dogs and also enjoys cooking. “My primary occupation these days is dealing with our dogs, the little Poodle and the still growing Newfoundland keep me very very busy,” she says.