By Amanda Brasier
Over the past 34 years, Dr. Nina-Jo Moore has taught communication studies and worked as an associate dean and assistant department chair at Appalachian State University. In recognition of her significant contributions to App State, Moore has been selected as the mace bearer for the fall 2020 commencement for the College of Fine and Applied Arts.
“It’s a huge honor being named the mace bearer,” Moore said. “I have a number of memories of my time at Appalachian…the 100-year celebration, working with five different chancellors, being one of the communication faculty in 1999 that started our department’s study abroad trip to Poland. I love going to work every day, and I said I wanted to work until I’m 70. I’ll be close to that on June 30 when I officially retire.”
Even though she’s taught multiple generations of students, Moore says that she doesn’t see a tremendous amount of difference in today’s college students versus the ones she taught back in the 1980s.
“I really enjoy the interaction with the students,” she said. “I love when they have that ‘aha’ moment and they get it. I teach in a more interactive style where we’ll talk about the topics or theories and try to get them to come up with their own examples or ideas.”
Moore is recognized as a strong advocate on behalf of her students, said Department of Communication Chair Dr. Scott Welsh.
“She’s always available to students, and when advising them, she looks for ways to help them with their graduation requirements,” Welsh said. “Because of her experience as an associate dean and working as a professor, she finds ways to guide them that may not be intuitive. In the classroom, she seems demanding because she has high standards for grammar and writing but she always wants to do what’s best for her students.”
Moore’s desire to help her students succeed comes from her own personal experience as an undergraduate who encountered academic challenges.
“When I applied for my master’s program, I got in conditionally because my undergraduate GPA was only a 2.48,” Moore says. “The University of Georgia took me as a conditional student. My first semester, I was able to get a 4.0 and I was good to go. I’ll tell my students who are frustrated if they’re not making all As that after getting a 2.48 GPA, I went on to get my master’s and my PhD, so grades aren’t always a measure of how smart you are.”
During her career at App State, Moore served as associate dean for the College of Fine and Applied Arts from 2005-2011 and has been an assistant chair for the Department of Communication since 2013. Along with other department faculty, Moore helped establish the Department of Communication’s first study abroad trip to Poland.
In the course of teaching for more than three decades, Moore has seen other significant changes within the Department of Communication at App State. The number of students majoring in communication has doubled since 1987, and the department went from offering a general communication degree to offering five distinct majors. The faculty have also changed during that time, with significant increases in the number of female faculty holding doctoral degrees. When she arrived, Moore was one the 14 percent of female faculty who had earned a PhD, according to App State's Institutional Research Assessment and Planning. Today, App State has about equal numbers of female and male professors holding doctoral degrees.
“I knew I wanted to be a college professor and that to do this for the rest of my life, I needed a Ph.D.,” Moore said. “I just knew that I really wanted to do this, and being a professor has helped me stay young. I’m 69, but my brain doesn’t feel like I’m 69 years old. My students teach me a lot of things, and I enjoy understanding what they’re thinking, and the things that they’re doing and the language that they use. I really enjoy that interaction with them.”
When Moore retires in summer 2021, Welsh said the department will miss her contributions to her students, the department and will also miss her gregarious personality.
“Nina-Jo has a personality that can just fill a room,” Welsh said. “She’s jovial, constructive, and has a sense of humor that allows others to have one as well. She’s super extroverted and a joy to be around.”