After spending 27 years working at Weber State University, Master of Professional Communication Program Director Kathryn Edwards will retire at the end of December, but for her, retirement does not mean she will be done working.
“I will really miss working with the students and my colleagues,” Edwards said. “But for now, it is more of a transition than an abrupt retirement.”
Edwards, who has taught only a limited number of classes while dedicating much of her time to the Master of Professional Communication program, still plans on staying around for a few semesters as a part-time faculty member.
With more free time on their hands, Edwards and her husband plan to travel the world. One of their dream destinations, New Zealand, is on their schedule for February.
“It will be neat to go to New Zealand when it is summer there,” she said.
Edwards and her dog Abby, a trained service animal, also plan to regularly visit patients at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden to volunteer with the local animal therapy program.
Edwards began her career at WSU as a faculty member in 1989. In 1997, she was named chair of the Communication Department.
After three years in that position, Edwards became the executive director of University Communications. While at University Communications, she was responsible for launching WSU’s social media accounts. For the past four years, Edwards has served as director of the MPC program.
Even after the end of her transition period out of academic work, Edwards will continue to teach. Instead of graduate-level strategic communication classes, the subject will be yoga.
“I’ve recently worked on my yoga teacher license,” she said. “It will be a very different and special teaching experience.”
Edward’s designated successor, Sarah Steimel, is set to take over the director position for the MPC program at the beginning of the Spring 2015 semester. Steimel earned her doctorate degree in communications from the University of Nebraska in 2011 and is currently an assistant professor at WSU.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to know that people were comfortable with voting for me,” Steimel said, adding that both faculty members and the dean of the college must approve a newly-selected director over a master’s program.
“The Master of Professional Communication is a highly-rated program, and as director, I plan on continuing the great work that Dr. Josephson and Dr. Edwards have begun,” Steimel said. “I just hope to continue on their path.”
While Steimel’s main research area is communication within organizations, she said that topics of public relations and other external communication are likewise covered in the master’s program.
“In the past, I have really liked working with students who are communication professionals in various areas,” Steimel said. “It is great to see the things they learn in our program applied in the workplace.”