Dr. Meryl J. Irwin is in some ways a good example of a “liberal arts” education. She began her trek into higher education by earning a B.A. in Accounting and English Literature at Concordia College (Moorhead, MN). While an undergraduate, she was a nationally ranked competitor in forensics (individual events) and decided to pursue an M.A. degree in Communication and Culture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to continue that work as a coach.
Luckily, she fell in love with the discipline in her rhetoric classes. However, she wasn’t yet certain that teaching was her vocation. Thus, she turned to working in the corporate world of insurance for several years, using her accounting skills before recognizing and returning to the classroom. After serving as a faculty member and speech team coach, she opted to earn her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Public Advocacy at the University of Iowa.
Dr. Irwin comes to JMU from Drake University and teaches courses in Communication Criticism, Persuasion, Business and Professional Communication, along with GCOM 123. Her research interests center around the intersection of rhetorical and political theory, especially in the American context of national identity and emotion. She specializes in the study of immigration and citizenship. The first article to come out of her dissertation was published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech in January 2013.