Brenden Kendall, Ph.D.?
My grandfather was named Bernard Kendall, but went by “Bronk.” My folks considered naming me after him. I narrowly avoided becoming Dr. Bronk or Dr. Bernie!
Was there an “a-ha” moment when you decided to study communication? Become a professor? Is this different from what you imagined doing when you were younger?
"I became a teacher because of a string of teachers who supported my interest and academic excellence. They basically provided nudges and support in the form of… “Well done! Keep at it, and consider this, too…!” Dave Price was my 4th grade teacher and was my master teacher/mentor when I was a 4th grade student teacher in a unique high school program. Brian Putnam and Pam Casteel were high school teachers who encouraged me to participate in theatre and to be a peer tutor. Dr. Shiv Ganesh asked me to be a TA for Introduction to Organizational Communication when I was still an undergraduate. Dr. Steve Schwarze helped me to take a paper to an academic conference for the first time. Dr. George Cheney was an inspiring teacher of communication ethics, and he was my mentor for my graduate degrees. I hope that I too can play such a role in students’ lives.
I thought I wanted to be an MD. Ended up a Ph.D."
Why do you feel it is important to study communication?
"Show me a good life – a successful life, a life in which someone flourishes, a happy life – that does not rely inherently on meaningful, ethical, successful relationships. Show me, I dare you. Heck, I’ll bet you $5. (They don’t pay me that much, so please don’t take the bet seriously!)"
What is the Communication Studies program to you?
"When I applied for this job, I was working at Clemson University. I told the search committee that rural South Carolina wasn’t geographically “home,” and Clemson didn’t feel like my institutional/professional “home.” Denver and MSU Denver are more aligned with my vibe, my values, my sense of place and purpose. I’m happy I’m working here."
What led you to MSU Denver? Why do you stay?
"My wife, Katie, was working and living in Sweden when we decided to get married. (We’d known each other for 13 years before that.) I was living in South Carolina. We didn’t want a trans-continental relationship, and we were thinking about starting a family. I did apply for a job with the Strategic Communication program at Lund University – Helsingborg. But, Katie’s family lives in South Dakota, and my family lives in Oregon. Pop quiz: Is Denver or Helsingborg between Oregon and South Dakota?
I’m here still because my passion is for teaching-and-learning, and for serving students at what is sometimes labeled “a university of opportunity.”
Besides teaching and scholarship, what’s your claim to fame?
"I’m proud of the book on which I’m a co-author: Just a Job? Communication, Ethics, and Professional Life. (Check it out: Cheney, G., Lair, D. L., Ritz, D., and Kendall, B. E. . Just a job? Communication, ethics, and professional life. New York: Oxford University Press.)
I am proud of my son, Isaac. I’m proud to be his father.
I was a key witness in a criminal trial against a person who manufactured meth in a neighborhood in which I once lived. The judge referred to me as a “vigilant citizen.” I was unusually proud of that at the time. Still am, I guess."
Is there a lecture/activity that you look forward to each semester? What’s the story behind it? What is the take home message? How are students affected?
"Whatever the class, whenever students or teams realize that, in learning things through the course of a project, they can be creative and useful in a unique and meaningful way – well, that’s what I love. Discovery and realization. Empowerment and efficacy. Perspective and empathy. Making those kinds of things possible is what moves me."
If you could leave your students with one thing after taking your class, what would it be?
"Love wisdom, love truth, love compassion, and be loving and kind toward others."
Can you summarize your teaching philosophy in three sentences or less?
"I’ll try to summarize my teaching philosophy in a haiku:
Reflection, twain with ethics.
If your office was featured in the Early Bird, what objects would you highlight?
"This stack of mess. That stack of mess. My computer on my standing desk. Another stack of mess. Coffee. My phone is around here somewhere… There’s also a story about a painting in my office that I bought for $20 from a drunk bridesmaid on the sidewalk in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. Christina Lacher/Locker/Loacher, if you’re reading this, get in touch."
If you had a bumper sticker on your car, it would read “I’d rather be___________”.
“I’d rather be breathe ride.” Or “I’d rather be ire breadth.”
"When I was younger, my hair was curly enough to pick out into a proper afro when it was long enough. At its longest, I could hide an unshaven #2 pencil in my hair."