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New Faculty Spotlight: Kaitlin Hanger, public relations

Aug 2, 2018

Posted in: News

By Marcus Messner, Ph.D., Associate Director

Kaitlin Hanger, Ph.D., instructor, public relations 

Kaitlin Hanger, Ph.D., is one of our newest professors in the public relations sequence. She started teaching classes in the spring.

Welcome to the Robertson School! Tell us a little bit about where you are from and where you worked, or studied, previously? 

I grew up in Western Michigan and have worked for the ProQuest Division of Bell & Howell as a marketing communications director and for Saturn Car Company as a Creative Lead and Senior Copywriter. I also owned my own advertising firm with a partner in Jackson, Michigan for five years. In addition I worked as a creative director for several magazines in Michigan early in my career. I have a B.F.A. from Kendall College of Art and Design, an M.A. in Multimedia Arts from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Visual Communication from Wayne State University.

What is your teaching philosophy? Which classes will you be teaching this upcoming semester?

I teach visual communication skills through an interdisciplinary approach and challenging curriculum that focuses on highly engaged learning in which students explore and critique a variety of visual, written, and aural messages. I consider myself a mentor and enjoy working with students one on one as much as I do in groups. I believe it is the instructor’s job to help her students learn to adapt, respond, reflect, and accept responsibility regarding the infinite connections between symbol and human reality and to understand and influence the patterns of thought that help us successfully negotiate our diverse global community. I challenge students to develop and strengthen their knowledge of the full complexity of the communication process within a learning environment based on mutual respect and collaboration. My students study a variety of practical and theoretical approaches that form the foundation of visual rhetoric to build knowledge, community, and critical skills.

An atmosphere of mutual engagement is central to my classroom style, which is activity-based. I challenge students to take ownership of the learning environment by "being there" emotionally, spiritually and intellectually—to offer valued opinions, support one another, actively participate in discussions, and learn the critical thinking patterns needed to produce quality products and creatively inform and persuade others throughout their professional lives. I have been fortunate to participate in small classes with lower student to instructor ratios, which allows me to build lifelong relationships with my students whom I continue to mentor after graduation.

How do you keep current in this ever-changing media environment?

To keep current in graphic design I consult and work with non-profit organizations to develop their marketing and PR materials. I have specialized in brand management. I also am avid reader and find Twitter communicators in Graphic Design very inspiring for finding new innovative approaches to design. I'm a member of the College Art Association and stay current through that group as well. I spend as much as 3 hours a day listening to CNN, news podcasts, and reading newspapers like the Washington Post and the Guardian.

Tell us something personal about yourself. What hobbies and interests do you have outside of the classroom?

I am a creative writer, I write poetry, and I have been at work on a novel for several years now. The book is in three volumes and the first volume is nearly ready for publication. The story takes place in the 1950s during the McCarthy era and involves an actress/filmmaker and her communication with an Ojibwe ghost. Takes place in northern Michigan and Chicago. It delves a great deal into Native American culture during the 1950s and before and the copper mining district of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and how that shaped northern Michigan. I have also created illustrations for the book and video for the second volume, so it is a multimedia project. The name of the series is The Depths of Superior Alchemy and the first volume is called The Voice Catcher.