Like many of you, A First Look was my introduction to communication theory. During the fall of my junior year at Wheaton College, I took Em Griffin’s interpersonal communication course. That class whetted my appetite for more, so in the spring semester I took his class on persuasionâ€“which was also intriguing, applicable, and engaging. I was a computer science major at the time, and although that subject fascinated me, I was pretty sure human communication fascinated me even more.
So, I enrolled in Em’s communication theory course. I was so excited that I bought the fourth edition of A First Look before I left campus for the summer. I’d eagerly devoured half of it by the time I returned in the fall. I quickly added communication as a second major. More than that, I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school to become a professor of communication.
My co-authoring relationship with Em and Glenn began at this time. Knowing my career goal and my interest in communication research, Em invited me to join him on a research project he had begun with Glenn years ago. The study tracked college friends over time, searching for qualities that predict closeness over the long haul. My summer after college graduation was spent reading the research literature, drafting a survey, distributing it by mail to the research participants, and entering the data. It was a challenging project, but after many years of work together, we published the study in the journal Personal Relationships. I’m not only thankful that Em and Glenn gave their time to mentor me in research as a young scholar, but also thankful that the paper strengthened my friendship with them and, eventually, led to our collaboration on A First Look.
I pursued my graduate education at the University of Kansas. I grew as a scholar under the mentorship of excellent professors at KU. Those years were deeply life-changing beyond the classroom as well. Most importantly, I met my very best friend, my wife Jessica, at Signs of Life coffee shop in downtown Lawrence, KS. Everyone whom I’ve ever brought to that coffee shop agrees it’s one of the best, so if you’re ever in Lawrence, please give them your business! (No they’re not giving me any kickback, I promise!)
At the time Jessica was finishing up her law degree, and I my master’s degree. We quickly discovered that we had similar life historiesâ€”like me, she was raised in the Pacific Northwest, but, also like me, attended college at a small liberal arts school in the Great Lakes region. More importantly, we bonded quickly over our shared church membership and Christian faith. We were married in January 2005. As I was finishing my Ph.D., we welcomed our first daughter, Sydney, in December 2006. We soon moved to Athens, OH, where we both taught at Ohio University. Our second daughter, Kira, was born there in May 2009.
I’m now an associate professor at Texas Christian University (TCU). Although I had never lived in Texas before, my family roots run deep here. My grandmother was from a town west of Fort Worth, and I grew up hearing stories about Texas told in her lovely Texan accent. (If you’ve watched my interview with Howie Giles, that might explain why I’ve been quick to pick up the word ‘y’all.’) We’ve found Texas to be a delightful place to live and raise our family (although I think my wife wishes the summers were a bit cooler).
We’ve also enjoyed the community we’ve found at TCU. My department is full of wonderful scholars and friends who take both their teaching and their scholarship seriously. Seeing their excellence in the classroom pushes me to do my best as well. Not surprisingly, communication theory is the course I teach most regularly, typically every semester. Students take our theory course at the sophomore level, and we require the course for students transferring into the communication major. I’ve included a link to my syllabus below. I also teach advanced seminars on social networking sites and on research methods.
My research program mirrors my chief interests in interpersonal, family, and mediated communication. Specifically, I investigate how people maintain interpersonal relationships through communication technology. My work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, including Human Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Communication Research, Journal of Family Communication, and New Media & Society. I’ve also been active in leadership roles at the Central States Communication Association and National Communication Association. You can read more about my research program on my TCU faculty website, or check out my personal website and blog. A link to my CV appears below.
What about my life beyond the world of teaching and research? Well, as my friends and family would testify, I’m a bit of a geek. I enjoy reading fiction, and most of the fiction I read is sci-fi and fantasy. Some of my favorites are The Lord of the Rings, Ender’s Game, and Foundation. I’m not much of a movie fan, but I do appreciate a good Disney/Pixar film, especially the Toy Story series and Wreck-It Ralph. I probably like the latter because few things are relaxing to me as a classic Nintendo video game. I like to go running, and wish I had more time to cook. I enjoy cheering on the TCU Horned Frogs and the Kansas Jayhawksâ€”especially for the latter when it’s March Madness time.
Feel free to contact me by e-mail or on Twitter (@dr_ledbetter). I’d especially appreciate any feedback you have about we can make the book the most accurate and inspiring introduction to communication theory it can be.
Also available: Andrew's CV, and the syllabus from his offering of Communication Theory at TCU (both as pdf documents).
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updated May 6, 2014
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