Meet the Departments: Communication and Theatre

Gina Lane, Ph.D.
Professor of communication and Chair of the Department of Communication and Theatre

Dr. Lane received her doctorate in communication studies from the University of Kansas. She is formerly the director of debate and coached the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence champions in 2007, among other accomplishments during her time as director.

“The study of communication and theatre is important because both fields teach you to find your voice, to be heard in a world that will speak over you if you are not careful. To be human is to perform, to give voice to a message that only you can create. No matter what kind of career you choose, you will not make a mark in the world without the ability to express yourself,” said Dr. Lane.

She expressed her admiration for both the students and professors who share her department.

“I love seeing students develop — as debaters, as thinkers, as writers, as speakers and as people. I feel blessed to be able to witness such a pivotal time in the lives of Jewell students. Also, there are so many wonderful things about my department, but what I love most is my faculty colleagues. Their level of commitment to the craft of teaching is phenomenal. They are professors who care deeply for their students and want them to succeed. Time and time again I have seen them go the extra distance to help a student achieve. They are not satisfied with average. Whether it is Kyle Dennis coaching our debaters to be 2016 nationals champions or Chris McCoy and Nathan Wyman, our theatre faculty, working to make Godspell an outstanding production, Josh Hoops working with our international students, or Debbie Chasteen working with our interns; all of them push our students to achieve peak performances,” said Dr. Lane.

Deborah Chasteen, Ph.D.
Professor of communication and Communication and Theatre Internship Director

Dr. Chasteen earned her bachelors degree at William Jewell College in political science and communication, her masters degree at the University of Central Missouri in speech communication and her doctorate at the University of Kansas in communication studies. Dr. Chasteen has also taught overseas three times, including twice at China Agricultural University in their International College in Beijing.

“Communication skills are important in every part of life. My first professional job was in public relations at the American Heart Association where I worked with board members who had a wide variety of positions, such as heart surgeons, lawyers and corporation officers. These people had achieved some success in their careers, but many had weak communication skills. Several would ask me for help writing board reports or preparing presentations. I was only 23 years old and yet they relied on me for help in communicating more effectively. I enjoyed helping teach and coach the board members and decided to go back to graduate school and teach full-time,” said Chasteen.

Dr. Chasteen enjoys the college atmosphere as well as how she can help younger people develop these same skills.

“I love working with students as an advisor for academics, internships and student organizations. Right now, I am working with students in the Jewell Communication and Theatre Society to plan our Career Day event for April 25. It is always an inspiring day of networking and learning about career possibilities for our students,” said Dr. Chasteen

Joshua Hoops, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of communication

“Communication is consistently correlated with both professional and personal success. However, communication is also the means by which we create our social realities, realities that can be both empowering and oppressing” said Dr. Hoops

Dr. Hoops finds that the academic environment helps him with his communication skills as well as allowing him to encourage his students’ growth.

“Every day I wake up thankful for the opportunity to hopefully present new ideas/perspectives to students, help them develop skills that will lead to success in their lives, in terms of their professional, interpersonal and societal roles. Academia also goads me to continue learning and growing, which is something I cherish,” said Dr. Hoops

Nathan A. Wyman, M.F.A.
Professor of theatre, producing director of Jewell Theatre Company

Professor Wyman earned his bachelors in art studies at William Jewell College and his masters of fine arts in stage design and production from Northern Illinois University. Wyman has designed stage sets, lighting and props for over 35 different plays and musicals at Jewell since joining the faculty in 1998. In 2005, he taught communication and art classes at Harlaxton College,where he also curated its first art exhibition, which included biodegradable garden art) In 2010 during sabbatical, he designed and built stage set and lighting for Running With Scissors Theatre Company in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England.

“First of all, I think it is important to understand that communication and theatre offer very different kinds of courses at Jewell, but one could say they both have a strong foundation in speaking. That said, I think theatre courses are important for all students at the college to explore, and they are welcome to do so. For example, my ‘Introduction to Stagecraft’ class is offered every semester and often has two or three non-majors in it. They end up learning not just about theatre but how to apply the use of carpentry tools, electrical equipment, sewing techniques, etc. into their every day lives. These are important technical skills that will be useful when students get out on their own. The courses in acting offered in the program are also important, offering students from any major a chance to learn how to express themselves verbally as well as physically,” said Dr. Wyman.

Like Dr. Lane, he appreciates the environment his fellow faculty members create.

“I have a very supportive set of department colleagues. We teach very different subjects, but we all seem to understand the importance of supporting each other’s projects. I’m always happy when my communication colleagues attend Jewell Theatre productions, and although I no longer teach courses in communication, I still enjoy attending the senior communication presentations each semester. We are a pretty social group and enjoy getting together both for work and events outside of work,” said Dr. Wyman.

Chris McCoy, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of theatre and stage director

Dr. McCoy earned his bachelors in secondary theater/English education from the University of Kansas, his masters in theater education from Emerson College, his masters in curriculum and instruction from University of Missouri-Kansas City and his doctorate in performance studies from the University of California, Davis. McCoy has spent 10 years working in the professional performing arts, serving as director and choreographer for many local theater companies.

“Despite the abundance of entertainment in our contemporary world, or perhaps because of it, theatre seems more relevant than ever. Theatre requires us to work together to create something beautiful or challenging or thought-provoking, and it is this ensemble nature of the art that I love so much. Too often, our world allows or requires us to hide behind screens; it’s great to be involved in an art that forces us to put down the technology and interact as people have been doing for thousands of years,” said Dr. McCoy

Dr. McCoy is impressed with Jewell’s theater students’ busy schedules.

“The theatre students at Jewell are pretty amazing because they have to balance so much as well as be in the theatre very night Monday through Thursday for three hours for rehearsals. I am inspired by their energy and commitment to doing great work!”

Professor Kyle Dennis is also a member of the communication and theatre department. He is the director of debate and an instructor of communication classes.

An earlier version of this article was published with misspellings. 


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