Mary Wiemann is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Communication at Santa Barbara City College. She is the author of Real Communication, 3e.
Q: What has been your favorite course to teach and why?
MW: The intro course because it excites students about the field and corrects their thinking that communication is just common sense.
Q: What advice do you have for other instructors who teach this course?
MW: Be ready to have FUN with it—connect the course concepts to your own life and challenge the students to do the same. Don’t be afraid to talk about the communication challenges we all face—becoming more competent communicators helps us deal with them and increases our satisfaction with interactions.
Q: How do you spend your time when you're not teaching?
MW: Now that I have retired from teaching (I was also department chair for 8 years), I have trained to be a docent at a California mission; I have enjoyed learning about the early history of the Chumash, the establishments of 21 missions in California by the Spanish, and the darker period after Mexico won the war with Spain when many of the missions were trashed. I love meeting people from all over the world (literally) who take my tours; I remember to engage them, welcome them and involve them in the tour (remember your public speaking advice!). I also volunteer with a women’s organization that raises money to help people in the community—I’ve done speech training for them and written some press releases. AND, I spend time with my two delightful grandsons!
Q: If you hadn't pursued a career in higher education, what career path do you think you would have chosen?
MW: I thought about going to law school for a long time because I was always fascinated about the strength of language and the way witnesses' perceptions of an event differ. Lawyers also have to be good at observing nonverbal behaviors—in their questioning of potential jurors and in coaching their clients for court appearances.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you (i.e. What's your "fun fact"?)?
MW: I have a farm in the Panhandle of Texas where we grow wheat and corn. I say “we” but mean the great farmers who actually know what they are doing grow the crops; my “growing” skills are limited to my vegetable gardens in my back yard and the orchids I propagate inside.