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Donna Pawlowski

Donna Pawlowski
Professor of Communication Studies, Dept Chair


My roots begin and end in Minnesota. I grew up on a farm near Warren, Minnesota where I am the fifth of six children. Hard work ethics, the importance of family, and respect for others are some of the values I cherish; and hopefully, the values I instill in my students today.

Teaching has always been a passion of mine. I attended the University of North Dakota where I received a B.S.Ed. in Secondary Education, and a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies. I continued my education with a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995. Upon graduation, I taught at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for 19 years before being fortunate to be hired at BSU in the fall of 2013. I am currently a Professor of Communication Studies, Chair of the Sociology and Communication Studies department, and serve as the Academic Service-Learning Faculty Director.

I was blessed with the opportunity to build a communication studies program at BSU where we now have a major and minor in Communication Studies. I love teaching several courses in the program. Presentation courses include Public Speaking, Interviewing, and Career and Professional Communication. Other relational and applied courses include Interpersonal Communication, Family Communication, Organizational Communication, Health Communication, Conflict Communication, Persuasion, and Gender Communication. I love working with students in this new program and watching them flourish throughout their academic career!

In my role as service-learning director, I provide faculty development and workshops for those who want to build partnerships between their courses and students with community members. Service-learning provides students with an opportunity to make a difference in our communities and learn about course concepts through the eyes of the community. This notion is built on mutual respect and reciprocity of relationship building.

What I love most about BSU are genuine students and colleagues. I enjoy spending time with students outside the classroom, getting to know them as individuals, and supporting their academic and career choices. BSU has provided me with the opportunities to utilize my expertise in teaching, curriculum development, assessment, and service-learning. I look forward to spending the rest of my career at BSU!

Recent Work

Selected Publications Since 2000:

Pawlowski, D. R. (2021). Informal and formal mentoring of faculty at undergraduate teaching institutions. In A. Atay & D. Trebing (Eds). Communication and communication: Theories and practices. (pp. 127-151). Peter Lang.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2019). Communicating the significance of home: Stroke survivors and caregivers share their stories. Communication and Theatre Association of Minnesota Journal, 43, 29-72.
*article received the Central States Communication Association’s Outstanding State Manuscript Award, 2020

Pawlowski, D. R. (2018). From the classroom to the community: Best practices in service-learning. Journal of Communication Pedagogy, 1(1), 85-92 doi: 10.31446/JCP.2018.15

Pawlowski, D. R. (2018). Embracing millennials in higher education: Examining dialectics and creating pedagogical strategies for teaching millennials. In A. Ahmet, & M. Ashlock (Eds.). Embracing millennials reshaping organizational cultures: From theory to practice (pp. 155-174). Lanham, MA: Lexintgon Books.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2017). Communication Civility Code: Positive Communication via Student Input. Communication Teacher, 31(1), 6-10.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2015). Published book review, Turner, L. H., & West, R. (Eds.). (2015). The SAGE handbook of family communication. Iowa Communication Journal, 47(2), 245-258.

Pawlowski, D. R. (Ed.). (2012). Iowa Communication Journal: Communication and the Family [Special Issue].

Pawlowski, D. R. (March, 2011). Published book review for Communicating health: A culture centered approach by Dutta M. J. (Ed.), Communication Research Trends. 29(1), 3 pgs

Pawlowski, D. (2009). “Examining Ethical Perspectives via Erin Brockovich,” Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 72(4), 439-455.

Pawlowski, D., Bruess, C., & Dickmeyer, L. (2009). A case for doing oral and family histories with elders: Service-learning in family communication. In M. Elkins, B. Hugenberg, D. Worley, & D. Worley (Eds.), Best Practices in Experiential and Service Learning in Communication (pp. 113-127). Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Chadwick, S., & Pawlowski, D. R. (2007). Assessing institutional support for service-Learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 13(2), 31-39.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2006). Published book review for Handbook of Communication and Aging Research (2nd ed.), by Nussbaum, J. F. & Coupland, J. (Eds.), Communication Research Trends, 25(3), 29-35.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2006). Dialectical tensions in families experiencing acute health issues: Stroke survivors’ perceptions. In L. Turner, & R. West (Eds.). The Family Communication Sourcebook (pp. 469-489). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2006). Sexual communication in the family: Handling a delicate topic in the family communication course. Communication Teacher, 20(4), 100-104.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2006). Who am I and where do I stand? Communication Teacher, 20(3), 69-73.

Kirby, E. L., McBride, M. C., Shuler, S., Birkholt, M. J., Danielson, M. J., & Pawlowski, D. R., (2006). The Jesuit difference (?): Narratives of negotiating spiritual values and secular practices. Communication Studies, 57, 87-105.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2004). Published book review for Group communication in context: Studies of bona fide groups. (2nd ed.) by Frey, L (Ed.), Communication Research Trends, 23, 32-34.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2003). Community-based learning in Jesuit institutions: Results from a pre-assessment of community agencies. In M. A. Danielson & J. Davies (Eds.), AJCUCC Proceedings 2001, (pp. 3-6). Omaha, NE: Creighton University.

Pawlowski, D. R., Cieloha-Meekins, J., & Thilborger, C. (2001). Prisons, old cars, and Christmas trees: A metaphoric analysis of familial communication. Communication Studies, 52, 180-196.

Pawlowski, D. R., Danielson, M. A., & Myers, S. A. (2001). The relationship between critical thinking and student argumentativeness, verbal aggressiveness, and locus of control in the basic communication course. Ohio Speech Journal. 37, 1-18

Pawlowski, D. R., & Myers, S. A., & Rocca, K. A. (2000). Relational messages in conflict situations among siblings. Communication Research Reports, 17, 271-278.

Pawlowski, D. R., & Hollwitz, J. C. (2000). Work values, cognitive strategies, and applicant reactions in a structured pre-employment interview for ethical integrity. The Journal of Business Communication,37, 58-77.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2000, Winter). Multiple method interviewing: Learning about performance appraisals through information-gathering phone interviews, Communication Teacher, 14(2), 9-10.

Pawlowski, D. R. (2000). Imagine a sympathetic reader. In F. Pyrczak (Ed.), Completing your thesis or dissertation (p. 78). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.

Research Interests

As my teaching informs my research and vice versa, my scholarship takes on various forms. First, I have a passion for understanding our students of today. Some of my work includes instructional research with a focus on student learning as it relates to millennial and generational learning. Also, my work reflects the impact of service-learning on students, faculty, administration, and community members as well as best practices in service-learning pedagogy. Second, my work merges relational, family, and health communication with special interest in stroke survivor communication, and caregiver-survivor relationships. Finally, my research is organizational in nature related to generational communication in the workplace and mentoring of faculty in higher education. My scholarship includes editing journals; writing articles, book chapters, and book reviews; and presenting at conventions.


Bemidji State University: 2013-present
COMM 1090 Interpersonal Communication
COMM 1100 Public Speaking
COMM 2100 Career and Professional Communication
COMM 2925 People and the Environment: Environmental Communication Perspective – interdisciplinary course
COMM 3100 Interviewing
COMM 3110 Organizational Communication
COMM 3130 Family Communication
COMM 3170 Health Communication
COMM 3500 Communication and Conflict
COMM 3700 Persuasion and Communication
COMM 4000 Capstone: Communication and Community Connections (service-learning course)
COMM 4910 Undergraduate Teaching Associate
WSGS 3100 Gender Communication

Additional Courses Prior to BSU:
Undergraduate Courses
Advanced Interpersonal Communication
Communication Research Methods
Communication Theory
Conflict Management and Resolution
Freshman Seminar
Gendered Health Across the Life Span
Intercollegiate Speech and Debate
Internships – Communication Studies and Health Administration and Policy Program
Introduction to Mass Communication
Leadership: Theory, Styles, and Skills
Managerial Communication
Parliamentary Procedure
Small Group Communication: Theory and Practice

Graduate Courses
MBA Seminar in Leadership and Motivation
MBA Seminar in Conflict Negotiation in Organizational Context
MBA Seminar in Effective Organizational Communication
MBA Seminar in Interpersonal Competencies in Organizations


Ph.D., 1995, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, Communication Studies
Emphasis Areas: Interpersonal, Theory, and Mass Communication
Dissertation: Dialectical Tensions in Marital Couples’ Accounts of Their Relationships

M.A., 1989, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, Communication Studies

B.S.Ed., 1987, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, Communication Studies
Secondary Education with emphasis areas in Speech, Theatre, and English