BROOKINGS – Karla Hunter, a professor in the School of Communication and Journalism at South Dakota State University, was recently named the Speech Communication Association of South Dakota’s Distinguished Service Award recipient.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive this recognition from my SCASD colleagues – our state’s talented, passionate and successful teachers and scholars in the communication discipline,” Hunter said. “These gifted mentors and friends continue to inspire, support and share in the work required to advance our shared commitments to transformative teaching, strong mentorship, civic engagement and service to our community and our discipline.”
The Distinguished Service Award is presented yearly to recognize leadership in speech communication, service to speech activities and the respect of the speech communication profession, among other criteria.
“Dr. Karla Hunter was a pivotal leader in revitalizing the journal Discourse for the SCASD,” said Rebecca Kuel, associate director and professor in the School of Communication and Journalism at SDSU. “Her leadership led to the journal being recognized for its caliber at the Central States Communication Association, earning the 2014 Outstanding State Journal of the Year award.
Her mentorship of other scholars of communication and theatre is important as SCASD continues to support the publication of peer-reviewed scholarship, research and creative activity in the state of South Dakota.”
Hunter began her teaching career in South Dakota at Dakota Wesleyan University but became a Jackrabbit shortly thereafter in 2009 as a communication studies faculty member. In 2015, she was granted tenure as an associate professor and was then promoted to professor in 2020.
“Dr. Hunter is an esteemed researcher who believes in mentoring young scholars to achieve their potential,” said Kama Konda-Varilek, senior director of graduate and continuing studies at the University of Sioux Falls. “Her work with Discourse continues to shine as the editorial board fosters the teaching and learning philosophy emphasized by Dr. Hunter.”
Hunter’s work in the classroom extends far beyond the confines of SDSU as she has published numerous research articles related to improving teaching and learning. Many of these articles have received top-paper recognition at regional and national conferences. Moreover, she has received numerous grants focused on expanded access to higher education for South Dakota Indigenous students.
“Dr. Hunter has established herself as a leader in communication studies, and she has made an impactful difference to our community of academics in South Dakota, the region and the nation,” said Josh Westwick, director of the School of Communication and Journalism at SDSU. “She has demonstrated characteristics that distinguish her as a teacher, scholar and public servant, and she is deserving of this recognition.”
In 2021, Hunter published a book – “Interpersonal Development: 21st Century Skills for the ‘Real’ and Virtual World” – which encapsulates some of the key findings from Hunter’s 30-plus years as a teacher and researcher in higher education. She also spent time in leadership positions on a number of committees, including the SCASD’s state executive committee from 2013 to 2015.
“I’m grateful to serve among our state’s communication educators, many of whom have been instrumental in creating the very outcomes this award is recognizing,” Hunter said. “Revitalizing and sustaining our award-winning state journal, mentoring young teachers and developing platforms to encourage our students to share their hidden brilliances are made possible only through the hard work and support of my colleagues.”
Hunter received her undergraduate degree from Augustana University before earning her master’s degree and Ph.D. in communication studies from the University of Oklahoma.