For communication studies faculty member Andrea Vickery, earning the 2023 President’s Award for Teaching Excellence thanks to a nomination from one of her students underscores her dedication to those who she connects with on campus.

Anyissel Hernandez, who graduated in May 2023 with a communication degree, described Vickery as “one of the most dedicated, passionate and inspiring teachers I have ever encountered.”

“Everyone who knows Dr. Vickery knows she is fully committed to her students and demands the very best from every one of them,” Hernandez wrote. “Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and her dedication to her craft is evident in everything she does. She goes above and beyond in her teaching, ensuring that her students learn the material and develop a passion for the subject.”

“Dr. Vickery established herself as a distinguished instructor since she joined our department in the fall of 2019,” noted Jessica Reeher, chair of communication studies. Coming to Oswego after serving as visiting faculty at the University of Richmond for three years, Vickery’s research focuses on social support and listening in interpersonal relationships, which help guide her approach to teaching and advising.

At the time of nomination, Reeher noted that Vickery was faculty adviser to 28 undergraduate students as well as 10  graduate students in the strategic communication master’s program, but her impact supports a wide range of learners inside and outside Oswego’s classrooms.

“Dr. Vickery has made a tremendous impact on our students,” Reeher wrote. “She is often found in her office mentoring, chatting, consoling and consulting with students. I’m amazed at the laughter and connection with students that frames these interactions. More than once, I have walked past her office and have been impressed with the ways in which Dr. Vickery connects with students and offers them support.”

Vickery earned her Ph.D. and master’s, both in communication studies: interpersonal communications, from Louisiana State University, and a bachelor’s from Chapman University. 

Exemplary teacher and mentor

Vickery serves as the principal investigator for a $10,000 SUNY IITG (Innovative Instruction Technology Grant) project, leading the way with colleagues to create new HyFlex course offerings in the strategic communication master’s program. Serenity Sutherland, the graduate program’s coordinator, noted that Vickery has been a leader for both colleagues and students in the program in redesigning and strengthening its offerings.

“Dr. Vickery is a phenomenal mentor to graduate students through her work as an instructor in COM 590 Strategic Communication Thesis/Applied Project capstone course,” Sutherland wrote.  “In this course, students work one-on-one with their primary advisor to design and execute a research question or address an applied problem. After working with their primary advisor, students then present this work to a committee.”

Whether as an advisor or a committee member for presentations, Vickery ensures it is a meaningful experience. “Dr. Vickery manages the delicate balance of being fair and firm with requiring high standards of the student’s work, yet flexible to welcome a variety of methods and approaches,” Sutherland said. “She always advises from the position of helping a student to improve their work and to encourage the student to think of their work as doing more than simply meeting the requirements of a degree.”

Christopher Eastman, who graduated in 2022 with a double major in communication and social interaction and in creative writing, recalled Vickery being a bright light through the times of COVID-forced remote teaching, and that she also became “an amazing mentor.”

“Professor Vickery was able to help me look at job offers, graduate programs, and pushed me to do extra activities to further expand my knowledge and resume,” wrote Eastman, who is now in Pepperdine University’s master of fine arts program in writing for screen and television. “Because of Professor Vickery, I presented my research at Quest, SUNY Oswego’s annual symposium of research, decided what I wanted to do post-graduation, and had someone to talk to when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.”

“No matter the course or content, she always works to include elements that connect the content to personally applicable industries and situations,” wrote 2023 communication graduate Joe Dolan, noting that the final paper for COM 301: Communication Theories was one of his favorite assignments. “We had the chance to analyze and apply a few communication theories to a career or job of our choice. Applying multiple theories to a sector of my interest not only helped to drive home the principles of each theory but understand how the theories and this knowledge could be helpful to me in the future.”

“Dr. Vickery’s kindness, support and professionalism goes far beyond the classroom,” Jaylea Ransom, a 2022 communication graduate, noted. “She is always actively listening and encouraging students to experience many of the things that the campus has to offer. She is the reason many students join the honor society known as Lambda Pi Eta [which Vickery advises], participate in SUNY Oswego’s Quest, and engage with on-campus organizations.”

‘Exceptional partner’

Tina Cooper, SUNY Oswego’s internship and student employment coordinator as well as a master’s in strategic communication student, said Vickery is “is an exceptional partner to us in the experiential learning realm and discusses engaged learning opportunities as pivotal for students’ professional journeys.”

“Dr. Vickery not only prioritizes her students’ needs in [academic] areas but also our needs as individuals with lives outside of our academic program,” Cooper said. “She happily concerns herself with getting to know her students every step of the way, never making us feel as though we are anything but equals as people. She encourages us to seek out growth and provides connections to development opportunities that go above and beyond the norm.”

Sarah Ozga –- who earned a master’s in strategic communications in 2023 as well as Oswego’s advanced certification in integrated and social media –- said Vickery has been “the voice of inspiration and motivation during my graduate school journey, with her passionate work ethic being the comforting grounding to know she was readily available for my academic needs.”

“The teaching techniques Dr. Vickery utilizes in class are comprehensive, ranging from short discussion prompts to more in-depth writing assignments that seamlessly encourage all students in the classroom to get involved,” Ozga wrote. “Outside of the classroom, Dr. Vickery shows a high level of concern for the intellectual growth of students.”

Paul Achter of the University of Richmond Rhetoric and Communication Studies Department noted that at this stop, Vickery showed that she “walks the walk”: “She exudes a sense of integrity. As her colleague and one-time supervisor, I cannot say enough about how much I appreciated her steady, upbeat, straightforward manner. She cultivated relationships with administrative and custodial staff. She learns fast. She exhibits high emotional intelligence.”

In addition to her coursework, Vickery recently completed a three-year term on the National Communication Association's Teaching and Learning Council, which reflects her passion for quality teaching. As does the fact that, after completing her Association for College and University Educators (ACUE) Effective Teaching Practices certificate in 2020, she served as co-facilitator for the 2021-2022 ACUE campus cohort. 

That passion extends to going beyond the classroom to make personal connections with students.

“Dr. Vickery's ability to get to know her students personally is what makes her stand out,” Hernandez noted. “Although she is friendly and approachable, Dr. Vickery expects her students to take full responsibility for their education. Her positive personality and encouraging attitude make for a stimulating learning environment that encourages students to be their best.”

Note: Nominations are still open through Feb. 26 for the 2024 President’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Check out this Oswego Today announcement to learn more.