Dr. Cindy Griffin, a bulwark of the Department of Communication Studies, will retire at the end of this year.
An extraordinary scholar, outstanding teacher, and beloved mentor, Cindy embodied the greatest strengths of the department. When she arrived at CSU in 1993 she sensed that there would be “a lot of exciting opportunities.” Building new classes in the department, engaging in the growing graduate program, and allying herself and the department with women’s studies and ethnic studies became central foci of her career at CSU. Growing new programs and designing new curricula were, Cindy says, “wonderful opportunities for me as a young faculty member.”
Indeed, under her direction, the department began to offer a range of new classes including Gender and Communication, Feminist Theories of Discourse, and Rhetoric of Civility. These classes linked the department to the women’s studies graduate certificate and, just as importantly, to very important discussions in the field and in the rapidly changing university and larger contexts.
These classes came directly out of Cindy’s ground-breaking research. From her very first publications, Cindy’s essays and books helped reconfigure the rhetorical studies. With trenchant critiques of rhetoric’s focus on persuasion and a wide range of masculinist perspectives, Cindy was able to help scholars rethink and reimagine rhetoric. Perhaps most influential was her essay written with Sonja K. Foss “Beyond Persuasion: A Proposal for an Invitation Rhetoric.” The essay has been cited nearly 500 times and translated into numerous languages and has generated vigorous conversation around issues of power, agency, and political effectiveness.
But Cindy’s career is marked by translating the scholarly into the pedagogical. Taking invitation as a central theme, she published the best selling public speaking text Invitation to Public Speaking, whose innovative argument engages students and teachers in public speaking as a central mode for engaging others in civil, world-making discourse.
Cindy’s work has not only changed the field and the department but has also shaped individual lives. Indeed, students have been crucial to Cindy’s joy in her work. Students are the highlight of Cindy’s career. “Getting to know them, watching them learn and grow, and then staying in contact with them as they graduate and find jobs and begin families” have been among the most memorable moments of her time at CSU. “I think that over my 23 years here, I continue to see students show us their brilliance and their hearts. In the classroom, you get these moments where a student shines, or shares an amazing insight, and I think that’s the magic of teaching.” It’s the magic of teaching as Cindy performs it.
There is a rich life in front of Cindy. She says that there are “a couple of books in the works.” She will also put more time into the GriffinHarte Foundation and their work around civility. And she will spend more time weaving “wonderful scarves, blankets, and rugs.”
For more than 20 years, Cindy wove a powerfully transformative career at CSU and in the department. Her influence and values are sewn into the fabric of the institution and into the lives of so many students and colleagues with whom she has interacted.