Communication Connection

Friends of Com Newsletter

Faculty Profiles

New Media, Contemporary Media and Women Studies. Oh My!

Professor Chadwick Roberts in the spotlight

By Cayce Steele

Professor Chadwick Roberts started as a Part-time Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He made his mark on the department with his concepts of new media and evolved into an assistant professor, bringing more interesting topics to the COM program.

Roberts started his college career at a community college and after two years transferred to University of Southern Mississippi, where he achieved his undergraduate degree in mass communication. He moved on to get his master’s degree at Ohio University in film studies and finished at Bowling Green State University with his Ph.D. in American Culture Studies.

Going through his college career, film studies wasn’t what he initially planned to do, he was interested in journalism. While in community college, interning with a TV station, Roberts learned quickly that Journalism wasn’t for him. After two years at community college he decided to transfer to University of Southern Mississippi, because of the family environment that the university offered. “The program seemed small and everyone seemed to know each other, and there were only a few professors and that’s the environment that I wanted. I didn’t want to be in a big program with a whole lot of professors and students. We all knew the professors and they knew us so it was just a really small family environment.”

While working on his dissertation he moved to Wilmington and drove a bike taxi until he applied for a part time job in the COM Studies Department in 2009. After he finished his dissertation, Roberts applied for the assistant professor position and has been in a full time faculty member at UNCW ever since. “Most people don’t move from being part time in a department to working full time at the same place. To me that’s what makes the communication department a little bit different because it’s a department that seems to value relationships.”

Roberts also teaches Women’s Studies at UNCW. He became interested in gender and sexuality while getting his Ph.D., which led him to get his certificate in Women’s Studies at Bowling Green. The irony of being a male teaching Women and Gender Studies doesn’t escape him.

“There are advantages in being a male teacher teaching Women’s Studies,” he says, “but in some situations, it makes people stop and think for a second about accepting the idea instead of dismissing it because of the vehicle in which the idea is coming, then that’s good.”

In fact, aside from being the minority as a male teaching this subject, there’s another diverse perspective on the matter. “Being gay, I was able to look at other minority groups, or groups with less power, and see the connection with that group,” he explains. “And so being gay isn’t the same as being a woman, but I can sort of say that I know what it’s like to be looked down on and I know how it feels to feel like you have less power in a situation. I know what it’s like to have people judge you for perceived feminine traits, and that we don’t really value femininity. So, for me, I’m naturally an advocate for women’s issues, even if they don’t directly impact my life, they impact the society that we live in.”

Currently Roberts teaches an array of classes in COM Studies, as well as in Women’s Studies. Including, but not limited to Engaging Contemporary Media (COM 160), Rhetoric of Popular Culture (COM 258), New and Converging Media (COM 267), and Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS 210). In past semesters he has also taught numerous other classes in both departments. However, in the future, Roberts would like to teach a class that merges communication studies, media and women and gender studies concerns. Also, he would like to teach a feminist media course, which would focus on feminist perspective in mass media and alternative media creation.

Roberts contributes to our university and the local community with different organizations and clubs. He has been a part of the Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force since 2009, working on the advisory board. Roberts volunteers his time for fundraisers with other groups such as the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Rainbow Run to benefit the Open House Youth Shelter of Coastal Horizons, which is a center for homeless youth, including LGBT teens in Wilmington. He has also either been involved in or volunteered with the Hero’s in Heels fundraiser for the Rape Crisis Center, the Carousel Center Gala, a fundraiser for abused and neglected children, the LGBT advisory board at UNCW, the Women and Gender Studies board at UNCW, and also the Student Media Advisory board at UNCW. Roberts is a busy man to say the least, but he enjoys giving his time to helping others.

Professor Roberts brings new and diverse concepts into his courses, which in a world that’s always changing, it’s great to have faculty ready to tackle the newest concerns and educate the students.