Betsy Bach (PhD, 1985): Communication leader

Betsy Bach By Amanda Weber –

Betsy Bach (PhD, 1985) “doesn’t take life all that seriously,” but when it comes to her career, her hard work has paid off. Bach is among those being inducted into the Department of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame.

She was surprised to learn that she would be part of the inductee Class of 2010, despite her successful career. However, “success” can be a difficult word to define. “I guess success, if you feel like you’ve had success, is ongoing,” she said. Bach has been Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Montana since 1983, serving as both the Assistant Provost for Enrollment Management and Retention, and Interim Dean of the Davidson Honors College during her time. She is also a past president of the National Communication Association and has served as president of the Western Sates Communication Association. “Betsy has given us all the tools to be better researchers and better teachers,” said David Domke, Chair of the Department of Communication. “She’s charted the course for public engagement, encouraging communication leaders to be involved in the promotion of rigorous social scientific and humanistic research. She’s a model for what a professor can be.”

Bach has played various roles throughout her career. “The craziest thing I ever did was spend three years as a cop in my Com undergrad degree. That helped because I got to mediate domestic disputes.” Bach has also worked with a music thanatology group as a consultant, where musicians use song and harp to counsel the dying. However, her biggest “successes” fall under her love for teaching. She received the University of Montana’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 1991 and the Master Teacher Award from the Western States Communication Association in 1992. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching and that’s been a total highlight.”

Many have inspired her along the way, but the person Bach first thought of when she learned she was receiving this award was her former professor, Gerry Philipsen. “Even though I never took very many classes from Gerry, he’s always been a model for me. He’s just a superb scholar, an excellent mind, and a wonderful human being.”

Although Bach may profess that free time does not exist, she does manage to enjoy the outdoors in between meetings and deadlines. Hiking in Montana, and visiting wineries are Bach’s favorite ways to stop and smell the roses.