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Faculty Spotlight: Victoria Gallagher

professor stands in front of vMLK exhibit

This post was written by Nick Kimbrough, a senior studying communication.

Victoria J. Gallagher, a professor in NC State’s Department of Communication, was recently awarded the highest honor given to a faculty member by the University’s Board of Trustees: the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence. Gallagher’s teaching and scholarship spans several fields, including: visual and material rhetoric, communication ethics, organizational communication, and rhetorical theory and criticism. I was able to interview Gallagher on what this prestigious award meant to her and to the department as a whole.

When Gallagher first began teaching at NC State, she was unaware that she was about to spend the next 30 years teaching at the same institution, which is quite an accomplishment in itself. Receiving something as prestigious as the Holladay Medal was not something that Gallagher had her eyes set on when she began her career. It is very meaningful to be recognized for years of hard work, connecting countless individuals, and building programs that have made lasting impacts at NC State.

Gallagher says there are three things that she is most proud of during her career here at NC State:

  1. She’s the founding associate director of the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media doctoral program.
  2. She’s very proud of what she was able to do in helping found the Maymester program at NC State.
  3. Her third favorite accomplishment is the award winning Virtual MLK Project (vMLK) which is regularly exhibited at Hunt Library. It has been a tremendous success, demonstrating how research and community engagement can be pursued together to create unique learning experiences.

Gallagher was emphatic in crediting her amazing faculty colleagues and students for aiding in her success. Because of them and her longevity at the university, she has been able to do so much over the years to diversify her abilities and increase the impact of her research projects. She also stated that her work in building academic programs here at NC State allowed new students to come in and take advantage of these opportunities and connections.

When asked what undergraduate students in communication can learn from Gallagher’s Holladay Medal award, she indicated that she wants students to be proud of their department, their faculty and the outstanding education they receive. She notes that communication is a central discipline to NC State because communication truly is a “Think and Do” discipline — emphasizing how students can learn theory, develop methodological capabilities and then translate these out into the real world. She sees her own teaching and research as living proof of that, and she hopes students will be motivated to continually strive for greater heights.

To conclude our interview, I asked Gallagher to describe a typical work day. Gallagher noted that not every day looks the same, because like all faculty members, she has many different responsibilities that make up her job. For about half of her day, she is prepping for her courses, grading and holding meetings with all sorts of different people. During the semester, she spends her teaching days almost entirely on class related activities, as well as mentoring, advising graduate students, writing letters of recommendation and holding office hours. 

Gallagher’s responsibilities in terms of research, community engagement, departmental business, and professional service to the college, the university and her professional associations take up the other days. Even during this pandemic, she still checks in with research collaborators, oversees graduate students who are working on projects and reviews proposals from faculty here at NC State and elsewhere.

Gallagher has spent her 30-year career here at NC State and over that time she has become a distinguished professor in the Department of Communication. Through her work teaching, building master’s and doctoral programs, working on virtual exhibits, making and spreading connections and more, she has rightfully earned this year’s Holladay Medal.