Professor Leeanne Bell McManus has truly followed her passion for educational communication. Between caring for her two girls, teaching college classes, authoring textbooks, and hanging with her family, she handles her lifestyle with wisdom and grace. Read on to learn more about this week's Intelligent Chic Mom on the Street.
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Leeanne M. Bell McManus (Ph.D., Duquesne University, 2007) is a professor in the Department of Communication at Stevenson University. She has co-authored four books, Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference, Conflict Between Persons: Origins of Leadership, Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, and Communication Ethics: Activities for Critical Thinking and Reflection. Leeanne has published excerpts in Integrated Marketing Communication: Creating Spaces for Engagement, Exploring Communication Ethics: Interviews with Influential Scholars in the Field, The Encyclopedia of Social Identity, and The Encyclopedia of Communication Ethics.
She is a member of the National Communication Association (NCA), the Eastern Communication Association (ECA), and the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA). Leeanne is also the past president of the Communication Ethics Division of NCA and past president of the Eastern Communication Association. At Stevenson University, she teaches and conducts research in communication ethics, event planning, conflict, leadership, instructional communication, and interpersonal communication.
What motivated you to become a communications professor?
Instead of jumping into a career, I stayed in school until I earned a Ph.D. I loved college and never wanted to leave. As an undergrad, I started teaching college courses in the athletic department. I taught swimming, water safety, and water aerobics.
After undergrad, I had no clue what I wanted to do, so I stayed in school. I earned my M.A. at West Virginia University, where I cultivated my love of teaching. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. at Duquesne University with the intent of becoming a professor. While earning my Ph.D. I learned to love writing and starting working towards my first textbook publication.
Do you enjoy volunteering at organizations outside of your job?
Yes, I am the Past President of the Eastern Communication Association. The Eastern Communication Association is the oldest professional communication association in the United States that serves members of the communication discipline. This nonprofit organization has been my academic home, and I love working with other scholars to encourage the importance of thoughtful and reflective communication. They are a great organization that supports faculty and students with a passion for the field of communication.
And what made you want to achieve your Doctorate in Communication?
I always struggled to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. In college, I think I changed my major at least 4 or 5 times. I loved college….maybe a little too much, and never wanted to leave. So I ended up staying until I earned a doctorate in communication.
Learning new things is something I will always enjoy. I love the energy on a college campus and appreciate working in an environment where people want to change the world for the better.
If people are interested in your textbooks or articles, where can they find them?
Most of my co-author pieces are published by Kendall Hunt. You can also find me on Amazon….which sounds funny but true. I have authored and co-authored many educational Communication texts. I also have been published in the Atlantic Journal of Communication, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, Communication Annual: Journal of the Pennsylvania Communication Association, and many more.
It is always fun speaking to people that read my work, and I enjoy speaking with classes or professionals. It never hurts to send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and see where it goes. My most valuable professional relationships are people that have reached out to ask me a quick question, and then it turns into a long conversation about various ideas.
What do you enjoy most about contributing to and authoring educational Communications texts?
All of my books make me think about how the knowledge we learn in the classroom must apply to our day-to-day experiences. I write to answer questions that I have about the world. Researching these books helps me figure out how to be a more engaged and knowledgeable professor.
Do you have any new books or articles you may be authoring on the horizon?
Yes, I have a few new pieces that I am working on right now. I am finishing up a workbook with a great group of individuals interested in bringing communication ethics to the forefront of the college classroom. Currently, I am also researching why students communicate or do not communicate with their professors.
What are some of your favorite classes you have taught?
If I have to narrow it down, my top two favorite courses are Communication Ethics and Conflict and Negotiation. I love how both classes are constantly changing. We live in a world where communication ethics and conflict are invaluable topics to discuss, and the students are always bringing new ideas into the classroom.
What do you enjoy most about being a professor?
The students make my job great. I enjoy hearing their stories and successes. They are the reason I love my job. I always say I would teach for free, but you do have to pay me to grade.
What has been your most challenging and most rewarding moment as a professor?
The most rewarding moment is graduating day. Seeing our students walk across the stage and then having the opportunity to meet their friends and family is a feeling of pure joy!
The most challenging is seeing students struggle and having a tough conversation that usually results in a student having to retake a course.
How do you balance being a mom and being a full-time professor?
Good Question! I have a fabulous husband that is my partner in life. Being a two-parent working family takes teamwork. It is tough, but it makes it easier when you have a partner that goes the extra mile to make it work. When I have extra long days, he brings my kids to campus to eat dinner together as a family in the cafeteria.
Do your children share a similar love of communication, reading, and writing?
I hope so! My girls are still young (7 and 5), so their main focus is PLAY PLAY PLAY. My first grader is gravitating to her English Language Arts (ELA) classes which makes me happy.
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
We love to travel to the beach and the lake. We are a water family, so anything involving water makes us happy!
What’s been your best family vacation?
Going to Disney World when Bella turned 5, and Elouise turned 3. The girls were the perfect age to believe in all the magic.
What’s your go-to family dinner?
Tuesday Taco Night
What’s your favorite family restaurant?
Pizza Hut (according to Bella) and Subway (according to Elouise)
Best parenting advice:
Find a group of moms that support you. Having a mom tribe is important. It helps you realize that you are not alone in this crazy parenting adventure.
What is the most challenging and the most rewarding thing about being a mom?
There never seems to be enough time. Work/life balance is tough, and trying to make it all work doesn’t always happen. The most rewarding thing is seeing your children happy.
Parenting true confession (funny or oops moment):
I have had lots of oops moments teaching from home during Covid. The best story is when my youngest ran inside to poop and decided to use the bathroom right next to my office. She kept screaming, "I need wiped! I have squishy poop!" She then proceeded to walk out with toilet paper as I tried to maneuver my screen out of the way.
Which three words best describe your style?
Classic, Casual, and Chic
What are your favorite places to shop?
White House Black Market, Nordstrom Rack, and Home Goods
Who’s your favorite style icon?
What’s your best style advice?
Dress for Success! During Covid, I encouraged all of my students to get up and get ready for the day.
What article of clothing/accessory would you not want to live without?
A blazer. It is the perfect accessory you can wear with jeans and dress pants.
…And do not forget the Pearls!
What fashion/style did you love at the time but now cringe when you see old photos?
Wide leg pants, also known as MC Hammer pants. They never looked flattering!
What’s your best style secret?
Invest in a great suit. In other words, invest in a wardrobe that is timeless and well-made. I love every suit that I own and still own suits from 15 years ago. I might not fit in them, but a girl can dream.
Stilettos or flats? Flats and flip-flops are definitely my style.
What’s your favorite show to binge-watch?
This sounds so academic…I cannot binge-watch TV, but I can binge-read a good book!
If you could pick anyone to star as you in a movie based on your life, who would it be?
Julia Roberts…There are so many movies of hers that I love including Mona Lisa Smile, where she plays a college professor.
What’s your favorite beach read?
What song would you dance to when nobody’s watching?
We need to make this plural because we are a dancing house! "This Is My Fight Song" by Rachel Platten, "This Girl is on Fire" by Alicia Keys, "Country Roads, Take Me Home" by John Denver.
If you could go shopping with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be?
Michelle Obama because I loved when she went to Target with Ellen. Even as a First Lady of the United States, she always kept fashion and life real.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?
I would like to visit all of the Caribbean Islands, and I want to take the kids to Atlantis in the Bahamas.
What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day? A nice long hot bubble bath.
We love Leeanne's intelligent and positive attitude toward life and style as a new mom. Her intelligent chic outlook on education and life inspires us to always continue learning. You can check out her communication texts online or see her profile on Stevenson University's website. And for more fun and stylish moms, be sure to check out FamilyApp's Mom on the Street!