Saturday, February 1, 2014

Alumni Spotlight: Matt Barton

Dr. Matt Barton (’95, communication) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at SUU and serves as the director of the master’s program in professional communication. He completed a PhD at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2002 and earned tenure at SUU in 2007.

What does Matt enjoy most about working at SUU? “It’s definitely the students,” he states. “There are so many intelligent, motivated and inquisitive students who pursue education on this campus. They force me to think in new ways and help improve in my job performance.” Another aspect of his job that he values is the personal relationships he develops with his students and the opportunity to watch them mature, get married, have families and start careers. “When some students graduate I feel like I’m saying goodbye to my own kids.”

Matt has been recognized for his work both in and out of the classroom. He was named SUU’s Outstanding Educator in 2005 and was named a Faculty Fellow for his efforts to create a service learning initiative. At professional conferences he has received Top Paper Awards for his research in communication education and instruction, rhetoric and public address, and health communication.
Two of Matt’s favorite SUU memories while a student were meeting his wife Carlynn (’94, communication) and working at the campus radio station. Being involved on campus was key for him in getting the most out of his college experience.

SUU professor Art Challis had the most impact on Matt’s success, and has remained a friend and mentor. Matt explains, “Art saw something in me early on and gave me some opportunities to excel. Consequently, when the current job I have was open, he called and encouraged me to apply. I really couldn’t have asked for a professor more invested in my success than Art.”

Southern Utah University runs deep in Matt’s blood as his parents met at SUU when it was the Branch Agricultural College (BAC). While they were unable to finish their degrees due to military service, Matt, the youngest of five, is proud to say he is a first generation college graduate and that education was always a priority in his home while growing up.

Incidentally, Matt and Carlynn met in an interpersonal communication class. He reflects, “I guess it was fate.” They are the parents of three children.

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