Col. Sedgley & Elizabeth Bailey Thornbury Professor of Communication Chair
If Donna Weimer's current life were set to its own soundtrack, one of the songs that might aptly encapsulate her career is from "Oklahoma," where an oft-engaged character called Ado Annie sang, albeit in a much different context, about not being able to say no.
In addition to her full teaching slate, working as ECTA department chair, advising the yearbook staff, and working on varied boards and committees outside the College, Weimer also has helped organize the College's Celebration of Women event, supervised the Bailey Oratorical Contest, advised the Alfarata yearbook and worked with students, faculty and administrators on a list of projects so varied that they literally cannot be listed because of space limitations.
"If I'm asked and it makes the student experience at Juniata richer, I have no willpower," Dr. Weimer admits with a laugh. "I also believe that it's the people that who work here that make Juniata run, and I will always do things to help people to fulfill that belief."
Recently named the Col. Sedgley and Elizabeth Bailey Thornbury Professor of Communication, Dr. Weimer shows no signs of downsizing her schedule. In reality, though, she doesn't know any other way. She's been multitasking since graduate school, when as a single mother, she decided to earn a master's and doctoral degree at Penn State. "I can remember getting up at 4 a.m. to study Greek so I had enough time to study and get my son dressed and on time for school," she recalls.
Now that her son, Wes Weimer, 22, is a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley, her schedule more often than not puts her on campus for 12- to 14-hour days. As Juniata's resident specialist in communication and mass media, Dr. Weimer has to keep up not only with scholarly journals and research in her field, but also with television, movies, print media, the Internet and any other component of mass communication.
A visit to Dr. Weimer's Quinter House office, crammed with books, videotapes, magazines, posters, stickie notes, a television and a computer, shows that this is a teacher who does not lack for media preparation. She subscribes to 30 general interest magazines, and watches hours of news and politics on TV. "I'm the all time greatest channel surfer," she says. "I usually watch while I'm on the computer or reading and I'll look up if I hear something interesting and tape it."
"When I came to Juniata I was deeply impressed with the rapport Donna had established with her students," says Dr. Grace Fala, associate professor of communication. "As department chair, she is honest and forthright and she has become a mentor for the department as well as playing the role of a mother hen."
Students who take one of her classes are guaranteed to find something interesting. She teaches such popular classes as Rhetoric of Film, Truth and Lying, Cultural Analysis I (Identity in the Modern World), Media Violence and a new information technology course entitled, Indiv@metaverse.com. "It's a sophomore course that focuses on how change occurs in the technology frontier," she says. "The Metaverse course addresses how communications technology shapes the way we think and how we can get students ready to be leaders in an atmosphere of rapid change."
One of the lessons Dr. Weimer discovered at the Celebration of Women is how deeply the College's faculty has affected students. She says women who graduated in the 1930s, '40s and '50s consistently approached her with memories of various faculty members who had made a life-changing impression on their lives as students. An Allentown native, Dr. Weimer earned all three of her degrees at Penn State and came directly to Juniata in 1990. Although many college professors typically make several moves in an academic career, Dr. Weimer knows Juniata has become part of her.
"When I plant roots they go deep," she says. "The truth is that Juniata has grown on me, or in me to be more accurate."
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