Randy Duncan

Professor of Communication

“Communication is the most powerful tool humans use. Your communication has a tremendous impact on your quality of life.”

Randy Duncan says his best teaching occurs when he creates situations and challenges that get his students excited about developing their own perspectives.

“If I am doing my job correctly, I make students think and they benefit from the effort,” he said. “What I hope to produce are astute communicators who will not be easy to manipulate and who can use communication to impact their world.”

Duncan said college students are taking classes voluntarily, as opposed to their previous 12 years of education.

“That means they are more serious about getting the most out of the experience,” he said. “What I find particularly satisfying is helping students use their time at Henderson to prepare for the type of life they want to lead.”

Duncan completed a Master of Arts in rhetoric at Louisiana state University in 1985 and “stayed on” at LSU to complete his doctoral coursework. When he reached ABD (all but dissertation), Duncan took a job at the University of Vermont.

“Teaching full-time and writing a dissertation is quite a challenge,” he said. “By the time I finally had my Ph.D. in 1990, I was at Henderson. I’ve spent a very happy, 30 years here.”

Duncan said a career in communication will bring new challenges every day.

“If you want a job that is dull and predictable, don’t major in communication,” he said. “Communication messages must always be crafted for particular audiences and in response to particular circumstances.

“For those who enjoy the challenge of analyzing, adapting and creating, communication careers can be very gratifying.”

The critical and creative thinking skills developed as a communication major prepare graduates for such diverse careers as sports publicist, campaign director, communication teacher, media specialist, communication consultant, advertising copy writer, and social media coordinator, Duncan said.

“Effective communication is an essential skill in this Information Age, and as we move into the Experience Age, it is going to be more important than ever,” he said.

When it comes to teaching at Henderson, Duncan said he appreciates the emphasis on undergraduate education.

“At Henderson, the classes are small enough you actually get to know your students; they just aren’t names on a roster,” he said. “Also, there is a wonderful sense of community among the faculty. People are always willing to collaborate and help each other.”

When he’s away from the classroom, Duncan said he enjoys exploring.

“I love to go places I have never been and discover new facets of places I think I know,” he said. “I am a walker. I like to get to know places on foot. I’ve walked many miles in cities across America and Europe.

If he hadn’t pursued a career in teaching, Duncan said he had considered going to law school and then perhaps moving into politics down the line.

Duncan is also a scholar of comic books and graphic novels.  

He is co-founder of the Comics Arts Conference; co-author of The Power of Comics: History and Culture; and co-editor of the Eisner-nominated Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods. He has received the M. Thomas Inge Award, the Inkpot Award, and a Peter Rollins Book Award for contributions to comics scholarship.

“Of course, when I was 11, I wanted to grow up to be (comic book writer) Stan Lee,” Duncan said. “There’s still time for that.”

Communication and Theatre Arts

Contact Info:

Degree and School:
Ph.D. in Rhetoric, 1990, Louisiana State University


- Propaganda in popular culture
- Nonfiction comics
- Rhetoric of comic book form
- Parasocial relationships with fictional characters

I've been at Henderson since: