Interview with Dr. Austin Beattie 

This past year, the Communication Department here at Hope hired a few new professors onto their staff. After visiting last Spring and completing the interview process, two final choices were made. One of these professors the department chose to join their staff is Dr. Austin Beattie.

Dr. Beattie was born in New Jersey, then spent most of his time growing up here in Holland, Michigan. After graduating from Black River High School, he attended Northern Michigan University to obtain his bachelor’s degree in Communication. During his time at undergraduate school, he was also working full time, which resulted in his bachelor’s degree taking a lot longer to obtain. Although it took him longer to get this, he says “I am grateful for the scholarship and teaching lessons I learned while working and being in school at the same time. I learned a lot about myself during this time and realized what I wanted to do with my life.” After finishing at Northern, Dr. Beattie went on to Western Michigan University to obtain his master’s degree, and just recently graduated from the University of Iowa with his doctorate in Communication. 

Photo credit: Hope College

His passion behind wanting to study the field of Communication involved a mix of working experience in telecommunication during undergraduate school and an enjoyment of talking with people. “What’s really interesting about working in telecommunications is that there are so many different perspectives of working with people. I dealt with all kinds of customers and realized that attitude was a huge predictor of how the experience with them was going to play out. Because of this, I wanted to look more closely at how people interact.” After realizing that he was interested in learning more about how people communicate, he switched his major to Communication. Seeing the theories that he learned about play out in real life was also an incredible experience for him, and  was also given the opportunity to attend a conference with a professor, selling the idea that communication was the right field of study for him.

Since he has spent so much time in upper-level education, Dr. Beattie obviously had some motives behind wanting to become a professor. “I enjoy doing research, thinking critically, answering questions, and I love learning from students by collaborating in the classroom. Every year I have students come up with creative new ideas for their assignments, and I love seeing what they are able to make. Students are so much fun and have a lot of energy.” Another response was that “A lot of the work I had done in my previous career  was teaching-like, and I realized that this skill would be much more rewarding in a classroom.” This semester, he teaches the courses Communication 151- Media and Society and Communication 280- Quantitative Research Methods in Communication. 

When he recalls his application process to Hope, he said that he never thought he would end up back in Holland. After applying at a few big schools that were similar to the ones he attended, he stumbled upon the professor position here. “When I was reading the description, it just fit who I was perfectly, the experience and skills I had lined up with exactly what they were looking for. It felt like God was telling me to apply for this job.” During his interview process, he tells me that everything just “felt right”. Everyone was welcoming towards him and this gave him a really good feeling about being here. He also told me that having the potential to collaborate with students was a high priority on his list, and knew he would have such opportunities at a smaller school like Hope. Even just after a few weeks here, he is so glad that he listened to that strong gut feeling telling him to be here. 

His favorite parts of being at Hope College so far are the students and the overall collegiality here. Something he admires about this school is the overarching sense of community built between both students and faculty members. He said that he has never been in any workplace where people are able to disagree with grace and still continue a professional relationship, and a place where people are encouraged to ask deep questions about certain topics. “I have been in a lot of places where the mission statement isn’t carried through the practices of the place, but here at Hope there is someone who will listen to you every day, and do it in a hospitable way. I love how the faculty here challenge each other to bring out the best in each other.”  

It is clear that Dr. Beattie has been enjoying his time here at Hope so far, and he has a passion for learning about and teaching communication. If you are interested in learning more about him or the topics he specializes in, take a course with him next semester! 

Photo credit: Hope College

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