Dr. Jennifer F. Wood is a beloved faculty member of Millersville University, where she’s been teaching public relations, organizational communication, business and professional communication since 2004. “The best part about being a professor by far is seeing students reach or surpass their potential,” she says. “I am all about success. Every student needs to define success and then they need a cheerleader to cheer them on.”
Wood is that cheerleader for her students. “What keeps me at MU are my great colleagues and students,” she says. “It’s the people that make MU special.”
Since her freshman year at Rockhurst College, where she earned a degree in communication, Wood knew she wanted to be a professor someday. When Wood suffered a head injury during her first year, her professors cared for her. They went beyond cursory “How are yous” and took time to check in, make sure she was able to complete assignments and really inquired about her well-being.
“That impacted my desire to become a professor,” Wood explains. “It made me want to give back to higher education.” She’s certainly done that, having now worked as a professor for nearly 30 years at colleges and universities across the U.S., inspiring many students along the way. During the 2014-15 academic year, Wood was named “Educator of the Year” at Millersville.
Wood also holds a dual master’s degree in media communication and management from Webster University and a Ph.D. in interpersonal communication with an emphasis in organizational communication from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “Because of my education – particularly from my undergraduate education at a Jesuit university, I learned the importance of education of the whole person,” she says. “They taught me that when you’re looking at a student, you need to consider the whole.” That philosophy still informs her teaching today. Wood also spent years working in public relations and as a print journalist. “I knew if I wanted to teach, I needed to have experience in the field, not just the classroom.”
Wood always encourages students to get as involved in as many campus activities as they can. “When I was a student, I was involved in 26 clubs and organizations over the course of my undergraduate career,” she says. “But by my senior year, I was in only seven clubs and I was in leadership in those clubs. It helped me to refine my interests, passion and skills.” This goes hand-in-hand with Wood’s philosophy on educating and caring about the whole person. After all, campus clubs exist for the express purpose of allowing students to develop their skills and explore new interests. Why not take advantage of them?
One of Wood’s biggest passions is helping Marauders achieve professionalism in their work, even as students. In fact, one of her favorite courses to teach is Business & Professional Communication. “I help students set personal goals and research the businesses and organizations they may want to work with.” That way, she says, when prospective employers read their cover letters, they’ll see that the student is actively participating in business conversations and has done their homework on the company’s core values.
These things, Wood explains, are beneficial to a student’s professional development. “I want to help bring students up to reach the level of the professionals teaching them.” She’s certainly doing just that at Millersville University.