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Karla Hunter

Karla Hunter



Office Building

Pugsley Center



Mailing Address

Pugsley Cont Ed Center 115
School of Communication & Journalism-Box 2218
University Station
Brookings, SD 57007


Karla M. Larson Hunter (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 2000), author of "Interpersonal Development: 21st Century Skills for the 'Real' and Virtual World" (Kendall Hunt, 2021), aims to equalize opportunities for wellness and well-being by fostering agency, empowerment, and resilience for others through her award-winning scholarship and instruction.


Hunter Vita 2016 ( 3 page).pdf(230.45 KB)


Ph.D., 2000 University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, Communication Studies
M.A., 1995 University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, Communication Studies
B.A., 1992 Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, Mass Communication

Academic Interests/Expertise

Teaching Philosophy: In keeping with SDSU’s Land Grant mission, service underpins every aspect of our work. Therefore, my teaching philosophy and methods align closely with key performance indicator #1 from SDSU’s Imagine 2023 Strategic Plan—“Achieve Excellence through Transformative Education.” I resonate with a number of ancient Hebrew words pertinent to teaching: Alaph, Zahar, and Lamad. Translated, they are befriend, enlighten, and learn—words that reflect my student-centered approach. The foundation of my teaching philosophy lies in my belief that inspiring students to build lifelong competencies, a love of learning, and meaningful applications of their skills starts with a firm resolve to making individual connections with them as people, whether face-to-face or online.

Academic Responsibilities

Teaching is my primary responsibility at SDSU and, as a generalist, I have enjoyed teaching a number of courses as needed within my department and to continue to develop online courses as well as to strengthen and validate online enhancements for face-to-face courses. I specialize in Interpersonal Communication, Persuasive Communication, Communication Theory, and our senior Capstone course. However, my most rewarding teaching and learning have been in my past six years building up to and aligning with SDSU’s Wokini Initiative, our “collaborative and holistic framework to support American Indian student success and Indigenous Nation-building.”

In 2016, prior to the launch of the Wokini Initiative, I was invited to begin designing and teaching courses for Tribal College and University (TCU) faculty members while helping them maintain their institutions’ Higher Learning Commission (HLC) credentialing. Since that time, I have collaborated with faculty and administrators from SDSU as well as North and South Dakota’s TCUs to design and deliver a novel sequence of online, multi-student, independent study courses in communication studies. These courses offer faculty/students graduate-level credit for applying communication theory-framed insights to mitigate educational challenges for themselves and for their own students. Resonant with SDSU’s current strategic plan, Imagine 2023 (Key Performance Indicator #3: Cultivate and Strengthen Community Engagement), this work “Align[s] academic and outreach programming across the university to optimize institutional efforts to support tribal communities and underserved populations.” As a direct result of this outreach, I was awarded two SDSU Expanding the Circle stipends. In addition, these opportunities underpinned the development and launch of the "Harnessing Hope" project, for which I have been awarded external funding from the Waterhouse Family Institute as well as a Wokini challenge grant. The project's principal aims are as follows:

Goal 1: Determine the role of hope in Indigenous college students’ persistence in higher education.
• Objective 1: Gather additional Tribal College graduates’ and other Indigenous college graduates and faculty members’ narratives about the obstacles they overcame in achieving persistence.
• Objective 2: Create a video archive of these oral histories.
• Objective 3: Dialogue with participants about their narratives to determine the role of hope in these graduates’ persistence.
Goal 2: Collaboratively create a culturally-responsive, evidence-based approach to enhance students’ hope toward persistence to graduation.
• Objective #1: Employ the oral histories and results of dialogues to collaborate with Indigenous college graduates and faculty to co-create support approaches, learning activities, and research questions based on analyzing the role of hope in stories of persistence and success.
• Objective #2: Collaborate with faculty to test those approaches and activities to enhance their students’ hope.
• Objective #3: Collaborate with faculty to craft a resultant hope intervention to publish for use in tribal PreK-12 institutions or other minority- and identity-serving institutions.

Committee Activities

SERVICE (Selected Examples)
• Assessment Coordinator, Communication Major, Department of Communication/School of Communication and Journalism (2016-present)
• Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, School of Communication and Journalism (2019-present)
• Assessment Sub-Committee of Academic Affairs Committee, College Representative (2018-2021)
• Steering Committee for Quality Assurance, Higher Learning Commission Reaccreditation (2014-2020)
• Speech Communication Association of South Dakota, State Executive Committee, (2013-15)
• South Dakota Humanities Council, Scholar (2016-2019)
• National Communication Association: National Advisory Board Member for Lambda Pi Eta Communication Studies Honors Association (2018-2020); Nominating Committee Basic Course Division (2017-18; 2013-14)
• Central States Communication Association, Basic Course Division Chair (2016-17); Vice-Chair (2015-16); Secretary (2014-15)

Awards and Honors

• Sewrey Lecture, “Cultivating Controversial Conversations,” Competitively chosen presentation for the Teaching and Learning selection of the annual Sewrey Colloquium, South Dakota State University Faculty Celebration of Excellence, 2020
• Expanding the Circle, Awarded for designing and providing higher education opportunities for faculty members at Tribal Colleges and Universities, South Dakota State University, 2018, 2019
• Joyce Lampson Award for Excellence in Faculty Citizenship, SDSU Communication Studies Dept., 2017
• Douglas M. Trank Top Paper of the Year Award, Basic Course Division, Central States Communication Association, 2016
• Top Four Paper, Basic Course Division, National Communication Association, 2014, 2016
• Editor, Outstanding State Journal of the Year, Central States Communication Association, 2015
• Top Journal Article of the Year, Communication Apprehension and Competence Division, National Communication Association, 2014
• Top Four Paper, Communication Apprehension and Competence Division, National Communication Association, 2014
• Top States’ Advisory Showcase Panel, Central States Communication Association, 2014
• SDSU Instructional Design and Technology Master Level Certification in Online Teaching, Fall 2013, (Advanced Level, Summer 2012; Basic Level, Fall 2011)
• Top Three Paper, Basic Course Division, Central States Communication Association, 2012, 2013 and 2014
• South Dakota State University Daschle Research Fellow, Fall 2011


Externally-funded proposals:

Hunter, K. M. “Harnessing Hope: Decolonizing Research on Native American Students’ College Persistence,” Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society, Private Foundation, International Scope, $9960.00. Fully Funded. (2019-2020).

Hunter, K. M. (with national, multi-institutional assessment research team). "A National-level Assessment of Core Competencies in the Basic Communication Course," National Communication Association, Federal, $5,000.00. Funded. (2016 - 2017).

Creative Activities

Select Invited Lectures (of 50+ invited lectures)
1. Hunter, K.M. (2020). Designing effective online discussions. Faculty Online Certification Trainer, South Dakota State University Instructional Design Services.
2. Hunter, K.M. (2020). Cultivating controversial conversations. Competitively chosen presentation for the Teaching and Learning selection of the annual Sewrey Colloquium, South Dakota State University Faculty Celebration of Excellence.
3. Hunter, K.M. (2019). Facilitating Difficult Classroom Dialogues. Graduate Teaching Assistant Training, South Dakota State University School of Communication and Journalism.
4. Hunter, K.M. (2019). Optimal Connection Speed: Enhancing Online Instructor Immediacy. Faculty Online Certification Trainer, South Dakota State University Instructional Design Services.

Applications of Research


Hunter, K. M. (2021). Interpersonal development: 21st Century skills for the real and virtual world. Kendall/Hunt.

Hunter, K. M., Westwick, J. N., & Chromey, K. J. (2020). Best practices for teaching online courses with dually enrolled students. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 31, 61-83.

Hunter, K. M., & Westwick, J. N. (2020). “I see your True Colors:” Mitigating grouphate by exploring personality differences. Communication Teacher, 34, 19-23.

Ruiz-Mesa, K. & Hunter, K. M. (2019). Best practices for leading difficult discussions in the basic communication course classroom. Journal of Communication Pedagogy, 2, 134-141.

Westwick, J. N., Hunter, K. M., & Kleinjan, B. (2019). Anxiety and communication competence in the honors basic public speaking course: An intervention and formative assessment. Basic Communication Course Annual, 31, Article 9.

Broeckelman-Post, M. A., Hunter, K. M., Westwick, J. N., Hosek, A., Ruiz-Mesa, K., Hooker, J., & Anderson, L. B. (2019). Measuring essential learning outcomes for public speaking. Basic Communication Course Annual, 31, Article 10.

Westwick, J. N., Hunter, K. M., & Chromey, K. J. (2018). Assessing markers of student development for dually and non-dually enrolled students in an online basic public speaking course. Basic Communication Course Annual, 30, 76-108.

Hunter, K. M. (chair), Durkin, L. L., Moore, E. J., & McGregor-Okroi, S. J. A Transformational Journey Toward Indigenizing Community-Based Participatory Scholarship. National Communication Association Preconference Workshop (accepted for Nov. 2021 presentation).

Hunter, K., Health communication and social justice panel (with others). (accepted for presentation at the Central States Communication Association, March 2021)

Prentiss, S. (co-chair), Hunter, K. M. (co-chair), Atkinson, J. A., Cuny, K. M., Davidson, M., Dwyer, K. K., & Hernandez, L. National Communication Assoc. Preconference, Surviving and Thriving Teaching Communication Online (Nov. 2019).

Bedner, N., Hunter, K. M., & Ruiz-Mesa, K. National Communication Assoc. Short Course, Play Civilly: Creative and Innovative Actions for Engaging in Civil Discourse in the Basic Course. Salt Lake City, UT. (Nov. 2018).

Hunter, K. M. Strengthening Representation of Neurodivergent Voices through Children’s Literature. Milton Writers’ Conference, Vermillion, SD. (Oct. 2018).

Hunter, K. M., Kleinjan, B., & Westwick, J. N., Speech Communication Association of South Dakota Convention, Kiss my assessment: Development of a Programmatic Level Assessment Plan, Huron, SD. (Sept. 2018).

Westwick, J. N., Kleinjan, B., & Hunter, K. M. Speech Communication Association of South Dakota Convention, Grappling with Glossophobia: A Proven Intervention for Reducing Honors students’ public speaking anxiety Huron, SD. (September 2018).

Hunter, K. M., Westwick, J. N., Pedagogics and Psychology in the Integrated Area of Research and Practice, A Proven Public Speaking Course Design to Help Reduce Public Speaking Anxiety, Mendeleev Tobolsk Pedagogical Institute, Tyumen State University, Tobolsk, Russia. (April 14, 2017).


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