Cindy Koenig Richards

Associate Professor, Department Chair, Ringe Media Lab Director

Cindy Koenig Richards is a scholar of communication, technology, and learning design. 

The National Communication Association named Dr. Richards the 2018 recipient of the Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education, which "honors superlative teaching of communication at the postsecondary level and is the highest honor for college professors in her field."

Dr. Richards is an associate professor at Willamette University, where she served as the founding chair of the Civic Communication and Media department. 

The Association of American Colleges & Universities recently selected the Civic Communication and Media department as a national model for integrating civic learning into a major program. Professor Richards’s related article, "A Civic-Rich Framework for Liberal Education," is featured in Peer Review.


Her scholarship is also published in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Western Journal of CommunicationSouthern Communication JournalAdvances in the History of Rhetoric, and Voices of Democracy. She is interested in communication practices that support democratic engagement, and she studies these practices in historical and contemporary contexts. 

Through her work as a teaching scholar, the National Communication Association writes, Professor Richards guides others "to a deeper understanding of rhetorical theory and a more sophisticated use of the digital media that surround and shape their lives." At Willamette she leads a range of courses, from an introduction to designing media to a research seminar on digital politics. 

Many of her courses emphasize civic engagement and project based learning. For example, as part of one of her courses, Professor Richards created the Willamette Debate Watch program. In 2012 and 2016 this student-led program brought together more than 1600 community members to discuss public issues and campaigns.

She received numerous grants in support of her work, including support from the Mellon Foundation funded Learning by Creating initiative. As part of the China Debate Education Network, a three-year $3M grant funded program, she trained university faculty in the PRC.  

Dr. Richards is also the recipient of Willamette University's highest honor for teaching and service, which "celebrates the extraordinary impact a professor can make both inside the classroom and within the community." 

At Willamette, she holds affiliate appointments in the American Ethnic Studies program, the Women’s and Gender Studies program, as well as the Arts, Technology and Multimedia program. 

Richards earned her Ph.D. and M.A. at Northwestern University. Previously, she worked as a STEM teacher and department chair in Bronx NY and Washington DC public schools. 


  • Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • M.A., Northwestern University
  • B.S., Willamette University