Cindy Koenig Richards

Associate Professor, Ringe Media Lab Director

Cindy Koenig Richards is a scholar of communication, technology, and American politics. 

Dr. Richards is 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. Dr. 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. Dr. Richards's current work focuses on rhetorical agency. She is particularly interested in communal and participatory communication practices that play a significant role in social change, and she studies these practices in historical and contemporary contexts. 

Dr. Richards is the recipient of Willamette University's highest honor for teaching and service. This award "celebrates the extraordinary impact a professor can make both inside the classroom and within the community." At Willamette, she teaches a range of courses, from an introduction to designing media to a research seminar on digital rhetoric. 

Many of her courses emphasize public engagement and project based learning. For example, for her course on the public sphere, 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.

Other student projects advised by Dr. Richards have been honored with the National Communication Association's James L. Golden Award and the Western States Communication Association's Undergraduate Scholars Research Conference Top Paper Award.  

Dr. Richards received numerous grants in support of her work, including grants 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.  

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. 

Dr. Richards earned her Ph.D. and M.A. at Northwestern University, where she was awarded the Ecroyd Fellowship and an Alumnae Fellowship. 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