Cindy Koenig Richards

Professor, Director of Ringe Media Lab

Cindy Koenig Richards is a scholar of communication, technology, and democratic engagement. 

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 served as the founding chair of Willamette's Civic Communication and Media department. 

The Association of American Colleges & Universities 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, 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."  

Many of her courses emphasize project based learning, including the Willamette Debate Watch program created by Professor Richards. 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 a Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics, and 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