Cindy Koenig Richards

Associate Professor, Ringe Media Lab Director

Cindy Koenig Richards is a scholar of communication, technology, and American politics. Her work focuses on communication practices that build civic agency. 

Dr. Richards is an associate professor at Willamette University, where she served as the founding chair of the Civic Communication and Media department. She holds affiliate appointments in the American Ethnic Studies program, the Women’s and Gender Studies program, and the Arts, Technology and Multimedia program. 

In 2016 she received the United Methodist Award, 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."  

Recently, 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. Dr. Richards’s article on "A Civic-Rich Framework for Liberal Education" is featured in the fall 2017 issue of 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.  

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 experiential learning, collaborative research, and community engagement.

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 1500 community members to discuss public issues and campaigns.

Professor Richards received numerous grants in support of her work, including funding from the Mellon Foundation funded Liberal Arts Research Collaborative and 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 to teach advocacy and public speaking.  

At Northwestern University, where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D., Richards 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