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Cindy Richards

Professor; Director of Ringe Media Lab

Headshot of Cindy Richards

Contact Information

Salem Campus

Ford Hall, Room 311
900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301


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

Through her work, the National Communication Association writes, Richards guides others "to a deeper understanding [and] a more sophisticated use of the digital media that surround and shape their lives." 

Dr. Richards received the National Communication Association 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 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." 

Professor Richards CCM Ecroyd Award

Dr. Richards has more than a decade of leadership experience with grant funded projects, national institutes, experiential education initiatives, curriculum development, and multidisciplinary labs focused on civic learning in the digital age. Her research is published in scholarly journals and books in the fields of communication, media and technology studies, computer science, and education.

She enjoys collaborating on projects that center student voices and help us navigate digital opportunities and challenges. Recent examples of her grant-funded, student-faculty research projects include: Exploring Large Language Models in Education (2023), Supporting Digital Agency in Higher Education (2020-present), and Disinformation and Democracy (2016-2020).

As the founding chair of Willamette University's Civic Communication and Media department, Dr. Richards led curriculum development, implementation, faculty hiring, budget, assessment, and community outreach. 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

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 holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Communication Studies from 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

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Willamette University

Civic Communication and Media

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.