Skip to main content

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, media, and civic 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."

Through her work, 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."

Professor Richards CCM Ecroyd Award

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 Communication, Southern Communication Journal, Advances in the History of Rhetoric, and Voices of Democracy.

Dr. Richards leads a multidisciplinary research group that explores the relationship between communication media and democratic engagement. Her recent projects include Networked Publics in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign (2016-2018) and Disinformation and Democracy (2019-present, with Dr. Haiyan Cheng).

Richards received numerous grants in support of her work, including a Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics, and support from Willamette's 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."

Many of Dr. Richards's courses emphasize project based learning, including the Willamette Debate Watch program. She leads experiential learning initiatives including internship courses that place students in communication roles at state executive offices, government agencies, public affairs firms, campaigns, businesses, and nonprofit organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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
Willamette University

Civic Communication and Media

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