She is a familiar face to all that wander the halls of Harrison. Well-known and well-loved, Dr. Lori Britt has been teaching at James Madison University since 2010. Dr. Britt completed her Master’s Degree and Ph.D. both in Communication, with a focus on group and organization communication. Believe it or not, teaching at JMU has been Dr. Britt’s only full-time academic appointment. Prior to accepting her position at this university, she worked in the field of Communication. She specifically decided to go into teaching at the undergraduate level based on her experience overseeing interns in previous roles. She really enjoyed the relationships she developed with undergraduate level students and that’s what led her to her career in the Department of Communication Studies (SCOM), here at James Madison University.
When sitting down with Dr. Britt, I was able to ask her multiple questions on a wide range of subjects, particularly relating to her experience teaching at JMU as well as her thoughts on the widely used website Rate My Professor. Dr. Britt has an overall score of 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Rate My Professor website, as ranked by 34 students. She was most commonly described as “a role model” to her students and “down to earth.”One student stated that others should “make time to take any class she teaches.” Many described Britt as “inspirational” and “easily accessible outside of class.”
Here are the highlights from my interview with Dr. Britt:
What brought you to JMU?
“I moved (to Harrisonburg) from Colorado after accepting a job here at JMU. I knew this was the job I wanted because JMU takes teaching undergraduate students very seriously.”
What are you involved with on campus? What about off-campus?
On-campus: “I serve as the Faculty Advisor for Lambda Pi Eta and am also the Director for the Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue, aiming to help the community shape productive talk.”
Off-campus: “I help lots of community groups- non-profits, the city of Harrisonburg, and I’m very involved with my church.” She also highlighted her role as a connector, mainly in regards to helping students network off-campus. “I like putting people in contact with the right people. I specialize in knowing people and what their interests are.”
What is your favorite class to teach and why?
“SCOM 447- Facilitating Community Engagement, they facilitate and shape productive talk.” Dr. Britt stated that this is what she is most passionate about. “I also love to teach SCOM 123, because you get to help students in every major see that communication is complex and that we can do it better. They can use it to help achieve all of their goals.”
Tell me more about organizational communication?
“It’s all about how you bring together people, information, and ideas to achieve goals. It is actually the process of organization, not just about workplace communication- nonprofits, hospitals-anyone with a common goal really!”
Have you ever looked at your Rate My Professor ratings?
“I did once because I was joking with some students at dinner. We were all joking about the concept of the chili pepper, the setting that tells if students think their professor is attractive. I thought there’s no way I would ever receive a chili pepper. But sure enough, one of them had put that. Just very funny!”
What’s something you don’t like about Rate My Professor?
“I want students to like me but that is not my goal. It’s great if they do but I’d rather them see my passion, see that coursework can be challenging but I also want them to own their achievements.”
Can you think of an incident that sticks out in your mind where you made an impact on a student?
“There was a particular student who stands out to me, she was a senior. Life intervened and threw her a curve ball, her anxiety was going to derail her semester and ultimately prevent her from graduating. I remember giving her a calendar in which I cut out the month of May. She was terrified of the future so I told her that May didn’t exist. It came up out of the blue but I did my best to help her get through. It was really rewarding to see her make it to the finish line and be successful following graduation.”
Lastly, what do you think makes JMU unique?
“So many things- probably when it comes down to, it’s that people really want to be here. This school isn’t people’s second choice. People want to work here. People want to study here. People want to make a difference. People are actively looking for ways to make a difference.”
“I get to be a part of the student’s journey and it is so rewarding. Students are pretty cool people.”- Dr. Lori Britt
This quote from Dr. Britt sums up her thoughts her role as a professor. Dr. Lori Britt really exudes a passion for teaching and fostering meaningful relationships with her students. She goes above and beyond both inside and outside the classroom, to ensure that her students are getting the most out of their Madison experience. Stay tuned for more Rate My Professor spotlights!
Dukes, do you have a particular professor that made your experience special during your time at JMU? Comment below!