Department of Communication
Ginger Blackstone, M.A. (University of Arkansas at Little Rock)
A 1991 alumna of Harding University, Ms. Blackstone spent nearly two decades as an award-winning TV news producer and supervisor. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Ms. Blackstone has worked at numerous television stations, including CNN and CNN Headline News, where she served as a network supervising producer for nearly 10 years. Former jobs include freelance writing at WSB in Atlanta; anchoring, reporting and serving as assistant news director at WHOA in Montgomery, Ala.; and producing at stations in Arkansas and Tennessee. She's been honored with a national Emmy award, two Peabodys, a Columbia-duPont award, and a regional Edward R. Murrow award.
M. Laurie Norton Diles, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma)
Dr. Laurie Diles joined the faculty in 2011, following several years as an adjunct instructor. She has served as a speaker for women’s classes and programs in Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia, as well as in the United States. Dr. Diles’ research and occasional consulting has concentrated in the area of intercultural communication, especially intercultural adaptation. Prior to moving to Searcy, she and her husband, Allen, and their two sons served for 11 years in the Czech Republic on a church-planting team. Their love for the Czech people is the impetus for their leading students on summer mission trips to the Czech Republic.
A graduate of Ohio University, Mr. Elander worked at WKNY and WFGB radio in upstate New York as a deejay, traffic reporter and community service director. He also attended the Preston Road Center for Christian Education in Dallas, Texas, and worked for more than four years as a domestic missionary in upstate New York. He served six years as the minister at the Farmington Hills church of Christ near Detroit, Mich. Mr. Elander completed his master’s degree in adult instruction and performance technology at the University of Michigan. He worked as an instructional designer at the Andersen World Training Center near Chicago and later as an instructional design consultant in the Chicago area, creating Web-based training, Web information sites and e-learning projects. Mr. Elander came to Harding in 2003 and developed the Web design and interactive media program. He is a member of the Downtown church of Christ and serves as a deacon over domestic missions.
Patrick Garner, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma)
Dr. Patrick Garner has taught communication at Harding for 38 years. Besides being a classroom teacher in the department of communication, he is also a teacher and one of the founding participants in the Honors College. Dr. Garner also directs the forensics program and the undergraduate fellowships program. His academic interests include interpersonal communication, nonverbal behavior, persuasion, small group communication, and the effects of technology on interpersonal behavior. In the Honors College his course emphasizes the development of postmodern thought as well as the effects of present and future technology on culture. He planned and helped execute a ground-breaking intersession course last May on the origins and diffusion of coffee. The class was conducted in Ethiopia, Oman, Turkey and France. He has been married to the former Mona Lee Moore for 38 years, having four children and eight grandchildren. He is an elder at the Downtown Church of Christ.
Dutch Hoggatt, Ph.D. (Ohio University)
A graduate of Abilene Christian University, Dr. Hoggatt has worked as a television news producer, reporter and anchor at stations in West Texas. He has served as an announcer and manager at a number of radio stations. His video production experience has included the production of documentaries in Israel, Greece, Turkey and England. Dr. Hoggatt teaches broadcast journalism and radio production courses. He serves as the adviser for broadcast journalism majors and sponsors the university chapter of Radio Television Digital News Association. He also manages the university radio stations KVHU 95.3 and AM1660.
Michael L. James, Ph.D. (Florida State University)
After beginning his Harding tenure in the office of public relations in 1973, Dr. James was added to the faculty and served as chair of the department of communication from 1993 until 2008. He was chosen as the first dean of the College of Communication in 2008. Dr. James agreed to become the director of Harding University in Greece (HUG) in the fall of 2010. He and his wife, Beth, co-directed the semester-abroad program in Porto Rafti, Greece, for almost five years. Dr. James returned to Searcy in 2015, when he was named dean of the Honors College. A native of Kennett, Mo., Dr. James received a B.S. degree in math from Harding, a MSMC from Arkansas State University, and a Ph.D. in communication from Florida State University. His specialty is interactive communication, especially those relating to photography. He and Beth have four children and six grandchildren.
A 1997 alumnus of Harding, Dr. Miller served for several years as a contributing writer for the Knoxville News Sentinel's business and metro sections. He continues to freelance as a writer and editor for local newspapers and magazines. He teaches courses in writing, reporting, editing, ethics and new media. His current research interests include student press law and the impact of social media on society. Dr. Miller sponsors the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and he is a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national society for recognition of scholarship in mass communication. He and his wife, Sara, have two children.
Sharon Pitt, M.Ed. (Harding University)
Mrs. Pitt, a 1967 alumna of Harding College, began teaching at the Harding as an adjunct instructor in 1976. Previously, Mrs. Pitt worked at Harding Academy in Memphis, where she was involved in the International Cultural Exchange School and won the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. Mrs. Pitt earned a master's in communication in 1992. In addition to teaching Communication 101 courses, Mrs. Pitt serves as the department's assessment coordinator. She and her husband, Paul, built their underground home in 1987 and are grandparents of triplets. They worship at the Foothills Church of Christ.
Katherine Ramirez, M.B.A. (Harding University)
A 2008 alumna of Harding University, Mrs. Ramirez worked for two years as the public relations and marketing coordinator for an engineering consulting firm based out of Columbus, Ohio. She teaches courses in public relations and advises the student newspaper and yearbook staffs. She also works as a freelance designer and writer for various organizations. Mrs. Ramirez is a faculty sponsor for women's social club Iota Chi and is currently finishing her Master's in Business Administration from Harding University. She is married to Nathan Ramirez.
Steve Shaner, M.S. (Roosevelt University)
An alumnus of Harding, Mr. Shaner teaches advertising courses and directs the advertising major. He also teaches an oral communication class on an ESL level to Chinese students. Mr. Shaner is the faculty sponsor of the Harding Student Advertising Agency and the Beta Omega Chi Men’s social club. He is a member of IABC Arkansas, the Publicity Club of Chicago, the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing, and the Roosevelt University Alumni Board of Governors. He has also served as a board member and secretary for the Windy City Habitat for Humanity, and as an elder in the Lord’s church. Mr. Shaner has been recognized with a Distinguished Toastmaster award, an Outstanding Young Man of America award from the National Junior Chamber of Commerce, a KHCA Radio Service Award for Sales, and the Arkansas Collegiate Press Association’s Photographer of the Year award. He's also an avid Cubs fan.
Bob Ritchie, M.Ed. (Harding University)
Mr. Ritchie has lived in Searcy, Ark., since 1979. He is married to the former Lisa Ann James, who teaches in the family and consumer sciences department at Harding. Mr. Ritchie holds degrees in public relations and education. He has had a long-time interest in Christian education, serving as counselor, assistant director and director at several brotherhood Christian camps, as well as teaching, preaching and song leading in congregations in the Searcy area. Mr. Ritchie teaches courses in speech communication.
Jack R. Shock, Ed.D. (University of Arkansas)
An alumnus of Harding, Dr. Shock served in the White House as Director of Presidential Letters and Messages for President Clinton. He also worked in media relations for the Red Cross. That job took him to Ground Zero a few weeks after 9/11 where he helped tell the stories of some of the most courageous people you will ever read about. Dr. Shock is a two-time recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award at Harding. He spends his time writing, introducing people to New York City, and rescuing dogs who need good homes.