McMullen to retire after Spring Semester

Dr. McMullen taught courses related to commeunication theory and social responsibility during her time at UNA. Before the pandemic, she would often opn her home for students for study sessions. To her students, there was never a doubt regarding McMullen’s love and dedication for her students. To McMullen, her students were like family.

Emma Wright

Dr. McMullen taught courses related to commeunication theory and social responsibility during her time at UNA. Before the pandemic, she would often opn her home for students for study sessions. To her students, there was never a doubt regarding McMullen’s love and dedication for her students. To McMullen, her students were like family.

Alex Hopper, News Editor

UNA communications professor Janet McMullen is set to retire after the spring 2021 semester. 

McMullen has been with the UNA family since 1988 as an adjunct professor. She has now been a dedicated, full time professor for over thirty years. 

McMullen’s career, which ultimately led her to higher education, began with her long-standing love for television. 

“I grew up as a baby boomer watching television. I loved stories,” said McMullen. “I could probably tell you what was on every channel growing up.”

A high school teacher, Treva Riggin, pushed her to take that love and apply it to her studies at Ball State University. 

After originally wanting to teach history, she couldn’t shake wanting to be involved with television and radio and changed her degree. 

“Sometimes you have it all planned out and then God says, ‘well you’re heading in the right direction, but you need to take this road instead of that road,’” said McMullen.  

After changing her career path and teaching at several universities, the plan was to write for television programs. However, McMullen was once again pushed in another direction and decided teaching was her new path. 

“Teaching is like breathing to me,” said McMullen. “I work very hard teaching my students but it never seems like ‘going to a job’ work.”

At UNA, McMullen teaches courses related to communication theory and social responsibility. 

As someone who has consumed a lot of media, McMullen has always been interested in how this content was affecting her and our society. 

“I am so gratified to teach in this field and to teach these topics because it matters,” said McMullen. “It impacts perspective, understanding media and media effects and helps in creating media practitioners with social responsibility.”

“Even the little things that they do have more impact on individuals and on culture than I could ever imagine,” she said. 

McMullen has many fond memories from teaching communications scholars and feels a sense of pride whenever one of her students becomes successful. 

Overall, she cherishes the “little moments” from teaching at UNA. 

“Walking out of class on a really good day and walking down the ramp and thinking “yes, they got it,’” said McMullen. 

“Sometimes class was so good I had to share it with someone in the office,” said McMullen. “I love what I do. That’s why it’s hard to stop doing it.” 

She says she will remember the excitement on student’s faces in her classes as a highlight from her career. 

“UNA has always felt like family,” said McMullen. “You get to know your students. It’s kind of cliche but it’s that ‘salt of the earth thing.”

“Our student population is very grounded. They are good, good people,” said McMullen. 

McMullen, in a pre-COVID-19 world, often had her students over to her house for study sessions before exams. A gesture that helped create personal connections with her students. 

Along with feeling a sense of comradery between students at faculty at UNA, McMullen said she feels she has been given the opportunity to be more than just her professional career. 

“I could be a mom; I could have a home and not feel like I had to be completely dedicated day and night to research.” 

“I’m about teaching, and I am also about my family. I like that I was able to find a balance here at UNA to do that,” she said. 

 McMullen’s post-retirement plans continue that balance of study and family life. 

“I would very much like to write a book on media and mythology,” said McMullen. “Then I have a couple of spirituality related books that I’d like to get to.”

“I want to do a lot of quilting, a lot of reading, gardening, and have my grandkids come and stay with me whenever possible,” she said. “I want to travel – I’d like to go to Italy at some point. See Mount Rushmore and Yosemite.”  

McMullen looks back fondly on a career she describes as “participating in building people.”

“That’s our job in higher-ed, is to build people and to help them become strong and sturdy,” said McMullen. “If I can prepare my students to continue to teach themselves after they graduate, then in whatever direction they go I’ve done my job.” 

“Large or small scale, that is my purpose,” she said. “Aside from being a wife, a mom, a grandma and serving the Lord, that’s my purpose.” 

Though the UNA family will miss her, McMullen can move on from UNA knowing she has richly impacted the lives of her students. 

To quote another one of McMullen’s long-standing loves, Star Trek – “change is the essential process of all existence.”