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Laura Miller Selected for Swain Professorship

School of Communication Studies Associate Professor Laura Miller has been selected as the second recipient of the William H. Swain Endowed Professorship. 

Miller’s scholarship intersects interpersonal and health communication, specifically exploring illness-related uncertainty, identity negotiations, and conversations with close others in various disease contexts. She teaches courses in health communication, communication theory, and qualitative methods.

The Swain Professorship was made possible by a generous gift from CCI Board of Visitors member and former chair Martha S. “Missy” Wallen (BS/CS ’74) in honor of her father, William H. Swain. This endowed professorship was established to reward and recognize an outstanding School of Communication Studies faculty member whose research, teaching, and academic and professional service have uniquely contributed to the mission of the School of Communication Studies, CCI, and the University of Tennessee.

The professorship is currently held by Virginia Kupritz, Professor in Communication Studies and CCI Associate Dean for Academic Programs. 

Miller has been a member of the CCI faculty since 2009 and was promoted to associate professor in 2015. She earned her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

She has authored or co-authored over 45 scholarly manuscripts, book chapters, and reports. Her research has been published in top disciplinary journals such as Communication Monographs, Health Communication, and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

She has also contributed to edited volumes such as Storied Health and Illness: Communicating Personal, Cultural, and Political Considerations and the International Encyclopedia of Health Communication.

She serves as a key research partner on a University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Extension grant ($7.2M) exploring farmer health and stress in the southern United States.

Her international work includes leading the CCI Global Scholars Program in Sydney, Australia; co-developing and leading the Communicating Across Cultures Program in Dublin, Ireland; and teaching at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. She serves as the Director of Study Abroad for the School of Communication Studies.

She was the 2013 recipient of CCI’s Faculty Teaching Award and the 2018 recipient of CCI’s C.W. “Bud” Minkel International/Intercultural Award.

She serves as a One Health Scholar for the University of Tennessee’s One Health Initiative and was recently selected to participate in UTK’s 2021-2022 Leadership Development Program.