UW System Administration

Director, Systemwide Professional & Instructional Development

Fay joined UW System Administration in August, 2017. Formerly she was Professor of Communication at UW-Parkside where she taught for 20 years. She chaired the Communication Department, directed the Center for Ethnic Studies for eight years, and served as Faculty Director of Community-Based Learning and Research. In 2005-06 she taught at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin, West Africa as a Fulbright Teaching Scholar, and in Spring 2017 taught at Dalkeith House, Midlothian, Scotland. She received UW-Parkside’s Stella Gray Teaching Excellence Award in 2004, and was a Wisconsin Teaching Fellow in 2000. Among her publications is Diversity in the College Classroom: Knowing Ourselves, Knowing Our Students, Knowing Our Disciplines co-edited with Eugene Fujimoto and Roseann Mason. The book is based on a four-year Summer Institute Program at UW-Parkside that was partially funded by the UW System.

She received a Ph.D. in Mass Communication and an M.A. Degree in Telecommunication Management at Ohio University. Her doctoral dissertation, Hawaiian-Music Radio as Diasporic Habitus, earned the 1999 Outstanding Dissertation Award by the National Communication Association’s International and Intercultural Communication Division. Prior to graduate school, Fay worked in broadcast marketing and promotion in San Diego (KPBS-FM/NPR) and Honolulu (KGMB-TV/CBS and KHET-TV/PBS). Fay was born, raised, and public schooled on Molokai, where she was a member of the Imua 4-H Club. She lives in Kenosha.

College professors often enter the classroom without any formal training in the theory and practice of teaching. If you are a content expert, then you are often considered qualified to teach.

I was one of these people.

Prior to studying for my PhD, I had 11 years’ experience marketing KPBS-FM (NPR) in San Diego, and two TV stations (CBS and PBS affiliates) in Honolulu, but had never designed a syllabus or taught a class on my own.

My first semester teaching Communication at UW-Parkside was a challenging one. I was not only teaching solo for the first time, but also solo-parenting our two-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son, while my professor-husband was teaching in Ohio. One of the classes I taught was Communication Theory which met three times a week at 9 a.m. Typically I over-prepared for the class, using the textbook as a rigid guide. I felt pressured to cover as many theories as possible, which was overwhelming for students – and me. One night our son had a teething episode which prevented me from preparing for class. The following morning I walked into the classroom without copious notes – and improvised. Rather than my usual stilted lecture, I engaged students, posed questions, and let their comments direct the 50-minute discussion. It was a lively, interactive class, and a turning point, teaching me to trust my students – and myself. It also taught me that my assumptions of what made an effective professor were misguided.

Three years later, I was named a Wisconsin Teaching Fellow and attended my first Faculty College at UW-Richland Center. Both programs were sponsored by UW System’s Office of Professional and Instructional Development (OPID) and provided the space and time to reflect on teaching and learning – and to imagine new approaches – with colleagues from around Wisconsin. Suddenly I was part of a vibrant community of learners.

Faculty development is one of the strengths of the UW System and I am honored to now continue the work of my mentors.

Fay Yokomizo Akindes, Ph.D. Director, Systemwide Professional and Instructional Development and Former Professor of Communication, UW-Parkside, 1997-2017