Communication Professor to Retire

Communication Professor to Retire

Associate communication professor Hazel Rozema has seen a lot of changes at the University of Illinois Springfield during here 21 years teaching on campus.

When she started, the colonnade, TRAC, Student Union and University Hall Building hadn’t been built yet and the university was an “upper division” college, meaning there were no 100- 200 level or online classes. “It’s been wonderful to be able to see the university grow and evolve,” she said.

Now, a more personal change is in store for Rozema, as she plans to retire at the end of the month. Rozema said she will especially miss “the people, the late night talks with students about ‘big’ ideas, student journals sharing their sad, funny, intense experiences with race and ethnicity and new insights they have gained.” Rozema first started teaching 40 years ago at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. When she first came to UIS, she began teaching in public relations and organizational communication classes.

Rozema then began to create classes in family and gender communication, as well as “Communicating about Race.” In this class, she led exercises where white and black students exchanged roles, taught about the history of civil rights movement and discrimination in the U.S. and led discussions on diversity, having students journal about their experiences. It was in this class that Rozema remembers her students having passionate and eye-opening discussions. “I think the race class has had the most impact on students,” Rozema said.

During one summer weekend race class, the students bonded so much that they held a class reunion the next year. Though she wants to travel a bit when she retires, Rozema hopes to keep some of her current teaching materials so she can stick with her race and diversity work in workshops and continue working on political campaigns both national and local. “It’s very important given our current political setting,” she said.

People have been surprised when learning about Rozema’s retirement, telling her that they “thought (she’d) be around for a few more years,” she said.

Throughout her four-decade career, one thing has remained the same for Rozema: “the joy of watching students develop their communication skills, see pictures of their children on Facebook and follow their amazing careers.”