By Sydney Hauer
Kyle Rudick, an associate professor in the Communication Studies department, is happily putting down roots in Cedar Falls.
Having moved around every year since starting his undergraduate career, buying a house this past year and settling down with his partner has been a well-needed adjustment.
“Whenever something breaks, it’s up to me to fix it. If I don’t like something, I can change it because it’s mine,” said Rudick. “Personally, that’s been something that’s been the biggest enjoyment here in the past five years. Having something to own, to call my own, and to look at that and go, I did that.”
Rudick is originally from Oologah, Oklahoma.
“It’s a small little town north of Tulsa about 30 miles in Oklahoma. My hometown was about 700 or 800 people. It was very small. We had a consolidated school district with a town north of us, Talala. It seems like I’m making up words at this point, but these are real places.”
After graduating high school, Rudick moved to Tahlequah, another city in Oklahoma, to attend Northeastern State University (NSU) to study communication education.
“When I got there I thought, ‘Wow, I made it to the big city,’” Rudick said. “They’ve got their own Walmart!”
His favorite part about growing up in Oklahoma was being able to spend a lot of time in nature, especially in the Ozark Mountains on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas.
After graduating from NSU, Rudick earned his master’s degree from West Virginia University.
“That was because the program that they had there was really focused on communication as it relates to educational context, particularly higher education, but also pre-K through 12.”
Following his time in West Virginia, Rudick relocated to Carbondale, Ill. to attend Southern Illinois University to receive his doctorate.
The career path he ended up taking was contrary to what he initially expected for himself. When Rudick was younger, he told himself he would never be a teacher.
“I wanted to make a lot of money because my mom’s a teacher and my dad’s a police officer, and was like, 'Oh, I’m going to do something where I can make a million dollars,'” Rudick said. “But then I fell in love with teaching and I fell in love with communication as the area that I wanted to be in because I had been doing speech and debate all through high school, and then I got a scholarship to go to college on that.”
Rudick attended a conference where professors went to showcase their research.
“I fell in love with the idea of being able to do research because I’m a huge nerd.”
Rudick is now a tenured professor who has taught at UNI for five years. He oversees the communication and theatre education program, and the graduate program. In addition to that, he teaches communication theory courses, research methods, and pedagogy.
Having taken a very specific career path, Rudick had to go wherever he was able to get a job. He saw the job opening at UNI and decided to apply.
“I thought, I am working on my dissertation, and I’ll apply for this job, and if I get it, great, and if not, then I’ll just have to figure something else out. I lucked out. They liked me and I love it here and it’s been a great experience so far.”
When he isn’t teaching or conducting research, Rudick can be found walking his dog, Rosie, or bicycling on the nature trails in the area, playing music and fixing up his new house with his partner.
Rudick said he feels lucky to have ended up where he has.
“I think that we have some of the best people in the nation studying the things that they study. I think we have excellent teachers; we have people who are very dedicated to their students. It’s been an easy five years here because of the people.”