Helen Hodgson reflects on over two decades of educating communication students
by Autumn Thatcher (MSC ’15)
Dr. Helen Hodgson has changed lives. She has inspired careers. In the world of editing, writing, and communication, she’s a pretty big deal. In 1992, Helen moved from working as an adjunct professor in Westminster’s English department and MBA program to being instrumental in the creation of the Master of Professional Communication (MPC) program. Twenty-five years later, Helen has seen hundreds of students complete the program and move on to successful careers.
In the last couple of decades, the MPC program has evolved from being a writing-centered program to one that drew faculty members with expertise in diverse aspects of the field of communication. Graphic design and visual communication, as well as subjects such as international and intercultural communication, marketing, and digital media, were all incorporated into the program.
“Communication has been a field that has changed dramatically,” Helen says. “We were always committed to being responsive in terms of how we could make our students the very best. We were willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.”
Helen has dedicated much of her career at Westminster to helping communication students develop their knowledge and skills, but she says that the students have made just as great an impact on her life.
“I’ve had the greatest group of students,” Helen says. “Most of the students who came into the program had real-world experience that I didn’t have in diverse fields of communication. I learned as much from them as they learned from me.”
The MPC program celebrates its last group of graduates during the 2018 commencement—and Helen looks at retirement and new adventures in southern Utah as her next big move.
“I feel really good about the years that I have spent in terms of the contributions I have made,” she says.
Post retirement, Helen will give more attention to the family’s quarter horses, golden retrievers, cats, and chickens. She will also spend more time traveling with her husband and playing in her enormous garden with her daughter and young grandson. Having launched a new business, Canyons & Cuisine, LLC, she plans to conduct cooking workshops in her home in Torrey, Utah, adding to her impressive résumé.
Helen was food editor for Salt Lake magazine for seven years; has contributed to The Salt Lake Tribune and Catalyst magazine as a food, gardening, health, and wellness writer; and co-founded the Rocky Mountain chapter of the American Medical Writers Association. She has mentored so many students that it is impossible to keep track, and she has provided her editing skills to the Review magazine since 1995.
Though she is venturing on to new things, Helen’s legacy at Westminster will remain intact. Her dedication to helping students grow into better versions of themselves shows in the success of communication alums.
“It’s not so much the MPC program as a part of Westminster, but what these students have given to the community,” Helen says. “They are seen as more skilled writers and thinkers than students who come out of other programs in the area. They have very successful careers because they have a solid foundation in the knowledge of what it takes to be an effective communicator—and that gives me a great sense of pride and satisfaction.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.