Dr. Riley Richards (middle) with President
Nagi Naganathan (left) and Board Chair John Davis (right)

An Assistant Professor in the Oregon Tech Communication department, Riley Richards, Ph.D., has been at the university for just two years but has made a significant impact during that time. His work supporting students and colleagues has earned Richards a positive reputation, and he was recently awarded the 2022 Rising Faculty Scholar award from the Oregon Tech Foundation.

Originally from Greenville, Mich., Richards came to Oregon Tech with what he refers to as “formal teaching methods,” including lecturing and keeping concepts theoretical.

“To say that this teaching style didn’t go over well with students during my first few weeks would be an understatement,” said Richards. Oregon Tech prides itself on hands-on, project-based learning, and Richards has now successfully transitioned to this style in his Communication Studies courses. “I have changed to an activity, instructor- and student-led discussion-based style. Essentially, an application and modified flipped classroom.”

In addition to teaching, Richards focuses on his research interests and supporting colleagues. “As I say to my research methods students, ‘Riley is my name, and research is my game,’” said Richards. “In the future, I plan to expand professionally within my research agenda and support other faculty who wish to grow as researchers.”

Richards recently co-facilitated a university research roundtable where colleagues were encouraged to generate interdisciplinary ideas.

“I look forward to seeing the results of these new projects and collaborations,” he said. “I’m proposing a faculty research writing group and seminars on tips and tricks for conducting research at teaching-focused institutions through the University Research Committee. In the past, working with colleagues in this different capacity of helping them advance their research has challenged me intellectually in a new and rewarding way.”

Richards studies interpersonal communication in romantic and/or sexual relationships. “My next major research undertaking will be on financial communication between couples. With the national student loan crisis, I will be researching financial literacy communication before taking it into the context of romantic relationships.”

Richards’ work was recently recognized with a Rising Faculty Scholar award at Oregon Tech’s 2022 Convocation. This award recognizes significant achievements in scholarship and creative works. Such achievements include scholarly publications, grant-funded research, and creative and artistic works that enhance the reputation of Oregon Tech and its faculty. Richards said winning the award is one of his favorite memories at Oregon Tech.

“Last year, I was in my office working on my research projects every weekend, holidays, and summer break. It’s nice to have all that work pay off in terms of publications and grants, but also recognition from Oregon Tech.”

Richards is a tenure-track faculty member working on what he calls the “tenure-track hustle.”