Years at Ferris: 35 years
Degrees Earned: Ph.D. Indiana University, MA University of Michigan/Purdue, BA University of Michigan
Courses Taught: Most of the Communications classes (favorite subjects to teach: political communication, cross-cultural communication, conflict management and leadership)
Involvement: Honors Speech Contest, Campus-Wide Speech Contest
Former Involvement: Advisor for the National Communication Association Student Clubs, Political Engagement Project, Precursor RSO to D-SAGA
Community Service: United Way, Mel Trotter, Grand Rapids AIDS Walk
From Dr. Peter Bradley, Honors Program Director:
Students have nothing but praises for Neil’s teaching, and many students say that Public Speaking—Yes, Public Speaking—was their favorite class in their first semester. Neil’s commitment to the Honors Program extends way back into the program’s founding, and we are pleased to recognize his dedication to teaching Honors students with this award.
When asked what brought him to Ferris 35 years ago, Professor Patten jokingly responded, “The beautiful beaches… No, my parents lived in Michigan so I came home.”
When questioned about the Honors Program, however, Patten became more serious.
“My life has been vastly enriched by my involvement with the Honors Program,” he said. “I learn every day from my students. They challenge me every day, they bring a sense of intellectual curiosity, a true sense of joy for learning, a generosity to others, and enthusiasm that is incredibly uplifting and inspiring.”
Patten went on to express his love for Honors students by saying that he is prouder of them than any parent could be. He said that the Honors kids make coming to work enjoyable “even on the nastiest winter day,” which we all know we get plenty of up here in Big Rapids.
Dr. Patten is currently working with Dr. Smith from Communications on a project called Reacting to the Past (RTTP). In RTTP, students will write speeches in the context of actual historical figures and present them in class. Patten explains that he’s “scared and very excited” for RTTP, and to “stay tuned.”
Patten is planning to make a trip to Japan and China in the near future. He also hopes to lead a study abroad trip to Ferris’ sister university, Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan, within the next few years.
Once again, congratulations to Professor Patten on the Outstanding Professor Award and good luck in your endeavors!