In Memoriam: Jane Blankenship


Dr. Jane Blankenship, the 64th President of the National Communication Association (1978), passed away on April 24, 2015. Born in 1934 and a native of Huntington, West Virginia, Professor Blankenship was a graduate of the University of Akron and received her Ph.D. in 1961 from the University of Illinois. Her mentor was Marie Hochmuth Nichols, NCA’s 55th President. She was also mentored by NCA’s 72nd President, Wayne Brockriede, when she served as an assistant for his debate program. Dr. Blankenship served on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College’s Rhetoric and Composition program before moving to the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. During her tenure there as Director of Graduate Studies, the university established a Communication Ph.D. program. Dr. Blankenship retired as a professor in 1997. Active in several of the discipline’s associations, she also served as President of the Eastern Communication Association.

Dr. Blankenship received numerous prestigious awards throughout her career, including many from NCA – the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award (1975); the Robert J. Kibler Memorial Award (1988); the Douglas Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award (1992); the NCA Feminist and Women’s Studies Division Spotlight Scholar (1994); the Wallace Bacon Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award (1997); and the NCA Women’s Caucus Francine Merritt Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Lives of Women in the Field of Communication (2002).

As part of an NCA initiative to capture the stories of women who have been prominent in NCA and beyond, Dr. Blankenship joined other women leaders in sharing her personal and professional experiences in an essay that is posted to the NCA website.