CCI Alumnus Dr. Michael Cornett Retires After Teaching 50 Years

After a 50-year career as a professor, Dr. Michael Cornett has recently retired. He obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. from the College of Communication in 1969.

In high school, Cornett was drawn to law, particularly because he was an avid debater and the courtroom excited him. During his undergraduate education at Ottawa University, he was intent on working in Christian ministry, but after gaining work experience in a church, he quickly realized that was the wrong career path for him.

His undergraduate debate coach, advisor, and professor recommended that he apply to graduate school, and one of those applications went to Florida State University (FSU). He heard back from FSU much sooner than he expected and was offered an assistantship working with the debate program.

“There were other offers, but Florida State’s initiative, the terms of the offer, the reputation of the debate program, and the location clinched the deal,” said Cornett.

His time as a debate program assistant and student was fun and rewarding. “I felt my FSU Hall of Fame professors Gregg Phifer, Wayne Minnick, and Ted Clevenger, were impressive in their knowledge, teaching skills, and interpersonal communication competence, and that they cared about me as a person,” said Cornett.

After Graduating with his Ph.D. from FSU, Cornett taught at five different universities, including Georgetown University in Kentucky, the University of Florida, and Texas Christian University. He became a Professor Emeritus at Loyola University Chicago, where he retired in 2003. After a year being retired, he missed teaching so much he became a professor for the last time at Texas State University, where he taught for 13 years.

Reflecting on his teaching career, Cornett shared, “There has never been a moment of regret.” Although, he recognized that after 12 years of coaching debate, it was challenging to stay competitive, do research and publication, and be a good classroom instructor simultaneously. “I liked the actual teaching the most, so I focused on that.” 

Still wanting to be active in the debate community, Cornett recently attended an FSU debate program reunion, “Seeing how successful my debaters have become is a major benefit of the job.”

The College of Communication and Information congratulates Michael Cornett on his well-deserved retirement, celebrating a distinguished career devoted to guiding numerous students within the communication field.