Professional News

'Great Teacher' Beth Barnes Helps Students Discover Their Passions

Get to know UK 2022 Great Teacher Beth Barnes.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 6, 2022) — Six of the University of Kentucky's passionate and accomplished educators were surprised earlier this spring by student nominators and the UK Alumni Association as 2022 Great Teacher Award recipients.

Beth Barnes, Ph.D., is one of this year’s Great Teacher Award recipients. The UK College of Communication and Information (CI) professor strives to help her students find their path and passions in the communication field.

“There's so much happening with strategic communication and it's so central to so many different fields. In fact, that's one of the things our students, I think, both celebrate but also struggle with is they've got so many options. I see it as part of my job to help them understand what those options are and help them start to think about where they might best fit in,” Barnes said.

Barnes came to UK in July 2003 as director of the then-School of Journalism and Telecommunications. She went back to the faculty in Spring 2016 and has served as director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Integrated Strategic Communication (ISC).

She has worked in both the advertising and public relation industries, co-authoring two textbooks (one on strategic communication campaigns and the other on advertising account planning) and has written articles on a range of topics, most related to ISC teaching issues. 

Barnes is the executive director of international programs for CI — having taught a summer program in Cape Town, South Africa, for seven years and teaching a winter break program in London, England, every other year.

“I've gotten to teach study abroad and that's just such a different relationship that you can then build with the students. And so, to be recognized with this award, that started with a student’s nomination, but at a place where I've had so many fantastic students and I have so many just really nice memories, both in the classrooms here on campus, but particularly with study abroad — it means the world to me, it really does.”

Barnes retired this year after 19 years at the university.

Learn more about why this UK Alumni Association 2022 "Great Teacher" loves to help her students find their passions in the video above, and check out this week's "Behind the Blue" podcast also featuring Barnes.

Barnes is just one of the 2022 UK Alumni Association Great Teacher award winners. This summer, UKNow will highlight each of these Great Teachers. Watch their stories here.

Initiated in 1961, UK’s Great Teacher Award is the longest-running UK award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and stipend.

2022 Great Teacher Beth Barnes. Mark Cornelison | UKphoto
2022 Great Teacher Beth Barnes. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.