Carlin, Diana

Diana B.
Carlin, PhD
Year Inducted: 
Diana Carlin
  • Dean of the Graduate School and International Programs
  • Member of the Leadership Minor Advisory Committee

Diana B. Carlin, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, is a national expert in political debates.  Her research in political and gendered communication has yielded eight books or monographs and many other publications. 

She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education from the University of Kansas.  She taught and coached the debate teams at Rossville High and Topeka High Schools before serving for two years as the Middle School Coordinator for the Topeka Public School District. She then completed her PhD in Speech Communication at the University of Nebraska.  After teaching for five years at Washburn University in Topeka, she returned to KU as a faculty member in 1987.  She served as Interim Chair of the Department of Communication Studies from 1997-98 and Interim Assistant Provost for KU from 1999-2000.  In 2000, she was named the Dean of the Graduate School and International Programs at KU.  She held this position until 2007, when she spent one year as Dean-in-Residence and Director of International Outreach for the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, DC.  Other “careers” have included serving as Assistant to the Governor of the State of Kansas from 1984-87 and the Co-owner and Vice President of Clark Publishing Co. from 1991-2001.

She significantly contributed to the U.S. electoral system through her research on political debates which reshaped the structure of the U.S. debates.  As a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates since its inception in 1987, Dr. Carlin has led research efforts on the effectiveness of debates on voter education.  She organized a team of researchers, “one of the largest and one of the first team-based research projects in political communication in the country,” whose findings were incorporated by sponsors of the U.S. Presidential debates.  Debate Watch, the CPD’s national voter education projects involving over 130 national organizations from the U.S. and abroad, resulted from her 1992 focus group’s research.  Due to both her experience in political debates and international programs, Dr. Carlin has visited several new democracies in Central and South America, Africa, South Korea, and Eastern Europe to help them develop political debate traditions. These debates were the most effective way to educate voters and influence election outcomes.

Dr. Carlin was the first woman to head the Office of International Programs at the University at KU.  The Global Awareness Program (GAP) was initiated during her tenure and is currently being replicated at universities in both the U.S. and Europe. Other work through this position has included a collaboration with East Asian Studies to create the Confucius Institute.  This program which provides language and culture classes to Kansans of all ages has brought considerable international attention to KU.  She also was a part of projects that included implementing the Korean War Memorial and developing an International House for visiting international scholars.


Honors & Achievements: 
  • KU Woman of Distinction.
  • Kemper Fellow 
  • Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award
  • College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Graduate Mentor Award
  • TIAA-CREF Faculty Award
  • Outstanding Faculty Award from the Central States Communication Association
  • Board Member of the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Steeples Award for Service to Kansas
  • My father always said that you can never have enough friends. Friendship is one of the greatest treasures we have. Without my friends I could not have weathered many personal and professional challenges nor would I have so many memorable experiences over the years shared with them. I learn from them and sharing in their joys and sorrows each has its own kind of reward.
  • It is always possible to make lemonade. Life is always going to hand us setbacks and disappointments and the secret to surviving them is to look for a way to transform the situation into a learning and growth experience or a new opportunity. That doesn’t mean that one doesn’t feel disappointment, hurt, anger, sorrow, failure or any other human emotion as an immediate response. It does mean that we need to move beyond those immediate reactions as quickly as possible and move forward.
  • As far as a career in the communication field is concerned, the possibilities are limitless. Being a faculty member and studying/teaching/researching human communication has provided me with numerous opportunities. If someone is interested in a field that is interdisciplinary and wide-ranging, I would suggest talking with someone who is in the field to learn more. 

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