Faculty and Staff

Betsy Wackernagel Bach

Betsy Wackernagel Bach


Office: LA 415
Email: betsy.bach@umontana.edu
Office Hours:

Spring, 2018

Mondays from 11:00am - 12:30pm

Thursdays from 9:30am - 11:00am

And by appointment


Personal Website
Curriculum Vitae

Current Position

Professor, Department of Communication Studies

Past President, National Communication Association, 2009


COMX 210 - Small Group Communication

COMX 220 - Professional Communication

COMX 421 - Communication in Nonprofit Organizations

COMX 423 - Organizational Communication Training and Consultation

COMX 491 - Propaganda in Context:  Nazis and the GDR (with Professor Sara Hayden)

COMX 540 - Seminar in Instructional Communication

COMX 561 - Qualitative Methods

Personal Summary

I began my career at Montana in 1983. From 1999-2005, I served in two administrative roles: Assistant Provost for Enrollment Management and Retention, and then as Interim Dean of the Davidson Honors College from 2003-2005, both here at UM. I have been an adjunct faculty member at the Chalice of Repose Project at St. Patrick Hospital, where I offered communication courses to graduate students preparing to be music thanatologists–people who use song and harp to counsel the dying.  From 2010 to early 2012 I worked as the Director for Academic and Professional Affairs at the National Communication Association in Washington, DC.

I received my Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Washington in 1985 and specialize in organizational communication, where my two major research areas are the mentoring and socialization of organizational newcomers. I enjoy listening to the experiences of organizational newcomers as they try to negotiate life in organizations, and find their experiences of change, contrast, and surprise very exciting. I use these stories to coach organizational "veterans" how to make the socialization experiences of newcomers less stressful (for both newcomers AND veterans). More recently, I am investigating the role of communication in organizational exit as well as the impact of communication privacy on patient-targeted googling.

My passion is teaching, which I enjoy tremendously. I was honored to receive the University of Montana's Distinguished Teacher Award in 1991 and the Master Teacher Award from the Western States Communication Association in 1992.  I just learned that I will receive the National Communication Association's 2017 Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education. The award is given to honor an NCA member who exemplifies superlative teaching in higher education. I will receive this award at the NCA annual meeting in Dallas this November.

I also enjoy management responsibilities and was very grateful to be nominated by the COMM department for (and be awarded) Montana's Academic Administrator Award in 1996, I have also served as President of the Western States Communication Association, the Northwest Communication Association, and as Director of the Educational Policies Board for the National Communication Association. In 2009 I was elected as President of the National Communication Association, and was very honored to serve in this capacity.

I haven't always been an academic. For three years I worked as a police officer in Holland, Michigan, where I served as Community Service Officer and Domestic Dispute Liaison (where I mediated a number of domestic disputes and learned to duck flying pots and pans).

Although I consider myself a fourth-generation Montanan (my great-grandfather settled here in 1863), I was born and raised nine miles from New York City. I have a tthirty year old son who graduated from my alma mater, Hope College, and have adopted rescue springer spaniels.  I enjoy serving on nonprofit boards and have been on the board of the Missoula Art Museum since 2007, and just completed a three-year stint as president.  I have recently been appointed to the board of the Jeanette Rankin Foundation, located in Athens, GA.  Their mission is to provide scholarships for women over 35 who wish to pursue higher education.


Ph.D., University of Washington

M.A., University of Montana

A.B., Hope College, Holland, Michigan

Research Interests

Organizational identification, socialization, and exit, and the development of mentor relationships

Communication in voluntary kin relationships

Communication privacy and social media


Field of Study

Organizational communication, with an emphasis in instructional communication

Selected Publications


Albrecht, T. A., & Bach, B. W.  (1997).  Communication in complex organizations: A relational approach.  New York: Harcourt, Brace.

PUBLICATIONS - Book Chapters

Bach, B. W., & Wilson, C. E. (2017). Interpersonal skills. The international encyclopedia of organizational communication. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Braithwaite, D. O., Bach, B. W., Dirks, S., Kranstuber, H., & Mumm, S. S.  (2015).  Talking family:  The discourses of voluntary kin.  In D. Braithwaite & J. Wood (Eds.),  Casing Interpersonal Communication: Case Studies in Personal and Social Relationships  (2nd Ed)Dubuque, IA:  Kendall Hunt.  Retrieved from   http://www.kendallhunt.com/braithwaite_wood/

PUBLICATIONS - Referred Articles

Backlund, P., Bach, B. W., Hefferin, D., Johnson, D., Mello, B., Procopio, C., & Sypher, H. (2011).  NCA Program Review Standards:  Background, Application and Data.

Professional Experience

Police Officer, Holland Police Department, Holland, Michigan (1974-1977)

Assistant Provost for Enrollment Management and Retention, University of Montana (1999-2004)

Interim Dean, Davidson Honors College, University of Montana (2004-2006)

Director for Academic and Professional Affairs, National Communication Association, Washington DC (2010-2012)

International Experience

Study abroad, Coatzacoalcos, Mexico 1969

Study abroad, Vienna; U.S.S.R. 1972

Wintersession 2009 course that I taught in Central Eurpoe with Dr. Rafael Chacon in the Department of Art - we visited Vienna, Munich, Nurenburg, Berlin, and Prague. 

Wintersession 2014, 2016, and 2018 course co-taught with Dr. Sara Hayden on Nazi and GDR Persuasion and Propaganda - Salzburg, Munich, Nurnberg, Berlin Warsaw, Krakow, and Prague

Academic Travel to:

Basel, Switzerland, September 2008

Istanbul, Turkey, July 2009

Havana, Cuba, October 2009

Panama City, Panama, July 2010

Verona, Italy, September 2010

St. Andrews, Scotland, September 2012

Amsterdam, September 2014

France, January 2015

Ireland, October 2016


National Communication Association, Member

International Communication Association, Member

Western States Communication Association, Member

Central States Communication Association, Member

Northwest Communication Association, Member