Faculty PROFile: Passionate Communicator Lisa Handt Fagan

Lisa Fagan and her students walk in the crosswalk in Abbey Road fashion.

Today we speak to Lisa Handt Fagan, an instructor of Advertising & Public Relations within the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts. Prof. Fagan holds a B.A. in Communication – Mass Media & Writing, and an M.A. in Professional Communication (now called Strategic Communication). You can find her on LinkedIn here.

Professor Lisa Fagan, an instructor in the Public Relations and Advertising Department at Rowan.
Prof. Lisa Fagan, an instructor in the Public Relations and Advertising Department at Rowan.

Share an “aha!” moment that you’ve had within your discipline that made you feel passionate about your field. 

There are a million moments in a year in this field that bring me tremendous satisfaction, both professionally and personally. Overall, I love the daily collaboration with my colleagues inside and outside of my department.

I think the most pivotal moment that led me to Rowan University happened in 2005 when I was preparing a summary of our marketing successes for the owners and operation department heads of our business who did not wholeheartedly support marketing. They thought advertising, public relations and events consisted of frivolous work. (They worked 80+ hours a week in the heat with millions of visitors, and we added to their workload!)

I prepared an hour-long presentation for my boss. He was an impressive speaker — once the media spokesperson for a presidential candidate! As I prepped him on the slides moments before our meeting, he told me I was going to present. I had done many presentations but had never been comfortable with public speaking, especially with an unfriendly audience. Nonetheless, I took on the challenge, and in that meeting saw the power in what we do, the power of public speaking, and my ability to one day lead a classroom.

As the meeting began, the room of over 20 people entered, exhausted, disinterested, and disengaged. They sat back, slouched in their chairs. As we went through each of our accomplishments in advertising, public relations, events and research, they started to pay attention, sit up and ask questions. When the presentation was over, we had an overwhelming engagement and could not end the meeting! We were inundated with smiles, congratulations, feedback, ideas and respect.

Share with us one aspect of student engagement that you enjoy most, and why?

I am a people person by nature, but nothing gives me more enjoyment in teaching than working directly with students. I love hearing their opinions, discovering their hidden talents, and watching them blossom with ideas! To be honest, I am just as interested in watching their development as humans as I am as communicators.

For example, this year, one student told me she loved my class, but was more grateful that as a shy transfer student —online during Covid — that she could make friends in our class and find roommates for on campus next year. A 2021 graduate student made connections with my LinkedIn connections across the country and is well on his way to his dream job. Likewise, I connected a student who held back her quirky, creative side into a job as Marketing Director one week before she earned her B.A.

It isn’t all about grades; it is about people.

Professor Fagan collaborates with her students.

What is your area of expertise?

Advertising is my area of expertise. I have branded and rebranded company brands. I have led strategy and creativity. I have bought and placed media. I have managed and conducted market research. You name it; I have done it and love doing it!

What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or your research focus?

There is no perfect, fail-safe way to do this work. You have to try and try again. Failure is part of the process and is actually even more important than success. You learn the most when you fail.

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Story organized by:
Rachel Rumsby, junior communication studies and public relations double major

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