Meet Raena Quinlivan: Director of the Online M.A. in Communication

About Raena Quinlivan: 

Raena Quinlivan is Director of the Online Master’s Degree in Communication at Arizona State University. Before joining the faculty at Arizona State University in 2010, she taught communication at the University of Iowa, specializing in visual rhetoric and gender. Quinlivan received her Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University, her Master of Arts in Speech Communication at Colorado State University and her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication at Colorado State University.  

Q: Why did you decide to study communication?

As a teen, I dreamed of being an on-air anchor for a local news station in Colorado.  I had a real knack for speaking in public (in fact, I usually do better in front of a crowd than one on one). I was the on-air anchor for the morning news announcements at Columbine High School. And, in my free time, I was the voice for local teens in Jefferson County on a public access news show. I decided to go to Colorado State University for my undergraduate degree, and started taking communication courses to really hone my public speaking skills. I had inspirational professors like Brian Ott, Carl Burgchardt, Greg Dickinson, and Cindy Griffin. It was through them that I learned the power of good communication to move people to action. It was also through them I learned about groups’ experiences with silence, oppression, and misrepresentation. Importantly, then, I came to understand the value of listening. I decided I’d rather educate than become an on-air anchor and pursued graduate coursework in the field of communication.

Q: Why did you want the job of Director of the Online M.A. in Communication? 

I started as online MA faculty three years ago when the program first launched and since then have grown fond of the program and its designer, Dr. Jess Alberts. I believe in her mission of delivering rigorous yet accessible graduate coursework to working professionals. When the opportunity arose to apply the position of director, I was excited to reflect on the mission and goals of the program and explore new opportunities for growth. Given my previous experience with online pedagogy (I had been online faculty for some years), curriculum development, online course design, and my experience with the online MA in Communication, I knew from experience what was working well in the program and what needed some work when I got here. This position pushes me to learn new administrative and leadership skills daily.  

Working with the students, instructors, and mentors for online MA, the staff in the department, and Patrick McDonald, the advisor for the online MA, is a privilege and pleasure. Together, we are working to maintain the success of the program during these uncertain times, and through rapid growth and expansion.  



Q: What is your vision for the program? 

 The program is in a period of rapid growth. Thus, holding true to the integrity of the program while scaling for student access and excellence create an environment that can only be maintained through constant instructional innovation. I see the program as a vehicle for award-winning faculty to teach students the value of good communication skills in the workplace through an applications-based approach to research and assignments. I envision the program becoming the model for the delivery of rigorous graduate coursework in communication with a focus on applicability in the day-to-day functions of the contemporary workplace. 

Q: Tell us something about you that we don’t know about you.  How do you like to spend your free time? 

Rescue pups




I spend a lot of my free time with my partner. We are an active couple and you’ll find us volunteering, hiking, biking, swimming, and/or entertaining our 4 rescue pups. I also like having a good local adventure, like trying a new restaurant or coffee shop. I love the little neighborhood I live in historic downtown Phoenix. I have some amazing friends and a brother who makes me laugh daily.