Professor Spotlight: Kyle Hull, Assistant Professor of Communication

Story by Zoe Collenburg, Saint Reporter
Photo courtesy of Andris Visockis

Kyle Hull, Assistant Professor in the Communication Department, began with Aquinas this Fall, returning to his home state of Michigan. Hull–Kyle to his students–is currently teaching Intro to Communication, Intercultural Communication, and Interpersonal Communication this semester; but his course load will expand when he becomes a full-time professor after finishing his dissertation for his PhD.

After graduating high school in Michigan, Hull attended Central Michigan University where he received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication.  Afterwards, he attended the University of Connecticut to pursue his PhD, “which I’m nearly finished with,” he clarified.

Hull explains that he needs to present and be approved, “and then I’m a doctor” he finished, smiling. Hull confesses that his pursuit of his PhD did not necessarily stem from an academic interest alone, but after being a class coordinator at CMU as a graduate student, he decided he would get his PhD in order to teach. During his master’s degree, he taught for two years, and he decided, “If I like it after this, then I should continue.”

Hull pursued what he loved–communication and teaching. He explains that, “my dissertation is an experiment that examines the relative effects of power and intimacy on person perception and behavioral action. It is largely based in the physiological literature.”

The newest member to the Aquinas family revealed that he came from humble beginnings as a first generation college student:

“I painted Seven Elevens,” revealed Hull as he spoke about his earlier years.

Originally from Breckenridge, a small town in central Michigan, Hull spoke of his family, lovingly, sharing that his love for Van Morrison and Neil Young probably came from his blue collar background:

“I came from a very working class family. My father does maintenance and he builds things. I looked to him as ‘this is what you’re supposed to do’ and it affects you more than you think it would.”

Hull, clearly proud of his upbringing, shared that if not teaching Communication, he would probably be working in construction or refinishing furniture.

“I used to do [construction]. It was an interesting environment, you work outside- it’s relaxed.”

Hull not only left Breckenridge with a pursuit of knowledge, but with his high school sweetheart, Sam. Sam and Kyle have been together for thirteen years, and have been married for four of those. When asked about their love story, Hull was nothing but smiles as he shared that it did “take a while for me to wear her down.” But clearly it was worth the effort as the two spent their undergraduate and master’s careers going to differing schools. Kyle shared that Sam had studied fine arts while at Saginaw Valley and Eastern Michigan, as she focused on painting and drawing. Hull shared a key piece of relationship advice for students in his position, warning, “don’t be afraid to trust or even test your relationship. My thought was always, ‘if I go here and she goes there, and we’re still good, then it’s meant to be.’ But if there is a problem with us being apart, then maybe it’s not meant to be.”

When asked, “Why Aquinas?” Hull eagerly answered that he loved the size; he felt that the smaller school and classes allowed for greater discussion without the impending fear of being wrong. Hull is very active about how his classroom is run, and he starts every day off with music, but really focuses on energy daily. He hopes his energy opens up his students to their own energy and charisma. His goal is to create an open and comfortable space for students to excel in communication and community.

Hull confessed his love of communication might have grown from another love–Jerry Seinfeld. He shared that growing up, especially around ages seven and eight, he desperately wanted to be Jerry. To this day, Sam will still comment that he phrases things like the cast. He shared that he felt the show had “a huge focus on communication and relationships.  It teaches you norms and really gets you thinking.”

So, if you’re ever in Hull’s class, you might want to throw in a few Seinfeld references for some hypothetical extra points.

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