Karlyn Kohrs Campbell ’58

2008 Distinguished Citizen Award

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Karlyn Kohrs Campbell came to Macalester from a farm in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. At a time when women were often discouraged from speaking up, Kohrs Campbell, as a sophomore, competed in the National Debate Tournament. Over the next decade, she taught at Macalester and elsewhere, traveled the world, and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota, where she is now professor of communication studies.

Kohrs Campbell was the editor of the Quarterly Journal of Speech, a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and authored or edited eight books, including the recently released Presidents Creating the Presidency with co-author Kathleen Hall Jamieson. To encourage top scholars to publish their work, she and her late husband Paul established the Kohrs-Campbell Prize in Rhetorical Criticism, which offers a substantial biannual prize for original research and scholarship.

Kohrs Campbell, who is an expert on how the presidency has been maintained and changed through the use of rhetoric, also nearly single-handedly revived interest in the study of women’s rhetoric, including that of the suffragists, and subsequent waves of feminist activism. Perhaps her greatest influence has been in inspiring many other scholars.

Colleague William Balthrop of the University of North Carolina wrote of Kohrs Campbell: "Her high standards of scholarship influenced an entire subfield of communication studies, adding depth, insight, and critical relevance to rhetorical studies and criticism." Her nomination for this award was signed by no fewer than eight Macalester alumni now teaching in colleges from California to Alabama.