Before she had any administrative or teaching experience under her belt, University Presidentwas an undergraduate student at Mount St. Joseph in Ohio juggling school and a job at the campus newspaper. Though her aspirations evolved throughout the years, her time as a reporter has remained a significant and influential experience in her life. The University Star had the chance to talk with Trauth about her past and its impact on her current position.
HO: Can you talk about your undergrad experience?
DT: I went to a women’s college, Mount St. Joseph, it didn’t have a major in journalism, and this was a long time ago when women’s professions weren’t thought about. I majored in English, minored in journalism and took education courses, and assumed that I would end up an English teacher. I worked for the student newspaper while I was in college. I worked as a reporter and wrote a lot of stories under deadline pressure. Typically, you’d get a story assignment at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and it’d be due at 8 o’clock the next morning. I stayed up many nights working on stories.
HO: What did your experience at the campus newspaper teach you?
DT: I think probably the single most important thing I learned was writing under deadline pressure and respecting deadlines, and I have a great respect for deadlines. I write all the time as president of the university, so learning to compose quickly and coherently was wonderful training.
HO: How did you decide you wanted to become a professor?
DT: I taught high school for two years. I taught English and journalism, and was the adviser of the school newspaper. I enjoyed doing that, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I went back to school, to Ohio State and worked on a master’s degree in journalism and intended to go to work as a journalist. One of my professors started talking to me about becoming a professor and thought I’d be good at that, so over the course of the year I thought long and hard and decided I’d work on a Ph.D. I went to University of Iowa for my Ph.D and was the features editor for The Daily Iowan. The Daily Iowan is really renowned campus newspaper, so I was privileged to work in an editorial capacity there. It was also a great personal success because my husband was also a Ph.D student and was the publisher of the paper, so that’s where we met. I got a real bonus.
HO: Are there any stories you wrote or edited as features editor that have stuck with you throughout the years?
DT: One of the things we did a lot of were profiles on the people who made up the University of Iowa, and those stories were fun for the reporters to write and they were great stories for the readers because at the end of the day, a university is made up of people. So often you’re quoting this person, you’re quoting that person, but you don’t necessarily get an insight into who that person is. So the background you got on these people, whether faculty members, or a coach, made for great stories.
HO: Does the Common Experience theme this year, the First Amendment, have a special significance to you?
DT: Absolutely. I did years and years doing research in this very area, so it’s more than just a component of the general field I work in — it’s my own research area. And it’s also the research area my husband was in. Not only did we both on the newspaper together, but we both had the same dissertation adviser and we both worked in law and policy First Amendment areas and taught in that area. This is something that has been near and dear to my heart.