K-State JMC professor dies unexpectedly

(Photo Courtesy of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications)

“You always knew when Joye was around because of the way she spoke, the way she laughed,” Barbara DeSanto, associate professor of journalism and mass communications, said. “That presence is going to be greatly missed.”

The body of Joye Gordon, professor of journalism and mass communications, was found by police Monday morning at the 11000 block of Rimrock Drive.

As police continued to determine the cause of Gordon’s death, Birgit Wassmuth, director of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, sent out a letter via email Tuesday morning that shared the news with students.

“It is with great sadness that I tell you of Professor Joye Gordon’s passing,” Wassmuth said in the letter. “At this time, we do not know any details, but we will share information with you as it becomes available.”

Gordon’s research focused on risk communication, and she was invited to present at institutions like the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Osmania University in India, according to her professional profile on K-State’s website. Her research also brought her to Louisiana to “gather information regarding how residents responded to evacuation orders issued with Hurricane Katrina.”

Originally from Mississippi, Gordon received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Nicholls State University in 1987, a master’s degree in communication-public relations from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1990 and a doctoral degree from Purdue University in 1999, according to her profile.

The loss of Gordon is a terrible one, not only for the journalism school as a whole, but also for individual students, Steve Smethers, associate professor of journalism and mass communications said.

“Joye was someone who cared deeply about her students, she really did,” Smethers said. “She had a work ethic that was unstoppable. I’ve always said that Joye was probably the most innovative person I’ve ever met. When you wanted an idea, you went to Joye. Her ideas were brilliant. They always worked. I’ve never known of an idea that Joye had that failed. I’ve always marveled at Joye Gordon, and I truly, truly miss her as a colleague and a friend.”

DeSanto said she met Gordon about 15 years ago at a conference, and the two eventually became colleagues at K-State after Gordon encouraged DeSanto to apply for a job in the school. Gordon knew how to get students engaged in learning, DeSanto said.

“She was always looking for ways to enjoy the world and enjoy her life and enjoy her teaching, and that’s one of the things that she really brought to the classroom, I thought,” DeSanto said. “She was very creative in the classroom, and she had her students learning and discovering on their own, which I thought was a very effective way of teaching.”

Corbin Crable, K-State alum and coordinator of the Department of Journalism and Media Communications at Johnson County Community College, said that Gordon was well-known and well-respected in her field due to her ability to positively influence her students and colleagues.

“Joye Gordon’s mentorship was part of the reason why I entered the field of academia,” Crable said. “I worked with her as a graduate assistant for a semester, and her presence in Kedzie Hall was, quite simply, larger than life. Joye possessed a brilliant mind and an equally sharp wit. Her laughter was infectious.”

Trenton Miller, senior in mass communications, said in an email that Gordon’s personal attributes reflected reasons why students choose to attend K-State.

“Dr. Gordon had an unforgettable Southern accent, straight from the bayous of her home state of Louisiana, and an electric attitude in class each and every day,” Miller said. “I will be forever thankful and appreciative for her long service and dedication to the aspiring individuals of our industry.”

Hey there! I'm Danielle Cook. I'm currently a freshman in journalism and mass communications. I live for telling true stories, so I hope to be doing it for the rest of my life. Luckily, I also live for late nights and early mornings – as long as there's coffee and I'm in good company.