Remembering Suzanne Daughton | Communication Studies | SIU

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Remembering Suzanne Daughton

The Department of Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is heartbroken to share the news that beloved friend, colleague, teacher, advisor, and mentor, Dr. Suzanne Daughton, passed away on Saturday, February 1, 2020. 

suzanne.jpgDr. Daughton joined the Communication Studies department at SIU in 1990, after receiving her PhD in rhetorical studies from the University of Texas, Austin. Prior to that, she completed her masters degree in rhetorical studies also at UTA, and her BA in English (Literature and Rhetoric) from State University of New York at Binghamton in 1985.

She was promoted to Associate Professor in 1997, and was also cross-appointed in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SIU. Her professional interests included rhetorical criticism, rhetoric of social movements, gender and sexuality, and political communication. She was active in her professional associations, including the National Communication Association and Western States Communication Association. In addition to numerous publications, conference presentations, and creative contributions, she co-authored a well-known rhetoric textbook, Modern Rhetorical Criticism.  She retired from SIU in June of 2018.

She was most recently known for her work in compassionate communication, which was both a research area and personal practice. Throughout the last two decades, she attended several trainings and retreats on nonviolent communication and conscious living. She developed a course on compassionate communication that was a popular course taught in the department since 2007, and inspired her students to approach others by leading with compassion. For six years, she taught a similar course adapted for young people at Carbondale New School. This was no surprise, as Dr. Daughton lived a life full of such compassion and grace. She was also known in the department for emphasizing the need to care for oneself and to embrace one’s emotions as a powerful force for good. Not only did Dr. Daughton provide the tools to practice self-care, but she embodied what it means to care for herself and others. She regularly led a workshop in self-care for graduate students; throughout the workshop, students worked on responding to others compassionately and caring for the self. Onlookers peeking in would witness discussions of how to be kind to one’s body, people dancing with abandon, and “flocks” of attendees crossing the stage in their best bird impression. She consistently attended meetings with a box of tissues and a bottle of natural hand sanitizer—and would readily share both with anyone who may have a need. She previewed her workshops and classes by happily warning new folks that she cried easily, and if we saw her crying, we should “not worry about me, I’m OK.”

Dr. Daughton’s students and colleagues recognized her stellar teaching and mentoring, evidenced through the awards she received. These included the Mentoring Award from the University Women’s Professional Advancement (SIUC, 2014), the Feminist Teacher-Mentor Award from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (2010), the Outstanding Teacher Award from the College of Liberal Arts (SIUC, 2010), the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Department of Speech Communication (SIUC, 2009 and 1998), and the Outstanding New Teacher Award from the Central States Communication Association (1994). 

Her advisees came to cherish her mentorship, and one of the great joys in her life was being in relationship with others. As an academic and a mother, she created space for those coming after her to see both as possibilities, as her young son would often accompany her to campus. Along with her scholar-parent colleagues in the late 1990s/early 2000s, she forged a path that made it a matter of course to recognize an academic space as one that includes whole people—people with families, people living lives full of joys and challenges, people who deserve grace and love. And that is how Suzanne lived her life—with grace and love for herself and others. She looked for and found joy in the everyday, whether it was a Stevie Nicks song on the radio, a lovely note that could brighten someone’s day, or beautiful flower to wear in her hair. 

Mourning her loss, and taking great comfort in her memory, are her husband Dr. Nathan Stucky (they were together over 34 years and married for 28 of them), their cherished son Michael, her mother Eileen Morley, and countless family and friends across the country and around the world. A celebration of her life will take place on February 22, 2020, at 2:00 PM at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship. Family greeting beginning at 1:00 PM, Service at 2:00, reception following.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her name to Heifer International, International Rescue Committee, or the Women’s Center of Carbondale. An obituary appears in The Southern Illinoisan, February 4 and 5, 2020.