“My tenure at Bethune-Cookman University has been nothing short of remarkable and I will forever be grateful for the wealth of opportunities that I have been given over the many years.” Dr. Claudette McFadden will tell you that Bethune-Cookman is the type of institution where a faculty member’s level of involvement within and outside of the class is limited only by the faculty member’s vision and passion for collaboration. The beauty of this professor’s early years is that there was time to plan and time to execute and this is exactly what she did. Dr. McFadden’s first venture was writing the grant that institutionalized service learning. The receipt of a Ford/UNCF Community Service Partnership Project grant resulted in the creation of Project Reclaim, the service-learning initiative that placed every second-semester freshman into the surrounding community for a minimum of 15 service-learning hours. Even though Project Reclaim was active in the 90s, there are still members of the community who remember it fondly. 

Colleague and Friend 

As the senior faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies, Theatre and Dance, Dr. McFadden works closely with her fellow faculty members on a variety of projects and initiatives including, Tra-Co-Dram Mary McLeod Bethune Players, Speak Out, Project Pericles and Orchesis Dance Ensemble. She is the Founder and Director of the Thurgood Marshall Speech and Debate Society.  As a member of the teaching faculty, Dr. McFadden regularly teaches Introduction to Human Communication, Public Speaking, Argumentation and Debate, Communication Ethics, and Persuasion Theory and Practice.  She works with fellow professionals whom she always refers to as “colleagues and friends.” 

Administrative Roles

Over the past 30 years, Dr. McFadden has held a variety of administrative positions at the University including, department chair for Speech Communication and Theatre Arts, dean for the Center of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, director of Title III, associate provost in the Office of Academic Affairs and for a short period, vice president for Student Affairs. She also served two terms as president of the Faculty Association and, most recently, chaired the University’s General Education Committee. She is a collaborator and seeks partnerships at every turn. Given a choice, she always wants to see multidisciplinary approaches to programming and problem-solving. One colleague, Dr. Julius John, shares his views of Dr. McFadden saying, “ ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.’ This quote from Aristotle truly epitomizes Dr. Claudette McFadden. I have worked with Dr. McFadden for close to 20 years. Her exceptional educational skills and background have resulted in her serving the University in a number of leadership roles. She is well organized, knowledgeable, objective, respectful, effective, and is an educator who truly cares for humanity. She is also a gifted writer.”

Words Always Matter 

Anyone who knows Dr. McFadden knows she is passionate about effective communication. Whether you are in her class or not, her attention is automatically drawn to the grammar, articulation, pronunciation, usage, and vocabulary of all student utterances. 

Having directed Speech and Debate at Morgan State for 13 years, Dr. McFadden’s natural inclination was to form the Thurgood Marshall Speech and Debate Society and, for much of her tenure at the University, she has worked with students who are passionate about public speaking in all of its shapes and forms. Some of her greatest successes have been seen in the last few years as Marshall Society members have successfully competed at the National HBCU Speech and Debate Tournament, the annual event of the HBCU Speech and Debate Association, a four year old organization founded on the campus of Wiley College, the home of the Great Debaters. The Association exists to see competitive Speech and Debate programs reborn on the HBCU campuses throughout the country. “The Thurgood Marshall Speech and Debate Society has not only contributed to my increased confidence in public speaking, but has also sharpened my critical thinking skills. Equally important to highlight is Dr. McFadden’s patience, dedication, and support which she gives to everyone with any kind of potential. She manages to bring out the best in each of her members, and help mold them into the best version of themselves. Might I mention that Dr. McFadden does all this with such style and grace! I honestly can’t thank her enough,” says Ashlyn Denson (Class of 2020), President Emeritus, Thurgood Marshall Speech and Debate Society