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Faculty Image Betsy Bach
Office: LA 415
Phone: 406.243.6119


Current Position:

Professor, Department of Communication Studies

Past President, National Communication Association


In late January 2012 I returned to my academic home as Professor of Communication Studies, where I began my career in 1983. From 1999-2005, I served in two administrative roles: Assistant Provost for Enrollment Management and Retention, and then as Interim Dean of the Davidson Honors College from 2003-2005, both at the University of Montana. I have been an adjunct faculty member at the Chalice of Repose Project at St. Patrick Hospital, where I offered communication courses to graduate students preparing to be music thanatologists–people who use song and harp to counsel the dying.  From 2010 to early 2012 I worked as the Associate Director for Academic and Professional Affairs at the National Communication Association in Washington, DC.

I received my Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Washington in 1985 and specialize in organizational communication, where my two major research areas are the mentoring and socialization of organizational newcomers. I enjoy listening to the experiences of organizational newcomers as they try to negotiate life in organizations, and find their experiences of change, contrast, and surprise very exciting. I use these stories to coach organizational "veterans" how to make the socialization experiences of newcomers less stressful (for both newcomers AND veterans). More recently, I am reading in and turning my research interests to communication in "chosen kin" relationships. 

My passion is teaching, which I enjoy tremendously. I was honored to receive the University of Montana's Distinguished Teacher Award in 1991 and the Master Teacher Award from the Western States Communication Association in 1992.

I also enjoy management responsibilities and was very grateful to be nominated by the COMM department for (and be awarded) Montana's Academic Administrator Award in 1996, I have also served as President of the Western States Communication Association, the Northwest Communication Association, and as Director of the Educational Policies Board for the National Communication Association. In 2009 I was elected as President of the National Communication Association, and was very honored to serve in this capacity.

I haven't always been an academic. For three years I worked as a police officer in Holland, Michigan, where I served as Community Service Officer and Domestic Dispute Liaison (where I mediated a number of domestic disputes and learned to duck flying pots and pans).

Although I consider myself a fourth-generation Montanan (my great-grandfather settled here in 1863), I was born and raised nine miles from New York City. I have a twenty-five year old son who graduated from my alma mater, Hope College, and hope soon to adopt two rescue springer spaniels.

Office Hours:

Fall, 2014

Tuesdays, 2:10 - 3:30 pm; Thursdays 9:30 - 11:00 am; and always by appointment

Field Of Study:

Organizational communication, with an emphasis in instructional communication

Research Interests:

Communication in voluntary kin relationships

Communicating science, science communication

Organizational identification, socialization, and the development of mentor relationships


COMM 240 - Small Group Communication

COMM 295 - Introduction to Communication Studies

COMM 423 - Practical Issues in Organizational Communication

COMM 540 - Seminar in Instructional Communication


Ph.D., University of Washington

M.A., University of Montana

A.B., Hope College, Holland, Michigan


National Communication Association, Member

International Communication Association, Member

Western States Communication Association, Member

Northwest Communication Association, Member

American Meteorological Association, Member

Professional Experience:

Police Officer, Holland Police Department, Holland, Michigan (1974-1977)

Assistant Provost for Enrollment Management and Retention, University of Montana (1999-2004)

Interim Dean, Davidson Honors College, University of Montana (2004-2006)

Associate Director for Academic and Professional Affairs, National Communication Association, Washington DC (2010-2012)

International Experience:

Study abroad, Coatzacoalcos, Mexico 1969

Study abroad, Vienna; U.S.S.R. 1972

Wintersession 2009 course that I taught in Central Eurpoe with Dr. Rafael Chacon in the Department of Art - we visited VIenna, Munich, Nurenburg, Berlin, and Prague.

Academic Travel to:

Basel, Switzerland, September 2008

Istanbul, Turkey, July 2009

Havana, Cuba, October 2009

Panama City, Panama, July 2010

Verona, Italy, September 2010

St. Andrews, Scotland, September 2012

Selected Publications:

Backlund, P., Bach, B. W., Hefferin, D., Johnson, D., Mello, B., Procopio, C., & Sypher, H. (2011).  NCA Program Review Standards:  Background, Application and Data.