While most professors are focused on getting students to graduation, Dr. Adam Tyma focuses on planning for what happens next.
Tyma is the graduate program chair for the School of Communication. He also is an associate professor, focusing on critical media studies and a personal interest in pop culture and online life. Tyma advises about 40 students during a semester.
Unlike undergraduate degrees, most of Tyma’s students are working full-time while pursuing their degrees. Some students may be taking just one graduate class at a time and Tyma is there to keep them on track.
Tyma started at the university in 2008 and said he had a feeling that he would end in his position as the graduate program chair. He supports independent student research and focuses mainly on master’s students.
“In some universities, master’s students are often left to the wayside in favor of PhD students,” Tyma said.
However, because the School of Communication does not offer a doctoral degree, he gets to focus solely on master’s-level work. Tyma said he has always loved the classroom and was originally a high school teacher in Minnesota. There, he coached speech and debate, but soon realized it wasn’t where he wanted to be.
Tyma stressed the importance of communication, regardless of what field of study. Associate professor, Sherrie Wilson, said Tyma is enthusiastic about all things academic. In the past two years, she said, he has grown the graduate program and continues to make major changes. Wilson said students like him as a professor because of his passion, despite the difficulty of his classes.
“He’s so passionate that it’s hard not to want to meet his expectations,” Wilson said.
Outside of work, Tyma spends his time with his wife and two dogs. He likes to brew beer, and garden, and called himself a renaissance festival fanatic. Tyma also goes to concerts when he can, the last one being the Mumford & Sons concert at the CenturyLink Center. During spring break, he and his family went sailing as Tyma is a certified captain.
“It [sailing] forces you to not think about anything else,” Tyma said. “Because you know the idiot on the jet ski isn’t paying attention.”
Tyma’s passion permeates all that he does, whether it be recreational or academic. His favorite activity is advising his students and evaluating their paths. He said the decision to go to graduate school depends on the person. Whatever the reason, Tyma said, the students should know why they are doing it, before they choose a program. He said a graduate degree is all about “being a working expert in the field.”
Michelle Thies, the school’s administrative assistant, described Tyma as professional when he needs to be. Otherwise, she said, he is easygoing and that everything he does is student-based.
Tyma describes himself simply: “I’m the long-haired hippie guy who listens to Metallica and drinks coffee.”