Dr. Donyale Padgett

Dr. Donyale Padgett

Associate Professor -- Diversity, Culture & Communication

515 Manoogian Hall



Dr. Donyale Padgett


Professor Padgett has been a faculty member in the Department of Communication at Wayne since the fall of 2002 and on the tenure-track since 2006. Her professional background includes over 15 years as a communications professional, working primarily in client service, business development and strategic planning. She stays current in the industry through consulting projects and is a strong believer in bringing practical experience into her classroom. Through service learning projects, she gives her students practical learning experiences through planning and developing communication projects for local non-profit organizations who would not otherwise be able to afford professional communication services. In addition to her teaching, she is active throughout the university on initiatives related to diversity and inclusion and student engagement and retention efforts.

Academic Interests

Professor Padgett teaches the Department's graduate organizational communication class (COM 6250); Communication, Culture & Conlfict (COM 6350); the capstone course for graduating master's students in the PR/Organizational Com. program called Professional Issues in Applied Communication (COM 7220); Crisis Communication (COM 7160); and Communication, Consulting & Training (COM 7240). In her tenure here at Wayne she has also taught with frequency, the undergraduate intercultural communication course (COM 4300); the undergraduate organizational communication course (COM 3250); and the graduate level PR campaigns course (COM 7140). Most recently, she taught the capstone course for the undergraduate Communication Studies program (COM 5900). Her academic interests also include community-based research and service learning, which she uses to actively engage her students in practical experience to enhance their academic learning.

Area of Expertise

PRIMARY: Crisis rhetoric and organizational legitimacy; Crisis and culture; diversity and cross-cultural interactions in work spaces
SECONDARY: service learning; retention and student engagement in higher ed; hip-hop culture and identity

I describe myself as a critical scholar, concerned with the generative power of rhetoric in the public sphere, which has to do with how groups use persuasion and dialogue to gain influence.  A lot of my work is concerned with how people from traditionally marginalized groups relate to power in social structures, deal with oppression, and negotiate their identities within institutions. That “critical” dimension is the linchpin that intersects my work. My primary research, which stems from dissertation work at Howard University, focuses on the social dynamics that influence contemporary crisis discourse, including factors like an increase in lawsuits, increased industry regulation, new media technology, mass media, and a more sophisticated public. My early work on Hurricane Katrina, resulted in two publications: A co-authored article in the Journal of Black Studies, 37(4), 2007 and another co-authored article in the Howard Journal of Communication, 20(2), 2009. The findings from our studies showed people respond to crisis differently based on race, culture and class and that this understanding not only influences the message strategies crisis responders use, but also affects their pursuit of social legitimacy. This rich work also examined how risk is interpreted differently by race and ethnicity in crisis situations.  

A significant development in my research program is the introduction of "restorative rhetoric", a crisis framework I co-authored, which speaks to the social dimension of contemporary crises, like natural disasters and acts of terrorism. This research resulted in a co-authored manuscript entitled "Making a case for restorative rhetoric" which appeared in Communication Monographs, 77(3), September 2010. By looking at non-traditional crises where “blame” is not apparent and market share is not the priority, we argued that these incidents demand a unique type of rhetorical response that uses a more humanistic, audience-centered approach that takes into account those directly affected by crises, those who participate in the recovery, and those who contribute to public dialogue about how these events affect us socially. The framework was also included in a co-authored article with Matthew W. Seeger in the Review of Communication, 10(2), 2010.

As a scholar who takes a more interdisciplinary approach, my interests often marry communication with other areas. In fact, my secondary research interest includes hip-hop culture and identity and the rhetoric of social movements. This work includes a co-authored chapter in the book Pride, Pain and Promise: Addressing Challenges and Nurturing the Future of African American Women (2013), and explores how images in hip hop music and culture impact the negotiation of identity among young women. It also includes a co-authored chapter in the book Race and news: Critical Perspectives (Routledge, 2012), which examines the role of objectivity in contemporary journalism. I have taken on projects that examine how people on the margins "negotiate" within mainstream contexts. Another publication (Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts, 2(3-4), 2008), co-authored with two graduate students, examines the discourse of resistance among elderly women clients of Detroit's Hannan Foundation, as a part of an interdisciplinary campus research project. This project also yielded a chapter in a book entitled Nobody's Burden (Lexington, 2011), that examines the social stigma of "burden" and how these women enacted and resisted the role of the "little old lady" during the Great Depression. 

I am intent on building a larger body of work that intersects race, culture and crisis, including the management of cross-cultural crisis incidents and social crises involving race. Some of my cross-cultural work includes an article, entitled, “The Quest for Transparency and Accountability: Communicating Responsibility to Stakeholders in Crises", published in Asian Social Science (v 9(9), July 2013) and an article entitled "Crisis Response Across Borders: A Comparative Study of Two Companies' Image Repair" published in the International Journal of Business and Social Science, (4(6), May 2013).

My recent work includes a textual analysis of third-party response to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's text message scandal, published in Communication Studies, 65(3), May 2014 and a book chapter entitled “Dispelling Darkness through Dialogue”, that will be included in a textbook entitled Contexts of the Dark Side of Communication.


What’s next for me? Most recently, I have become involved in work that touches me on a persona level. I am currently working with a research team on a project that explores retention and student engagement in higher education. Our project will capture narratives from students who represent traditionally marginalized groups related to the challenges they face toward graduation. The goal is to make recommendations that will positively impact retention rates among these populations and make advancements toward student engagement.

Degrees and Certifications

Professor Padgett is no stranger to Wayne State. Her background includes a bachelor's degree from WSU in journalism with a concentration in public relations; a master's degree from WSU in organizational communication and PR; and a Ph.D. from Howard University in rhetoric and intercultural communication.

Primary Research Interest

diversity and culture in communication, community-based research and service learning, crisis rhetoric, crisis and culture, hip hop culture and identity, the rhetoric of social movements

Recent Publications


Griffin Padgett, D.R., Gupton, M. & Snider, I.N. (forthcoming). Dispelling darkness through dialogue in discrimination cases: Learning diversity lessons the hard way.  In S. D. Long and E. Gilchrist-Petty (Eds.), Contexts of the dark side of communication. NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Griffin Padgett, D.R. (2014). Framing Kwame Kilpatrick: Third-Party Response to the Detroit Mayor’s Text Message Scandal. Communication Studies, 64(5), 244-259.

Griffin Padgett, D.R., Cheng, S.S., & Parekh, V. (2013). The quest for transparency and accountability: Corporate social responsibility and misconduct cases. Asian Social Science, 9(9), 31-44.

Cheng, S.S., Griffin Padgett, D.R. & Parekh, V. (2013). Crisis response across borders: A comparative study of two companies’ image repair discourse. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(5), 124-135.

Griffin Padgett, D.R., Jenkins, C.D. & Anderson, D. (2013). Imag[e]ining  hip-hop femininity:  In E.M. Zamani-Gallaher and V.C. Polite (Eds.), Pride, pain and promise: Addressing challenges and nurturing the future of African American females. Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Jenkins, C.D. & Padgett, D.R. (2012). [Re]interpreting objectivity: Toward a critical approach to news consumption. In C.P. Campbell, R.A. Brown, C.D. Jenkins, and K. LeDuff (Eds.), Race and news: Critical perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Griffin Padgett, D.R. & Cheng, S. (2011). Resisting dependence and burden: On refusing to become a “Little Old Lady”. In R.E. Ray and T. Calasanti (Eds.),  Nobody’s burden: Historical perspectives on the struggle for old-age security (pp. 147-169). New York: Lexington Books.

Griffin Padgett, D.R. & Allison, D.C. (2010). Making a case for restorative rhetoric: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Mayor Ray Nagin's response to disaster. Communication Monographs, 77(3), 376-392.

Seeger, M.W. & Griffin Padgett, D.R. (April, 2010). From image restoration to renewal: Approaches to understanding post-crisis communication. Review of Communication, 10(2), 127-141.

Spence, P.R., Lachlan, K.A., & Griffin, D.R. (May, 2009). Risk perceptions, race and Hurricane Katrina. Howard Journal of Communication, 20(2).

Griffin, D.R., Townsend, K., Sophy Cheng, S. (December, 2008). Identity and empowerment: Resistance to institutional discourse in a human service organization. Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts, 2(3-4).

Spence, P.R., Lachlan, K.A. & Griffin, D.R. (2007). Crisis communication, race and natural disasters. Journal of Black Studies, 37(4), 1-16. (Lead Article).





 Teach graduate level courses in communication research, culture, and applied communication. Research in the area of critical rhetoric, crisis and intercultural communication. Serve on committees at the department, college and university level. Advise undergraduate and graduate students, including theses and dissertations. 



Courses taught by Dr. Donyale Padgett

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022

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