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Meet the Professors

Department Chair

Photo of Rick Soller

Rick Soller
Instructor, Communication

Teaching experience: Prior to CLC, Professor Soller taught at Northern Illinois University, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Columbus State Community College and Ohio State University; coached debate at Northern Illinois University and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and directed the CLC program for one year. He has also participated in debates with international teams including teams from Russia and New Zealand.

Subjects taught at CLC: Argumentation and debate, interpersonal communication, fundamentals of communication, small group communication, interviewing practices and mass media communication.

Education: B.S., Ohio State University; M.A. Northern Illinois University; completed four years of doctoral coursework in communication at Ohio State University and currently is finishing a doctoral program in education at Northern Illinois University.

Faculty/Academic Advisors

Photo of Nedra Adams-Soller

Nedra Adams-Soller
Instructor, Communication

Specialties: Public speaking anxiety—how it affects a student’s ability to persist and how intervention strategies can reduce the anxiety; how faculty achieve consistency in evaluating public speaking.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2001; previously taught at Jackson Community College, Eastern Michigan University, Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College and Honda of America.

Subjects taught at CLC: Public speaking, communication skills, communication and gender, business and professional speaking, communication theory.

Other professional experience: A former award winner in informative and persuasive speaking at the Phi Rho Pi National Forensics/Speech Tournament, Professor Adams-Soller desires to economically support budding orators through the scholarship she and her husband founded—The Richard Soller and Nedra Adams-Soller Forensics Scholarship. During the annual Soller Solstice Holiday Speech Tournament, she caters the entire two-day event and encourages current and past students to come and observe competitive oratory at its finest.

Education: B.S. and M.A., Eastern Michigan University.

Photo of Joel Chmara

Joel Chmara
Instructor, Communication

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2004; previously taught at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., where he was an instructor and head coach of forensics. He also has taught at the College of DuPage and at Wheaton-Warrenville South High School as a speech interpretation coach.

Subjects taught at CLC: Public speaking, small group communication and oral interpretation.

Other professional experience:  Head coach of the CLC speech team for seven years, he also works with New Student Orientation workers. Professor Chmara regularly presents workshops and guest lectures on public speaking and poetry at the college. He also performs poetry around the world. In 2003, he was on HBO’s “Def Poetry,” co-wrote and starred in a national commercial. He has been published in several international anthologies.

Education: A.A., College of DuPage; B.S., Northern Arizona University; M.A., Illinois State University.

Photo of Chris Cooling

Chris Cooling
Instructor, Communication

Specialties: Hollywood history, American independent cinema, post-War American culture, heist films, disaster films and Westerns.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2008; Professor Cooling previously was a teaching assistant at the University of Southern California and taught film classes at Santa Monica College.

Education: B.A., University of Toronto; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Southern California.

Photo of Fred Gifford

Fred Gifford
Instructor, Communication

Specialties: Intercultural communications.

Teaching at CLC full time since: 1995; previously taught for three years as a CLC adjunct.

What inspires me about teaching: I believe that everyone in a classroom serves as a teacher and a student. Every person, whether in college or not, provides an opportunity for others to learn. I teach a variety of courses at CLC, and I take pride in knowing that all of our Communication Department courses have the potential to be life-changing experiences for our students.

Education: B.A. and M.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also has a certificate in carpentry from Milwaukee Area Technical College and worked as a carpenter’s apprentice before studying to become a communication instructor.

Photo of Lynn Harper

Lynn Harper
Instructor, Communication

Specialties: Public speaking and oral interpretation.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2007; previously taught at Eastern Illinois University and Danville (Ill.) Area Community College. Professor Harper also has conducted multiple workshops, inside and outside of CLC, in the areas of leadership skills, how to effectively communicate with your professor and how to improve public speaking skills.

Subjects taught at CLC: Public speaking, honors public speaking and dynamics of small group communication.

Other professional experience: Professor Harper has been director of the forensics (speech team) since 2010 and holds state titles in both public speaking and impromptu speaking. She received the National Phi Rho Pi Collie-Taylor award for Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013. Professor Harper co-directed CLC’s 2010 and 2016 productions of “The Vagina Monologues.” She also has served as a senator on the faculty senate for the past seven years.

Education: B.A. and M.A., Eastern Illinois University.

What I do to engage students: Teaching public speaking is challenging because it is people are so afraid to speak in front of a crowd. To create the “a-ha” moment in my public speaking classes, I set the pace from day one, creating an environment in which my students will feel safe and comfortable.

Photo of Kari Proft

Kari Proft
Instructor, Communication

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2008; previously taught at Harper Community College, Oakton Community College, McHenry County College and Columbia College of Missouri.

Subjects taught at CLC: Public speaking, intercultural communication, interviewing practices and communication skills.

Education: B.S. and M.S., Illinois State University; pursuing a doctorate from Walden University.

Main goal in teaching: My passion is to invest in students to help them build the skills they need to academically succeed, whether the next step is a career choice or to transfer to a four-year school.

Photo of Cindu Thomas-George

Cindu Thomas-George
Instructor, Communication

Specialties: Critical race theory, whiteness studies, multicultural education, intercultural and organizational communication and public speaking.

Teaching full time at CLC since: 2008; previously taught at San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco.

Subjects taught at CLC: Public speaking and intercultural communication.

Other professional experience: Active member in the efforts to create the college’s Diversity Commission, serving as faculty chair of the commission from 2011-14. Professor Thomas-George also is one of the founders of the Diversity and Multicultural Education Infusion Project. The project provides social justice based training and educational opportunities in order to prepare faculty and staff to engage and effectively teach CLC’s increasingly diverse student population.

Education: B.S.W., Western Illinois University; M.A., San Francisco State University.

What I do to engage students: I use many different teaching methods, including: journaling, readings, oral quizzes, in-class and out-of-class activities, role plays, group discussion, media, group work and providing many examples.