Professor Emeritus Michael Woodnick devoted forty-five years to helping his students come face to face with their authentic selves; walking them through the maze of life and helping them do the work of sifting out what really matters. He joined Northeastern University in 1964 as one of the founding members of the Speech Communication track in the Department of Drama, Music and Speech, teaching courses in Business & Professional Speaking, Voice and Articulation and Mass Media. Beginning in the 1970s, Professor Woodnick’s interests began to focus on Interpersonal Communication, which became his major work for the rest of his tenure at Northeastern, including the addition of courses in Communication & the Quality of Life and Authentic Communication. In 1980, Communication Studies became a department of its own and Professor Woodnick served as its first Chair; soon after, he was the recipient of one of the University’s first Excellence in Teaching Awards. In 2000, he was appointed the University’s first Director of Spiritual Life, a position he held for three years until his return to the Communication Studies department from which he retired in 2009.

Professor Woodnick has been described as a man who has an “intuitive sense of engagement” with each student, reflecting his innate capacity to “draw out the reticent ones, encourage the risk takers and support the ones who needed a little extra understanding.” Whether in his role as Professor, Department Chair, or Director of Spiritual Life, he always created a “warm, comfortable, and open environment” where students felt respected and deeply cared for. One of the hallmarks of his tenure at Northeastern was his constant effort to be authentic with himself, his students and all who came into his life.


Past Recipients

Grace Fernandez

Katherine Cokorinos

Kathryn Waxman

Madeline Heising 

Nicholas Fei