Meet the Faculty

Michael Thurwanger

Michael Thurwanger

Associate Professor - Communication/Director of the Ronald Reagan Leadership Program

Contact Details


Ph.D., Journalism, Southern Illinois Carbondale, 2003
M.A., Public Relations, Ball State University, 1996
B.S., Far Eastern Studies (Mandarin Chinese), United States Naval Academy, 1976


Burrus Dickinson 302

Contact me for…

  • Information about the Reagan Leadership Program
  • Career information in media, public relations and other strategic communication fields

Research Interests:

  • Rural/Local Journalism
  • Leadership Communication
  • Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Public Relations: Crisis Communication and International Public Relations

Teaching Interests:

  • Strategic Communications
  • Crisis Communication
  • International Public Relation
  • Leadership and Leadership Communications

Professional Activity:

  • Public Relations Association of Central Illinois
  • Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)
  • National Communication Association (NCA)
  • Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership

Community Engagement:

  • Member Tri-County Public Information Officers Committee
  • Teen Jamboree of Woodford County, Board Member

Uniquely Eureka Experience:

As Director of the Reagan Leadership Program, I have the privilege of accompanying our freshmen Reagan Fellows for a week-long travel experience each year. Destinations have included London, Dublin, Athens and, most recently, Hong Kong. One of our most memorable experiences was a visit to Brussels, Belgium, which included a tour and day of briefings at NATO headquarters, hosted by the military commander of NATO forces who was a former Naval Academy classmate of mine.


I currently serve as Director of the Reagan Leadership Program and an Associate Professor of Communication. I first joined the faculty of Eureka College in the summer of 2008.

I’m originally from this part of central Illinois, having grown up in Kewanee, Illinois and my wife is a local girl as well. I left I received my undergraduate degree and my commission as a naval officer from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976 and served 20 years, retiring at the rank of Commander. During my military career, I compiled more than 16 years of experience in public relations practice including media relations, crisis communications, and strategic planning.I served as Senior Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs where I advised the Pentagon spokesperson on media and policy issues. Myfinal assignment was as Public Affairs Officer on the staff of the Commander, U.S. Third Fleet, from which I retired in 1996.

After I retired, I returned to the Midwest to complete my doctorate and start a second career in teaching.

My wife and I built a home here in Eureka a couple years after I joined the faculty. We enjoy visiting our three daughters and their families and traveling when time allows.