Faculty Spotlight: Heidi McKee

photo of Heidi McKee

  • associate professor of English
  • Roger and Joyce L. Howe Professor of Writing
  • director of the Howe Writing Initiative in the Farmer School of Business
  • career focus in professional communications, digital writing and rhetoric, and research ethics
  • enjoys hiking the trails in Miami's Natural Areas and riding horses


"I began my career as a high school English teacher and earned my master's in English during that time. I also earned my PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in Composition and Rhetoric in 2005."


"I chose Miami over other schools because of its emphasis and focus on undergraduate education, combined with selective excellence in graduate education. I wanted to make sure that while I was pursuing research and building knowledge, I was working with students and giving students the opportunity to develop knowledge. I love teaching, which is, after all, why we are here!

"I teach a wide range of classes. In English, I teach classes in the Rhetoric and Writing Graduate Program and in the Professional Writing major. Recently, I taught the Professional Writing Capstone class where students created a brochure about writing at Miami. This brochure has already been distributed to 30,000 people, and it will probably be distributed for many more years to come.

"In my role as the director of the Howe Writing Initiative (HWI), I do not directly teach classes for an entire semester. However, I do teach a lot of individual class periods and workshops for students in the Farmer School of Business. The HWI team and I gave over 60 workshops last year, helping classes with such skills as team research and writing, data visualization, and report writing.

"My teaching philosophy is to recognize that college students are adults, capable of making decisions about what they want to pursue and what they want to study. When I work with students, I recognize their agency and authority, and I aim to help them expand the range of options they have available to them. I also help them to pursue their interests.

"I love working with Miami students. I think they are incredible for their range of interests, their energy, their excitement about new ideas, and their willingness to take on challenges. I really enjoy helping to push students to learn and achieve as much as they can, never to the point where people get frustrated and want to give up, but always to where they are reaching to be better."


"I have done a number of studies looking at the ways in which we communicate across multiple modes and media platforms.

"Some of my current research is on business communication. Professor James Porter and I are in the process of interviewing business professionals about their communication strategies and skills, particularly how digital global networks impact what they do and how they do their work. My goal for that research is to use it to further develop curriculum for Miami, particularly for the business school. I want to use this research to help make sure that we are effectively preparing students.

"I have also been researching intercultural communication and teamwork. This research looks at the ways that people across geographical and global boundaries to work together and promote the greatest understanding.

"I have presented with approximately 18 undergraduates at national and international conferences in Ireland, Seattle, New York, Chicago, and a number of other places. I try very hard to involve students in research, because I think it is important that undergraduate students have the opportunity to build knowledge."

Outside the Classroom

"My hobbies when I am not at school include going hiking on the trails in Miami's Natural Areas. I also have horses and enjoy spending my time horseback riding with my husband and son."

[August 2015]