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Matt Barton - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Matt Barton

Professor of Communication, Department Chair | Southern Utah University


Specializing in rhetoric and persuasion in public discourse, communication theory, and critical thinking


Dr. Matthew H. Barton is Professor of Communication and Graduate Director for the Master of Professional Communication program at Southern Utah University. He teaches courses in Persuasion, Communication Theory, Critical Thinking, Health Communication, and Interpersonal Communication.

Dr. Barton is also a co-director for SUU’s innovative General Education program – Jumpstart – which has received national praise in education circles for challenging the norms of Gen Ed for students.

In addition to dozens of conference presentations and corporate trainings, Dr. Barton has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 18 books and research publications. He has received Top Paper Awards for his research in Health Communication, Rhetoric and Public Address, and Communication Education and Instruction.

Dr. Barton was awarded Tenure at SUU in 2008 and was named SUU’s Outstanding Educator in 2005 and a Service Learning Fellow in 2012.

Dr. Barton graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor degree in communication from Southern Utah University, he earned a master of arts in speech communication from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and a Ph.D. in speech communication from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.







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Major Decisions: Communcation Master Decisions: Professional Communication Why Choose SUU — Jumpstart


Industry Expertise (3)

Public Relations and Communications



Areas of Expertise (16)

Communication Theories

Professional Writing and Presentations

Public Discourse

Teaching Communication Theory

Conflict and Communication in Relationships


Public Speaking



Public Apologies

Health Communications

Image Repair

Health Industry Communication

Teaching Critical Thinking in Higher Education

Qualitative Communication Research

Interpersonal Communication

Education (3)

Southern Utah University: B.S. (magna cum laude), Communication Studies

University of Nevada Las Vegas: M.A., Speech Communication

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Ph.D., Speech Communication

Accomplishments (5)

Top 10 SUU Influencer Award (professional)

Division of Student Affairs & Career and Professional Development Center, Southern Utah University, 2016

Service Learning Faculty Fellow Award (professional)

Community Engagement Center, Southern Utah University, 2012

Outstanding Faculty Educator (professional)

Southern Utah University, 2005

Advisor of the Year & Chapter of the Year Nomination (professional)

National Communication Association Convention, 2004

Gold & Silver Awards (professional)

Utah Broadcaster’s Association for Producing programs and commercials, 1996

Affiliations (2)

  • National Communication Association : member.
  • Western States Communication Association : member.

Media Appearances (7)

Communication professors present research on public apologies

SUU News  


The College of Humanities & Social Science held a Lunch and Learn for students in the Electronic Learning Center on Nov. 16. Dr. Kevin Stein and Dr. Matthew Barton presented on their study of apologia rhetoric at the event.

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Two Communication Professors Publish Research on How Public Figures Avoid Genuine Apologies

Southern Utah University News  online


Professors Kevin Stein and Matthew Barton of the Department of Communication at Southern Utah University published this week a comprehensive analysis of apologies offered by public figures to understand the ways people use language to take or avoid responsibility for harmful behavior, such as infidelity, domestic violence, and deception.

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Valedictorian represents Southern Utah University’s motto, ‘Learning lives forever’

St George News  online


“My professors challenged me academically, inspired me to explore new fields and helped me build a strong foundation in communication,” Topham said. “Sage Platt, Matt Barton, and Jonathan Holiman were great instigators in helping me get the most out of my experience at SUU.”

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SUU Ranked Twice for Best Colleges Offering Online Learning

Iron County Today  online


“Anytime we are recognized as a quality program, it validates the talent and efforts of our faculty to deliver a quality educational product,” said Barton. “We are constantly examining our curriculum to respond to industry trends and emerging job categories, and look at the communication skills necessary to message appropriately to specific stakeholders, clients, and customers.”

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Eight Professors, 43 Students

Inside Higher Ed  print


"For example, the class recently used Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a central text. The English professor taught about the novel. An art historian led discussions on Mississippi River art. And Matt Barton, a professor of communications, used the book as a jumping-off point to teach about racial identity and social media..."

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Innovative SUU program will cut time, money spent on general education

Desert News Utah  print


"While most freshmen don't start their college career by taking 17 credits, university leaders say the integrated coursework, closer working relationships with professors, and the collaboration among students in the group will be enough to help the students bear the heavier-than-normal workload. 'I think as we form that right at the start of college, it gives students an opportunity to learn from one another and to have a support group,' said Matt Barton, professor of communications and director of the university's master's program in professional communications..."

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SUU to debut Jumpstart General Education in the fall

The Spectrum  online


One of the professors, Associate Dean of Library Matthew Nickerson, described the course as "the coolest thing I've ever done in my 25 years of higher education." Another member of the faculty, Professor of Communication Matt Barton, said the faculty is structured to cover the major content areas of general education and each faculty member has been selected because they are looked at as a master in their respective fields.

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Event Appearances (3)

Teaching the Undergraduate Communication Theory Course: Addressing Challenges and Obstacles

Undergraduate College & University Division at the National Communication Association Conference  Las Vegas, NV

“I Approved this Message”: The Pornification of the Rhetorical Presidency

Rhetoric & Political Communication Division at the Western States Communication Association Conference  Spokane, WA

Always having to say you’re sorry: An extensive content analysis of the public apologies of global leaders, organizations, and celebrities during the past century

Public Address Division at the National Communication Association Conference  Washington, DC

Articles (10)

“I’m Sorry You Interpreted My Behavior the Way You Did”: Toward A New Understanding of the Nuances of Mortification

Western Journal of Communication

Kevin A. Stein and Matthew H. Barton


The study uses content analytic and grounded theory approaches to analyze 409 cases of public apologia from 351 different incidents in order to develop a typology of mortification-specific strategies. Its purpose is to offer a critique of existing scholarship and its inattention to the specific nuances of mortification. Historically, scholars have limited their conclusions to a discussion of strategy, while ignoring the reality that specific language choices need only appear to be sincere in order to satisfy the rhetor’s goal.

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Introducing Communication: A Digital Learning Experience

Kendall Hunt Publishing

Matt Barton and Jonathan Holiman

A digital publication and learning experience.

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Diabetes, patient care & compliance: The role of message design in doctor-patient interactions.

The Pennsylvania Communication Annual

M.H. Barton and K. A. Stein


This study examined the influence of compliance-gaining messages on patients’ intent to comply with physician requests in treating Type II diabetes. Using Barbara O’Keefe’s research on message design logic, physician messages representing O’Keefe’s three paradigms of language use were examined in short semi-structured patient interviews. Questions examined which approach resonated best with patients related to cultivating positive attitudes about compliance with treatment plans. Results show rhetorical messages are most valued because patients feel their humanity and worth as individuals is reinforced while simultaneously being able to treat their medical condition.

140 characters to say “I Hate You”: Melissa Click, racism, and the media circus at Mizzou

Relevant Rhetoric,

K. A. Stein, M. H. Barton and W. P. Paul


University of Missouri communication professor, Melissa Click, dominated the news cycle in the fall of 2015 after she had attempted to expel a student journalist from a safe zone created by other students who were protesting the university administration’s indifference toward racism on campus. A video of the professor calling for “muscle” to remove the student journalist went viral, creating a firestorm of vitriolic attack on Click via her personal Twitter account as well as through the newly created feed #FireMelissaClick.

Listening to unheard voices: Nurses’ communication experiences with the NRS pain scale


M.H. Barton and K. A. Stein

This study examines nurses’ experiences with the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS). These responses characterize the communication trials that nurses face with pain diagnosis, pain management, and overall patient care. Interviews with 20 nurses reveal three themes: subjective dissatisfaction, feeling limited, and subjective satisfaction. An analysis of these themes reveals the need for renewed discussion about the way pain is communicated and the challenging expectations nurses must regularly confront. Implications for listening to important, but often quiet, even silent, voices in pain management and clinical practice are discussed.

"Yeah there's an app for that": Using mobile applications in public speaking instruction.

Cases on communication technology for second language acquisition and cultural learning

M.H. Barton and K. A. Stein


To help students: 1) learn to use mobile applications as the basis for speech topic selection; 2) identify new outlets for using technology to acquire information and solve problems; 3) learn to use cloud-based information management tools to identify and organize research; 4) explore public speaking tools that can improve presentation and delivery skills.

Apologist-in-Chief?: Newspaper Kategoria and Antapologia following Barack Obama's “Global Apology Tour”

Iowa Journal of Communication

K. A. Stein, M. H. Barton, M. Ault and J. R. Briscoe

Inside the first hundred days of Barack Obama's first term as president, he spoke on three different continents in an effort to strengthen diplomatic relations with other nations. In France, Obama declared that America “has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive” toward Europe. In Latin America, he said the United States had not “pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors”...

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In the dark at Texas Tech: News coverage involving the image repair discourse of Mike Leach and Adam James

Repairing the athlete’s image

M.H. Barton, K. A. Stein and P. D. Turman

This chapter analyzes the charges surrounding Mike Leach’s decision related to one of his players while at Texas Tech University. Strategies are examined and conclusion drawn the public effort to repair his image.

When Bieber Fever strikes: Using Twitter as a new medium for attack and defense communication

Iowa Journal of Communication

S. H. Taylor and M. Barton

Rhetorical analyses of image restoration and attack have characteristically centered on public figures because their images are the focal point of news conversation for traditional mass media outlets following events of public shame. Through the development of Web 2.0 technologies and microblogging sites like Twitter, publishing power has shifted the conversation about public figures and their

Dotnets, Political Involvement, and the Generation Gap

Taylor & Francis

Matthew Barton

Historically, the angst over the development of America's youth has centered on loud music and political apathy. While the flashpoint for fixation on the former may never be fully revealed, the latter is usefully discussed along several fronts in A New Engagement? Political Participation, Civic Life, and the Changing American Citizen. Cliff Zukin and his colleagues assume the arduous task of explaining why American youth are not less involved than previous generations. Instead, the claim that they are differently involved implicitly questions whether political involvement has taken on a new face. The book is well written, well researched from a political science viewpoint (e.g., utilizing a variety of opinion polls), and offers bold conclusions in terms of the data presented. The authors carefully combine primary data and Pew Survey research into a cohesive and practical resource for students and instructors concerned with the present and future of political participation in the United States.

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Courses (11)

COMM 1010 Introduction to Communication

Introduces aspects of human communication that develop and implement presentation of speeches and investigates and executes strategies, principles, and theories, of interpersonal communication.

COMM 1310 Thinking & Listening Critically

A study of critical thinking and reasoning skills toward messages delivered and received through various communication formats. The course is designed to aid the student in the ability to define a problem, select pertinent information for the solution of the problem, recognize stated and unstated assumptions, formulate and select relevant hypotheses, and make valid conclusions and inferences.

COMM 2110 Interpersonal Communication

A study of interpersonal communication variables and situations, designed to aid the student in improving social relationships, increasing self-awareness and in using effective communication to achieve personal goals.

COMM 4010 Persuasion

Advanced study of theories and models of persuasion. Stress on the literature of attitude and behavior change.

COMM 4350 Communication Theory

Theoretical approaches to the study of human communication.

COMM 4504 Health Communication

Provides students with a systematic investigation of the creation, dissemination, and impact of significant health messages/definitions. Topics include patient-provider interaction, health narratives, public health campaigns, media coverage/portrayals, social support and the Internet.

COMM 6000 Communication& Professional Development

Students learn to successfully navigate graduate education, engage in research and professional activities, prepare portfolios, resumes/CVs.

COMM 6020 Qualitative Communication Research

Students learn the fundamentals of various qualitative and rhetorical research methods, with their associated theoretical bases and specific applications. These methods include: 1) Generic, metaphor, narrative, and Burkean criticism; 2) Ethnography and participant observation; 3) Semi-structured interviewing; and 4) Grounded theory. Students have the opportunity to conduct and write up their own qualitative/rhetorical studies from the start (formulating research questions) to finish (interpreting the findings and drawing appropriate conclusions).

COMM 6040 Professional Writing & Presentations

Students will strengthen and enhance writing and presentation skills with careful attention to advanced language use required in various professional communication contexts. Students will create training sessions, press releases, digital resumes, website, social media and marketing materials to help organizations manage their public face as well as learn how to establish and maintain their personal professional image in various contexts. Prerequisite: Admission to program or Graduate Director permission

COMM 6900 Masters Capstone Thesis

A capstone experience demonstrating the ability to complete a professional thesis in consultation with a graduate committee. Students conceive, research, and produce a thesis in a relevant area of communication.

COMM 6910 Masters Capstone Internship/Project

A capstone experience demonstrating the ability to complete a professional internship or project working in consultation with a graduate committee. Students conceive, research and produce an internship or project in a relevant area of communication.