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Faculty Spotlight: Curtis Coats

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Media, Film & Journalism Studies

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By Hibah Ahmad, first-year media & public communication student

Dr. Curtis Coats
Curtis Coats

Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor Curtis D. Coats, PhD, has known since the beginning that academia was his calling. “Growing up, I always wanted to teach,” he said. “I enjoy working with students. I enjoy watching people learn. I enjoy learning myself.”

Coats received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas in 1998. He went on to work in print journalism for a few years before deciding to go to graduate school. He earned his master’s degree in journalism and PhD in communication from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2008. It was during this time in grad school that Coats realized he wanted to teach at the University of Denver. Teaching at “DU was a bucket-list item for me,” he explained. 

The 2020-21 academic year is Coats’ second year at MFJS. However, he began teaching as an adjunct professor in DU’s University College in 2017. Some of his favorite teaching experiences have been in Introduction to Film Criticism and Introduction to Field Production and Editing. “I really enjoy intro classes,” he noted. “It is interesting for me to show students things about film—especially the ones that want to go into film—and to see when something clicks for them. That is a cool moment.”

Coats’ appreciation for film can be seen through his own visual storytelling experiences. He co-owns Groundwork Communications, which specializes in the production of video content for clients in higher education and healthcare. He also enjoys creating short films of his own, ranking visual storytelling as an ever-evolving personal goal. 

With over a decade of teaching experience, it is no surprise that Coats has advice to pass on. When asked about what wisdom he would like to share with students, Coats said, “Do not panic if you do not quite know what you want to do. Graduate school and undergrad are times where you have a lot of opportunity to learn. There is always a tendency to worry and the pressure is always there. But take time and explore different things. Embrace not knowing and be okay with that.”

When he is not in the classroom, you can find Coats cycling (he is currently training for Ride the Rockies), making bread or roasting his own coffee. While he enjoys all of his hobbies, baking lots of bread during a pandemic apparently has its flaws. He laughed as he said, “I have to ride my bike in proportion to how much bread I am consuming now.”