Claude Howard Dorgan, Ph.D.



Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Claude Howard Dorgan, Ph.D.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed June 15, 2024,

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Claude Howard Dorgan, Ph.D.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Richard D. Howe




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

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Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Professor Emeritus of Communication Claude Howard Dorgan (July 5, 1932-), was born in Ruston, Louisiana, to Ester Mae Cheetwood and John C. Dorgan. Howard's wife, Kathleen, is also retired-in her case from the Watauga County public schools—and the couple has two children: Shawn, a certified public accountant, and Kelly, a Ph.D. in communication, who teaches in the Department of Communication at East Tennessee State University. Dorgan also has two brothers, John C., a retired high school principal in El Paso, Texas, and Joe M., who is retired from the Naval Ordinance Test Station in China Lake, California, and who lives in Waupum, Wisconsin. Dorgan received a B.A. degree in speech and theater from the University of Texas-El Paso and an M.F.A. degree in theater from the University of Texas-Austin. He also attended Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge (LSU), where he earned his Ph.D. degree in speech communication. After an initial nine years of secondary teaching in Idaho and Texas, Dorgan was hired to coach forensics at Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas. That three-year experience in higher education motivated his enrollment in the doctoral program at LSU. Completing that program in August 1971, he then began his career at Appalachian State University as an associate professor of communication. Benefiting from a rapid growth in personal publications, along with an early recognition in service and teaching, Dr. Dorgan received tenure in May 1974 and was promoted to professor in 1975. While at Appalachian State, Dorgan developed an interest in Appalachian religious studies that grew out of his earlier study of Southern rhetoric and public address. With the late Cratis Williams as his mentor, he became attracted to the highly rhythmical and largely chanted homiletic style of the Appalachian "Old Time" Baptist preacher, and he began a rhetorical and ethnographic study of a wide range of highly traditional Baptist subdenominations, some found only in Central Appalachia. This study has now spanned over thirty years, during which time Dr. Dorgan also became intensely interested in Appalachian religious broadcasting over small AM stations within the region. A recent scholarly focus of Dorgan's has been the Primitive Baptist Universalists, known within the region as the "No-Hellers." In the Hands of a Happy God: The "No-Hellers" of Central Appalachia, published in 1997, has received considerably scholarly attention, both in the United States and abroad. Dr. Dorgan held several professional offices at Appalachian State, including the following: president, Appalachian Studies Association (1997-1998); president, Southern States Communication Association (1991-1992); executive secretary, Southern States Communication Association (1985-1990), editor, Southern Communication Journal (1981-1984); and president, Carolinas Communication Association (1975-1976). Among his awards and honors, he received the Appalachian Consortium Laurel Leaves Award (1998), the Betty-Jo Welch Carolinas Communication Association Service Award (1995), the Appalachian State University Student Government Award for Outstanding Teaching (1995), the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award for Airwaves in Zion (1993), the College of Fine and Applied Arts Outstanding Faculty Award (1993), and the Board of Trustees Award in Recognition of Excellence in Teaching (1975). Aside from Airwaves in Zion and In the Hands of a Happy God, Dr. Dorgan has published the following books: • The Old Regular Baptists of Central Appalachia, (University of Tennessee Press, 1987) • Giving Glory to God in Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press, 1987) • A New Diversity in Contemporary Southern Rhetoric (Louisiana State University Press, 1987, with Calvin Logue of the University of Georgia) 157 • The Oratory of Southern Demagogues (Louisiana State University Press, 1981, with Calvin Logue). In addition to the above books, Dorgan has published over fifty journal articles, encyclopedia entries, and book chapters. He is also a skilled editor, having edited two academic journals and having served on the editorial boards of four other journals. He is the religious section editor for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, expected to be released by the University of Tennessee in 2005. Dr. Dorgan closed out his Appalachian State teaching career in 2000. He is currently writing a series of Appalachian religion articles for the Watauga Democrat, which he hopes to compile as his next book. Sources: Personal correspondence and long association. -Dr. Richard D. Howe

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