By Eleni Finkelstein, University of Delaware junior and intern for the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication
APRIL 8, 2020—Lindsay Hoffman is passionate about education. “Going back to 4th grade, I knew I wanted to be a professor. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew I loved learning.”
Hoffman grew up in Kentucky and attended the University of Kentucky as an undergraduate. "My older brother was a DJ and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.” The university's local radio station had no openings for a DJ, so she took a risk and accepted the role (that no one else wanted) of reading the morning, noon, and evening news updates. She was not very politically engaged at the time, but she was a go-getter. She ended up creating the news program at the station and later became its general manager.
Hoffman graduated with a degree in journalism, then moved to Chicago and accepted a job in her field. But she hadn't forgotten her childhood dream to teach. After the 9/11 attacks, she began to notice a drastic shift in how people were discussing politics through the media. Many news sources and media were publishing content that caused fear and paranoia, making it difficult to distinguish the truth versus rally-around-the-flag propaganda. Hoffman recognized a need to transform how people talk about politics. She attended graduate school at The Ohio State University and completed a Ph.D. in communication in 2007, with a focus on public opinion, political communication, media effects, and survey research.
Hoffman joined the University of Delaware's Department of Communication in 2007. As an associate professor of communication with a joint appointment in UD's Department of Political Science and International Relations, she teaches courses in political communication, media effects, and research methods.
The 2008 election was a big year for the University of Delaware politically. UD alumni Steve Schmidt (AS13) and David Plouffe (AS10) were managing the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama, respectively, and fellow alumnus Joe Biden (AS65) had also entered the presidential race. Wanting to capitalize on all of the UD alumni in the political field, Hoffman, with the Department of Communication and the Department of Political Science, joined together to host political events.
The first event in honor of Super Tuesday, the election day in the US when the greatest number of states hold primary elections and caucuses, attracted a crowd of more than 300 people. Students and members of the community tracked various elections and caucuses around the country. At that moment, Hoffman realized her vision to bring political communication to life at UD could “really be a thing.” That November, the departments planned UD’s first Election Central event for election night, complete with carnival-esque election-based activities to spark excitement as the final results rolled in. The Center for Political Communication officially opened its doors in January 2010 with Hoffman as its coordinator of research in technology and politics. “Being a part of [the CPC] from the beginning is something I’m very proud of," said Hoffman "I feel like we’ve made an impact on this campus.”
In 2015, Hoffman became the associate director of the Center for Political Communication. Founding CPC director Ralph Begleiter entrusted Hoffman with the National Agenda speaker series, which he began in 2011. As the series director, Hoffman brings in well-known political figures and speakers to discuss political issues facing the American public. The series is one of the most rewarding parts of her career. “I have this space, I have this voice, I have this platform, I have the privilege, I can disrupt the status quo. I can bring speakers in who challenge my students' way of thinking, allow them to step out their bubbles, to inspire them to think bigger and in new ways.”
Hoffman is thankful to have found her true calling. “I have happened into what I love. I love what I do and I do it because I love it. I feel so blessed to enter my college students’ lives at a time when they are beginning to expand their worldview.”