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MSWC Faculty

Program Director‌

Joanne B. Koch Joanne B. Koch, Ph.D.
National Louis University‌

  • Director, Master of Science in Written Communication Program
  • Professor of English
Phone & Fax: 312.261.3103
Web site:

Joanne Koch is the author or co-author of ten nonfiction books, including Good Parents for Hard Times and The Marriage Savers, previously author of the column "Coping" syndicated to 200 papers around the country, the editor of the ten-play anthology Shared Stages, screenwriter of numerous screenplays and an Emmy winning television series, and the creator or co-author of seventeen award-winning plays and musicals produced around the country, including "Stardust," "Soul Sisters," "Nesting Dolls," and "Belle Barth is Back!"

Areas of Expertise:

  • Nonfiction Writing
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Memoir
  • Literature by Women
  • Minority Voices in American Literature
  • Oral History

Program Instructors

Patricia Tennison has been a veteran features and news writer and editor, movie editor, and restaurant reviewer for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago magazine, and is the author of James Beard Award-honored cookbooks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and French from Boston University, and her master’s degree in English literature from Boston College. She has taught Journalism and Editing in the M.S. in Written Communication Program since 2000.  This year she will be teaching Editing for Publication, an online course she developed.

Laurie Lawlor is the published writer of 38 books for children and young adults, including Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World, Addie Across the Prairie "and Rachael Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Her books have received accolades including the Carl Sandburg Award for Children's Literature, the Golden Kite Honor Book for Nonfiction award, the John Burroughs Riverby Award and the American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults Award.  She has taught Creative Writing: Children’s Books and Writing the Young Adult Novel at NLU since the mid-1990s.  A list of her award-winning titles may be viewed on her web site:  She recently noted:

"I always find the quality and dedication of students in the NLU writing program to be an important factor in why I enjoy teaching Writing for Children and Writing the Young Adult Novel.  The collegial and supportive atmosphere of the writing workshop setting provides participants with both thoughtful feedback and helpful support to finish and revise a variety of challenging genres. As an instructor, I always learn a great deal from my students, many of whom are holding down full-time jobs while simultaneously pursuing their love of writing and learning more about their craft."

Robin Hunter has 30 years of marketing experience, including 11 years as the Graphic Design Manager and Senior Creative Director for National Louis University.  She has a BSFA degree from Valparaiso University and a Master’s degree in Written Communication from National Louis University. She teaches online courses in Professional Writing, Marketing, Promotional Writing and Advertising, Online Publishing and Public Relations in the M.S. in Written Communication program.

Elizabeth Schaefer is a National Louis University (NLU) alumna, with master’s degrees in Written Communication and Organizational Psychology. She teaches in NLU’s Written Communication, Business Management, Applied Communications, and Applied Behavioral Science programs. She is a subject matter expert in the areas of business writing, corporate communications, and related project management. Elizabeth is also a creative writer and owner of a publishing company, Books on a Whim. Her published works include a college curriculum titled A College Guide to Mastering Business English...With Creativity!; a children's book; a book of humorous essays; and three political parodies.

Julia Borcherts teaches the Creative Writing: Fiction course. Her Pushcart Prize-nominated short fiction and essays have appeared in Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck, Criminal Class Review, Sin: A Deadly Anthology, Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting for Next Year and many other publications. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Master of Arts in the Teaching of Writing degrees at Columbia College Chicago and is a theater columnist for RedEye, a co-founder of the Reading Under the Influence live literature series and a company member with 2nd Story.

Fern Schumer Chapman, a journalist and author, is best known for her award-winning memoir, Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust - A Mother-Daughter Journey to Reclaim the Past, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers and a National Jewish Book Award finalist. Her young adult historical novel, Is It Night or Day? was a Junior Library Guild selection and nominated by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)  for Best Fiction for Young Adults 2010. The Illinois Humanities Council named Fern a 2016-7 Road Scholar for her two recent books, Like Finding My Twin: How An Eighth-Grade Class Reunited Two Holocaust Refugees and Stumbling on History: An Art Project Compels A Small German Town To Face Its Past. She received her Master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism and is an authority on guiding college publications. Fern teaches Journalism and is the faculty advisor for the annual literary publication of the M.S. in Written Communication Program, MOSAIC.

The Pulitzer Prize Series is presented by the Master of Science in Written Communication Program of National Louis University’s College of Professional Studies & Advancement. The series gives the public a chance to meet the best writers of the nation’s media. Here are individuals who have served as guardians of social justice, journalists who have been the watchdogs for the nation’s physical and mental health, cultural commentators who have provided riveting and eloquent literary criticism and compassionate insights, and sports writers who have profiled athletic competitors with remarkable human stories. Over the past eleven years we have been proud to present Pulitzer winners Ira Berkow, Mary Schmich, Frank Main and Mark Konkol , Gary Wills, Sue Fox, Jeff Lyon, Lois Wille, Julia Keller, Ronald Kotulak, Leon Dash and Cornelia Grumman in the Pulitzer Prize Series. This year we hosted New York Times East Africa Bureau Chief  and author of Love, Africa Jeffrey Gettelman.

Writers’ Week Workshops bring nationally recognized writers to NLU’s Master’s in Written Communication program every year.  Recent workshop leaders have been Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune columnist, cultural affairs radio host, author of Sidewalks I & Sidewalks II and member of the Journalism Hall of Fame; Dawn Turner Trice, author of Only Twice I’ve Wished For Heaven, An Eighth of August and previously columnist for the Chicago Tribune for 20 years and editor of their “Exploring Race” website, radio and TV reporter and commentator, Maudlyne Ihejirika, “Chicago Chronicles” columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times , frequent “Chicago Tonight” TV commentator and author of Escape from Nigeria, Robert Kurson, author of the bestsellers Shadow Divers and Crashing Through, Marjie Killeen, columnist for Make It Better magazine, Nate Herman, previously a writer for Saturday Night Live and current director and instructor at iO and Tim Kazurinsky, screenwriter of About Last Night, performer and writer for Saturday Night Live and actor featured in the Police Academy movies.


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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