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CSCA Past President and Hall of Fame Recipient Obituary for Dr. Judith S. Trent

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of beloved CSCA member and leader Dr. Judith S. Trent. She served as CSCA President from 1981-82 and was inducted into the CSCA Hall of Fame in 2006.

Dr. Judith S. Trent of Oxford, OH died on 11/26/2020 with her loving son Larry by her side.

Preceded in death by her adored mother Evelyn Crothers, stepfather Jack Crothers and husband of 44 years Dr. Jimmie Trent who was the love of her life, professional partner and number one fan.  The Trents were consummate hosts, sharing a love for pet dogs, numerous friends, interests, attendance at lectures, wine tastings, museum exhibits, community events and theater performances. They traveled the world together frequently enjoying the sun in what became a second home for 20 years - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  She is survived by her son Larry Trent (Jennifer) of Oxford, OH; stepson Douglass Trent, Belo Horizonte, MG Brazil; “Brother” Kent Morse, Richmond, VA; and Cousin Pam Hutchinson, Rockford, MI. 

Born in a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, she obtained her B.S. from Western Michigan University 1962; M.A. 1968 and Ph.D. 1970 from the University of Michigan in Speech Communication. Her degrees in Communication and experience as a high school teacher and state championship debate coach led her to graduate school and positions at the University of Michigan, Youngstown State University, University of Dayton and Northwestern University. In 1984 she became the Associate Vice President & Associate University Dean of Research and Advanced Studies and tenured Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati.  

Dr. Judith S. Trent was a profoundly impactful scholar, leader, administrator, trailblazer, and mentor to many leaving a legacy in the Communication Discipline and its national and regional associations.  

Her research and teaching interests were in political communication, with a focus in communication in presidential campaigns and the campaign strategies and presentational styles of women in elective politics. She met and interviewed nearly every presidential candidate for over 30 years, leaving such an impression with President George H. W. Bush that he came to UC to give a guest lecture in her class. She was thrilled to see Biden/Harris win the 2020 election.

In 1982, Dr. Trent served as the president of the Central States Communication Association and in 1997 was elected president of the National Communication Association, the nation’s largest and oldest association of communication scholars, teachers and professionals. She was the Keynote Speaker for numerous states and regional communication associations including the Eastern Communication Association in 1998, the Michigan Communication Association in 2000, the Central States Communication Association in 2000 and 2003, and the Ohio Communication Association in 2007. She was the recipient of the National Communication Association Distinguished Service Award in 2004 and was inducted into the Central States Communication Association Hall of Fame in 2006. She remained actively engaged, collecting honors and awards to the very end of her life. The Judith S. Trent Award for Early Career Excellence in Political Communication was presented for the first time at Central States in her honor in Omaha, 2019. The Ohio Communication Association honored her as a most impactful member at their virtual conference in October 2020. The American Behavioral Scientist Conference/Summit occurs every four years after the presidential election. The 2020 virtual summit, hosted by Emerson College, opened on November 12, 2020 with a dedication to her.

Dr. Trent was the author, co-author, or editor of over 30 books and book chapters, over 40 academic journal articles, and more than 200 presentations published in communication journals or presented at state, regional, national and international communication conferences. Her consummate work was on Political Campaign Communication and the New Hampshire Primary.  

Known to friends as “Juddi,” she was an involved wife, mother and community member participating in leadership roles and hosting many events at her beautiful home. She will be remembered as a treasured friend/member/supporter of  Jubilee; The League of Women Voters; Oxford Wine Tasters; the Oxford Community Arts Center; Oxford NAACP Board; The Institute for Learning in Retirement, a Miami University Global Initiative;  Holy Trinity Episcopal Church; Des Fleurs Garden Club; the Oxford Community Arts Center; Oxford Country Club; Kiwanis, SPCA  and by every person/organization she touched. 

The family wants to thank the staff at the Knolls of Oxford for the excellent care that Juddi received in the past year.  

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a fund Dr. Trent created to help graduate students attend Communication conferences.  Direct giving link is: 

Send checks to University of Cincinnati, Department of Communication, P. O. Box 210184, Cincinnati OH 45221-0184. Checks payable to University of Cincinnati Department of Communication, indicate "(TRENT) Communication Forum Fund" in ledger line.

*We kindly acknowledge Lisa Newman for writing and giving us permission to share this obituary:

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