Home > News > Merrimack's Most Interesting Person: Dr. Matthew Isbell

Merrimack's Most Interesting Person: Dr. Matthew Isbell

Mary Unis ’14, Staff Writer 


Tucked away on the third floor of Cushing Hall you will find Dr. Matthew Isbell’s subtle but metaphorically fitting office.  It is organized perfectly to the “Isbell” standards that so many of his students can attest to. Everything is strategically placed and serves a purpose.  The poster that hangs from his wall entitled, “Steam Room Operator” by Lewis Hine, flawlessly depicts his organizational communication background by painting a picture of how we as humans work with machines.  This photograph simultaneously represents Dr. Isbell’s hometown roots of the “Motor City,” in Detroit, Michigan.

If you have spent time in any of Dr. Isbell’s classes, you know that producing less than the highest quality of work is unacceptable. He stresses the importance of preparing for life after living within the confined walls of Merrimack and makes it his priority as an educator.


“Steam Room Operator” by Lewis Hine

His countless hours spent editing resumes and cover letters to perfection while also being involved with the O’Brien Center for Student Success prove his priorities to be just. His skillset showcases his ability to network himself, and this insight is passed on to his students.  “I want Merrimack students to not be just categorized as “nice” says Isbell. “You should leave with a complete education that will feel just when you graduate, so you can navigate through life well.”

Though, Dr. Isbell earns the “Most Interesting” title not only for having a doctorate in Communication, but also for his work outside the classroom. Dr. Isbell has experienced various cultures around the world in visiting countries such as Scotland, Costa Rica, Germany, Ireland, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Turkey and Vietnam.  He describes his desire to travel as an opportunity to “experience the entire spectrum of culture and how it is understood.”  You will find a quote by Alexander von Humboldt as the end of each email he sends: “The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.”  Dr. Isbell does not just travel to travel, but to gain something from each destination that may be out of his comfort zone.  He also enjoys giving lectures outside of the United States.  His next endeavor will take place in January, as he was invited to deliver a lecture in Prague on “What is Organizational Communication?”

After attending some of our countries big name institutions such as Michigan State, the University of Montana and the University of Texas, you may wonder what brought Dr. Isbell to this small, liberal arts college in North Andover, MA.   “With a hell of a lot of good luck.” Says Isbell.  Him and his wife have defied odds and made it to the Northeast as Communication professors.  They teach thirty-five minutes from each other, as she is a professor at Boston College.  Dr. Isbell has proved his move to Merrimack to be a good fit.  He has made his presence known here by playing a crucial role on six committees on campus. “There is no shortage of people that want your time on this campus,” says Isbell. His involvement on such committees as I.R.B., Merrimack’s Care Retention Committee, the Student Conduct Board, and the Mobile Technology Committee make him a dynamic faculty member.  

Dr. Isbell is also a part of the Merrimack Road Runners here at Merrimack.  This committee is a group of faculty and staff that actively maintain a healthy lifestyle through running.  This group prides themselves in being “non-judgmental” and sticks by their motto of “leave no runner behind”.  “I would run with anyone.  The act of running with someone else is so much better than that of being alone. I’d rather run a twelve minute mile with someone else than an eight minute mile alone.”  He has also exhibited his passion for the sport of running by participating in last year’s Relay for Life and completing 26.2 miles (370 laps) around the Merrimack indoor track.

To be interesting, one must possess some sort of provoked curiosity and then be able to hold that kind of sparked attention.  Dr. Isbell brings this definition to life through his dynamic role on the Merrimack College campus. At the end of the workweek, Dr. Isbell is focused on continuously maximizing Merrimack’s potential as a college.

Leave a Reply