Born in Deadwood, SD, Tom lived in various cities and towns throughout South Dakota, Texas, and Minnesota during his elementary and secondary years.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud, MN) with a double major in Speech Communication and Secondary Education (MN teaching license, grades 6-12), and a minor in Psychology.  While there, he competed for the SCSU forensics (speech and debate) team.  In addition to numerous state and regional awards, he was the 1980 American Forensic Association national champion in After Dinner Speaking, and took 4th place at the National Forensic Association competition in 1981. 

He earned his first master's degree in Communication at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), where he also earned an IL secondary teaching license.  His Ph.D. is from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities).  While there, Tom served as Director of Forensics and taught upper division small group communication courses.  His dissertation, "A Dramatistic Analysis of Unmarried Mothers: Toward a Typology of Rhetorical Visions," was advised by the late Dr. Ernest G. Bormann.

Tom's first full-time teaching position was as Director of Forensics at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.  During his time there, his team earned unprecedented sweepstakes trophies at both the AFA and NFA national tournaments.  From there, he moved to the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN - where he taught for 13 years.  Tom spent most of his years at St. Thomas as chair of the Communication Studies department.  He also served as Division Director for the Fine Arts & Humanities, and one year as interim chair of Modern & Classical Languages.  One of his favorite experiences was teaching a Summer 2000 course on Intercultural Communication in Barcelona, Spain.  While at UST, Tom earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity

In the Fall of 2003, Tom accepted a position as chair of the former Speech Communication department at the University of Northern Colorado.  In that first year, UNC underwent major organizational restructuring, and a School of Communication was created from the departments of Communication Studies and Journalism & Mass Communications.  On July 1, 2005,  Tom became the School of Communication's first Director. 

Professionally, he has published over two dozen book chapters and research articles in publications such as the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Communication Quarterly, Communication Studies, and Popular Music and Society.  He has delivered more than 125 panel presentations and keynote addresses at state, regional, national, and international conferences, and has conducted seminars and workshops for a variety of organizations including Medtronic, 3M, and Honeywell.  In 2002, Tom's book Sturgis Stories: Celebrating the People of the Worlds Largest Motorcycle Rally was released by Kirk House of Minneapolis.  In 2008, Tom's chapter titled "Be Just and Fear Not: Warring Visions of Righteous Decadence and Pragmatic Justice" was published in J. Weinstock's anthology Reading Rocky Horror (Palgrave Macmillan). 

Among his various honors, Tom was named the 1994 Outstanding Advisor of the Year by Lambda Pi Eta, the national communication honor society; a 2000 Outstanding Individual by the Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota; and a 2001 Outstanding Professor from the National Speakers Association.  He has been named four times to Who's Who Among America's Teachers.  In the Spring of 2005, Tom received the University of Northern Colorado's Academic Leadership Excellence award.  He recently completed a term as President of the Rocky Mountain Communication Association, and continues on as the association's web manager and officer on the Executive Council.  In 2008, he received RMCA's Award for Communication Excellence in "recognition of distinguished contributions to the Communication discipline."  Also, in 2008, Tom was recipient of the Service to the State Award from the National Communication Association's States Advisory Council. 

Tom also works as a freelance writer, penning everything from punch lines for nationally syndicated comic strips to continuing education modules for Australian Catholic High School Teachers.

Tom has three wonderful daughters - Carleen, Krystal, and Kellsie (l to r, below)- and lives in Loveland, CO.