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Honoring J. Andersen

Distinguished Service Award Speech: 2013

Committee Chair, Greg Dickinson's tribute to Janis Andersen:
 
It is my honor to present the 2013 WSCA Distinguished Service Award.
 
What characteristics distinguish this year’s recipient? It seems like she has done just about everything a member of our discipline could do.
 
She is an accomplished and field defining scholar. She has published over 30 journal essays and book chapters engaging crucial conversations about communication practice and theory. She has written or edited multiple workbooks that help students become better communicators.
 
Editing and writing these workbooks suggests the importance of service in our recipient’s career. Our recipient has served universities in a remarkable array of administrative positions. In the early 1990s she was elected as president of her university faculty senate. In the mid-1990s our awardee began serving as interim and associate dean of graduate studies, a branch campus of her university and more recently the dean of a college.
 
But she has also directly served the discipline. She has served on numerous editorial boards including that of Women’s Studies in Communication. She has also served in wide ranging roles in many professional organizations including International Communication Association and National Communication Association, and Eastern Communication Association working as a program planner for at least seven separate conferences, serving on finance committees and committees regarding association structure.
 
But her heart has really been in WSCA.
 
In fact, one nominator well expressed what is true for many of the rest of us, “It is impossible to imagine the collective of dear colleagues who comprise the Western States Communication Association without seeing the awardee at center of that image.”

Indeed, our recipient has shown a long and deep commitment to the organization.

She has attended every WSCA convention since 1981. For those of you doing the math,that’s 33 consecutive WSCA conventions.
 
She was elected member at large to the legislative assembly in 1984.
 
She was local host in the late 1980s producing a convention that one letter writer asserted “changed the face of the organization” and is the convention against which all others are judged.
 
The following year, she began to move through the leadership of the organization, planning the convention in 1991.
Since then she is always involved in one official or unofficial effort to further the interests of the organization, working on the nominating committee, serving on the WJC editorial board for over 15years, presenting at innumerable town halls and as part of convention kick off events.
 
But, as one letter writer said, this is all technical. Instead, her real service, as the nominator wrote, “emerges. . .in manifold tangible and intangible ways. She is the rare person,” the writer continues, “who engages intently, genuinely, with every person she encounters.. . .Every person comes away from their interactions with her knowing they were listened to, confirmed, and yet challenged to think and experience beyond the routine moment. I have never known a person more life - affirming, intellectually curious, or more gifted at finding the best in people with whom she interacts."

Perhaps then, the deepest talent and most enduring gift our awardee has giving this institution lies less in the years of service in elected office, but instead in this almost ineffable sense that our awardee has made each of us a slightly better person and our organization a finer institution. And nothing better signifies our awardee's ability to engage our whole persons than what one letter writer identified as her signature accomplishment and perhaps this convention’s most enduring tradition. Many of you know—or are learning after last night’s sock hop—that our unofficial motto is work hard, play hard. Our awardee learned this lesson early on in her service to WSCA and, when, hosting the

convention in the late eighties she formalized what is now the convention’s most memorable event. No, it is not the town halls in which she has participated over the years,nor the nearly endless list panels and papers the convention has hosted many of which our awardee has presented, chaired, responded to, or attended, or even her opportunities to speak to us at the lunch. No, our awardee institutionalized our most sacred event—the sock hop. As recently as
last night our awardee demonstrated the power of eloquent non-verbal communication, her passionate commitment to our organization and its people, and her abiding ability to help all of us work a bit harder, play a bit harder and, in the end do a bit better.

Please join me in congratulating the 2013 Distinguished Service Award Recipient Janis Andersen.

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