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Honoring Fest

Presentation of WSCA Distinguished Service Award to DR. THORREL B. FEST

We honor today Dr. Thorrel B. Fest, the recipient of the 1979 Western Speech Communication Association Distinguished Service Award.

I am personally honored to present this award to a man whose contributions as a teacher, scholar, and member of our professional community represent the model of the generalist who has specialized in so many of both the traditional and the emerging areas of our discipline.

Even Dr. Fest's academic training demonstrates his bridging of what we thought for so long were cognitively and affectively dissonant -- a B.A. degree in Chemistry and Physics from Northern Iowa in 1932 followed by his M.A. and Ph.D. in Speech in 1953 from the University of Wisconsin.

Long before our journals started trying to make the rest of us feel at home with terms and concepts from the sciences, Dr. Fest was speaking to engineers, audio¬≠ visual technicians, and medical personnel.  He was writing for the Institute in Technical and Industrial Communi¬≠cations, the Society for Information Science, and the Center for Environmental Studies.  Even a decade ago, he was urging his speech colleagues to become informed and concerned about the implications of satellite television, communication technology, and the "technotronic society."

Thorrel Fest left his mark on many young debaters and on our whole forensics philosophy.  For over eight years he served as either president or executive secretary of Delta Sigma Rho.  For five years he was editor of The Gavel.  In 1972 he was awarded the distinguished alumni award by Delta Sigma Rho -- Tau Kappa Alpha.  To us old-time debaters, that's a piece of hardware we'd all like for our trophy case.

I know few people in our field whose interest and expertise are so traditional, so contemporary, and so futuristic: persuasion, use of video-tape in teaching, experimental research, cross cultural, intercultural and international communication, conflict resolution, ethics of persuasion, teacher communication, theatre and drama, teaching English as a second language, interpersonal communication, the basic course, business and industrial and organizational communication, and of course group discussion.  Most of us have used that last one -- Group Discussion: Theory and Practice -- first and second editions.

Dr. Fest contradicts all of those generalizations about divisions between the arts and the sciences.  Thorrel Fest gets listed with equal grace in the Dictionary of British and American Writers and in Leader in American Science.  He is a lifetime fellow in the Institute of Arts and Letters.  His inclusion in the International Directory of Scholars is significant because of his work in intercultural communication and his teaching and consulting assignments in Australia, Chile, Mexico, and Hawaii.

Thorrel Fest also breaks down our stereotype of an inevitable clash and collision between a liberal arts education and the practical, marketable tract.  Dr. Fest has brought to business and industrial organizations the academic roots of speech communication; simultaneously he has nudged us in speech communication to become less arrogant about "what we have to offer 'them'" and a little more aware or what we need to learn about the bank, the oil company, the labor union, the community organization, and the government agency in which we may be working as a communication specialist or a process consultant.  A phrase often used by Thorrel Fest is "closing the communication gap" and to him that means normalizing relations between the humanists and the pragmatists.

Dr. Fest breaks down so many of our myths.  One more that I must mention is found in his own professional life which should show all the do-littlers and do-nothingers in this world that one can be scholar-teacher and at the same time be deeply immersed in the day to day work of the department, the university, and the professional organization.  Asa past president of the International Communication Association, as an active member of many Speech Communication Association committees, as a member of the editorial boards of both the Western Speech and the Southern Speech journals, Dr. Fest has more than paid his dues in professional organizations.  On his own campus -- the University of Colorado at Boulder -- he served as chairperson of the division or department of Speech for over sixteen years.  He has served on every committee imaginable -- but with my Proposition 13 rears and nightmares, I seem to remember certain significant ones such as budget committee, planning committee, senate committees, and the insurance and annuity committee.

From the early and difficult 1960's until the present, Dr. Fest has been actively involved in the work of the American Association of University Professors on his own campus and in the state of Colorado.  He has long been interested in issues of social change and has used his prolific pen and his eloquent voice to urge us, his colleagues; to change and to adapt to change.

We honor you, Dr. Thorrel Fest, recipient of our 1979 Distinguished Service Award.

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