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Honoring McDermid

Distinguished Service Award 1995

Recipient: Dr. Nancy G. McDermid

Presenter: Dawn O. Braithwaite

Over the years as I have watched this special award presented, I have thought that it would be, undoubtedly, an incredible privilege to win the WSCA Distinguished Service Award.  And, I know that Bill Eadie, Ken Frandsen, and I also considered it an honor to be able to serve as the committee for this award.  Working on the committee was also a bit of a burden for us, in that only one of many deserving people is chosen to receive the award.

As we looked at the list of past award recipients to teach us about what to look for in a recipient, it was clear that Western is full of incredible role models for service.  From the strength of Carmendale Fernandes, the wisdom of Milt Dobkin, the years of dedicated service of Jack Samosky, to Tom Scheidel's leadership and "Born to be Wild" dancing, Western has been amply blessed.  In fact, I would like thank again all our role models by asking all the previous winners to stand and be warmly recognized.

I also want to take the opportunity to publicly honor last year's award winner, Dr. Tom Scheidel, who was unable to be with us in person last year.   Maybe it is more fitting that Tom is instead publicly honored this year as it gives us a chance to tell him just how much he means to us and just how much the University Washington program means to our discipline.  Tom, would you please stand and be recognized? 

As for this year's recipient... after I received a nomination letter from one of this person's colleagues, many other letters poured in to my office.  Letters from long-time friends, mentors, and colleagues, Emeritus professors, from part-time faculty under this person's leadership, from people outside of the discipline and outside of the university, and by students just beginning their careers in Communication Studies who wanted to add their voice in support of this wonderful person. 

In terms of our recipient's service to the Western States Communication Association, our recipient has been President, member of the Executive Council, member of the Legislative Assembly, and President of the Executive Club among other things.  One nominator remarked, "[Executive] Council members repeatedly stressed this person's integrity, insight, organization, efficiency, keen observations, sensitivity, and an ability to lead the Council to consensus on even the most 'troubling' issues." 

As I looked at a very brief version of this person's incredible vita, loaded with so many accomplishments, I was struck that our recipient's service to Western was prominently displayed on that vita as among their most prized achievements.  Clearly, service to WSCA has played a vital role in our recipient's career. 

In the letters I received, our recipient was praised as one to "give to others endlessly."  Although carrying a crushing workload, one writer described that our recipient "treats each inquiry/need as it were [the] most important task, and although all groups find [our recipient] accessible and helpful, [there is a reversal of] the typical hierarchy.  Students come first, and then staff, followed by faculty and administration."  

Another writer was impressed when, years ago, an astronomer on campus described our recipient as "the golden rule by which every professor at this university must measure himself." 

Our recipient has been a dean for many years and, according to one writer, "No Dean is more loved or respected on our campus, now or ever."  And, even though a busy dean, our recipient has, according to another colleague, "consistently taken on overload responsibilities in teaching, advising, and thesis committee membership... Most telling of all, [our recipient] most often chooses to teach the fundamentals of speech communication course" rather than take for self courses in the area of research specialty. 

The most common theme of these writers was our recipient's commitment to free speech.  One writer emphasized, "She flies, swift and formidable, to the scene of any injustice."  Another extols, "In all of her work she has never wavered from her principled position.  She has been a staunch supporter of those whose freedoms have been challenged, even when she disagreed with them."

Perhaps the greatest praise we could receive would come from the pride our own mentors share in our success.  Our recipient's mentor wrote to say that "her contributions for nearly four decades to the enrichment of learning about the First Amendment at her university, in the western states region, and in our field nationally, as well as to the advancement of freedom and equality in our society, are more than worthy of the recognition that the Distinguished Service Award would bestow.  Indeed she is a person of whom our discipline can be and should be extremely proud." 

I could not agree more and I am honored to present the 1995 WSCA Distinguished Service Award to Dean and Professor Nancy G. McDermid of San Francisco State University.

Respectfully Delivered,

Dawn O. Braithwaite

1995 WSCA Distinguished Service Award Committee:

  • Dawn O. Braithwaite, Chair, WSCA Executive Council Member-at-Large
  • William F. Eadie, WSCA Past President
  • Kenneth Frandsen, Executives Club
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