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Honoring Natharius

Distinguished Service Award Speech: 1999

Western States Communication Association

David Natharius, California State University Fresno
Walter R. Zakahi, New Mexico State University, Chair DSA Committee
Speech Delivered at the Western States Communication Association Convention

Vancouver, February 21, 1999.

My membership in this association dates only to 1991. But like many of you I have come to anticipate this wonderful ceremony of ours. Like many of you I have listened carefully each year to see if I can guess who will receive the Distinguished Service Award. Like many of you I have found the recitation of each recipient's accomplishments and contributions inspiring and like many of you I am grateful that our association has benefited from the dedicated service of this cadre

This award honors our history as an association. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Distinguished Service Award. On behalf of the membership I would like to thank all of the previous winners of the award for their contributions to the association. I know some of the previous winners are with us today. Could you please stand so that we may once again acknowledge your service to WSCA?

This award also inspires many of us to work for the future of WSCA. It is a pleasure to provide service to an organization that makes a point of remembering the hard work and dedicated service of its membership.

I am honored to have the opportunity to tell the membership about this year's recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

This year's recipient first presented a paper at WSCA, then the, Western Speech Communication Association, when I was 10 years old; I just turned 43, you do the math. In fact, that was the first paper our recipient presented to any professional conference. I guess it got to be a habit, if you check the WSCA programs for the last 30 years you will almost certainly find her--- or his name on the program and yes, a quick look at this year's program also reveals the recipient's name. This person's more than 30-year history of presentations at WSCA reflects an unparalleled commitment to our association.

This person took on recruiting new members to WSCA and to its leadership with a missionary's zeal. Several of the letters in support of this nomination mentioned that the recipient recruited them to join WSCA and later encouraged them to provide service to WSCA by becoming officers of the association. One letter writer describes how the recipient stayed with him throughout a WSCA showing him the ropes at one of his first conventions. That letter writer currently serves in a WSCA office. Another letter writer notes, "It was, the recipient, who for years sang the praises of the association and whetted my appetite for getting to see what Western was about. And the recipient was right. It was an experience to attend Western." This person was successful in adding new members to the association √£one at a time. Why work so hard to draw new membership? A colleague of the recipient tells me that our recipient's professional identify can be summarized with the letters W, S, C and A.

Several of the letter writers comment on this person's abilities as a mentor, their mentor in the profession, their mentor at the University and/or their mentor within the association. Mentor seems to be an important part of this person's identity. HE remains an important part of his students' lives even though HE recently retired. I understand that earlier this year HE returned to his University (a trip of hundreds of miles) to take a group of graduate students to a conference.

As you would expect he has been heavily involved in the leadership of this association. He chaired the old Behavioral Science Interest Group and helped to usher in the changes that generated that interest groups progeny, the interpersonal communication, organizational communication, and communication theory interest groups.

HE served as the local host for the association when the conference came to his community--twice. While I question his sanity for this move, he again volunteered, in fact he insisted on serving as local host when the convention was held at a cite far from his home. One of his colleagues tells me that he swore not to retire until he could serve as local host for WSCA's convention in Monterey California.

The San Diego conference for which he was the primary program planner was the best attended conference in our history. He was, of course, President of WSCA in 1988 and 1989. This person continues his service to the association even as I speak to you about him. He currently serves as president of the WSCA Executive's Club.

On behalf of the association it is my pleasure to present the WSCA Distinguished Service Award to David Natharius of California State University Fresno

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