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Honoring Smith

Distinguished Scholar Award Speech: 2016

Presented by Hamilton Bean (Executive Council Member-at-Large)

It is my pleasure to present the 2016 WSCA Distinguished Scholar Award. The recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award must be a deserving WSCA member who has made significant and sustained contributions to scholarship. These contributions need to have made a difference in the ways that scholars and students think about the nature, function, and scope of communication. The criteria for this award include a sustained research program that is theoretically grounded, analytically sound, advances the discipline, and has been featured in WSCA journals and other outlets. This year’s winner has long been affiliated with WSCA and has served in several leadership positions within the organization.

Specifically, this scholar has served on the Editorial Board for the Western Journal of Communication, as well as WSCA’s Executive Committee and Legislative Assembly. While this record of service to WSCA is admirable, this is the Distinguished Scholar Award, and in that regard, this scholar’s body of work is truly impressive. A recent study concluded that this scholar was “In the top 3% of active researchers in communication” inclusive of speech, public relations, mass media, broadcast, and print journalism. This scholar has published more than 60 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as 15 books. The Western Journal of Communication first published an article from this scholar in 1973. This year, the journal will publish another article from this scholar, bringing to nine the number articles that have appeared in the Western Journal of Communication.

As one of his nominators wrote, this scholar is widely recognized in the area of Free Speech. Outside the legal profession and a handful of nationally-known law professors, this scholar stands alone as an academic from our discipline who has made extraordinary contributions to the study and application of the many facets of Free Speech. In this subfield, he is without peer. According to Professor Marty Medhurst’s study of speechwriters, this scholar is also the only member of our discipline to serve as a full-time speech-writer for a sitting American president. His expertise in the First Amendment has been a unique benefit to the Freedom of Expression and Legal Division of WSCA, and he has provided expertise in developing curricula for courses taught in other WSCA member colleges and universities.

This scholar’s program of research related to rhetorical theory has resulted in two landmark studies. In 2000, Praeger published, The Quest for Charisma: Christian Theories of Persuasion, which laid out a rhetorical road map to authentic charisma. The second book, Rhetoric and Human Consciousness: A History, received praise for its monumental accomplishment and has been adopted outside our field. The book has been so popular that Waveland Press released a third edition in 2009. 

One of this scholar’s nomination letters was signed by 5 of his colleagues from California State University, Long Beach who concluded, “We hope you and the committee will concur with our belief that he is a tremendous asset to the field and worthy of the WSCA Distinguished Scholar Award.” The committee is happy to report that we do indeed “concur.” We are pleased and honored to present the 2016 WSCA Distinguished Scholar Award to Professor Craig Smith.

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