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Honoring Sprague

Distinguished Service Award Speech: 2009

Committee member Nancy Oft-Rose's tribute to Jo Sprague:

The Distinguished Service Award was established in 1979 and was first awarded in 1980. Its purpose is to honor "persons who have made considerable and longstanding contributions to WSCA and the field of communication." Today, we again offer our appreciation to these individuals for their commitment to all of us. I am honored to have chaired the Distinguished Service award committee this year. It allowed me to look more closely at the numerous accomplishments and dedication of previous award winners. Will all of the past Distinguished Service Award winners please stand, and would all of you please join me in expressing our appreciation? I also wish to thank my committee members, Tim Hegstrom, Sara Hayden, and Shane Moreman.

This is a particularly special year for we are going to honor two long deserving members of WSCA. The second Distinguished Service Award goes to an individual who has worked diligently to support students, colleagues, WSCA and our discipline since the early 1970's.

Here is an abbreviated list of accomplishments in WSCA:

  • At Large Member of the Legislative Assembly
  • At Large Member of Executive Council
  • Chair, Time and place Committee
  • Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary of an interest group
  • Chair, Local Host Committee
  • Member, Search Committee for Executive Secretary
  • Coordinator for the Selection Committee for Institutional Memberships
  • Member, Distinguished Service Award Committee
  • President WSCA
  • President Executives Club

Including and going beyond WSCA:

  • Chair of the NCA Educational Policies Board
  • Presented around 100 papers, published over 30 journal articles (that I could find) has written chapters in at least 25 books, and published 4 or 5 books of her own-- one, a standard in its 9th printing.

Prior to being nominated for this award today's second recipient received numerous other awards a few are:

  • National Teacher Scholar Award, National Communication Association, 2000.
  • Selected for Teachers on Teaching recognition, National Communication Association, 1997.
    PSSI Award, 1996
  • Visiting Scholar, DePauw Undergraduate Honors Conference,
  • A former WSCA President wrote in her recommendation of this award recipient

"I met her when I attended my first WSCA in 1979. I was a wide-eyed and easily intimidated Master's student, and attended WSCA in search of a Ph.D. program. I had read some of her work and was anxious, yet scared, to meet her. When I finally got up the courage to introduce myself to this well published woman, she was absolutely delightful! Despite her busy WSCA schedule, she took time to talk and listen to me, introduced me to other people, and shepherded me around the convention for three days. I will be eternally grateful to her for making me feel so welcome!

One program I remember well was a 1985 President elect's program in which she was Participant in a debate on the value of the basic course.

This year's award winner was an outstanding college debater for Northern Illinois University. David Zarefsky recalls that she was an extremely sharp, incisive in her analysis, and an excellent rebuttalist. She was one of the outstanding debaters on the circuit at the time. Those of us in WSCA recognize the accuracy of his observations in her contributions to the profession.

Jo Sprague has worked diligently to support students, her colleagues, WSCA and our discipline, is a recognized scholar in Instructional Communication, always takes time to meet, greet, and socialize students to WSCA. Despite her national accolades, she is a staunch supporter of our organization. Will San Jose State Professor Jo Sprague please come forward to accept the WSCA Distinguished Service Award.

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