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Honoring Vande Berg

Distinguished Service Award Speech: 2005

Honoring Dr. Leah Vande Berg

I am honored to have chaired the Distinguished Service award committee this year. It provided me a wonderful opportunity to see the accomplishments and dedication of previous award winners. 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 communication field." Today we once again offer our appreciation to these individuals for their commitment to all of us. Would all of the past Distinguished Service Award winners please stand and will you all please join me in expressing our appreciation to their service?

This year's recipient is well deserving of this award and continues the long tradition of excellent service to WSCA and the discipline. Her (or is it his?) vitae is impressive: 5 books, 41 articles or book chapters, and 59 scholarly papers to start. This individual has served as an associate editor, editorial reviewer, or guest editor for such prestigious publications as Quarterly Journal of Speech, Journal of Communication, Communication Monographs, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, and Women's Studies in Communication. This individual is a member of 6 professional associations and served on 14 different committees for MA or PhD students (some of whom are sitting in the audience today). In addition, this individual's service to her department is impressive serving on just about every department and university committee imaginable including curriculum committee, graduate committee, Presidential search committee, and in the Women's Studies program to name a few.

This individual's commitment to WSCA is legendary—serving in just about every capacity possible including interest group chair, vice chair, secretary, paper reviewer, panel chair, panel respondent, member of the executive council, and editor of Western Journal of Communication.

Despite all of these impressive accomplishments and depth of service, perhaps the written nominations provide more insight into this individual's contributions to the discipline. One colleague stated, "I am always moved to hear the extensive work and commitment of Distinguished Service Award winners. This award typically highlights the conference for me and instills my pride in being a member of WSCA. It is with this in mind that I am nominating this individual as an especially worthy candidate for this prestigious award." This individual's service, leadership, and administration are impeccable… I cannot think of anyone else more deserving of this recognition."

Another colleague noted, "the model she offers though the work she does in professional and university organizations inspires not only those of us fortunate enough to work with her daily, but also her students, former students, and her colleagues in the wider academic community." This person went on to say "She has put a fire in our hearts. She is a catalyst, encouraging all of us, students and colleagues alike, to achieve our best. She gives us a vision of something more than just routine teaching and scholarship that makes the world of learning and sharing knowledge a shining environment."

In sum, these comments help to illustrate what we have come to know and expect—her dedication and commitment to the discipline, WSCA, and its members were inspiring. I didn't mention that she also served as First Vice President for WSCA and would have become president at the end of the next convention. I only personally met her this past year, but I easily understand why so many people talked in such glowing terms about her. I can see clearly why so many are so sad to not have her here today since she passed away this past December. I am very honored to present the 2005 WSCA Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Leah Vande Berg of California State University, Sacramento. Accepting the award on her behalf is her husband, Nick Trujillo, from California State University, Sacramento.

(Speech given at the WSCA Convention Luncheon by John Oetzel, Chair, Distinguished Service Award Committee, February 21, 2005.)

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