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Honoring W. Fisher

Distinguished Scholar Award Speech: 2010

Presented by Pat Ganer

It is my great privilege to present the 3rd annual WSCA Scholar Award. In establishing this award, the Association set forth five criteria: a sustained research program, one that is theoretically grounded, is analytically sound, advances the discipline and has been featured in WSCA journals as well as other outlets. Our first two recipients, Leslie Baxter and Brian Spitzberg personify the type of scholar we had in mind in establishing this award.

This year's Scholar Award Committee had a number of extremely worth nominees, individuals I suspect we will see in the coming years. However, I think you will agree that there is a certain logic, a logic of good reasons, why this person was chosen.

We seek an individual who has a sustained research program. Going back to the 1960s, this individual has published in all the major national journals, specifically the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Monographs, Communication Education, the Journal of Communication and Argumentation and Advocacy, demonstrating the wide scope of this person's thinking. The recipient's work is also in all our regional journals, including eleven articles in the Western Journal of Communication alone. In addition, the recipient's books, chapters in books and conference papers have stretched the boundaries of our discipline

Our criteria ask that the research be theoretically grounded, analytically strong, and advance the discipline. Our recipient's accomplishments in that arena help a motive view of our decision. Let me expand the narrative a bit more. It has been said that our recipient has been significantly formative in rhetorical theory be being one of the few to redress the reliance on theorists outside the discipline by providing a homegrown theory, one that has heavily influence research both within and outside the discipline. Any survey of contemporary rhetorical theory is incomplete unless it considers this person's work—work that is both theory and paradigm Moreover, one individual wrote, "I challenge anyone to read the writings and not be impressed by the elegance and accessibility of the work. Unlike many writers with more turgid argot, these works are written with such concise prose that they are themselves exemplars of the art of persuasion."

Continuing the narrative, publications alone do not represent the totality of this person's contributions to scholarship. The awardee has served as Editor of the Western Journal of Communication and has directed the dissertations of thirty-eight students, five of which earned the dissertation awards from the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association.

Those students and the colleagues from a forty year career at the University of Southern California will probably be the first to rise as we honor a former WSCA editor, a former WSCA President, a former WSCA Distinguished Award winner and, now, the WSCA Scholar, Walter R. Fisher.

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