2019 NCA Award Winners

NCA Award Winners by Year

NCA’s annual awards will be bestowed on several distinguished members at the Annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Below is the list of those who will be honored at the NCA Presidential Address and Awards Presentation.

Teaching Awards

Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education

Julie-Ann Scott-Pollock is a professor and director of Performance Studies in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. In 2018, Scott-Pollock was awarded the UNCW Distinguished Teaching Professorship Award, and in remarks at the presentation, Provost Marilyn Sheerer cited the award review committee’s words about Dr. Scott-Pollock as follows: “ . . . in creating an interdisciplinary minor in social justice that span across six majors, (Scott-Pollock) blazed a trail to make communication, performance, politics, and psychology less boundary restricted. . . .These efforts at cross-pollination are what a campus should look like.” The committee also observed that Scott-Pollock’s “teaching evaluations were nearly perfect, and their course development exemplifies best practices in syllabus construction.” The committee also commended Scott-Pollock’s “passion and talent for teaching from the UNCW community to the Wilmington community,” concluding that Scott-Pollock is “. . . clearly a great ambassador for us.”

Marcella E. Oberle Award for Outstanding Teaching in Grades K-12

This year’s recipient of the Marcella E. Oberle Award for Outstanding Teaching in Grades K-12 has a long and distinguished career in communication education. Like Marcella Oberle, Anita Boyd has had a broad impact in the field of communication education and has changed young peoples’ lives for the better by showing them the power of communication. Boyd has taught for over 40 years, and coached speech and debate for 32 years. After retiring from the public school system in Laurel, Mississippi in 2007, Boyd began teaching at Laurel Christian School.

Instrumental in forming the Mississippi National Speech & Debate Association District in the early 1990s, Boyd has served on the district committee every year since. Elected to the NSDA Hall of Fame in 2018, Boyd serves in the Tab Room at NSDA’s national tournaments, while coaching and supporting Mississippi’s national competitors. Boyd was also instrumental in establishing Mississippi’s National Catholic Forensic League and serves in the NCFL Tab Room at their national tournaments. Twice Anita has been named Mississippi’s National Federation of High School Speech, Debate and Theater Teacher of the Year. A dedicated educator, Anita Boyd, embodies the principles of teaching and of teaching communication for which Marcella Oberle is remembered.

Michael and Suzanne Osborn Community College Outstanding Educator Award

Dr. Susan Ward is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the Delaware County Community College. A highly respected professor, Ward’s approach to teaching is intellectually challenging, stimulating, and accessible in the classroom. With 11 significant publications, 50 presentations at major conferences, as former chair of the ECA Community College Interest Group, and as former chair of the NCA Community College Section, Ward is recognized as an exceptional teacher, scholar, and leader. At Delaware County Community College, Ward serves as the Course Reviewer Manager for the Quality Matters Program and received the college’s 2013 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Ward’s colleagues highlight how Ward is often sought out for committees and task forces because of a balanced, reflective, and audience-centered communication style. Dr. Ward has shown the dedication to students and to the field of Communication Studies in many ways and is worthy of the recognition with the 2019 Michael and Suzanne Osborn Community College Outstanding Educator Award.

Wallace A. Bacon Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award

During 33 years as a faculty member at the University of Arkansas, Professor Stephen A. Smith has manifested a life of teaching excellence. Smith’s commitment to students was unwavering; Smith created unique opportunities for student learning which greatly contributed to their development and to their accomplishments later in life. Letters from students written in support of this nomination recounted extensive and specific ways Smith’s teaching affected their lives, both professionally and personally. Motivated by a desire to encourage and recognize student achievement, Smith founded Lambda Pi Eta, which would become the communication discipline’s official honor society. Professor Smith’s life of teaching excellence is truly worthy of recognition and celebration.


Scholarship Awards

Charles H. Woolbert Research Award

For the article “Fracturing the Real-Self ↔ Fake-Self Dichotomy: Moving Toward Crystallized Organizational Identities,” published in Communication Theory in 2005.

Tracy and Trethewey’s groundbreaking 2005 article “Fracturing the Real-Self ↔ Fake-Self Dichotomy: Moving Toward Crystallized Organizational Identities” is an exemplar of theoretical sophistication and methodological provocation that has been, and continues to be, a catalyst for communication scholarship across the discipline. Tracy and Trethewey created an exceptional framework, inspiring and enabling communication scholars to embrace post-structural theory’s critiques of identity in order to become better citizens, better advocates, better scholars, better teachers, and better selves.


Diamond Anniversary Book Award

For the book Under the Cover of Chaos: Trump and the Battle for the American Right (Pluto Press, 2018)

In the book Under the Cover of Chaos: Trump and the Battle for the American Right, Lawrence Grossberg explores the rise of Donald Trump, the new right, and the media and places these phenomena in a broader and longer historical and conjunctural context. Grossberg’s rigorous and insightful analysis raises new questions and problems (from affect and the structures of feeling to the crises of modernity to the identification of chaos as a key logic) that lead to new strategies and new questions. In the end, the book is about the new stories that need to be told, the questions that need to be asked, and the work that needs to be done, as Grossberg asks: “What does it mean to think and do research under such conditions?” The originality and importance of this book makes it an exemplar of cultural studies-oriented communication scholarship that may inform scholarship across the discipline. As Henry Giroux writes in the nomination letter, the book “addresses many of the themes and problems that constitute research in rhetoric and public culture, political communication, popular communication and media studies”). Under the Cover of Chaos combines critical scholarship, trenchant conceptual and methodological insights, and a lucid and engaging presentation. Lawrence Grossberg is the Morris Davis Distinguished Professor in Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina.

For the book Homeless Advocacy and the Rhetorical Construction of the Civic Home (Penn State University Press, 2018)

In Homeless Advocacy and the Rhetorical Construction of the Civic Home, Melanie Loehwing illuminates the critical relationship between public policy and ideas and practices of democracy. Focusing on the issue of homelessness, Loehwing demonstrates that “housed” and “unhoused” do not represent fixed categories or stable life trajectories, but moments and dynamics that reveal the struggles of negotiating an unequal, exclusive, and often uncaring society. The figure of the homeless functions to justify the privilege of many and serves as a harsh reminder that competition and personal sacrifice are necessary to avoid the fate of unhoused people. Addressing issues of visibility, corporeality, and temporality, and articulating a civic rhetoric of advocacy, deliberation, and protest, this book offers lessons for scholars and students considering a range of topics. Further, the book productively engages theory and practice by challenging readers to reconsider notions about “outliers to human experience” and to attend domestic and international advocacy and survival for individuals and groups. This is a well-researched, well-written, and humane book that promotes understanding of the lives of people living on the margins of society. Melanie Loehwing is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Mississippi State University.

Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award

For the essay “Childfree and ‘Bingoed’: Competing Discourses of Reproductive Normativity and Autonomy Animated in Online Narratives of Conversations about Voluntary Childlessness,” submitted to the Family Communication Division.

Elizabeth Hintz is a graduate student at the University of South Florida and Clinton Brown is a graduate student Purdue University. In their paper, Hintz and Brown examine how people communicatively negotiate family expectations and what constitutes a family. This literature demonstrates a solid theoretical grounding with recent research in Relational Dialectics, with additional explanation of normative expectations and the concept of bingos. The methodology used a naturalistic population from online posts, thus gathering real data applicable for the study. RDT2 and contrapuntal analysis is a complex analysis, and the authors presented results with sophistication of coding and relevant exemplars to demonstrate their themes. Conclusions and discussion pull in ample links back to literature with practical and important implications for how individuals construct and discuss the meaning of families and parenthood.

Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award

Lisa Flores, an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, is a foundational scholars in Latinx Rhetorical Studies. Dr. Flores has powerfully intervened into the canon of rhetorical studies, incisively demanding a space for research that is theoretically nuanced, grounded in the particulars of lived experiences, and ethical in its expansion of our field’s understandings of race, ethnicity, gender, decolonialism, migration, and identity. Dr Flores has navigated a field grounded in presumptions of whiteness and masculinity with tremendous aplomb and persistence in ameliorating our field’s dearth of theorizing about race. Dr. Flores tirelessly centers the work of marginalized communities to claim space and voice. Resourcefully theorizing race as a topic that is both rhetorically constructed and experienced materially, Dr. Flores has published dozens of influential articles and book chapters. Notably, Dr. Flores’s work prompted a 2018 forum in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies urging an interruption in the “static force of the canon toward the goal of producing transformative inclusion.” By foregrounding race in rhetorical interventions, including at the 2019 RSA keynote address and in the upcoming NCA Carroll C. Arnold lecture, Dr. Flores’s impact on the field at large and rhetorical studies in particular is undeniable and extraordinary.

Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression

For the book Freedom of Expression: Foundational Documents and Historical Arguments (Oxbridge Research Associates, 2019).

In Freedom of Expression: Foundational Documents and Historical Arguments, Dr. Smith has provided the most comprehensive and inclusive anthology of readings that have guided scholars thinking on freedom of speech and First Amendment issues. Dr. Smith’s introduction of each text situates and contextualizes each text brilliantly and illuminates the incredible depth of research that went into the production of this anthology. Through over 188 artifacts and texts, readers will be struck by the breadth of issues, including early legal codes, the correspondence between Madison and Jefferson on the First Amendment, and the debates on anarchists and socialists. This work allows us to read and appreciate the centuries of efforts in our journey of exploring freedom of speech and freedom of the press issues. Dr. Smith allows us to see the variety, richness, and subtlety of thinking that has contributed to that conversation. Quite simply, this text is foundational to the study of freedom of expression.

Gerald M. Phillips Award for Distinguished Applied Communication Scholarship

Dr. Debbie Dougherty’s, career is dedicated to theory building and empirical research related to social issues such as sexual harassment, food insecurity, social class, and sexuality in organizing contexts. Among this distinguished record, Dougherty has published eight articles in the Journal of Applied Communication Research including a recent forum on sexual harassment that has been viewed online over 40,000 times. Based on an article on sexual harassment published in Human Relations, Harvard Business Review contacted Dougherty and highlighted the resulting piece as a “must read” for the year 2019. Dr. Dougherty has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, National Public Radio, Forbes, the Washington Post, GQ, and the Huffington Post. Dougherty has developed trainings for several organizations including the National Park Service. Dr. Dougherty currently serves as the editor of the Journal of Applied Communication Research and is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Missouri.

Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Awards

For the dissertation completed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “Distant Yet Existent: Networked-Dependence Theory and the Communicative Constitution of Functionally Estranged Family Relationships.”

Advisor: Dawn Braithwaite

The scholarship is centered at the intersection of Interpersonal and Family Communication; this dissertation specifically blends theoretical and methodological specializations as a qualitative/interpretive and critical scholar. It weaves compelling and meaningful connections among interpersonal, family, cultural communication, and power in research with strong convictions and goals for social justice. This beautifully written and organized dissertation explores estranged family relationships through 36 qualitative interviews, which yielded great insight into the experience of family relationships and data that fill an important gap in the literature. This dissertation also went above and beyond in its theoretical development. The author developed a new theory, Networked-Dependence Theory, which includes four propositions and fits in nicely (yet extends) existing theoretical frameworks. This is an outstanding dissertation, with rich qualitative exemplars that bring the voices and experiences of persons in functionally estranged relationships to life and light, providing imaginative insight into how to think about interpersonal and family communication in a novel way.

For the dissertation completed at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “Attitudes Toward Antiquities: Rhetorical Enchantments, Preservation Advocacy, and The American Southwest.”

Advisor: Carole Blair

This dissertation was impressive in its scope and perspective as well as the professional and mature writing. The author’s move to study “heritage preservation” and public memory via the lens of scientific and institutional/governmental discourses provided a new perspective on the ways that science and academics contribute to hegemonic public memories and public policies that shape public places. Using lesser-known aspects of Burke’s oeuvre, the author shows how the theory is remade when asked to help make sense of the documents; rhetorical terms enlighten the discourse at hand, showing us how the language in the archive shapes an understanding of Indigenous peoples, Anglo Americans, and the issues of “preserving” remarkable—“enchanting”—places. Weaving interviews with a rich trove of printed materials, the dissertation urges us to rethink the American Southwest, encourages Anglo Americans to imagine going to the Southwest as people visiting non-U.S. lands. This will be a very unique book-length study that will contribute not only to areas within our discipline (rhetoric of science, public memory) but also to disciplines outside of communication/rhetoric, including archaeology and historical studies.

For the dissertation completed at Northwestern University, “Where Does Innovation Come From?: Exploring the Dynamic Processes of Organizing and Managing Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.”

Advisor: Michelle Shumate

Funded by a National Science Foundation Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences dissertaton research improvement grant, this dissertation was comprised of three impressive studies, including qualitative interviews of 53 entrepreneurs in China, ethnographic observation and archival of analysis of online forums, as well as development and validation of a scale tested among over 600 U.S. nonprofits. Using institutional theory and communicative constitution of organizations, the research’s central question is how social ventures (new nonprofit or business founded for the purpose of creating social good) navigate different institutional logics (macro-level tropes that shape how people in organizations should act) to create innovations. It advances our understanding on ways that organizations manage institutional complexity, developing a scale to measure that complexity, and demonstrating a path that predicts the novelty and quality of innovations from institutional complexity. Overall, this dissertation involves the theoretical, methodological, and practical/application rigor worthy of an association-wide dissertation award.

Golden Anniversary Monograph Award

For the article “En/Gendering Dystopia: The Performance of Torture at Guantanamo Bay Prison,” published in Text and Performance Quarterly in 2018.

The article engages an important topic – the U.S. military interrogation of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Prison using tropes of female sexuality – with precision and journalist integrity. This is a topic the mostly American readers of Text and Performance Quarterly have probably heard something about through the news media, but actually know very little. The article, therefore, is in a position to educate its audience about the interrogatory practices of the U.S. government, particularly as they apply to religion, culture, and sexuality. The authors use mostly direct quotations from military personnel and prisoners to detail what went on behind closed doors. The article’s ultimate conclusion, or at least one of them, is that “The acceptance and permissive use of these performances of torture by women produces a dystopic society where we no longer question the uses of our bodies by the state, the uses of freedom and equality, and we no longer resist its coercive instrumentalization.”

James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address

For the book Debating Women: Gender, Education, and Spaces for Argument, 1835-1945 (Michigan State University Press, 2018).

Debating Women: Gender, Education, and Spaces for Argument, 1835-1945 is an ambitious and impressive scholarly feat. Carly Woods has written a superb book. Woods significantly recasts the thesis that debate is civic education through deep historical research into how women at several colleges and universities in the West over the course of a century expanded both access to the activity and spaces for debate. Debating women, Woods shows, stood and delivered arguments, embodied their cases, and claimed the study and practice of argument, both for themselves and the public good. All told, Debating Women is a standout achievement in the study of rhetoric and public address, a lively reminder of the power of telling the stories of those who demanded to be heard, and a meticulously researched and creative contributor to contemporary contests over who gets to speak, when, how, and about what.

James L. Golden Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric Award

For the essay “‘An Impression of Asian People:’ Stereotype & Identity in Ali Wong’s Standup Comedy.”

Comedy is serious business and it calls for critical scrutiny. Through sophisticated engagement with diverse available scholarship, Euni Kim’s paper brings to light the complex cultural resonances and dissonances of Asian American comedic rhetoric. Engaging in close study of the stand-up comedic performances of Ali Wong, the essay makes an important contribution by challenging established assumptions about how stereotypes function as rhetorical forms. It also offers productive insights into the rhetorical modalities of racial identity (re)production, highlighting their ambivalence, reflexivity, fault-lines, and critical potential. The essay reflects the James L. Golden Award’s commitment to research that demonstrates excellence in theoretical conception and grounding and makes a clear and valuable contribution to ongoing scholarship in rhetorical studies.

Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award

Abraham Iqbal Khan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences and the Department of African American Studies, and is the current Laurence & Lynn Brown-McCourtney Early Career Professor in the College of Liberal Arts at Pennsylvania State University. The Karl R. Wallace Award Committee unanimously selected Dr. Khan to receive this year’s award to support a project entitled “The Significance of Soccer in South Africa: Democracy and Rhetorical Practice in the Makana Football Association.” The Makana Football Association was a soccer organization founded by inmates at Robben Island prison during the time of apartheid in South Africa in the 1960s. The prisoners participated in a soccer league, and kept detailed records of player transfers, etc. This project requires an examination of the Association’s archives, housed at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. It would yield a scholarly project that might illuminate new facets of the relationship between rhetorical invention and the invention of democracy, between deliberative practice and institutional form. There are three major potential outcomes of this projected study. First, it provides an opportunity to examine how the very inmates who later abolished apartheid and rebuilt a democracy practiced how a democratic organization might be developed through their participation in the soccer league. Second, it offers the opportunity to not only illustrate how the rhetorical record reflects values inherit in both sport and democracy, but also to use the rhetorical analysis of sport to build rhetorical theory. Third, it also speaks to the need to decolonize “rhetoric so white” in the context of advancing racial rhetorical critique. Given an already strong record as a sports and race scholar, it is clear that Dr. Khan is well positioned to undertake this archival exploration.

Leslie Irene Coger Award for Distinguished Performance

John M. Allison, Jr. is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Texas. Over the course of a long career, Dr. Allison has made a significant contribution to the field of Performance Studies through both teaching and research. Dr. Allison has written, directed, and performed in over 28 performances, authored over a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and advanced performance studies at the national, regional and local level through a variety of roles. In 2018 Allison collaboratively wrote, directed and staged the show “What we Talk About When we Talk about Race.” The performance included seven distinct, but intertwined, scenes, each of which depicted the problematic nature of our discussions of race in America. This is just one recent project that Dr. Allison has worked on; however, the same kind of impact and rigor could be discussed in every one of the performances that Dr. Allison has been associated with for the last 25+ years. The breadth and quality of this work situate Dr. Allison as an outstanding performer and scholar who will continue to carry the legacy of Leslie Irene Coger into the future.

Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies

John Anderson, for the article “The Medium is the Mother: Elsie McLuhan, Elocution and Her Son Marshall,” published in Text & Performance Quarterly in 2017.

Anderson’s article “The Medium is the Mother: Elsie McLuhan, Elocution and Her Son Marshall” is a model of the kinds of archival research that is critical to historical writing on performance. Through meticulous analysis of the selections, programs, and approaches to elocutionary performance produced by Elsie McLuhan, and the interplay between this work on embodiment of language and Marshall McLuhan’s theories on the ways in which media are tied to bodily and sensory experiences, Anderson makes truly revelatory connections previously unexplored. In addition, it opens up important cultural connections between Canadian traditions and U.S. ones, which have been relatively underexplored, thus helping us to understand borders and their permeability. John Anderson is one of the most highly regarded historical scholars and performers in the field of performance studies. Anderson’s impact on the field spans more than a quarter of a century and this most recent article is an exemplar of the kinds of historical scholarship that ties the earlier periods of performance practice and pedagogy to the myriad strands of performance in contemporary society; it is an outstanding recipient for the Lilla A. Heston Award.

Javon Johnson, for the book Killing Poetry: Blackness and Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities (Rutgers University Press, 2017).

Killing Poetry: Blackness and Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities is a multi-sited ethnographic project that explores how Blackness, complicated by gender, sexuality, and class, serve as a problematic boundary marker in the making of slam and spoken word poetry communities. Situated firmly within Performance Studies, African American Studies, Literary Studies, and American Studies. Johnson’s work is as much about social justice as it is intellectual enlightenment. Killing Poetry argues that the truly radical potential in slam and spoken word communities lies not just in proving literary worth, speaking back to power, or even in altering power structures, but instead in imagining and working towards altogether different social relationships, or what Johnson terms possibilities beyond. Killing Poetry, part performance ethnography, critical ethnography, memoir, poetry, journalism, and archival research all stitched together by performance theory, transgresses genres and boundaries in search of more creative ways to answer increasingly complex questions about the ways in which Blackness functions in slam and spoken word communities.

Mark L. Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication

Steve Duck’s work centers on interpersonal communication in relationship development and disintegration, especially highlighting relationship functions of everyday talk. Duck’s extensive list of over 250 publications includes fifty books published as either author or editor. More than any individual, Steve Duck promoted the study of personal relationships as an interdisciplinary field and articulated the distinctive contributions of communication scholarship. Duck founded the International Network on Personal Relationships and interdisciplinary Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, serving as Editor for 15 years from its inception in 1984. Duck also co-founded the International Conference on Personal Relationships, which has continued bi-annually since 1982, and organized conferences at the University of Lancaster, University of Wisconsin, and University of Iowa. Duck is responsible for nearly 30 additional books as series editor for the Erlbaum and Guilford book series on personal relationships. Also a devoted teacher and mentor, Duck won the University of Iowa’s first Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award in 2001 along with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award in 2010.

Orlando L. Taylor Distinguished Scholarship Award in Africana Communication

For groundbreaking work on “African approaches to communicating, knowing, and organizing, which have caused organizational communication scholars to reconsider the assumptions undergirding central planks in the field.” Dr. Cruz’s research in the area of “alternative organizing” contributes significantly to understanding ways that Black women grapple with entrepreneurship in post/conflict situations in both Africa and the United States. Richly sourced and engaging, Dr. Cruz’s scholarship demonstrates that other compelling ideas can reside at the center of intellectual thought, including African and African-American feminist theories and organizing. Cruz’s approach is autoethnographic and makes the case that the struggle for human flourishing is at the very core of new and fresh conceptual insights into how we think and what we believe. Already, this boundary-altering young scholar has published eleven journal articles and five book chapters and gained international recognition for her research on transnational institutional dynamics surrounding the African diaspora. Cruz’s influential, rigorous scholarship on Black feminist organizing as modes of critique have won top honors, including the 2018 Organizational Communication Division ‘s (NCA) top article award and the 2019 International Communication Association’s (ICA) Outstanding Article Award. Cruz also received a top paper award in the Ethnography Division of NCA in 2018. Professor Cruz’s innovative and invigorating scholarship sits on firm foundations regarding systems of social and cultural thought and it is highly visible and valued from Liberia in West Africa to university settings in the United States. Cruz is challenging and upsetting underlying philosophies about the nature of organizations and how they work. Dr. Cruz is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at University of Colorado, Boulder.

Stephen E. Lucas Debut Publication Award

For the article “We to Me: An Autoethnographic Discovery of Self, In and Out of Domestic Abuse,” published in Women’s Studies in Communication in 2018.

Megan Alyssa Fletcher is a Ph.D. student in the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media program as well as an instructor of Communication and Interdisciplinary studies at North Carolina State University. In the essay, “We to Me: An Autoethnographic Discovery of Self, In and Out of Domestic Abuse,” Fletcher provides a rich and layered analysis, through their unique work in regards to intrapersonal, interpersonal, and critical analysis. The article is multifaceted, far-reaching and expand our understanding of critical and feminist theories and methods, interpersonal theories and methods, and autoethnography.


Service Awards

Robert J. Kibler Memorial Award

Dr. Tina M. Harris is Professor and Endowed Chair in Race, Media, and Cultural Literacy in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Harris is an internationally renowned interracial communication scholar with particular expertise in race, media representations, and racial social justice. Harris’s pedagogy, research, service and leadership in the National Communication Association and the communication discipline are driven by the ability to empower others with the communication and critical thinking skills necessary for becoming global citizens. The end goal of these efforts serves to equip students to use an applied approach where theory leads to practice in a world where racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity are a welcome inevitably. Over a lengthy career, Dr. Harris has provided generosity in giving time, advice, and friendship no matter an individual’s rank while simultaneously showing courage and forthrightness in speaking up in the face of injustice and working to create a more compassionate world.

Samuel L. Becker Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Melissa L. Beall, known as “The Legend of Listening,” is a world-renowned figure in the field of communication. Beall is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Northern Iowa and has served the communication discipline across levels (from K-12 through graduate education) and areas (communication education, basic course, listening, intercultural, argument, and debate). Dr. Beall has dedicated literally thousands of hours to the communication discipline, from President of the Central States Communication Association, to North American Vice President of World Communication Association, to President of the International Listening Association, to Basic Course textbook author, to conference planner, to graduate student director, to K-12 forensics coach. Beall’s life work truly demonstrates a commitment to professional service and advancement of the communication discipline.


Distinguished Scholar Awards

Dr. Molefi Asante is a scholar who is long overdue for this recognition. Asante is well respected and held in high regard by many in the discipline for the spectacular (profound even) work in developing and centering Afrocentricity as a theoretical framework celebrating Africa and the African diaspora. Dr. Asante is a trailblazer for creating a space where Afrocentric communication phenomena were brought from the margins to the center of communication scholarship. Dr. Asante is beyond worthy of being a Distinguished Scholar because of a well-developed and longstanding reputation of maintaining an aggressive publication record as well as being keynote speaker, mentor, advisor, editor, and prolific author in top-tier journals across many disciplines. Dr. Asante is a standout awardee who has had and continues to have a far-reaching impact in academe and beyond in ways that many peers do not. Truly an intellectual revolutionary who is worthy of this honor.

Dr. Larry Frey has a longstanding, exemplary career as an applied and group communication scholar who has excelled in publishing and advancing theory and scholarship. Dr. Frey has sustained a level of productivity that excels that of many peers. Frey has received numerous awards from NCA and various institutions in recognition of the important contributions made to the discipline. As a senior scholar, Frey is committed to collaborating with a considerable number of junior colleagues and graduate students across rank and institution. Dr. Frey has also championed the use of scholarship to promote activism and address the issue of social justice in its many forms. Dr. Frey embodies the phrase “theory to practice” and is a model for other scholars committed to research with the potential for change in real world contexts.

Dr. Gary Kreps is an exemplary scholar who has had a tremendous career as one of the leading health communication scholars in the discipline. Kreps has been a trailblazer in the field by creating and providing service to several programs or institutes (especially the NIH), maintaining an incredibly aggressive research agenda, and securing millions of dollars in federal grants to address real world issues through theory and applied communication scholarship. Dr. Kreps is a distinguished scholar who has published over 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, an extraordinary number of books, and who has received many awards.

Dr. Thomas Nakayama’s publication and citation records far exceed many who have already been inducted as distinguished scholars. Nakayama introduced intersectionality to the discipline and co-authored what is deemed the definitive essay about Whiteness and rhetoric. Dr. Nakayama is an outstanding nominee because the exceptional quantity and quality of scholarship produced throughout a career filled with unique and influential contributions to the discipline. As a scholar of color and an openly-queer scholar, Dr. Nakayama is an exemplar of what it means to be a distinguished scholar replete with powerful and ground-breaking contributions to the discipline.

Dr. Denise Solomon has made an impressive mark by developing and introducing relational turbulence theory as a lens for understanding how people manage traumatic health issues (i.e., breast cancer survivorship, infertility) and post-deployment military family life. Solomon’s research reflects a scholar who uses diverse methodologies to ask and answer critical questions about human relationships and the tensions therein. Dr. Solomon’s theory has stood the rigor of peer-review in our top journals and institutional presses, which is a testament to a tenacity as a scholar. Solomon has maintained a very active, career-long research program and has received many accolades for this work. Dr. Solomon should be a NCA Distinguished Scholar as a standout scholar with countless contributions that advance communication theory through applied scholarship.