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2010.11.12 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Dwyer, Davidson Win Top Speech Prize

Omaha - School of Communication Assistant Director and Public Speaking Fundamentals course coordinator Dr. Karen Kangas Dwyer and Speech Center consulting coordinator Marlina Davidson have won the top national award for the oral communication general education program.

The two were selected as recipients of the National Communication Association Basic Course Division Program of Excellence Award for 2010, which they received this month at the National Communication Association annual meeting in San Francisco.

Dr. Amy Slagell, NCA Program of Excellence chair, wrote: “This program is a well developed program.” The committee was impressed “that you integrate two courses [Public Speaking Fundamentals, Argumentation & Debate] into your basic course and have sections specialized for so many specialized groups (Speaking Confidently for Anxious Speakers, First Year Experience, Goodrich Scholars, Thompson Learning Community, Non-Native English Speaking, Honors Service Learning, Hybrid Distance Education The Synergy of Communication & Culture Sections) yet are able to maintain high levels of training and consistency across all of the sections of the courses.”

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) has a distinctive, comprehensive and unified basic course program. In 2006, external reviewers, evaluating the School of Communication, wrote that the school’s basic course graduate teaching assistant training program was a “model program” for communication departments across the nation.

At UNO all students are required to fulfill a general education oral communication course requirement for graduation. UNO’s Basic Course, called the Public Speaking Fundamentals Program, provides two courses, Public Speaking Fundamentals and Argumentation & Debate, as well as a state-of-the-art Speech Center to support all basic course students and to assist in university-wide promotion of excellence in oral communication.

All students enrolled in a basic course can drop by during any of the 40 hours the Speech Center is open to receive help in any aspect of their public speaking course.

The courses are taught by approximately 25 full-time faculty, adjuncts, and trained master’s level graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

The overarching goals of the Basic Course program focus on helping students become critical evaluators of public communication and develop excellent presentational skills that create an oral communication foundation for success in college and their careers. UNO’s School of Communication Basic Course Program is recognized as a Program of Excellence because it is distinctive in five ways.

Over the last eight years, the public speaking program has acquired four permanent public speaking classrooms that have been equipped with the latest technology for teaching and recording student speeches. Each classroom is equipped with an instructor’s computer station, a camera, DVD recording equipment, and microphones. A built-in cabinet is attached to a back wall to house the recording equipment and small microphones hang from the ceiling near the front of the room.

All students’ speeches are recorded onto DVDs, labeled, and then taken to the speech center. They are viewed in the Speech Center by students as part of required self-assessment assignments and can be used in the creation of student DVD portfolios.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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