Congratulations to award winners announced at 2023 AFA business meeting

At the 2023 American Forensic Association Annual Business Meeting on November 15, the organization announced winners of its research and service awards. 2022 Winners were not selected soon enough to announce during the 2022 business meeting, so some 2022 and 2023 awards were announced at this year’s meeting.

Daniel Rohrer Memorial Outstanding Research Award

The Daniel Rohrer AFA Research Award recognizes outstanding scholarship in argumentation and forensics published in the previous calendar year. Any published article, text, or book in the field of argumentation and/or forensics is eligible for nomination. To nominate a published scholarly article please send a letter of nomination detailing why the publication should be honored and a copy of the complete publication. If the publication nominated is a book, a copy of the table of contents and of one chapter is sufficient. Electronic submissions are preferred. Eligible scholarship for the current year must have a publication date from the previous or current year. The award shall be presented at the annual AFA business meeting to be held at the NCA Conference.

The winners of the 2022 award were Drs. Dale A. Herbeck (Northeastern University) & Sara A. Mehltretter Drury (Wabash College), 2022, “The first Kennedy-Nixon debate: the McKeesport Junto of 1947,” Argumentation and Advocacy, Vol 58, Issue 3-4. Sadly, Dr. Herbeck passed away on October 26.

The nomination letter for the winning manuscript notes:

Taking advantage of historical perspective, their study reveals how such frames, situated in time, have shaped how scholars make sense of argumentation within debates. By showing how technology and campaign context intersect, to shape scholarly understanding of political debates, their work encourages scholars to reflect carefully on the historical and technological forces shaping political campaign outcomes. In doing so, they push scholars to enlarge the scope of analysis beyond the content of a single campaign. In looking back to campaign history and asking new questions about the relationship between what kinds of arguments are possible given changes in media, technology, and political culture, Herbeck and Mehltretter-Drury demonstrate the value of a more encompassing historical scope than studies of debate have previously undertaken.

Additionally, their study renews interest in the role of policy argumentation in presidential debates. Herbeck and Mehltretter-Drury clearly showed that policy arguments mattered in the McKeesport Junto event–the candidates understood that their audiences expected exchanges over the merits of the competing policy positions.  Argumentation scholars might consider how campaign context creates expectations for argument, what kinds of conditions make policy argument more likely, whether recent developments in American political culture make policy argument less likely, among other longitudinal questions about the quality and content of debates. Addressing questions of this nature encourages future research asking how candidates can engage audiences in contemporary campaigns with changes in technology that might help audiences assess the leadership potential of candidates running for high office.

Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha Lifetime Achievement Award

The DSR-TKA Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes long-term service to DSR-TKA in terms of leadership, professional success, and dedication to the ideals of the organization.

The 2023 winner of the DSR-TKA Lifetime Achievement Award is Dr. Daniel Cronn-Mills, Minnesota State University, Mankato.

AFA Distinguished Service Awards

The AFA Distinguished Service Award recognizes long-term service to the American forensics communities that has positive impact on the field in terms of current research practices, educational practices, community development, and consideration of career as a model for AFA professionals.

2022 Winner: Dr. Kelly Michael Young, Wayne State University.

A nomination letter for Dr. Young details his service to AFA and the forensics community:

I believe that Dr. Young exemplifies service to the community as an educational leader and champion of collegiate forensics. Most recently, Dr. Young’s work on planning and executing the National Debate Development Conference and then editing the proceedings, stands out as a major accomplishment of service to the AFA, its current and future members, as well as argument scholars and debate practitioners.

2023 Winner: Dr. Matt Gerber, Baylor University.

A nomination letter for Dr. Gerber describes his level of service to the AFA and community:

Dr. Gerber has provided an abundance of long-term service to the American forensics community and considering his decades of contributions to the forensics community (in service, coaching, teaching, mentoring, and research), it is clear to me that his career has been a model for AFA professionals. In each and every capacity in which I have worked with Dr. Gerber, for more than 20 years, I have found him to be an exemplary and caring scholar, mentor, professor, and coach. As someone whose own professional career has been shaped by the forensics community, I believe represents the highest ideals toward which the AFA strives.

About the AFA

The American Forensic Association provides services for educators teaching the skills and values of citizenship and critical thinking through interscholastic and intercollegiate debate competition.

  • Our principle is the power of individuals to participate with others in shaping their world through the human capacity of language.
  • Our commitment to argument expresses our faith in reason-giving as a key to that power.
  • Our commitment to advocacy expresses our faith in oral expression as a means to empower people in situations of their lives.
  • Our research studies the place of argument in advocacy in these situations of empowerment.
  • Our teaching seeks to expand students’ appreciation of the place of argument and advocacy in shaping their worlds and to prepare students through classrooms, forums, and competition for participation in their world through the power of expression.
  • Our public involvement seeks to empower through argument and advocacy.

The AFA charters the governing committees of the National Debate Tournament and the National Speech Tournament, two of the nation’s premier competitive collegiate debate and speech tournaments. It also manages the academic journal Argumentation and Advocacy (published by Taylor and Francis) and cohosts (with the National Communication Association) the biennial Summer Conference on Argumentation.

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