[eDebate] On reforming the CEDA All American Awards

Kelly McDonald Kelly.McDonald
Wed May 31 14:27:58 CDT 2006

Regarding the reform of awards, some thoughts:
1) I am very much in agreement with Eric on the level the bar should be set for Academic All Americans, and much like Sam I disagree with the idea of 'uber' vs. other categories of A.A. to create further division and hierarchy.  Universities have excellent systems already in place for working this out - cum laude, manga cum laude and summa cum laude - which I learned this spring at ASU's commencement figured to a 3.45, 3.68 and 3.89 respectively (as each represented a percentage - which I cannot recall - of the graduating class' GPA).  We could set the manga level as the cut off for Academic All American recognition.
2) I agree longevity ought count for something.  First year debaters, though good, have long hurdles to cross  in terms of travel, rounds, commitment that might merit greater consideration for an student with upper class - junior / senior - standing more.  The AFA-NIET, for instance, requires the award only be given to graduating seniors.  This is problematic for CC's - which is systemic in the NIET as that speech community has not been overly receptive to programmatically acknowledging the contribution of Community College students.  Its just an idea for discussion.
3) I disagree with Jim that the process is overly timeconsuming and necessarily (wontanly) arbitrary. There is some artibrary notion that we award 30 each of the All American and Academic All American - that was put in place in the constitution at the award's inception - also at a time when CEDA was much much larger in terms of membership and participation at the national tournament.  We are pretty inclusive in that participation in the national tourney is not required as evidenced in the last several years of mailing the awards to students on programs who did not compete at the CEDA national tournament.  The creation of the recommendation form leaves directors with an easy 1 page MS-Word fill-out form to complete, thereby standardizing the information sought and, therefore, received, to make the committee's deliberations much more regularized.  It is not perfect - some students are inevitably excluded.  That said, is there an underlying principle the Awards Committee ought abide by to say that the award is a mark of genuine distinction and thereby a set # or percentage ought receive them?  If in fact the goal is to recognize more students, I am not clear why we would have students eligible for the Baby Jo AND another award as the Baby Jo acknowledges success in competition and the classroom.  
4)  The decision was made last summer - at my recommendation, having looked at costs and brought a sample trophy to KC for the summer meeting - to move away from certificates to the Lucite diamond.  The total cerifcate costs like we had given from 2001-2005 was around $350 for the certificates (nice paper from PaperExpress.com, certificate holders, and professional setup and printing that included printing the students names on the certificates and them Fed-Ex-ed to the hotel for awards).  My university supplied the free labor for the setup of the printing of the awards - since Spring 2005 the university closed the printing / publication office who did that work.  The cost for the lucite awards was just under $22 / each - at a resulting cost of $1320.00.  In Atlanta in 2001, the E.C. made the decision as part of the restructuring of the budget to keep CEDA from becoming financially insolvent to move away from $48 pen sets to certificates for short time as a cost saving move.  I was responsible for that decision then and arranged for the production of the certificates since that time.  I would really appreciate any more feedback toward that end - on the AA / AAA awards - or any of the awards that we give out at the CEDA national tournament as I have sought bids and been responsible for the trophy order since 2001.  The summer discussion and recommendation I came to the E.C. with last June was that the financial position of the organization was better, we have raised fees and not added services at the national tournament - that if we really say we value education and academic accomplishment, we ought give a tangible award more like those that we give for purely competitive success.  
All this said, I am in overall agreement with Jim and we need to go back and revisit the criteria and protocals for giving awards.  Having been on my School's scholarship committee this year, I was troubled by what were criteria that left too much possiblity for discretion in the hands of the committee and wanted to see greater transparency in the process for the protection of the students and myself and my faculty colleagues.

Kelly M. McDonald, Ph.D.

Director of Forensics & Assistant Professor 

The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

PO Box 871205

Tempe, AZ  85287-1205

Office:  474 Stauffer Hall

Phone:  (480) 965-2027 (direct)

Fax:  (480) 965-4291

Email:  kelly.mcdonald at asu.edu

ASU Forensics on the web: 


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