Twelfth Biennial Public Address Conference


zarefskyProfessor David Zarefsky of Northwestern University will be honored for his substantial contributions to public address, rhetoric, argument and academic debate.

David Zarefsky is Owen L. Coon Professor of Argumentation and Debate, and Professor of Communication Studies, at Northwestern University, where he served as Dean of the School of Speech from 1988 through June 2000. He joined the Northwestern faculty in 1968 and rose through the ranks, achieving promotion to Professor in 1982. He also has held a series of administrative appointments, including Director of Forensics (1970-75), Chair of the Department of Communication Studies (1975-83), Associate Dean of the School of Speech (1983-88), and Dean.

Zarefsky’s research and teaching are in the areas of rhetorical history and criticism, argumentation and debate, and forensics. He is the author, co-author, or editor of eight books and the author of over 70 articles in professional journals. Two of his books have won the Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, an award of the National Communication Association: President Johnson’s War on Poverty: Rhetoric and History (University of Alabama Press, 1986) and Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery: In the Crucible of Public Debate (University of Chicago Press, 1990). He is one of only three individuals to have won this award twice. In 1994 he was named to the ranks of NCA Distinguished Scholars. He also has twice won the “Best Article Award” from the Southern States Communication Association.

At Northwestern, Zarefsky has taught courses in the study of American public discourse, with a special focus on the pre-Civil War years and on the 1960’s. He also has taught courses in argumentation theory, persuasion, and public speaking. On thirteen different occasions he was named to the student government’s honor roll for distinguished teaching. Zarefsky also has two video courses, “Abraham Lincoln: In His Own Words” and “Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning,” marketed by The Teaching Company.

In 1993 Zarefsky was President of the National Communication Association and in 2001 he received its Distinguished Service Award. He held the presidency of the Central States Communication Association in 1986-87. In 2006 and 2007 he is President of the Rhetoric Society of America. He has held numerous other positions in both those organizations and in the American Forensic Association, whose journal he edited from 1977-80. From 1984-89 he was the Director of the National Debate Tournament.

Zarefsky has been involved in numerous other activities under the heading of University and professional service. In 1982-83 he chaired Northwestern’s General Faculty Committee, the principal arm of faculty governance, and he has served on numerous other committees and task forces. He has participated on academic program review committees for approximately 20 colleges and universities and as a peer reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities. From 1997 to 2001 he was on the National Advisory Council and the Steering Committee for the Center for Presidential Studies in the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.




Conference Director
Professor Lester Olson

Department of Communication

University of Pittsburgh