Forensics Team Hires Top Director

Posted: June 12, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

There are few brave souls in the world who don’t mind standing up in front of a crowd and speaking. Members of the George Mason forensics team are among these talented, courageous folks who not only enjoy public speaking, but also learn immensely from it. With the recent hiring of the number one forensics coach in the country, Peter Pober, as its full-time director, this talented team has a chance to continue the success and reputation it has on a national level.

Pober, who currently teaches at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), will join the Communication Department in the fall. His hiring ended a nationwide search that started last fall after College of Arts and Sciences Dean Daniele Struppa emphasized his continued support to improve the forensics team and foster its growth.

Last summer, Struppa put a challenge to the forensics team alumni–to raise $100,000 in one month for the Forensics Team Alumni and Friends Endowment Fund. Not only was the challenge met, but it was exceeded by more than $30,000. Struppa was so impressed by the loyalty and commitment of the alumni that he committed to hiring a full-time director with a Ph.D.

“My vision for the college has always emphasized excellence,” says Struppa. “Now, we have the opportunity to capitalize on an already strong program and move our forensics team to the very top in the country. This is also a great story of collaboration between the university and its alumni. This hire would not have been possible without the help of the Forensics Alumni Association and its generous contribution.”

The George Mason forensics team has been a leader in national competition for more than 25 years. Two years ago, former team member Holly Sisk, B.A. Communication ’98, returned to Mason to become the part-time director and keep the team working during a transitional stage. Even with a part-time director, the team finished 12th at the national competition this year and was the highest ranking nonscholarship team at the tournament.

Pober has been the forensics coach at UT for the past 13 years and has led his team to win first or second place in 11 of those 13 years. As a forensics team member himself when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1980s, Pober was in many forensics competitions involving George Mason students and coaches–and he interacted with many of them, including Bruce Manchester, Communication.

“You could say we go way back,” Manchester says. “He was able to see then what full-time faculty members working with the program can do, and he was impressed.”

With his M.A. and Ph.D. in speech communication from UT, Pober brings experience and a fresh, dedicated attitude, Manchester says. “Not only is he a first-rate forensics educator, but he is an incredible classroom teacher. He brings out the best in students both in the classroom and in coaching.”

Pober is the national secretary for the American Forensic Association Individual Events Committee and was president of the Texas Speech Communication Association. He is also chair for the American Forensic Association District III Committee and has published numerous articles.

“This is a really exciting time for the forensics team,” Manchester says. “It will draw quality students from all over the country who are interested in developing these skills.”

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