RENO, Nev. - The Nevada Debate Union, part of the Department of Communication Studies in the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Liberal Arts, will be honoring debate team students and community member Tim Jones at the Nevada Debate and Oral Communication Awards Ceremony Tuesday, May 5.
In addition to recognizing the team's accomplishments, several awards and scholarships will be presented. The reception begins at 4:30 p.m. and the ceremony begins at 5 p.m. The free public event will be held in the Great Room of the Joe Crowley Student Union on the fourth floor.
"This event is a great opportunity for students, faculty, staff, debate alumni and supporters of oral communication to meet and celebrate accomplishments," University Debate Coach Phil Sharp said. "Participants will be recognizing the hard work the team members have put forth through oral communication and civic engagement."
W. Clark Santini Award
Named after W. Clark Santini, a former speech and debate student at the University, the W. Clark Santini Cup is granted each year to a person who, through oral communication, has brought significant benefits to the community as a whole. Santini was a visible community activist involved in the creation of Rancho San Rafael Park and protection of the Truckee River.
Jim Santini, Clark's brother, will be presenting the Santini Cup at the ceremony. A former U.S. Representative of Nevada, Santini has been named a Distinguished Nevadan, which is the most prestigious award conferred by the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
This year's recipient for outstanding oral advocacy on behalf of the community is Tim Jones, a man devoted to the empowerment of creativity within his extensive involvement with the Reno and University community.
"Tim Jones has, for 30 years, been a dedicated advocate for the creative process and the role of arts in education and economic development," Susan Boskoff, executive director Nevada arts council, said. "The success of his advocacy is based in persuasive communication, and a commitment to continuity and follow-through."
Jones is credited with leading the growth of public radio in the early 1980s at the University. He was the Director of University Arts from 1994-2004, and helped build the current foundation for the University's School of the Arts. Jones was even a co-founder of Reno's nationally recognized Artown Festival, to which he remains actively involved in its 20th year.
"Whether speaking to the merits of a program or a policy to a decision-making body of elected officials, discussing a vision for the future with a group of high school students or on a national platform, or acting as a master of ceremonies for a local event, Tim is articulate, engaging and truthful," Boskoff said.
Robert S. Griffin Medal
The Robert S. Griffin Medal is awarded to the top member of the Nevada Debate Team each year. The award memorializes the first Director of Forensics at the University. The award winner exemplifies the commitment, charity and professionalism that Griffin taught to generations of students and members of the debate team at the University.
This year's Robert S. Griffin Medal winner is Cory Nims, a senior studying political science. A graduate of Reno High School, Nims has been a debate competitor for the four years he has attended the University. Recently, he was recognized as the 13th speaker in a field of more than 300 at the national debate championships in Kansas City, Miss.
"Cory's upstanding character and contributions to the team both in and out of competitions have earned him this honor," Sharp, director of forensics in the College of Liberal Arts, said.
In addition to these awards, the Griffin-Santini Endowment was established to provide funding and support to the Nevada Debate Team. As part of that support, the fund annually provides one student the Robert S. Griffin Scholarship. The recipient of the 2015-16 scholarship is Evelyn Valencia-Rodriguez.
Valencia-Rodriquez is junior studying international relations and political science. She graduated from Arbor View High School in Las Vegas and attended St. John's University in New York for one year before transferring to the University of Nevada, Reno. She is currently pursuing a two-year position with Teach for America that will begin after she graduates next spring. At nationals this year, Valencia-Rodriquez advanced to elimination rounds and finished tied for 33rd.
William J. Cashill Scholarship
Also recognized at the event will be the recipients of the William J. Cashill Scholarship. Cashill was a member of the debate team from 1934-1937, winning the Griffin Medal in 1937. He used his oral communication skills in his law practice and as a distinguished member of the community.
This year, Jillian Ebrahimi, Grace Miller, and Michael Duane Ausbun II will receive this scholarship.
"These students have worked hard and deserve this recognition," Sharp said. "We are honored by the enthusiasm and talent they have regularly demonstrated."
ASUN Outstanding Advisor of the Year Award
In addition to the traditional annual awards and recognition, Phil Sharp, University debate coach and director of forensics, has been recognized by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada with their Outstanding Advisor of the Year Award. The recipient is awarded based on their demonstrated commitment to the student club or organization they advise. This commitment can come through the form of meaningful contributions of time, energy, service and resources as well as the promotion of academic and extracurricular excellence in the students they work alongside.
Sharp has been working with the debate team for seven years. He is dedicated to honing the oratory skills of students through training and practice.
"I am fortunate to work with some of the best and brightest this University has to offer," Sharp said. "I point them in the right direction, challenge them to make an impact and guide them through the experience."
The Nevada Debate Union is a club which seeks to bring oral communication and debate to the campus and community through civic engagement and outreach. The club currently hosts an annual public debate, an intercollegiate intervarsity debate competition and supports members of the University's debate team in their competitive endeavors. The club is always looking for new members and seeks to expand debate opportunities to more students in future years.