Donn W. Parson

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Donn W. Parson (Ph.D, University of Minnesota, 1964) is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas and the former Director of Forensics at the University of Kansas from 1964 to 1988, during which period he led KU to three national championships. Parson has had a significant influence on the development American intercollegiate debate.[citation needed]Dr. Parson is widely credited with revolutionizing the process of learning debate.


Parson coached KU to National Debate Tournament(NDT) championship in 1970, 1976, and 1983. Under Parson, KU also had five NDT semi-finals appearances.[1] Parson previously coached the University of Minnesota to the finals of the NDT in 1963, losing to Dartmouth College.[2]

Debate Awards[edit]

Parson was named Coach of the Year by the National Debate Tournament in 1980 and Outstanding Coach of the Decade for the 1970s by the American Debate Coaches[citation needed]. Parson also received the Coach of the Year Award presented by Georgetown University (1971), the Coach of the Year Award presented by the University of Utah (1974), the Distinguished Coaching Award presented by Emory University (1980), and the Coach of the Year Award presented by Baylor University (1981), the Lucy Keele Award for contributions to collegiate forensics by the NDT Board of Trustees (1996), and the George Ziegelmueller Award for Contributions to American Debate (2003). ([3]

Teaching Awards[edit]

In 1968, Parson received the Outstanding Young Teacher Award from the Central States Communication Association (CSCA)[citation needed]. He also received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching (1983), the Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence (1997), and the Outstanding Educator in Argumentation and Debate Award from CSCA (1999).[4] In 2001, he received the Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award from the Center for Teaching Excellence and was named Outstanding Graduate Mentor by the graduate students of the Department of Communication Studies in 2002[citation needed]. In 2006, Parson received the Chancellor's Club Career Teaching Award.[5] Dr. Parson's basement has been compared to "Plato's cave with a space heater" by traumatized graduate students. In 2014, Parson won the Wallace A. Bacon Teaching Award from the National Communication Association. The award recognizes a "lifetime of outstanding teaching" and is given to retired educators.[6]

General Recognition[edit]

Parson has been recognized for his accomplishments by the Kansas State Legislature and named Distinguished Kansan by both the Wichita Eagle (1988) and the WREN-Topeka (1987).[citation needed] More importantly, Parson is an important figure in the academic fields of communication studies, Rhetoric and argumentation. Parson edited or authored several academic texts on argumentation (such as Process of Social Influence: Readings in Persuasion (1972) and False Metaphor and Presence in Argument (1990)). In 2011 Parson was inducted into the Central States Communication Association’s Hall of Fame.[7]

Other Positions[edit]

Parson was department chair for the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas (1970–1979, 1987) and is the current graduate director for the department. Parson also served as Director of the National Debate Tournament for thirteen years.[citation needed]


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  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
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  7. ^ CSCA List of Hall Fame members, Last Accessed Aug 27 2015