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New CCPA Chair Ben Voth Wins Community Hero Award

Newly Appointed Chair Wins Award from from Dallas Urban Debate Alliance

by Jordan Lee (B.A. CCPA - '11)

Dr. Ben Voth, the newly appointed chair of SMU's Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Division, earned another honor on April 10.

At an awards ceremony in the Meadows Museum, the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance recognized Voth with its Community Hero Award. Voth received the honor for his efforts to foster collaboration between SMU's debate program and DUDA's.

“I am grateful and honored by this award,” Voth said.

As head of SMU's Forensics and Debate Program, Voth began working with DUDA in 2008 to create the SMU Speech and Debate Center. The Center, which was established in 2009, encourages high school students in the Dallas ISD to compete in debate by offering them the resources for success. High school students can come to the SMU campus and receive advice from debate mentors and coaches.

Since SMU's involvement began, participation in DUDA's debate program has increased by 61 percent. SMU's Forensics and Debate Program works with DUDA to improve students' education and to further its mission of enabling students to use their voices. Voth was honored for his crucial role in this collaboration and now runs the SMU Speech and Debate Center with the assistance of Dr. Chris Salinas.

The SMU Forensics Program was created by the Meadows School of the Arts and the Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Division. It was reactivated by Voth, as director, and Salinas, as assistant director, after several years of inactivity. This program is dedicated to developing students' voices, characters and, ultimately, civic leadership through the competitive field of speech and debate. Development of the human voice is considered vital for its use in the resolution of conflicts, establishment of personal identities and support of others. It is the belief of the SMU Forensics Program that students' human voices can be strengthened through the rigors of research, organization, presentation and judgment that competition offers.

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