The Mason Spirit: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of George Mason University

Forensics Team Hires Top Director

By Tara Laskowski

There are a few brave souls in this world who don't mind speaking in front of a crowd, and members of George Mason University's forensics team are among these talented, courageous folks. They not only enjoy public speaking, they also learn immensely from it. Now, with the hiring of the number one forensics coach in the country as its full-time director, this talented team has a chance to continue its success and maintain its national reputation.

Peter Pober, who formerly taught at the University of Texas at Austin, joined the Communication Department this fall as the director of forensics. His hiring ended a nationwide search for a new director that started last fall after Dean Daniele Struppa, College of Arts and Sciences, expressed his continued support to improve the forensics team and foster its growth.

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

The George Mason forensics team has been a leader in national competitions for more than 25 years. For the past two years, former forensics team member Holly Sisk, B.A. Communication '98, had been the team's part-time director, keeping the team working during a transitional stage. Even with a part-time director, the team finished 12th in a national competition this year and was the highest ranking nonscholarship team at the tournament.

Pober was the forensics coach at the University of Texas at Austin for the past 13 years, leading his team to first or second place wins in 11 of those 13 years. A forensics team member himself when he was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1980s, Pober was in many forensics competitions involving George Mason students and coaches. He interacted with many of them then, including Communication Professor Bruce Manchester.

"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 the University of Texas at Austin, Pober brings his experience with forensics and a fresh, dedicated attitude. "Not only is he a first-rate forensics educator, but he is an incredible classroom teacher," says Manchester. "He brings out the best in students 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 also chairs 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."