TAHLEQUAH — In recognition of her dedication to the discipline of communication studies, Amy Aldridge Sanford, associate professor of communication studies at Northeastern State University, recently was awarded the Josh Lee Service Award.
Aldridge Sanford received the award at the 85th annual Oklahoma Speech Theater Communication Association (OSTCA) convention in Oklahoma City on Sept. 8.
The Lee recipient is decided by a committee of peers within Oklahoma.
“Receiving the award is quite humbling,” Aldridge Sanford said. “I was surprised to get it because it is similar to a lifetime achievement award, and I hope I have a lot of life left in me.”
Created in 1965, the Lee award is given for career contributions to speech, theater and communication in Oklahoma. It is named for the Oklahoma teacher, statesman, college debate champion, professor of speech at the University of Oklahoma, U. S. Representative and U. S. Senator.
Lee was head of the speech department at OU for several years. His book, “Public Speaking Manual,” served as a text for many Oklahoma teachers.
“I am grateful to the people who nominated me and wrote letters,” Aldridge Sanford said. “I think a lot of those came from NSU. It means a lot when colleagues who see all your highs and lows think enough of you to nominate you for such a prestigious honor.”
Aldridge Sanford said her fascination with communication began when she attended a speech contest at NSU in 1989 as an eighth grader.
“That was when I knew I wanted to be a communicator the rest of my life,” she said. “If people believe I am a good communicator who can give speeches and run meetings effectively, it is not because it comes easily. It is because of all my formal training.”
While Aldridge Sanford said she hopes winning the Lee award brings some attention to NSU, she also wants to bring it to her college and department.
“For me, winning an award is about bringing a positive focus on communication studies and enhancing respect for what the College of Liberal Arts does,” she said. “There may be some people who aren't sure what happens in liberal arts, and I try to always be clear about which discipline I am from and what it is we do. ”
Aldridge Sanford has served as an assistant to the interim vice president for Academic Affairs and as the interim assistant dean for the College of Liberal Arts. She chaired the General Education Task Force and the Centennial Lectureship Committee.
“Dr. Aldridge Sanford has made a tremendous impact in the disciplines of speech, theater and communication across the state and I am certain she will continue to be a tireless champion for them,” said Mike Chanslor, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
She serves on the executive board for the Central States Communication Association and Oklahoma Women in Higher Education. She is a past state president for the OSTCA and is state vice president of membership for the American Association of University Women.
Aldridge Sanford was named an Achiever Under 40 by The Journal Record, a DaVinci Fellow by The DaVinci Institute and the Outstanding College Communication Educator by the OSTCA. During NSU’s Centennial, Sanford was named an inaugural Centurion.
She received a bachelor of arts and a master's of education in school administration from NSU and a second master's and Ph.D in communication studies from the University of Iowa.