Dr. Jay Allison, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Texas, recently received the 2019 Leslie Irene Coger Award for Distinguished Performance from the National Communication Association (NCA).
"NCA's annual awards honor communication scholars' teaching, scholarship, and service," NCA Executive Director Trevor Parry-Giles said. "Dr. Allison's contributions to the communication discipline are noteworthy, and NCA is proud to recognize them with this award."
Given annually, the award honors individuals who have contributed an outstanding body of live performances. Over the course of a long career, Dr. Allison has made a significant contribution to the field of Performance Studies through both teaching and research. Dr. Allison has written, directed, and performed in over 28 performances, authored over a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and advanced performance studies at the national, regional and local level through a variety of roles.
"Receiving the award was an unexpected honor," Dr. Allison said. "I am thrilled to find myself in the company of the previous winners for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. The Coger Award is a crowning achievement of my career and I am both humbled by and grateful for the recognition."
In 2018, Dr. Allison collaboratively wrote, directed and staged the show "What We Talk About When We Talk About Race." The performance included seven distinct, but intertwined, scenes, each of which depicted the problematic nature of our discussions of race in America.
"The production was incredibly personal," Dr. Allison said. "I grew up in the Deep South where I witnessed both overt racism and benefited -- at the time unknowingly -- from systemic racism. Going through this production process with this particular group of African-American and white faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students made me own that history in ways that I could not have anticipated at the beginning of the process."
Part of Dr. Allison's process for the production was researching his own family history. By chance he learned that his great-uncle was a Ku Klux Klan member who was involved in having an African-American woman unjustly convicted for murdering a white doctor who drugged, repeatedly sexually assaulted and impregnated her.
"It was a life changing experience," Dr. Allison said. "I learned more than I thought possible about myself and my fellow cast members and because of the intensity of the process, I will always feel a special bond with the other folks who worked collaboratively to create this production. What I learned from the process will definitely inflect all future work that I do."
Last year in November of 2018 at the National Communication Convention in Salt Lake City, UT, Dr. Allison was also the recipient of the Performance Studies Division's Distinguished Service Award - the division's most prestigious award. The award recognized a career-long record of service to the discipline of Performance Studies. Dr. Allison was awarded for his service in three areas: his dedication to the perpetuation of performance festivals, the editorial services he has provided to the discipline, and to his extraordinary efforts in his recent five-year term of leadership of the division.
"We are honored to have Dr. Allison in this department and his recent awards are well-deserved," said Dr. Brian Richardson, Department Chair of Communication Studies. "The quality that comes to mind when I think of Jay is that he is so passionate about his teaching and performance, and this passion shines through in his creativity, commitment, and dedication, to his craft."
Dr. Allison's award will be presented on Nov. 16 at the NCA 105th Annual Convention in Baltimore.
About the National Communication Association
The National Communication Association (NCA) advances Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry. NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. NCA supports inclusiveness and diversity among our faculties, within our membership, in the workplace, and in the classroom; NCA supports and promotes policies that fairly encourage this diversity and inclusion.