J. Chester Gibson headshot
The Gibson Public Speaking Contest is held annually in honor of Dr. Chester Gibson, who served in the Department of Mass Communications for about three decades, first as professor and then as chair of the department. Before arriving at the University of West Georgia, he coached debate at the University of Georgia, where former Georgia governor Roy Barnes was one of his top debaters. Under Dr. Gibson’s leadership, the UWG debate team qualified for the National Debate Tournament for 27 consecutive years and consistently ranked among the top teams in the nation. In 1995, Dr. Gibson was inducted into the Georgia Debate Coaches Hall of Fame.

Of the hundreds of students enrolled in Public Speaking, only five students are chosen to compete. Speakers are evaluated on overall content and quality of persuasiveness, use of sources, development of a well-reasoned argument, and general delivery.

The 18th Annual Gibson Public Speaking Contest
Coming November 2021

The Gibson Public Speaking Contest celebrates our outstanding student speakers. Out of the hundreds of students enrolled in Public Speaking at West Georgia each fall, the very best speakers, representing various instructors, are chosen to compete in this contest. We thank these speakers for their efforts.

Official Judging. The students' speeches are ranked by distinguished judges based on the quality of their speech, including structure, use of evidence, delivery, and overall persuasiveness. It should be acknowledged that all speeches chosen for the contest have been determined to be among the very best. We are proud of the contestants’ hard work!

People’s Choice Award. In addition to the official judges’ winners, we also have a People’s Choice winner selected by other students enrolled in Public Speaking.

Communication Studies Advisory Committee

Dr. Melanie Conrad                          Dr. Tonia Phanor
Dr. Michael Hester                            Dr. Misty Wilson

Previous Gibson Public Speaking Contest winners:

  • Jim Martz, 2004 (Peggy Gauthier, Advisor)
  • Artisia Tinny, 2005 
  • Katherine England, 2006 
  • Cheryl Ann Frazier, 2007 
  • Jennifer Joiner, 2008 
  • Chelsie Wilson, 2009 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Anthony Duffey 2010 (Gail Reid, Advisor)
  • Mandy Morris, 2011 (Gail Reid, Advisor)
  • Christina DeMartina, 2012 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Daniel Garner, 2013 (Melanie Conrad, Advisor)
  • Sydney Rae West, 2014 (Gail Reid, Advisor)
  • Tim Bergquist, 2015 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Bode Brooks, Lucas Brock and Andrea Daniel, 2016
  • Gershom Chan, 2017 (Michael Hester, Advisor)
  • Esteban Vallejo, 2018 (Misty Wilson, Advisor)
  • Jessica Friedl, 2019 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Zoe Giese, 2020 (Misty Wilson, Advisor)