Winners of M.M. Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest Announced

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Fairmont State University School of Fine Arts has announced the winners of the 76th annual M.M. Neely Persuasive Speaking Contest.

The first place winner was Ann Marie Witkowski of Grafton with the topic “The Culture of Concussions.” There was a tie for second place, which went to Sara Anderson of Bridgeport with the topic “Advocacy for the Susan G. Komen Foundation” and Jordan Armstrong of Miami with the topic “Athletes and Academics: Our Universities Are Failing.” The prizes were $500 for first place and $300 for second place.

The contest began in the 1930s at Fairmont State and Salem College by the former U.S. senator and governor of West Virginia, Mathew Mansfield Neely. As a politician, he fought for cancer research, child labor regulation and other similar reforms. A most celebrated and controversial politician, Neely, who was also quite adept at public speaking, saw the contest as a way to encourage students to speak up for their beliefs as he had in support of his deeply-held convictions.

Now, 71 years later, Neely’s heirs, specifically his daughter, Corrine Neely Pettit, have endowed the contest in perpetuity. In addition to this contest, the Neely family has shown its commitment to speech education at Fairmont State by providing monies for numerous scholarships to students who major or minor in Speech Communication.

The contest was open to all full-time Fairmont State students who meet the contest’s requirements. Participants presented an 8-10 minute persuasive problem analysis based upon extensive research. The students were judged on composition (quality of script) and the delivery or effectiveness of the presentation.


About the photo:

Pictured from left to right are Dr. Bob Mild, Senior Level Professor of Communication; first place winner Ann Marie Witkowski; second place winner Sara Anderson; and second place winner Jordan Armstrong.