As a longtime University of Central Missouri professor of communication, Jack Rogers, Ph.D., has developed a reputation for being an outstanding teacher and mentor, while also having a passion for speech and debate that is internationally known.

These are just a few of many qualities that contribute to his nomination and selection as the 2022 recipient of the Byler Distinguished Faculty Award, the highest honor given to a UCM faculty member.

Rogers will officially be recognized for his achievement when the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs hosts a ceremony recognizing this year’s award recipient and other nominees at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, in Elliott Student Union 240. In addition to this event, Rogers will be publicly recognized during the Board of Governors’ plenary session April 21 and during Spring 2022 Commencement exercises Friday and Saturday, May 6-7 in the Multipurpose Building.

The Byler Distinguished Faculty Award is presented each spring in honor of its namesake, William H. Byler, an inventor, author and teacher who graduated from UCM in 1927 with a major in chemistry and physics. He established an endowment fund to provide annual recognition for distinguished faculty performance, evidenced by teaching, scholarly or creative activity and professional-related service.

Colleagues describe Rogers as someone who has demonstrated mastery at both the undergraduate and graduate teaching levels, having taught courses in general education and in a variety of human communication sub-disciplines. He joined UCM in September 2000, and during the first decade of his service to the university he was the Director of Forensics, coaching and advising the Talking Mules speech and debate team until 2010. He resumed his work with the Talking Mules after chairing the former Department of Communication from 2010-2014, and has continued to work with the team since then.

In her nomination letter, Wendy Gieger, Ph.D., chair of the School of Communication, History and Interdisciplinary Studies, commended Rogers for his dedication to the field of speech and debate, noting that he has shaped the lives of students thorough his work. Some students who may have floundered in their college education succeeded thanks to the family-like environment that Rogers created and they discovered when they got involved with the Talking Mules.

“I have seen how students who were likely not going to graduate, remain at UCM and complete their degree. Jack makes them feel cared about; he is an extraordinary mentor,” Geiger said.

The teams he coaches regularly win state and regional awards, and they often place at the national level against students representing teams from large institutions that have more funding and coaching support, according to Geiger. She said she has witnessed how these students go on to be professionals at the highest level in their given careers, while his passion for his work has greatly extended his classroom walls.

“Jack has single-handedly created the Montgomery Cup competition that provides both undergraduate and graduate students a chance to learn about British debate and history. He takes students to the UK and Ireland which is often a life-changing experience."

In support of students, Rogers has worked to build scholarships to assist them, regardless of their financial situation. This has made it possible for many of them to participate in competitive speech and debate opportunities overseas.

For more than two decades, Rogers’ students who have participated in the Montgomery Cup have competed on a world stage against the best teams from institutions such as the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, and Trinity College-Dublin, and have won the Montgomery Cup 17 out of 22 times. Along with these tours, Rogers has had opportunities to serve as a lecturer discussing the educational value of debate before students and faculty in places such as the United Kingdom.

In addition to his successes abroad, Rogers’ strong record of forensics coaching at UCM has included 11 Missouri Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Champions in Overall Sweepstakes, 13 State Debate Champions, and 10 Individual Events State Champions.

Rogers has a strong record of service to his profession, university, college and department/school. This includes serving on numerous standing and ad hoc departmental committees, in addition to volunteering with recruitment efforts.

Additionally, during his tenure, he has participated in campus leadership activities outside the classroom, including past service on the Faculty Senate, two years of which were spent as president, and most recently as an interim chair of the Senate’s Grievance and Dispute Resolution Committee. These are just a few of many examples of his contributions to UCM.