View From the Hill: New Role for Award-Winning Forensics Director

By: Amy Bingham
By: Amy Bingham

Judy Woodring's history with WKU forensics dates back to the 1960's, when she was a student who competed on the team. Now, more than forty years later, she is handing over the reigns of a program that has achieved both national and international success.

Judy Woodring is doing what she does best. "We teach the one skill that everybody needs," she says, "and that skill is the ability to speak clearly and think clearly, spontaneously."

Just two weeks after stepping down as Director of Forensics, Woodring and her colleagues are molding young students attending forensics camp at WKU. "It started out just being kids from Kentucky, but now it's kids from all over the U.S."

She's also strategizing with her newly appointed successor, Jace Lux, who was a member of the award winning forensics team in the late 90's. "They are very big shoes to fill obviously," says Lux. "Judy has taken this team from an organization that had very little to no budget and a small handful of students, to a top program in the nation."

Woodring remembers the rebuilding years well. One of her former high school students, Kassie dePaiva, who was already a soap star, helped make it possible for WKU to compete. "She's the reason we got to go to our first national tournament," says Woodring. "She wrote me a check for $1800 and said take your twelve students to the national tournament, they deserve it."

DePaiva recently presented Woodring with a Lifetime Service Award from the National Forensics League. Woodring says it was a humbling honor, but it's not the awards she'll remember most about her forensics career. "The most wonderful thing to me," she says, "is to see how they've grown as individuals and see what this has done for them as individuals."

Woodring served as a volunteer for the first twelve years she was director. She credits former provost Dr. Barbara Burch with making sure forensics was funded properly.

Woodring will now focus on fund-raising and outreach for the forensics department.


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