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UW-RF's Pratt To Head National Association

March 26, 1999

UW-River Falls speech Professor James Pratt is the new executive director of the American Listening Association after three years of service to the international organization.

He will coordinate activites for the association from his office at UW-RF.

Pratt applied for the position when he saw an advertisement in the directory for the ALA announcing the current director had retired and inviting members to apply. He was interviewed at the ALA's national convention in Albuquerque and was announced as the new director at a banquet there.

Gorden Hedahl, dean of the UW-RF College of Arts & Sciences, says, "Clearly Jim has been very active... it's an indication of the service he's provided to his profession and the university."

Pratt describes the ALA as an international organization with a strong presence in Europe and Japan that recognizes the importance of listening. "Listening is often seen as the forgotten communication skill," says Pratt. People spend more time listening and have very little training in it, compared to their training from an early age to read and write.

The ALA, formed 20 years ago, strives to build awareness for listening as a communications skill. Some of its members are trainers or consultants at listening improvement programs offered by businesses and organizations to their members.

Pratt feels he was selected in part because of his participation and accomplishments in the American Forensics Association. That organization, which Pratt also serves as director, has a 95 percent membership renewal rate. Pratt insists the if someone doesn't renew he is "very tenacious" about it. "I am not going to let people not renew without a fight," he remarked.

In addition to membership, Pratt's duties also include planning the yearly international convention and answering the ALA's phone, which rings in his office at UWRF.

Pratt's service as the executive director expands UW-RF's reach globally. Every time someone reads an ALA directory, they will see Pratt's name and phone number listed at the University.

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