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Clark College News and Events

June 2, 2009

For Immediate Release

For additional information: 

Ara Serjoie, Clark College Foundation

Telephone:  360-992-2428
E-mail:  aserjoie@clark.edu


Orv Iverson was honored at the college’s annual
Alumni-Student Dinner on June 2

2009 Outstanding Alumni Award honoree Orv IversonVANCOUVER, Wash. – Orv Iverson created a legend for himself, his students, and his successors during his 32-year career as a debate coach and communications instructor at Clark College. He built a reputation for Clark College as a dominant community college in the Northwest for forensics.

Clark College and the Alumni Association honored Iverson on June 2 as the recipient of the 2009 Clark College Outstanding Alumni Award.  The award was presented during the annual Alumni-Student dinner.

Iverson joins a select number of Clark alumni to be recognized.  They include former Sen. Al Bauer, environmentalist Denis Hayes, former Congressman Don Bonker, and retired Colonel Nancy Wessels Henderson, Ph.D.  A complete listing of past recipients may be found at http://www.clarkcollegefoundation.org.


Serving Students for Three Decades

Iverson estimates that, in the course of his 32 years of teaching, he contributed to the education of more than 10,000 students. Of those, an estimated 500 were students who went through the Clark College Forensics program. Many of these students progressed to earn higher degrees and employment in illustrious careers. “People who participate on debate teams are smart,” said Iverson. “They are very well read, retain information and facts, and can speak convincingly on a variety of topics.”

Several of Iverson’s students have earned their doctorate degrees and teach debate and communications at universities around the nation. One is a lead television anchor in Spokane, Wash. Many others have stayed at Clark College. One former student, Roxane Sutherland, is now the division chair of the college’s communications department. Another, Phil Sheehan, is the director of IT services.  A third, Sue Williams, is the associate director of human resources.

“I’ve always heard nothing but praise for what Orv Iverson has done at Clark,” said George Welsh, president of the Clark College Alumni Association Board. “That’s the wonderful thing about the college. It is our people—students, staff, and faculty—who make Clark College so great.”

From 1970 to 1998, Iverson’s debate teams racked up 22 championships in the Washington State community college speech/debate competitions and 15 championships in the Northwest community college regional contests. Iverson credits the college administration, student government, and donor support for these triumphs. “Through scholarships, stipends, and travel awards, our teams were able to participate in such competitions,” said Iverson. “Our most memorable trip was to Odessa, Texas, because that’s where we won our first national gold sweepstakes.”

In the Beginning

1963 photo of Orv IversonA graduate of Vancouver High School, Iverson first came to Clark in the early ‘50s on a football scholarship. But he didn’t stay long. He married his high school sweetheart, Gail, and will celebrate 53 years of marriage June 30. They started a family and raised two sons, Chuck and Lance. After 10 years working in a variety of jobs, Iverson knew he needed to go back to school. Like so many at Clark College, he was an older, returning student with a family.

He started out as a business major and his advisor told him to take a speech class. “I was scared to death,” says Iverson. Dr. Bruce Haston, who was the lead advisor for the debate team, taught the class. He convinced Iverson to join the debate team and change his major from business to communications. After earning his associate degree at Clark, Iverson went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in speech communications at Portland State College (now University).

A Long List of Accomplishments

For more than 20 years, Iverson was chair of the Clark College speech and theater department and a member of the faculty senate. He served on various Clark College committees throughout the years and belonged to many professional associations. Iverson was the only community college faculty member to serve as president of the Northwest Forensic Conference.

He received numerous awards and commendations.   Several awards and tournaments were named in his honor including the “Orv Iverson Outstanding Pentathlon Speaker Award” which is presented annually at Clackamas Community College, the annual “Orv Iverson Outstanding Novice Speaker Award” for the Northwest Forensic Conference, and the “Dugaw/Iverson University of Portland Speech/Debate Tournament.” Iverson continues to coach students in debate and makes guest lecturer appearances.

“I got an outstanding education at Clark,” says Iverson. “My sons came here because I was sold on it.” He notes that he has had students transfer to a four-year institution and tell him that the material presented in their junior level classes was already covered at Clark. “I’ve always been proud of being part of the Penguin Nation.”

“Orv Iverson made a difference in the lives of so many of our students – encouraging them to reach for their dreams,” said Clark College President Robert K. Knight.  “We are proud to honor him – both as a person and a professional – for what he has meant to our college and our community.” 

“Clark has always been home to me,” said Iverson. “Where you start on your educational path has a special place in your heart. To finish where I started was the best journey I could make.”


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