Peter Pober is the head of the University Forensics team. Photo Courtesy of Facebook.

Peter Pober is the head of the University Forensics team. Photo Courtesy of Facebook.

Meet Peter Pober. If you think you are busy, stop dead in your tracks and consider this – he is the head of the George Mason University forensics team. He is the chair of the Faculty Senate. He is a professor of communication. And what is he reading for fun? Oh, just Plato’s Phaedrus.

This is Pober’s eighth year at Mason following a 15-year stint with the University of Texas at Austin, one of his alma maters. He was working as a communication professor and the head of UT’s forensics team when a national search went out for a new director for Mason’s forensics team.

“Though I wasn’t looking for a change, I put a file together,” Pober said. He quickly found himself on the short list of candidates for the job.

“I felt a genuine draw here,” Pober said. “I felt wanted. I’ve continued to feel that way every day. I think the energy here is invigorating and I think there’s a genuine concern for the educational process.”

Pober had no ties to Northern Virginia other than brief visits to the District of Columbia when he was younger.

“I love being in the D.C. area,” Pober said. “The opportunity to wake up and say ‘I want to see any artist at the Smithsonian’ is mind-blowing.”

Pober did his undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. While there, he picked up three bachelor degrees in cultural anthropology, psychobiology and pragmatic linguistics before applying to graduate schools and focusing on communication.

UT was interested in starting a forensics team during Pober’s search for a graduate school. When he was accepted to the university, he started their team as his assistantship for his masters in communication with an emphasis on performance studies.

In addition to the forensics team, his responsibilities as a professor and his interest in the arts, Pober chairs Mason’s Faculty Senate.

“The senate has just now seated its new standing committees,” Pober said. The university has also established its committees for the upcoming school year to work through numerous issues in conjunction with the Faculty Senate.

One issue facing Mason is the March of 2011 visit by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditation agency which operates from Texas to Virginia and every state in between.

Pober said each university that is up for reaccreditation must draft a plan it will enact as part of the process. Mason must be reaccredited every 10 years.

“After a lengthy process and many proposals, it was decided to focus on undergraduate scholarship,” Pober said. “This is the notion of scholarly endeavors, or creating the scholarly undergraduate.”

The Faculty Senate is also looking at a proposition from the Office of Equity and Diversity Services which will deal with consensual relations between faculty and students.

“There had been some question as to whether or not there was a codified response to such relationships,” Pober said. “A document was drafted to clarify how to deal with such relationships.”

Other issues the Faculty Senate is considering include an upcoming, one-time three percent bonus for Mason faculty, dual enrollment credits, online evaluations for courses and changing the length of the exam schedule to avoid a repeat of last year’s fiasco.

“The snow disrupted exam week, which lead to students having more than two exams in one day,” Pober said.

Pober’s interest in forensics can be traced back to the seventh grade, when an English teacher took him aside and recommended he speak to the high school forensics coach when he entered the ninth grade. After 34 years, Pober’s involvement in forensics is as strong as ever.

“Most people think forensics relates to CSI and that’s true in the sense that they’re both the search for truth through argumentation and evidence,” Pober said. His forensics background deals with public speaking and literary performance instead of fingerprints and DNA.

The Mason forensics team, founded in 1971 when Mason was an extension of the University of Virginia, focuses on public speaking on familiar news stories to more unusual issues. Another component is literary analysis, which deals with approaching literature that promotes an argument or shows a piece of literature to the audience in a new light, Pober said.

“I really see the forensics team as a family,” Pober said. “I’ve been blessed to be the best man in 10 weddings of former students. Most of my dearest friends are former students.”

Pober is also interested in the culinary arts, and each Thanksgiving he prepares an elaborate dinner for family, friends and former students.

“Working with the forensics team keeps me young and motivated to know as much as I can about what’s going on in the world and to support students in their endeavors to learn about the world,” Pober said.

Pober said the skills one acquires on the forensics team can be applied to numerous mediums.

“The skills learned in forensics team make better researchers, writers, speakers, performers and, in general, a more knowledgeable person due to the need to keep up with present knowledge,” he said. “Forensics team hopefully makes better citizens because of that knowledge.”