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Alumna Nancy Cartwright inducted into Ohio Communication Hall of Fame

Lindsay Ferguson, Erin Roberts | Apr 19, 2010

Alumna Nancy Cartwright inducted into Ohio Communication Hall of Fame

Acclaimed voice actress also NFA tournament judge, speaker

Nancy Cartwright speaks at Ohio University, 4/18/10Ohio University alumna Nancy Cartwright speaks after receiving the 2010 Ohio Communication Hall of Fame Award from the Scripps College of Communication on April 18, 2010. / Photo by Brad Vest

By Lindsay Ferguson,
and Erin Roberts,

ATHENS, Ohio (April 19, 2010)—Ohio University students, faculty, staff and alumni crowded into Baker Center Ballroom Sunday evening to celebrate excellence in the Scripps College of Communication and to induct celebrated alumna Nancy Cartwright into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame.

Cartwright is well-known for her work as a voice artist, most notably for voicing Bart Simpson and other characters on the hit animated sitcom, “The Simpsons,” since 1989. She has also done voice work on the animated shows “Rugrats” and “Kim Possible,” in addition to other acting roles.

“Our Hall of Fame award is meant to honor achievement, and, in Nancy, it certainly does,” Dean Gregory Shepherd said in his welcoming address. “Nancy is more than a talent; she is an exceptional human being.”

Cartwright—whose philanthropic efforts include working with nonprofit children’s organizations, such as Famous Fone Friends and Make-a-Wish Foundation, and even founding one of her own, Happy House—took the stage and briefly reminisced about her days on Ohio University’s campus.

Cartwright attended Ohio University from 1976 to 1978 to study interpersonal communication after receiving a scholarship by participating in her high school speech and debate team. Though she later completed her degree at UCLA, Cartwright credited her time on the university’s forensics team as laying the foundation for her future success as a voice actress.

“It was only in retrospect that I realized by being on the speech team...I not only learned how to write and deliver a speech, but it became a playground for me,” she said.

Cartwright added that debate judges often noted her unusual voice and encouraged her to go into voice acting and cartoons. “It planted a seed for me,” Cartwright said. “It provided my training and was a classroom to learn and grow.”

She also added that one particular course she took while at OHIO—phonetics—came in handy while mastering a French accent in a “Simpsons” episode where her character, Bart, is lost in France.

“I am Bart Simpson, and I’m very proud of it, thank you very much,” Cartwright said to laughter from the audience.

Other individuals recognized at the celebration included L.J. Hortin Faculty Award winner Dr. Anne Cooper-Chen of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism; Scripps College Employee of the Year Paula Carpenter, of the School of Media Arts and Studies; Scripps College Student Employee of the Year Sarah Arbogast, of the School of Communication Studies; and Farfel Prize for Excellence in Investigative Journalism winners Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman, of the Philadelphia Daily News.

While visiting campus, Cartwright also served as a guest judge during the Dramatic Duo Elimination Round for the National Forensics Association National Championship Tournament in Baker Center and will deliver a keynote address tonight, Monday, April 19, at the awards ceremony. The event, being conducted at Ohio University since Thursday, brought nearly 1000 students from 84 universities and colleges throughout the nation. Several Ohio University forensics team alumni returned to judge, and many were in attendance at the Scripps Celebration Sunday evening to honor Cartwright.

“It’s such a thrill to come back to Ohio University to see how much it’s grown,” Cartwright said.

Cartwright and her business partner Peter Kjenaas also met with students in a producing class. Cartwright advised students to let their enthusiasm and attention to detail show when pitching ideas in the television industry. She said her years in the industry and her identity as the voice of Bart Simpson have put her in the driver’s seat of her career.

“At this stage of the game, I feel like I can do anything,” she said. “But I want to do what I love and work with people who I respect and people who have the same work ethic as I have.”

Junior and Columbus-native Emily Weithman was thrilled to have a T-shirt depicting the various moods of Ralph, one of the characters Cartwright voices on “The Simpsons,” signed by Cartwright.

“Aside from the wonderful advice Nancy gave me today, she’s been a personal hero of mine forever,” Weithman said. “It’s a very inspiring experience for me to meet someone I respect and someone who has forged a path as a woman, as an artist and as a business person.”

While on campus, Cartwright also met Tyler Rife, the incoming 2010-2011 Cartwright Scholar, from Oakwood High School in Dayton. Her scholarship, established at Ohio University in 2006, is intended for students from Montgomery County seeking a degree at Ohio University in the Scripps College of Communication or the College of Fine Arts with a minimum grade point average of 3.4. Preference is given to students from Kettering High School, Cartwright’s alma mater, and those that wish to participate on the Ohio University Forensics team.