University Partnerships

The WDI has a proud history of collaborating with the finest college and university debate teams in the nation.  Help us develop gender diversity in debate by becoming a WDI University sponsor.  Your sponsorship will go directly for the participation costs of your sponsored student – not to overhead, not to staff, not to fundraising.  The WDI is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and we are proud that 70% of our annual revenue comes from donations by individuals, universities, and foundations.

If your school would like to become a WDI University Sponsor, consider these options:

  • Sponsor the attendance of a talented debater at the WDI for $350.00. We will match your team with a student who lives in your region or is considering attending your school.

  • Donate any amount – $50, $100, $1000. We will use those funds to finance travel for our students, special events at camp, and travel expenses for our all-volunteer staff of incredible college debaters.

If your team would like more information about the WDI University Sponsorship program,  please contact Beth Mendenhall.  

Current University Supporters

Abilene Christian University
The debate team at Abilene Christian University has a long tradition of excellence in parliamentary debate. Dena Counts, the Director of Forensics, was once a competitor on the Abilene Christian debate team herself, and has led the team to new heights as a coach. This past year, Abilene Christian had two teams ranked in the Top 50 of the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence rankings – one of which was ranked fourth overall. Debaters are eligible for a number of scholarships, including the Brown Forensic Endowment. (location: Abilene, Texas)
Arizona State Debate
ASU Debate is an all-inclusive program, with a familial team environment, that focuses on all levels of competitive debate, including public and intramural debates on campus. Director Adam Symonds and Assistant Director Izak Dunn see debate as an educational activity and important venue for students to clarify their personal values. ASU debate seeks to provide opportunities for students that might otherwise be passed-by, and believes that “students will get out of our team what they put in, guaranteed.” In 2015, ASU graduate two seniors with 4.0s, made it to the octafinals of CEDA, and defeated ‘first round’ team at the NDT.
Bellevue College
The Bellevue College debate program competes in parliamentary debate at tournaments throughout the Northwest. This year, Bellevue debaters won big at the Northwest Parli Championship Tournament, with students Joshua Shepard and Emily Merrill taking third place. Bellevue College welcomes debaters from a variety of academic backgrounds and experience levels. The program is currently undergoing a coaching transition, but was formerly led by Denise Vaughan and Jim Hanson. (location: Bellevue, Washington)
College of St. Benedict
2013, 2014, 2015
College of St. Benedict The College of St. Benedict does not have a debate team, but they support a WDI Fellowship because they believe in our mission. As an all-women’s liberal arts college, their curriculum focuses on women’s leadership and empowerment. Our Executive Director, Christi Siver, is a professor of political science at CSB. (location: St. Joseph, MN)
Dartmouth Debate
The Dartmouth Debate fellowship is named in honor of Robin E. Jacobsohn, Dartmouth class of 1983. Robin was an extremely successful debater, receiving 3 first round bids to the NDT. Robin was a semi-finalist in 1982, and reached the finals of the NDT in 1983.
Emory Debate
The Barkley Forum supports the holistic development of Emory students through competitive debate, community outreach, and campus engagement. In addition to training students to be ‘inquiry-driven,’ the Forum also offers opportunities for academic counseling, service oriented leadership opportunities, and academic and debate internships with local programs. Senior Director of Debate Ed Lee and Director of Debate Programs James Herndon have a long record of producing successful debate teams.
2014, 2015
For over 100 years Gonzaga has supported argument and debate as a cornerstone of a Jesuit education. Debate strives to promote a culture of intellectual inquiry and advocacy and students who debate will enhance a wide range of critical thinking and communication skills. Our team philosophy centers on educating a democratically charged citizenry capable of advocating for social change. To that end we offer students the opportunity to engage in both competitive formats and public events designed for campus and community outreach.
Harvard Debate Council, an Undergraduate Organization of Harvard College
2015, 2016
Founded in 1892, the Debate Council is one of the oldest and proudest intercollegiate debate programs in the nation. Committed to excellence in both competitive and educational achievement, Harvard Debate has won the National Debate Tournament (NDT) six times, and finished second five times, since the tournament was first held in 1947. The NDT records show that Harvard Debate has been invited to attend the tournament every year since 1954 – a record of consistency unmatched by any other school. In recent years, Harvard Debaters have won nearly every major national policy debate invitational, as well as the Copeland Award for the Top First Round At-Large Team at the NDT.
Idaho State Debate
Idaho State The Rupp Debate Society at ISU is open to students at all experience levels, and currently participates in British Parliamentary Debate and a limited number of Individual Events. The team has a strong record of success, including winning the 2015 Pi Kappa Delta National Championship in British Parliamentary Debate, and also 3rd place at CEDA Nationals, 2nd speaker at the NDT, and 2nd Speaker at CEDA Nationals. Director Sarah Partlow-Lefevre is a member of the WDI Board and has won multiple awards including the Keele Award, the Galentine Award, the Ziegelmueller Award, and the Val A. Browning Coach of the Year Award.
James Madison University Debate
2013, 2014, 2015
JMU was one of the original supporters of the WDI, and we’re proud to team with them again this year! The team is coached by Director Mike Davis and Assistant Director Lindsey Shook. JMU debate consists of a policy team that competes nationally and regionally at all levels of debate, and the Madison Debate Society, a public debate organization that hosts over a dozen public debates a year plus the Madison Cup. (location: Harrisonburg, VA)
University of Kansas Debate
KU Debate has competed in intercollegiate debate since 1885, and has attended the NDT more than any other public university (48 consecutive years of qualifying). KU Debaters have appeared in the ‘final four’ of the NDT 14 times, and won it 5 times. The team is also committed to the CEDA tournament, where they have appeared in the ‘final four’ 7 times since 1998. This year, Director Scott Harris won the Brownlee Coach of the Year Award, and KU debater (and WDI Board Member), Jyleesa Hampton won the Brian Johnston National Debater of the Year Award, as well as taking 2nd place at CEDA Nationals!
Kansas State University Debate
2013, 2014, 2015
The Kansas State University debate team, led by Director Joe Koehle, is the alma mater of the WDI’s Director of Finances, Sarah Glaser (Go ‘Cats!!). Founded in 1905, KSU won the 2011 Cross Examination Debate Association National Championship (and the winning team included Beth Mendenhall, a current WDI staff member). The first KSU Fellowship came from a group of KSU debate alumni who pooled their resources, and that show of support blossomed into an established fellowship from KSU. (location: Manhattan, KS)
University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky. UK Debate is committed to the mutually reinforcing goals of diversity and competitive excellence. For over fifty years the Kentucky debate team has excelled in competitive policy debate. Kentucky is ranked 2nd all-time in NDT top speakers and 7th overall in number of first round teams. This past year UK had two teams reach the octofinals of the National Debate Tournament. Visit our website for more information about the team and scholarship opportunities. New for 2015-2016, The University of Kentucky is pleased to encourage academic excellence by providing William C. Parker debate diversity scholarship opportunities for incoming first years with high school debate experience.
Michigan State Debate
The motto of Michigan State Debate, led by Director Casey Harrigan and Head Coach Will Repko, is "Audi Partem Altera,” or "Hear the Other Side.” MSU was the first school to ever reach the finals of both the CEDA the NDT in 2000, and won the National Debate Tournament championship in 2004, 2006 and 2010. The most recent NDT championship from MSU included Carly Watson, a former WDI board member who made major contributions to our curriculum development. Every summer, MSU hosts the ‘Spartan Debate Institute’ for high school students.
Penn State Debate
The Penn State Speech & Debate Society, led by Jessica Kurr and Jeremy Johnson, provides a platform for open debate in an environment where students can find their voice and enjoys generous support from the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences and the Center for Democratic Deliberation. The society holds numerous public debates with other universities, including the British national debate team, and competes in parliamentary debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, and individual events. Penn State is especially pleased to be a sponsor of the Women's Debate Institute as the university will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the women's debate team in the upcoming school year. (Location: State College, PA)
University of Southern California Debate
The Trojan Debate Squad focuses on competitive policy debate, and has qualified to attend the NDT in every season since 1964. In addition to its competitive success, Trojan Debate also focuses on researching the digital transition in debate, and expanding debate in Los Angeles public schools. The team hosted the first ever all-online intercollegiate debate tournament in 2011, and works closely with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League. Director Gordon Stables is actively involved in each of the major policy debate organizations and currently serves as the chair of the CEDA Topic Selection Committee.
University of Texas at Dallas Debate
University of Texas at Dallas Established in 1996, the UTD Debate quickly team established a record of national success in competitive varsity policy debate, including late elimination rounds at major tournaments and both CEDA and the NDT. Under Director Scott Herndon, the annual “Fear and Loathing” tournament hosted at UTD has grown to more than 100 teams. The team also values academic success, and more than 90 percent of UT Dallas debaters are admitted to graduate programs or law schools, including Harvard Law, Michigan, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins University.
University of California, Berkeley Debate
2013, 2014, 2015
The Cal Berkeley debate team, led by Director Jonah Feldman and Assistant Director Ben Crossan, has had incredible debate success including winning the Copeland Award three times (given to the team with the best season in a year) and appearing in the National Debate Tournament finals twice. Debaters receive scholarships for their participation. Cal is sponsoring a WDI Fellowship to support the growth of women in the debate community. (location: Berkeley, CA)
University of Iowa Debate
2013, 2014, 2015
The University of Iowa sponsors not one, not two, but THREE WDI Fellowships every year! Coached by Dr. David Hingstman and Paul Bellus, Iowa teams consistently place in the top finishers at national debate tournaments including winning the NDT in 2001. The A. Craig Baird debate forum at Iowa also hosts public debates before general audiences, and they are hosting the NDT in 2015. (location: Iowa City, IA)
University of Missouri-Kansas City Debate
2013, 2014, 2015
University of Missouri-Kansas City UMKC has supported the WDI University Fellowship program from its beginning – thank you, UMKC! Coached by Matt Vega, UMKC hosts an incredible summer debate camp for high school students, the SDI. UMKC also has a long history of success, including national championships in policy debate. Linda Collier, former Director of UMKC debate, also is a founding member of the WDI. (location: Kansas City, MO)
University of Washington, Seattle
The Speech and Debate Society at University of Washington, as part of the Jackson School in the Center for Global Studies, has a tradition of combining advocacy with community engagement. While the team’s competitive success is notable – including ranking 15th nationally this year at NPDA, and high placement at numerous other tournaments – what makes SDSUW unique is its use of parliamentary debate to support the greater good. Members of the debate team often volunteer to promote elementary, middle, and high school debate tournaments in the greater Seattle area. The Speech and Debate Society also supports home-school debate leagues and middle school debate classes – and now, the Women’s Debate Institute! (location: Seattle, Washington; contact: Aram Ambartsumyan –
University of Wyoming Debate
University of Wyoming, led by Director Travis Cram, participates in both policy and parliamentary debate, and hosts on-campus events including public debates, intercollegiate tournaments, and high school and college summer workshops. The team began regionally in 1912, and was the first regional team to successfully demand the inclusion of women in debate competition. The team’s mission statement is based on the belief that debate is a valuable alternate to the violence of physical conflict and the silencing effects of totalitarianism. To that end, UW debaters are instructed to demonstrate self-discipline, maturity, responsibility, solidarity and respect for all participants at all times.
Wake Forest Debate
2013, 2014, 2015
Wake Forest University Wake Forest enjoys a century and half old tradition of debate success dating back to 1835. Debate at the highest level is an enjoyable process of intellectual and personal self-discovery. This level of individual success is, by definition, available to students of all experience and talent levels, so Wake’s team is open to all that are willing to strive to achieve such success. Everyone at Wake shares in the joy of the accomplishments of everyone else, from novice to NDT champion. (location: Winston-Salem, NC)
Whitman College
2014, 2015
Whitman Whitman College decided in 2015 to suspend the debate program for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. In past seasons, under the leadership of Director of Debate Kevin Kuswa, the team has ventured out into the surrounding area to bring debate to others, including facilitating debates about prison privatization between inmates and Whitman students at a local penitentiary. The Whitman debate team has also had immense competitive success, in both policy and parliamentary debate. In 2014 Whitman qualified 4 teams to NPTE, a rare feat, and also captured the third and top speaker awards at NPDA. In policy debate, Whitman qualified a team to the National Debate Tournament. (location: Walla Walla, WA)
William Jewell College Debate
William Jewell is a small liberal arts college with a tremendous record of parliamentary debate success. In 2015, a team from William Jewell placed 6th overall in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence Rankings. Under the guidance of Director of Debate Kevin Garner, William Jewell has also previously taken home the championship sweepstakes at the NPDA tournament, one of the highest awards possible in parliamentary debate. (location: Liberty, Missouri)

Past University Supporters

Georgia State University
The debate team at Georgia State has enjoyed significant competitive success while providing opportunities for students with a variety of backgrounds. Georgia State accepts debaters of all experience levels, and competes in novice, junior varsity, and varsity divisions. Directed by Dr. Joe Bellon, the team has experienced success in all of these divisions, including appearances in the elimination rounds of CEDA and the NDT within the past five years at the varsity level. This year, Georgia State qualified a team to the National Debate Tournament. (location: Atlanta, GA)
2013, 2014
Binghamton establishes this Fellowship because a partnership with the WDI is an excellent opportunity to give debaters the needed experience to excel in competition. Led by Director Joe Leeson-Schatz and coaches Armands Revelins and Guy Risko, Binghamton’s debate team emphasizes student leadership and participation. Incoming students with prior experience quickly find themselves on the varsity squad and traveling nationally. Binghamton consistently qualifies to compete in the prestigous National Debate Tournament and ranks in the top 10 debate teams in CEDA Sweepstakes. (location: Binghamton, NY)
University of Georgia
he University of Georgia has been fielding competitive teams in collegiate policy debate for over fifty years. The team is directed by Dr. Ed Panetta, with Hays Watson as the head coach. The 2013-14 season was a special one for the University of Georgia: it marked the twenty-fifth consecutive year that the school has qualified teams to the National Debate Tournament, just one example of the University of Georgia’s consistently exemplary debate record. (location: Athens, GA)
University of of Oregon
The University of Oregon debate team is among the best in collegiate parliamentary debate. The team boasts a wide array of awards, including having teams consistently ranked in the top 15 in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) rankings. During the 2013-14 season, a University of Oregon debater, Liz Fetherston, won the top speaker award at the NPTE. Under the leadership of Dr. Trond Jacobson, the new Director of Debate at Oregon, there is no doubt that the University of Oregon’s debate success will continue in the future. (location: Eugene, OR)
University of West Georgia
West Georgia has a proud, 40+ year history of policy debate. Housed in the Honors College and directed by the Dean of the Honors College, Dr. Michael Hester, the West Georgia debate team has a consistent record of excellence. West Georgia debaters have accomplished numerous feats over the years, including back-to-back CEDA national championships. This year, West Georgia received a first-round at large bid to the National Debate Tournament and performed strongly at both CEDA and the NDT. (location: Carrollton, GA)
Georgetown University
Capitol Debate
Colorado College Debate & Forensics
California State University Fullerton
Mt. Hood Community College
Samford University
Trinity University
University of Miami
University of Northern Iowa
University of Pittsburgh
University of Richmond
Vanderbilt University