Saturday, October 3, 2009

King's College Scraps Debate Team

As of Fall 2009, the King's College debate team is officially nonexistent. Funds have been cut. For those familiar with team's past, there are a lot of memories to cherish, especially since the debate team was once quite good.

During the early 60's, with Mr. Robert Connelly as its director, the team gained renown in intercollegiate competition. King's debaters Frank Harrison '61, Peter Smith '62, Richard Passion '61, and Edward Hanlon '61 outwitted students from much larger schools. The 1960-61 season was the apex of their success as they finished second in the nation after Harvard.

Future Congressman Frank Harrison (right) with debate team director Robert Connelly (center) and Peter Smith (right) in 1960

It is interesting to note that the debate topic that year was "That the United States should adopt a program of compulsory health insurance for all citizens." I wonder which side the King's students took.

The debate team enjoyed continued success under Mr. Connelly. Subsequent directors guided the debate team after Connelly's retirement.

The final debate event at King's took place in the McGowan building this past September. One of the men at the desk told me the team was discontinued due to tough going in the economy. However, there is no sign of poverty on the King's campus. The recently-dedicated Gateway Corners building and a new marble fountain attest to ample availability of funds at King's College. Furthermore, the King's website boasts 40 clubs and organizations as well as 19 intercollegiate sports teams.

Alas, it is not tough times per se that led the funds to be cut, but that the debate team was placed low on the funds totem pole. The reason may be due to students' lack of interest in a debate team. Indeed, ever since the gracious donations of William G. McGowan to King's business school, the student body has morphed to comprise nearly 50% business students--who would ostensibly be less inclined to join a debate team than would liberal arts majors.

Although King's business direction has boded badly for the debate team, King's efficiently serves the wants and needs of its community. However, let us not forget our renowned forefathers. Raise a toast, therefore, in honor of our King's debate teams.
First and last photo from Rooted in Hope: The First Fifty Years of King's College 1946-1996

Middle photo:The Wyoming Valley: An American Portrait
(page 166)

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