The University of Mary Washington placed third at the National Debate Tournament (NDT) hosted at the University of California at Berkeley in March.
Senior Kevin Kallmyer of Olney, Md., and sophomore Peter Susko of Erie, Pa., were among 78 two-person teams who qualified for the nation’s oldest and most prestigious intercollegiate debate championship.
UMW remained in the competition through the semifinal round, resulting in the university’s highest finish at the tournament in history.
“The National Debate Tournament is the most challenging and grueling academic competition in higher education today” said Timothy O’Donnell, director of debate and associate professor of communication who also serves as chair of the NDT Committee. “Coach Adrienne Brovero and the students accomplished something unprecedented in school history and remarkable for a public institution of our size.”
Kallmyer and Susko were ranked seventh nationally by the National Debate Tournament’s coaches committee prior to the tournament.
The National Debate Tournament fields the nation’s top teams for three days of preliminary competition, the results of which create the single-elimination bracket that determines the road to the national championship.
In the single elimination bracket, Kallmyer and Susko recorded victories against Georgia State University, Harvard University and Wake Forest University.
After eliminating Kallmyer and Susko, Michigan State University won the national championship with a victory against Northwestern University in the tournament’s final debate.
Students Ben Saunders and Sean Slattery also competed at the tournament.
This is UMW’s seventh consecutive year qualifying for the NDT and the third consecutive year the team was eliminated by the eventual national champion.
The National Debate Tournament began shortly after the Second World War at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and has come to be recognized as the pinnacle of accomplishment in competitive debate in the United States.
The 2009-10 intercollegiate topic focused on the size and role of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, a timely topic given the upcoming release of president Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review and the Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference slated for this May.
Previous debate team achievements during the 2009-2010 seasons include a third place finish at the Harvard University tournament in October, a fifth place finish at the University of Texas at Austin in February and a second place finish at the American Debate Association’s championships at Vanderbilt University in early March.
Last spring, Kallmyer was on the UMW debate team that won the American Debate Association’s Varsity National Championship.