Campus News

Debate Program Comes Home to CCIS, Honors Longtime Coach Patterson

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 21, 2011) — The University of Kentucky College of Communications and Information Studies welcomed the renowned UK competitive forensics debate program back into the college in July.  

The new Division of Instructional Communication, which came about as a result of the new UKCore, is housing the program.

"We are pleased to have debate back home with us in the college and division," said Deanna Sellnow, director of the division.  "As a former forensics speech and debate competitor, coach, and judge, I know how valuable the communication skills these programs provide are to students." 

Honoring J.W. Patterson

On Sept. 28, the program awarded J.W. Patterson, veteran UK debate director, with the inaugural Award for Exemplary Service to Debate and Forensics.  Patterson served at UK from 1960-2008. 

During that time the UK college debate team sent 21 first-round teams to the National Debate Tournament and had six top speakers at the tournament, the second-highest number of all time. Under Patterson's leadership, the team brought home a national championship in 1986, and a Copeland Award in 1994.

Patterson was a longtime faculty member in the Department of Communication and an active contributor for many activities and organizations on the UK campus.

Engaging High School Debaters

In June, UK was again awarded the privilege of hosting the Kentucky High School Speech League (KHSSL) tournaments.  The university will host three high school speech, debate and drama tournaments each year beginning in March 2012.

"Hosting the high school league will bring many of the best and brightest college prospects to campus where we can make efforts to recruit them to come to UK," Sellnow said. 

The program hosted its first-ever SPEAK workshop on Sept. 30, in which 71 high school teachers from across Kentucky came to campus to learn how to coach speech and debate most effectively.  The keynote speaker was National Forensics League Executive Director Scott Wunn. 

Students interested in the UK debate program may contact Andrea Reed, director of debate at; or Deanna Sellnow at