Student News

UK Debate Team stands out amongst competition at recent tournaments

Left to right UK Intercollegiate Debate Team members Jared Adam, Lauren McBlain, Jordan Di and David Griffith.
(Left to right) UK Intercollegiate Debate Team members Jared Adam, Lauren McBlain, Jordan Di and David Griffith.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 20, 2023) — So far this semester, the University of Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate Team hosted, and took part in, the 51st annual Run for the Roses Round Robin Tournament and the J.W. Patterson Debate Tournament.

During the 51st annual Run for the Roses Round Robin, Kelly Phil from University of Michigan was the recipient of the Paul Skiermont Top Speaker Award and UK debater David Griffith earned third speaker honors. The Skiermont Award acknowledges Paul Skiermont’s achievements during his debating at UK. Skiermont was the top speaker at the Run for the Roses in 1993 and top speaker twice at the National Debate Tournament, something only accomplished two other times in history. Skiermont went on to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School and became a founding partner of Skiermont-Derby LLP.

The J.W. Patterson Tournament featured participation from 130 partnerships representing 36 schools and 22 states. UK’s senior team of David Griffith and Jordan Di advanced to the quarterfinals, achieving victory over top-seeded Harvard University with a three-three record. This marked UK's first appearance in the semifinals since 2018. Additionally, UK’s junior team of Jared Adam and Lauren McBlain reached the Sweet 16, through a series of impressive wins.

"Now it's time to adapt, innovate and push the topic forward,” said Dave Arnett, director of debate. “Part of our goal is always to be competitive with the nation's most talented teams. This past week showed us we are in the conversation."

The team’s next competition will be at perennial powerhouse Harvard University.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.