Resolved: Kansas University has one of the strongest debate programs in the nation.
For Joel Goldman, a 1974 KU graduate, there's no room for debate on the topic.
"Those were the absolute glory years for the program," he said. "But it's been one of the most successful in the country over the last 40 years."
Goldman is one of more than 100 former KU debaters who will return to campus this weekend for a first-ever debate reunion.
Robert Rowland, chairman of communication studies, organized the event, which runs today through Sunday. He hopes to stage similar reunions every two or three years.
Events include a panel discussion on KU debate during the 1940s and 1950s, and an exhibition debate on which was the better era of KU debate the 1960s and 1970s or the 1980s and 1990s.
KU has won four national debate titles, in 1954, 1970, 1976 and 1983. It ranks second in the nation for the number of years its teams have qualified for the national tournament (50) and second for most years in a row its teams have qualified for nationals (35 and counting).
That record puts KU debate on a level of success with its basketball team, Rowland said.
"It's such an impressive group of people, and they all have so much loyalty to the program," Rowland said. "We have many, many successful attorneys, academics and people in business."
One of the attorneys is Goldman, a trial lawyer for Husch and Eppenberger in Kansas City, Mo. After receiving his undergraduate degree from KU in 1974, he received a law degree in 1977.
"Debate taught you to think on your feet, to be aggressive in the pursuit of your position," he said. "It teaches you a lot of the skills you need to be a good trial lawyer."
And that experience continues to help him today, he said.
"It's still amazing how you can be connected with people who debated in college," he said. "Once you make that connection, it's an instant bond you get with people. I find that all over the country."