Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive 2024

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An Anonymous DonorColleen Colles matched $25 for each donor, donating a total of $100

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Jamie Hurst photoJamie Hurst matched $2 for each $1 donated, donating a total of $250

An Anonymous DonorMSU Denver Philanthropy Fund matched $1 for each $1 donated, donating a total of $250Just for Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive

An Anonymous DonorMSU Denver Alumni Association matched $1 for each $1 donated, donating a total of $10,000
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About


Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive 
 Founded in spring 2023, the Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive is a program housed in the Department of Communication Studies at MSU Denver. This program is named for Professor Emeritus Gary Holbrook who not only founded the debate program on campus but also founded the Irish Debate Series, an international tour that brings students from Ireland to colleges and universities throughout the U.S. each year for public debates on issues of national and international concern (see below for more information). You can read about this year’s Irish Debate Series HERE.  

The primary mission of the Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive is twofold. First, this program aims to secure funding for international debate and cultural exchange opportunities for MSU Denver students and faculty with a primary focus on funding visits by the Irish Debate Series to MSU Denver on an annual basis. Beyond this, we hope to support not only visits by other tours from around the world to our campus but also MSU Denver student and faculty travel to Ireland and other international locations. Second, this program will curate and house items related to the history of debate and civic engagement at MSU Denver (including videos, photos, documents, posters, and the like), some of which were recently donated by Gary and Judy Holbrook. To accomplish this, our program seeks funding to secure materials for locating, framing, matting, digitizing, and otherwise saving these items and distributing them to interested audiences of scholars, researchers, and community members. 

Brief History of the Irish Debate Series Founded by Professor Emeritus Gary Holbrook 
The Irish Debate Series was founded by Professor Gary Holbrook of (then) Metropolitan State College, in 1980. Professor Holbrook had been on sabbatical at Trinity College Dublin, in 1979, doing research on the College Historical Society, founded by Edmund Burke in 1747. The College Historical Society is the oldest University debating society in the British Isles. 

While in Ireland, Professor Holbrook attended the final round of the Observer Mace Debates in Bristol, England. The Irish teams finished first and second at the competition. While the Irish had won the Observer Mace two years in a row, it would be representatives from England who would get to tour the United States in exhibition debates under the sponsorship of the English Speaking Union. The English teams had been touring the United States since the 1920's. 

In the spring of 1979, Professor Holbrook hosted a series of meetings at Trinity College with several representatives of the major college debating societies to see if there was enough interest in a tour for Irish students and to seek sponsorship for such a tour. It was concluded that the winners of the Irish Times Debate would be selected for the tour each year. Professor Holbrook contacted Christina Murphy, Education Editor and organizer of the debates for the Irish Times. Christina wholeheartedly supported such a venture. Professor Holbrook returned to the United States in May of 1979 and secured financial support for the 1980 tour from the Adolph Coors Company. The Adolph Coors Company underwrote the tour for three years. In 1983, the Friends of the Irish Debate Series was formed by Professor Holbrook. This organization supported the Irish debaters until the National Parliamentary Debate Association became the official sponsor of the tour in 1997. You can watch an interview with Gary Holbrook here. 

Your Support 
Please consider making a donation to the Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive to support both international debate opportunities for our students and the development of our archive of historical materials focused on Gary Holbrook’s legacy and the Irish Debate Series. With your support we can both spread the word about the important role MSU Denver has played in the history of international debate and promote international dialogue and understanding. We appreciate any support you can offer! 

Anyone who donates $50 or more will receive a Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive commemorative pen! 

Please also consider sharing our project with your social network. We are always looking for additional supporters and would like to forge deep connections with the MSU Denver community and other stakeholders who might be interested and engaged by our work. Thanks for your help! 

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