The Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive 2023

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This campaign ends on March 31 at 04:05AM EDT
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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, over forty years ago, not only founded the debate program on campus but also founded the Irish Times Tour of the U.S., a  project now supported by the Pax Rhetorica Center for Global Dialogue that brings students from Ireland to colleges and universities throughout the U.S. for public debates on issues of national and international concern (see below for more information). You can read about this year’s Irish tour here.

 Your Support
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 Times Tour of the U.S. to MSU Denver on an annual basis and the competition that will take place in conjunction with the tour visit entitled The Holbrook Cup (beginning in spring 2023). 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, and maintain them over time. To accomplish this, our program seeks funding to secure materials for locating, framing, matting, digitizing, and otherwise saving these items.

Please consider donating to this worthy program to support international debate opportunities for our students and the process of archiving debate’s history at MSU Denver. We appreciate any support you can offer. Anyone who donates $50 or more will receive a Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive commemorative pen!

Biography of Professor Emeritus Gary H. Holbrook and History of the Irish Debate Series
The Irish Debate Series was founded by Professor Gary H. Holbrook, The 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.

Professor Holbrook attended the final round of the Observer Mace Debates in Bristol, England in the spring of 1979, where the Irish teams finished first and second. The Irish had won the Observer Mace two years in a row, but it would be representatives from England who would 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 an American tour to seek sponsorship for such a tour. It was concluded that the natural chain to select who would represent Ireland in an American tour was the Irish Times Debate winners.

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, which supported the Irish debaters until the National Parliamentary Debate Association became the official sponsor of the American tour in 1997.You can watch an interview with Gary Holbrook here.

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