Whitman College Assistant Director of Debate Job Announcement


Assistant Director of Debate
Whitman College

Located in the historic community of Walla Walla in the scenic wine country of southeastern Washington, Whitman’s beautiful tree-lined campus is home to an intellectually dynamic and diverse community of some 500 staff and faculty and 1,500 students. Ranked by U.S. News & Report among the top fifty liberal arts colleges in the country, Whitman is proud to count among its distinguished alumni the longest-serving justice in U.S. Supreme Court history, the first woman to serve as a law clerk for a Supreme Court justice, a U.S. ambassador, a nationally-acclaimed poet, the youngest astronaut in NASA’s history, the Chief Engineer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Mars’ Exploration, a former CEO of General Electric, a self-made billionaire, and a Nobel laureate in physics. With an endowment exceeding $500 million, fiercely loyal alumni, exceptional students, and accomplished faculty and staff, Whitman College continues to build on its national reputation for academic excellence and leadership.


Whitman has a storied history in Forensics, beginning in the 1980s with literary societies. Whitman College Speech and Debate Team was among the most successful collegiate forensic programs in the country, and offered comprehensive intramural and interscholastic competitive debating. Team members received academic credit for their work and focused on policy research assignments, parliamentary case writing, and current event research appropriate for individual events, including practice drills, strategy sessions, and practice debates.

Whitman’s debate team traveled extensively to regional and national tournaments and engaged with the highest quality competition. On campus, Whitman hosted the Dovell-Gose Oratory Contest and Intramural Debate Contest. At the interscholastic level, the Whitman Debate team competed in Policy debate and Parliamentary debate, as well as individual speaking events.

Whitman’s excellence in debate was reflected in hundreds of awards, consistent placement each year among the top national teams, including several national championships in parliamentary debate, and impressive showings in national policy debate competitions. Whitman debaters have advanced to elimination rounds at over 90% of the tournaments they have attended in the past twenty-one years. Following is a partial list of their most recent accomplishments:

Parliamentary Debate
• National champions four years in a row (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), as well as in 2005.
• Over 100 debate and 30 speaking awards won during the 2011-2012 season.
• In the finals at 2012 NPDA National Championship and 2011 NPTE National Championship.
• Five teams in elims at 2011 NPDA National Championship; 2nd place team at 2011 NPTE.
• Taken multiple first place, semi, quarter, and octa awards in the past five years.

Policy Debate
• 2012 CEDA National Champion Runner-up
• Three teams in elims at the 2010 CEDA Nationals; a 2010 First Round NDT Team.
• From 2005-2015, 9 teams in elims at NDT and 36 teams in elims at CEDA Nationals.
• From 2010-2015, in elims at Wake Forest, Georgia State, Kentucky, USC, CSU Fullerton, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern.

In 2015, Whitman College suspended its debate program. After a two-year hiatus, Whitman College has now decided to re-instate the Debate Program, with a focus on parliamentary debate (only), effective fall of 2018. A new outstanding Director of Debate joined the program in the summer of 2018. The College is now conducting a national search for a new Assistant Director.

This ambitious plan is aided by the Rhetoric Studies Department at Whitman, which offers a strong concentration of courses in political and legal rhetoric, social justice and activist advocacy, rhetorical theory and criticism, and public speaking.

Position Description

Whitman College seeks an Assistant Director of Debate to lead its nationally-recognized Debate program within the context of a rigorous liberal arts experience. The program has been characterized by talented debaters, debate scholarships, seasoned coaches with significant debating experience, and strong institutional and alumni support. As a member of the College staff, the Assistant Director of Debate will report to the Director of Debate who reports to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and will manage all aspects of the Debate program, including the following.

• Coaching and preparing the competitive parliamentary debate squad.
• Teaching students research skills via academic databases that will aid in their ability to prepare arguments and excel in their classes.
• Advising on argumentation and case preparation, as well speech preparation.
• Conducting practice and drill sessions with debaters several times each week.
• Helping the Director plan each semesters’ travel schedule.
• Traveling with teams to tournaments and related events; overseeing team interactions; driving to tournaments.
• Judging at evening and weekend tournaments.
• Recruiting and developing student debaters of high potential.
• Ensuring that all debate staff and team members serve as effective and responsible representatives and ambassadors of Whitman College.


The successful candidate will possess a Master’s degree in Communication/Rhetoric/Argumentation, with demonstrated commitment to private liberal arts education. Recent direct coaching experience in national level college forensics is required, with experience coaching parliamentary debate preferred. Experience as an exceptional college debater in either Policy or Parliamentary will be viewed favorably. Two years or more of instructional experience at the post-secondary level are expected. Familiarity with web-enhanced instructional tools, research databases, and proficiency at the Microsoft Office suite of applications are essential. Must be highly organized, able to think strategically, handle multiple tasks, prioritize work, meet deadlines, and lead programming in a professional and fiscally responsible manner.

Excellent interpersonal, public speaking, oral and written communication skills are required, as is sound judgment, poise, and integrity. The ability to coach a debate program and to work successfully with diverse constituencies, including alumni, faculty, staff, students, and volunteers, individually and in committees, is critical. Experience mentoring students from historically underrepresented groups. If necessary, the willingness to appropriately challenge any unfair, unjust, or uncivil behavior of individuals, and criticize/challenge institutionalized forms of oppression.

To Apply

All application materials must be submitted electronically via the Whitman College Human Resources Web site at: https://whitmanhr.simplehire.com/. Candidates must provide a letter of application addressing qualifications for this position, a resume, and the names of three professional references with current phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Nominations of prospective candidates will be accepted by Shane Watkins, Director of Human Resources (watkinse at whitman.edu), who will contact nominees to solicit their candidacy. This position will remain open until filled. Review of applications will begin September, 2018. The new Assistant Director is anticipated to start in October, but revised start date may be negotiated as necessary.

Any questions about the Whitman Debate program and re-establishing it on campus can be directed to Lauran Schaefer, Director of Debate (schaefl2 at whitman.edu) or Kazi Joshua, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students (joshuake at whitman.edu).

Whitman College is building a diverse academic community and welcomes nominations of and applications from women, members of historically underrepresented groups, persons with disabilities, and others who would bring additional dimensions to the College’s learning environment.


Hey all,

I just wanted to let you all know that the deadline for applications has been extended to 9/30/18. Although the call requests a person with a Masters’ candidates without one or those working on one will be considered.



Hi again!

We’ve updated the call. Specifically, the first part of the qualifications section now reads:

“The successful candidate will possess a Bachelor’s degree. However, a Master’s degree in Communication/Rhetoric/Argumentation is preferred. Recent direct coaching experience in national level college forensics is required, with experience coaching parliamentary debate preferred.”

The deadline is extended to October 31, 2018.

Feel free to reach out if you questions about anything!