Debating Resources for the World since 1994



Steven B. Hunt, Lewis & Clark College
Edward S. Inch, Pacific Lutheran University

Presented at the Western Speech Communication Association Convention, Albuquerque, NM, 1993


What are the top forensics programs in the U.S.? Do these programs change over time? What makes one program great while another is mediocre and still another below par? Success obviously distinguishes a great forensics program but what is success? Is success solely determined by excellence in competition or is success better measured by contributions to campus and community or better still by educational values taught students? The quality of a school overall certainly makes a difference in attracting quality debaters and individual speakers. Geographic location and tradition can make a difference. The leadership of a fine director of forensics certainly is a very important factor in program success. Many factors make a difference and they are most difficult to ferret out. Many are philosophic and must remain speculative, but some are pragmatic and a survey of program characteristics in terms of staffing, squad size and composition, tournament attendance, scholarships, forensics organization membership, and budget and budget sources could reveal some quantitative characteristics of top forensics programs. This study was designed to discover the competitive, financial, and programatic characteristics of the top fifty programs in the hope of isolating the dominant variables that distinguish the outstanding forensic traditions from the lesser programs.


Our task was first to identify the top fifty programs in the United States and then survey each program for its vital characteristics. The surveys were sent in 1978, 1983, 1987, and 1992 and the results have been analyzed for both dominant characteristics and important trends. Actually Stop fifty is somewhat a misnomer since more than fifty schools were surveyed in each of the four years. All programs were selected on the basis of cumulative performance in the five years preceding the survey. Therefore, all four surveys represent a total of 20 years of program histories. The 1978 programs were chosen on the basis of NDT participation and success, CEDA participation and success, NFA participation and success, and national sweepstakes results as determined by lack Howe's Intercollegiate Forensics Results. The 1983 programs were chosen on the basis of the same criteria, adding success in the NIET to the list. The 1983 choices were somewhat hampered by the fact that Intercollegiate Forensics Results had not been accurately maintained or published between 1981-1983. The 1987 programs were chosen on the basis of participation and success in NDT, CEDA, NIET, NFA, PKD, PRP, or DSR-TKA nationals, and from the results of the Intercollegiate Forensics Tournament Results Book. The 1992 programs were selected similarly. Programs were evaluated for their participation and success at NDT, CEDA, NIET, NFA, PKD, PRP, or DSR-TKA nationals, and from the results of the Intercollegiate Speech Tournament Results book. Table 1 shows which programs were included on the survey for each of the four surveys: (Table unavailable online.)
The director of forensics at each selected program was sent a rather extensive questionnaire. The first section of the questionnaire had questions concerning the staffing of the program. Specifically, questions focused on the characteristics of the director of forensics, the nature of assistance available to the director, compensation and release time for the director and others who assisted in the program, and how forensics counted toward tenure and/or promotion. Section 2 asked questions about the squad. How large was the squad and in what did they participate? Did squad members get scholarships and/or academic credit or both? What kinds of forensics organizations was the squad a part of? The third part of the survey asked about competitive success in sweepstakes, individual events, and debate. And, finally, the fourth part of the questionnaire asked about the budget for each of the programs. 49 schools responded to the 1978 survey. 51 answered the 1983 questionnaire. 57 returned the 1987 survey and 45 responded to the 1992 survey. Consequently, some of the data may reflect a bias based on the returns of the survey.


One hundred and twenty-one different schools have been identified as belonging in the top fifty dunag the four survey periods. These schools are listed in Table 1. Of these, thirteen schools have consistently ranked in the top fifty and twenty-six schools have appeared on at least three of the four surveys. In other words, 3/4s of the top fifty programs are consistent performers that seem to remain among the best programs year after year. 31 of the top 50 programs remain the same from 1987 to 1992 with many others (10) just below top 50 status in 1992 that were on the 1987 list. Not surprisingly, the most consistent programs seem to have consistent direction. Eleven directors have remained in charge of top fifty programs during at least three of the four surveys. These people include Bob Derryberry of Southwest Baptist, Steve Hunt of Lewis & Clark, Al Louden of Wake Forest, Bill Southworth of Redlands, Melissa Wade of Emory, David Frank of Oregon, J.W. Patterson of Kentucky, Todd Lewis of Biola, Scott Nobles of Macalester (just retired), Jay Busse of Loyola Marymount, and Bill Balthrup (just retired).
Nineteen Directors of Forensics from the top 50 programs remain the same from 1987 to 1992. Five have gone on to become department chairs, 3 have gone into law and 4 have switched programs but are still active in forensics.

A. Success of Top Fifty

Given that competitive success was used to identify the top fifty programs in each of the survey periods, it comes as no shock that the top fifty programs are very successful. Table 2 shows the relative success of the top programs during the last twenty years. Because the questionnaire has changed over the years, some of the data from the 1992 survey was additional information. However, the 1992 questionnaire contained the following inquiries: How often was the school in the top 50 according to the ISTR, how often in the top 10, how many times had the school earned a Superior sweepstakes award at PKD, DSR-TKA, or PRP, how many teams had the school sent to the NDT ant how many of those teams participated in octafinals, how often was the school in the top 25 of the NDT ranking system, how many teams had the school sent to CEDA nationals, how many of those teams were in double-octafinals, how many years was the school in CEDA's top 25, how many AFA-NIET slots had the school earned over five years, how many of those slots went to quarterfinals and finals, how many times did the school win an AFA-NIET top 10 sweepstakes, how many slots had the school, qualified for at NFA, how many of those slots broke to quarterfinals and finals, and how often was the school a top 10 finisher at NFA nationals.

TABLE 2: PROGRAM SUCCESS (Table unavailable on line.)

In 1978 the 49 responding schools had qualified 176 teams to the National Debate Tournament in the last five years. 65 of those teams had made the octafinals or better at the National Debate Tournament out of a possible 80 such slots. The directors of forensics at the 49 schools claimed that their schools had been in the top 10 schools for schools of their size 94 times in the last five years according to Jack Howe's Intercollegiate Forensics Results. These same directors claimed that their schools were in the top 3 schools for schools of their size a collective 49 times in the last five years in the same publication. These same 49 schools qualified 534 people or slots to NFA individual events nationals. There was some confusion in responding as to whether the question asked for the number of people qualifying or the number of slots qualified in. Representatives of the 49 schools took 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at NFA individual events nationals 57 times out of approximately 150 chances for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at NFA nationals from 1974-1978. Finally, these schools collectively won 29 mentions in CEDA debate's top 10 of the 50 possible slots from 1974-1978.
In 1983 the responding Sl schools had qualified 158 teams to the National Debate Tournament in the last five years. 56 of those teams had made the octafinals or better at the National Debate Tournament of the 80 possible such slots. The 51 programs had qualified 577 people or for 577 slots at the National Individual Events Tournament; the same confusion as to people or slots once again applied. The directors of forensics at the 51 answering programs stated that collectively their programs had gleaned 30 of the 50 possible top 10 finishes at the NIET in the previous five years. The 51 forensics programs had qualified 418 people or slots for NFA individual events nationals and had nailed down 20 of the possible 50 top 10 finishes at that tournament over the previous five years. Demonstrating that memories can fail or that exaggeration prevails in forensics as well as in other areas of life, the 51 responding squads claim 51 of the possible top 50 finishes in CEDA debate's cumulative sweepstakes for 1978-1982. Responses to questions concerning Intercollegiate Forensics Results top ten success had to be discarded because of the inaccuracy of that publication and/or no results for 1981-1983. The 1987 results showed continuing success for the responding 57 schools. The involved programs qualified 131 teams to the National Debate Tournament out of approximately 300 slots available in 1983-1987. The responding programs had 55 teams make the octafinals or better at the National Debate Tournament 1983-1987. It is a matter of public record that a mere seven schools qualified over sixty teams to go to the NDT 1983-1987 and that five of these schools accounted for thirty five octafinalists or better during these years. The power in NDT debate is very much concentrated seemingly at Dartmouth, Northwestern, Kansas, Baylor, Emory, University of Southern California, and a few others. In CEDA debate the replying 57 schools accounted for 76 of the 100 top CEDA sweepstakes slots of the last five years. These schools also supposedly had 44 of the 32 possible octafi~nalists or better at the first two CEDA National Tournaments. Tnis confused result may also be the product of dim memories and a bit of bragging, but more pragmatically is probably the result of a system that goes to triple octafinals. Many directors were probably counting their teams who broke to triple octas or double octas rather than just those who made octafinals or better at CEDA Nationals 1986 and 1987. The directors of forensics at the 57 responding schools claimed in round terms to have qualified 553 people for about 1,265 slots at the NtET in the last five years and to have qualified 658 people in 1,961 slots to NFA in 1983-1987. In individual events too the power seemed concentrated. Bradley and George Mason, nonrespondents, had lots of people in lots of slots. Among respondents Mankato St, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Southern Utah, and Whitman College had lots of people in lots of slots at the 'NIET. At N~FA individual events nationals the numbers were even more incredible. Illinois State claimed about 120 participants in 500 or so slots over five years. Eastern Michigan claimed 150 participants in 500 or so slots over the same period. Mankato State asserted it had about 60 participants in 200 slots for the same time period. 8-10 very large individual events programs entered 500 people in about 2,000 slots at NFA Nationals 1983-1987. These schools included: Ball St. University, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Mankato State, Miami of Ohio, Ohio St. University, Suffolk University, and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. A few times the schools only qualified the people. They did not attend due to budget constraints but most of the above mentioned schools qualified and sent their participants. In the National Sweepstakes ratings published in Intercollegiate Forensics Tournament Results the 57 respondents claimed 49 of 60 possible top 20 fmishes for the past three years and claimed to have been m the top ten for schools of their size 29 out of a possible 30 times. These results may be a bit exaggerated as some said they had not received the results and were merely guessing as to their finish or proclaiming as true what they had merely heard unofficially from others on the forensics grapevine.
The accuracy of the 1992 results are probably similar to those of previous surveys. Some schools responded that they could not remember clearly and offered estimates of number of slots qualified for the AFA and NFA national tournaments. Similarly, some schools overestimated the number of times they were listed in the top 10 of the ISTR: out of 50 available slots, the responding schools claimed to be mentioned 102 times. We believe this is probably a case of schools counting themselves as being in the top 10 for their size as opposed to the overall best 10.
However, the data does yield several interesting results. Clearly, the top fifty schools received significant sweepstakes recogmtion. They were ranked as top 50 in the ISTR 144 times in five years and earned superior sweepstakes rankings 56 times in the honorary fraternity national sweepstakes. NDT participatlion continued to decline, down to 94 teams from 131 in 1987. Yet, while the number of teams diminished, the top fifty schools remained powerful in NDT with 50 of their teams-more than half-participating in the octaSunal rounds. The strength in NDT remains with schools such as Georgetown, Harvard, Northern Iowa, Iowa, Redlands, Wake Forest, Kentucky, and Emory. In CEDA, the top fifty schools entered 237 teams into the national tournament and nearly half of them, 110, garnered places in the elimination rounds. The top schools were also recognized in the CEDA rankings of the top 25 programs a total of 67 times out of a possible 100.
The biggest single change between the 1987 and 1992 survey, however, is in individual events. In 1987, the top schools qualified a total of 3,226 slots at the AFA-NIET and the NFA National Tournament. In 1992, this figure jumped markedly to 5,099 total slots. Of these slots, the top schools managed to get 748 slots into the elimination rounds. Further, the top schools received top 10 placement in AFA and NFA sweepstakes a total of 45 and 40 times respectively. In other words, the top fifty schools seem to dominate individual events by taking 95 of 100 top sweepstakes places.
A few trends should be noted in the composition of the ever shifting top fifty forensics schools from 1977-1992. First, there is a definite shift from NDT to CEDA and individual events. NDT power seems to be based mainly in the Midwest, East, and South. CEDA power was based mostly in the West but is shifting toward the Midwest. Individual events strength is mainly in the Midwest and East. Junior colleges represent a very small portion of top fifty programs. There were 2-3 such programs in 1977-78, none in 1983, and two in 1987, and 4 in 1992. Private schools represented 16-18 schools in 1977 in the top fifty but moved up to 20-23 such places in 1983 and held about that many positions again in 1987 and 1992. Small private colleges seem to compete well with major universities, at least in forensics, as 6-8 small colleges were represented in the top fifty for 1977 and 10-12 were represented in 1983 through 1992

B. Staffing

The first set of questions in each survey concerned the staffing for the forensics program. In all four instances there was a great deal of diversity. Some programs have a single director of forensics doing everything and other programs have many people who share the work load. Table 3 illustrates how program staffing has changed in the last 20 years. It shows the number of top 50 programs with codirectors, the amount of release time given to the director and the number of graduate/law assistants in the program.

TABLE 3: STAFFNG PROFILE (Table unavailable on line.)

In the 1978 survey there were about a dozen programs with but a single director of forensics. The preponderant majority of programs had 2-3 people working on a forensics staff with a director of forensics and some combination of other staff members and/or graduate or law school assistants. A very few programs had more than 3-4 people working with forensics. In most instances the director of forensics was responsible for the administration of the program which meant planning, budgeting, decision making, public relations, record keeping, and miscellaneous paperwork. If there were more people working with the program, other duties were usually divided. Frequently debate was separated from individual events and sometimes the competitive program was separated from on campus demonstrations and speakers' bureaus. Graduate or law assistants were almost always mostly involved with direct coaching and travel. Only 3-5 directors of forensics reported getting extra compensation for directing, but almost all had release time of some sort. one class per quarter or semester was a frequently mentioned amount of release but 1/4,1/3, and 1/2 were also frequently mentioned amounts. Released time was expressed in many ways as for example, one class off per quarter or semester, 25 percent released time, or one third released time, or four semester hours released time, etc. Assistance from other faculty was listed as quite minimal-mainly help with on campus tournaments and travel to one to two tournaments per year if that. The average number of people working with Stop fifty programs to include staff and graduate assistants was 2.7 in 1977. The vast majority of programs had two to three people working with their program. Four or five large graduate schools had a staff of six or more.
Things had not changed very much with regards to staffing by 1983. A dozen or so programs had only a director of forensics. Most programs had two or three people working with forensics. Only nine programs had more than five people on a staff working with forensics and all were schools with graduate programs and graduate assistants. The director of forensics still was primarily responsible for administration. There were more options in lg83 on how to split responsibilities as many programs were doing some mix of NDT and/or CEDA debate, individual events, speakers' bureaus, and on campus and community demonstrations. Sometimes people specialized on the staff vis these various events but many times everybody did a little bit of everything. Some directors of forensics stated that they travded and coached less than others on their staff to balance out their administrative duties but many said they traveled even more than their graduate assistants. Oncfourth to one third release time or one class per term were still by far the most common amounts of released time and almost no one got extra compensation as the director of forensics. Three or four directors, however, were listed as administrators rather than faculty at their schools and got administrative contracts, sometimes for more than nine months, instead of faculty contracts. The amount of assistance from non-forensics faculty remained m n mat. Help with local tournaments, judging, and one to two trips a year seems the average maximum directors can cajole from nondesignated faculty however much these professionals may value forensics education in the abstract. The average staff size in 1983 had crept up to 2.99 with 2 or 3 person staffs still the most common. Again, there were around a dozen single person staff programs and only nine or ten with more than five working with the forensics program as part of their direct educational responsibilities.
In 1987 more programs tended to have a co-director or associate/assistant director among the top fifty forensics programs. The number of single director programs was down to eight or nine programs. The director of forensics still served as adrninistrator-decision maker in all programs sometimes sharing these responsibilities with a colleague but most frequently doing this work on her or his own. The rest of the staff either chipped in and shared all responsibilities or more frequently assisted by specializing in some aspect of the program. Many programs, perhaps most, split debate coaching responsibilities from individual speaking coaching responsibilities. Some programs split oral interpretation and readers theatre from the other individual events coaching. Usually, the larger the staff, the more specialization there was. Release time was still the method whereby most directors of forensics and their colleagues were compensated for their time spent on forensics teaching, coaching, and administration. Most directors got 1 class per term or one fourth or one third or one half of their time released for forensics. The number of programs with graduate assistants or law assistants outnumbered the number of programs without about three to t vo. Those programs without graduate assistants almost always had a second or third professional working with the director of forensics except for those eight or nine single person programs mentioned earlier. Two to three person staff programs were still by far the most frequent and the average staff size was up to 3. The amount of assistance received from non-designated forensics faculty remained just about the same as in the 1977 and 1983 surveys.
In 1983 ninety percent plus responded that tenure criteria for forensics people were no different than for other faculty at their college or university. This percentage had gone down to about seventy five percent in 1987. In 1983 ten to twelve directors of forensics were on administrative contracts, or renewable term contracts, or non-tenure contracts. This number had increased slightly in 1987 to thirteen or fourteen. At those schools having different promotion or tenure standards in 1983, the directors stated that forensics was weighted heavily into teaching excellence or into professional service and that publication expectations were slightly lowered. The number of schools having modified tenure/promotion standards doubled to about fifteen in 1987. Modifications induded counting coaching in teaching and/or professional service and/or reducing publication expectations once again.
At a few schools coaching was counted as the equivalent of creative work. In one instance a collective bargaining agreement defined the duties of the director of forensics and 65% of the job was to be forensics and 65% of the evaluation had to be on criteria relevant to that job description. In 1983 thirteen directors claimed that a forensics person would have difficulty with tenure or promotion at their school while twenty two said this was not the case. In 1987 the numbers were fifteen directors claiming that they or colleagues in forensics would have difficulty with tenure or promotion at their institution while twenty three said this would not be the case. Those stating a problem said forensics professionals would have difficulty meeting the publication standards at their schools. By 1992 only 2 of the top fifty programs directors said they worked alone and hence were individually responsible for their programs. 35 had a co-director or assistant director. Most also had graduate teaching assistants or law school assistant. The average staff had just over 4 people with the most common staff sizes being 2 or 3 people. There were 4 staffs of 4, three staffs of 5, 6 staffs of 6, and 6 staffs of 7. Three staffs had more than 7 people.
The director of forensics was most frequently a speech communications person though one education doctorate and 7 JD's were serving as directors of forensics. 18 Directors held a PhD while 15 had an MA in some aspect of speech communication. There was 1 MA of Education, 2 MFA's, 1 MA in English, 2 ABD's, 1 EDD, 7 ID's, and 1 BS who was a person serving in an interim one year position. The people from speech mentioned many specialties but the following interests were mentioned most frequently: 13 focused on public address, 12 on communications theory, 10 on rhetoric or rhetorical theory, 9 on law or communications and the law, and 5 on organizational communication. A scattering of other specialties were mentioned: 4 said their work was primarily in interpersonal and 4 mentioned oral interpretation, 3 said argumentation or argumentation theory, 2 focused on political communication, and 2 on small group, and 1 each mentioned intercultural, speech education, and persuasion.
Three quarters of the respondents (32) who were directors of forensics were tenured or on tenure track contracts. 12 directors were on renewable term contracts. Several directors had relatively unique contracts: 2 were tenured to the university outside of any department, 2 held administrative contracts, and 2 were contracted through the dean of students or student affairs. 35 of the directors appeared to be white males and 10 directors seem to be white females. To the authors' knowledge, no directors, as defuned by the U.S. government, were members of minority groups.
Almost all the associate/assistant directors of forensics did not hold PhDs and almost all were on term contracts, frequently adjunct faculty or instructor or lecturer contracts Only 7 associate/assistant situations appeared to be tenure track options. Most often staff duties are not formally subdivided except that the director of forensics appears to do most of the administration in terms of the paperwork, hiring, budget matters and reporting. Frequently, there is a staff split functionally into those doing debate and those doing individual events teaching, directing, and coaching on those squads doing both debate and individual events which are the preponderant ma jority.
The director of forensics most frequently gets 3 semester hours or 1 class per semester release time though a few get 1/2 release time. In 7 cases, due to some kind of special appointment or contract, release time is irrelevant as forensics is the job for the director of forensics. There are so many different situations for graduate teaching assistant vis release time, compensation, and responsibilities that nothing generalizable can be said about their situations except that most share in squad coaching, travel, and judging responsibilities for which they get some kind of release, official recogmtion, or compensation from their institutions.
In 1992, the directors who responded said that for the most part there was no difference in tenure requirements than with other faculty. Five directors had administrative contracts, 6 renewable term contracts and were not in tenure consideration. 4 of the respondents reported problems for directors of forensics getting tenure but nothing is being done about is vis special standards. One person said that there were problems for the director and associates in getting tenure and said that the position was now a renewable term contract instead of tenure track.
Many, however, said that the standards are not different, but forensics does get special consideration. For example, 4 said that forensics counts as part teaching and creative activity. 3 said that forensics especially counts as university or college service. Several responded that they must work very hard. 6-7 must write and publish to be considered for tenure and promotion. 2-3 received tenure on the basis of service and teaching but the times have changed and now directors must write and publish. Overall, the data yield some important trends. First, almost all of the top fifty schools have more than one person directing the program. 35 of 45 responded that two or more people shared administrative and coaching responsibilities. This is many more than in 1978 or in 1983 when only 26 of the programs responded they had co-directors. Since the 1987 survey, however, most programs have had co directors. Furthermore, 32 programs have assistants and almost every program has at least one other person who participates in program coaching. A second significant trend is the provision of release time for the director of forensics. In 1978, 6 programs claimed to have no released time and this number remained relatively constant through 1987 when 8 programs claimed
to have no release. Yet, in 1992, the number has dropped to 4 which suggests that more schools are recognizing the time commitment involves in directing the forensic program. Most directors receive 1/2 or 1 class release.

C. Squad Demographics

This section of the paper examines squad size and composition. Table 4 shows the number of participants each program had overall, in debate, in individual events, and in CEDA and NDT debate. Some programs, in addition to CEDA and NDT, listed other forms of debate such as Lincoln-Douglas or Parliamentary, however, these are extremely small levels of participation in all the surveys. (Table unavailable on line.)

In 1977 the average top fifty squad had 35 active participants. The range went from twelve to one hundred plus. The most frequent squad size was somewhere between twenty and thirty five students strong. In 1983 the range in squad size for the top fifty forensics programs in the U.S. went from ten to sixty five plus with thirty one the average size down four from the 35 average in 1978. Perhaps this slight decrease was insignificant and due mostly to the decline in gigantic over sixty
member squads and perhaps it was economically induced because of the tremendous inflation between 1977 and 1983. In 1987 top fifty squad sizes ranged from eight to one hundred and two. Most squads had ten to forty active members with the average size at between thirty one and thirty two. By 1992, while the range or participants remained relatively constant at 8-100, the average number of participants dropped again to 30.
One top fifty program in 1977 had no debate and attained its ranking solely on the basis of individual events. Two programs were primarily CEDA oriented as far as debate was concerned. Nine programs had a mLx of CEDA and NDT debate. Thirty six programs were primarily NDT oriented or had only NDT policy debate. Nine programs had no individual events participation or infrequent individual events participation. Most squads had 10-20 students debating during the year though the overall average was 19. The average attending five or more tournaments in debate went down to 14 and the more common core debate squad was 8-16 ncembers strong. The average top fifty squad in 1977 had 22 members doing individual events but that figure goes up to 27 when the nine programs with no individual events to speak of are discounted. On average 13 of these individual events participants went to five or more tournaments during the year or 16 again discounting the nine programs without significant individual events participation. The range in debate went from 4 to 75. The range in individual events was from 6 to 75 with 18-30 being the most frequently claimed individual events squad size.
In 1983 three squads had no debate or no debate to mention and were in essence individual events squads only. This was an increase of two from 1977. Flfteen squads did CEDA debate or in essence only CEDA values debate. Thirteen squads on the top fifty list only debated NDT policy debate. The rest of the programs had a mix of NDT and CEDA. These figures show a considerable increase for CEDA among the top fifty programs between 1977 and 1983. The top fifty programs averaged 17 debaters or 18 if one disregards the 3 programs with no debate. These squads averaged 12 debaters going to more than 5 tournaments in a given year. Only five squads claimed more than 30 debaters. Nine said they had less than 10 active debaters in a given year. Ten program directors in the top fifty claimed to have no individual events programs or in essence no individual events competition. This was about the same as in 1977. Ten squads simultaneously claimed to have more than 30 students regularly entering oratory, extemp, expository, impromptu, oral interpretation of various kinds, at al. The range was from 3-50 plus other than those squads with no individual events students. The average squat had 15 individual events entrants or 19 if one disregards those squads vith no individual events program. An average of 14 of these students attended more than 5 tournaments for those squads that had individual events programs.
In 1987 three top fifty programs are individual events only though a fourth barely dabbles in debate. Fourteen squads are primarily NDT debate oriented. Twenty nine squads mainly do CEDA debate. Only about eight top fifty squads are attempting still to mix both NDT and CEDA debate in any serious fashion. The range of debate participation other than the three non-participants goes from 2 to 50. The average top fifty program has 16 active debaters. Among NDT programs 9 debaters tended to go to five tournaments or more per year in 1987. Among CEDA programs 12 debaters tended to go to five tournaments or more per year in 1987. Ten programs claimed to have no individual events or in essence no individual events competition in 1987. Two more squads only had a very few individual events participants. The rest of the top fifty had five or more students entering individual events on a regular basis. In fact, twenty squads had more than 15 students entering individual events at more than five tournaments per year. six squads even had ten or more students entering pentathalon though 27 top fifty squads had no pentathalon entrants.
In 1992, 6 programs participated primarily in individual events which is up from 1987. 6 squads are primarily NDT although 17 participate in it. The numbers for NDT are down considerably over the last five years and fewer of the top fifty remain as active as they once were in ? > the NDT. 5 programs participate in CEDA only. Only Redlands participates in CEDA and NDT t - | jointly. The range of debate participation for schools that did debate was between 2 and 27 and the average number of debaters in a top 50 program was 13. These numbers are significantly less than in the 1987 survey. The average debaters in a program dipped by three in the last five years. Most of the top 50 programs, however, enter individual events on a regular basis. Individual events participants in programs ranged from 2 to 50 members and the average program had 21 individual events speakers. Only 6 programs participate in Individual Events only, but individual events constitute a significant component of most other programs. 4 programs are active in NDT and Individual Events, 16 programs do both CEDA and IEs, and 8 programs do all three.
In all these figures it is interesting to note some trends. Flrst and most obvious, there is a tremendous shift in the top fifty forensics programs from squads doing primarily NDT debate and some individual events to squads doing CEDA and quite a bit of individual events. Squad size wenc down from 1977 to 1983 but has more or less plateaued from 1983-1992. There may even have been some growth in participation, however most change is merely a shift from NDT to CEDA and [E's with individual events becoming the largest single component in any of the surveyed schools. The number of debate only programs has remained about the same. The number of individual events only programs has grown. The preponderant majority of top fifty programs have always and still do a mix of debate and individual events. Most top fifty programs had at least ten squad members. In every case the number of participants greatly outnumbered the active core squad members who attended five or more tournaments in debate, individual events, or in both debate and individual events. But top fifty Zcorew members usually ranged from 8 to 30.
In 1977 the average top fifty forensics program attended 27 tournaments with a range running from 10 to 50 plus. Most went to 18 to 35 tournaments with only 8 programs in the top fifty going to less than 20 and only 7 attending more than 35 in a single year. In 1983 the average top fifty program attended 23 tournaments with the range running from 840 plus. Twenty two squads attended 10-20 tourlLies per year. Only four squads claimed to regularly have attended more than 30 competitions per year. Tournament attendance was definitely down for the top fifty whether because of fewer tournaments, more focus on a few larger tournaments, financial exigencies, or whatever between 1977 and 1983. In 1987 the average top fifty squad attended between 19 and 20 tournaments per year. Attendance seemed to be distributed fairly evenly between debate only, individual events omy, and mixed tournaments. In 1992, the average top program attended 21 tournaments and the range ran from 10 to 40.
Table 5-8 that follow provide a more detailed assessment of squad size and participation patterns. (Table unavailable on line.)

In 1978, the largest program had 120 members. In 1987, the largest was 102 and in 1992 the largest had 100. The following three tables examine the distribution of debaters in the top 50 programs. The number of programs with a particular debate squad size is listed across from the size and under the survey year.
TABLE 6: TOTAL DEBATERS (Table unavailable on line.)

TABLE 7: NUMBER OF NDT DEBATERS (Table unavailable on line.)
Table 8: NUMBER OF CEDA DEBATERS (Table unavailable on line.)

The attached table on membership in various forensics organizations speaks largely for itself. Almost all top fifty squads are members of The American Forensics Association but from there memberships diversify considerably. It does seem that membership in NDT among top fifty squads has gone down just a little and membership in CEDA among top fifty squads has gone up a moderate amount. PKD is losing a small percentage of top fifty programs while DSR-TKA seems to have picked up a bit. Once again to say much more much more specifically would take a more specific questionnaire with more time for analysis. Table 9 shows the relative distribution of top 50 squads by organization.
(Table unavailable on line.)

D. Scholarships and Financial Aid

The 1977 questionnaire asked a few questions about forensics scholarships and financial aid. The 1983, 1987, and 1992 questionnaires asked a few more. None of the questionnaires was specific enough to detail the exact source of scholarship monies, the exact amounts, or detailed competitive criteria for the initial award of scholarship monies or their renewal. Most of all none of the questionnaires asked what total tuition and fees were at the various schools so data could be derived about forensics aid in proportion to total costs.. Nonetheless, some generic hints about forensics scholarships and financial aid are revealed in the questionnaires' responses.
Seventeen programs in 1977 claimed to have no scholarship monies for forensics. Thirty two programs had scholarship monies in some form for forensics. Many of the scholarships or tuition waivers were for token amounts. A very few paid full tuition. The usual form of application was by letter or form to the director of forensics. The director of forensics cooperated in some way with the financial aid office to award monies on the basis of need, talent, experience, potential, hard work, etc. A few said grades and/or college boards also counted and a few had an interview process in addition to applications before monies would be awarded. A few scholarships were named and dedicated to forensics. Some were limited to in-state fees. Most forensics scholarships involved some sort of cooperative arrangement between financial aid and forensics with the director of forensics having a great deal of discretion as to how that aid labeled forensics was distributed.
Twenty two programs in 1983 claimed to have no scholarship monies for forensics. Three said they had general college talent grants which frequently went to forensics students but were not specifically designated for forensics. Twenty eight others said they had forensics financial aid in one form or another. It is very difficult from the brief section on scholarships and financial aid in the top fifty questionnaire to tell exactly what people had for sure as this is seemingly one of the more delicate areas of forensics information and some directors were loathe to release complete details. State schools generally have tuition or partial tuition waivers or grants that substitute for tuition or out of state waivers for tuition. Private schools have grants or tuition scholarships. Many of these were for token amounts up to S500. Quite a few private schools had S1000-S2000 talent grants. There were more talent grants than any other category of aid. A few schools, both public and private, had tuition scholarships. The criteria for these waivers, grants, or scholarships were fairly standard. Talent, as indicated by performance, records, or letters of recommendation seemed to be number one. Need played a big part in the granting of forensics scholarships after talent had been determined. Hard work, involvement, dedication, potential, coachability, etc. also entered into the forensics scholarship decision. Some programs also demanded grades for the initial application or for continuance. A 3.0 GPA was the most common minimum though a few programs let that slip as low as 25. A few programs also looked for SAT or ACT test scores or for other indications of general Smarts"as indicated by more than one director. The application process usually involved a letter or form which in a few cases was followed by an interview. There was considerable director of forensics discretion in the granting of forensics aid at most schools, but the director still almost always had to cooperate in some fashion with financial aid as there were very very few endowed forensics scholarships.
In 1987 thirty-nine schools indicated they had some form of financial aid or scholarships for forensics students while eighteen schools indicated that they did not. Obviously the number of schools granting aid has gone up while those without forensics aid monies has stayed about the same. Once again the types of aid varied significantly. Some programs had a designated pot of money that they could divide however they wished. Some colleges and universities had a set number of scholarships or tuition waivers per year or class, as 10 overall or 3 per class for freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors. Fewer schools had designated debate scholarships and more had more general forensics scholarships. In 1977 and 1983 when scholarships were mentioned they most frequently were debate scholarships. This was still true in 1987 but to a much lesser extent. The application process was still pretty much standard at all schools. The student indicated interest by application through a letter or form and was evaluated by financial aid for need and talent or merit and by the director of forensics for forensics talent or potential. Several schools mentioned that their programs were €part of a larger merit programed at their college or university. Criteria for forensics talent continued to be experience at workshops, tournament records, motivation and interest, and ability to contribute to a squad. Three or four schools indicated that their forensics aid monies came from alumni or other forensics benefactors. A few mentioned grade standards again and a 3.0 G.P.A. once again was most frequent among those schools having grade standards. A few directors responded to the new question about whether it made a difference being at a public vs. a private school. Their responses generally indicated that aid was much more significant at private schools because expenses were greater.
In 1992, of the 45 returns we received, 13 of the top fifty claimed to have no scholarships or tuition waivers. State colleges and universities often have out-of-state tuition waivers and many of the scholarships mentioned were in token amounts of S500, $800, or S1000 a year. Ten of the schools have full tuition waivers or scholarships. Many of the responding programs had only 34 scholarships and some have 12, 15, and even 20 grants, tuition waivers, or scholarships.
The application process was most usually a letter to the director of forensics sometimes through admissions offices or committees. Standards for awards were most often high school grades, standardized test scores, and promise of success based on previous participation and success. Sometimes an audition was used. Renewal was based on dedication, hard work, usually a 3.0 GPA, but sometimes as low as a 2.4 GPA was allowed and in the case of one program, merit scholarships required a 3.75. Scholarship and financial aid efforts actually went down a bit between 1977 and 1983 which surprised this author. Efforts went up, however, between 1983 and 1987. Many schools added talent or merit awards. Still most top fifty forensics programs only have token merit awards ranging from S100 at some public schools to S500-$2500 dollars at some of the private colleges and universities. A few schools have full ride tuition waivers, some confined to in state students only, some granting only out of state tuition rate waivers. A few schools have full ride scholarships. The number of full ride waivers or scholarships, however, is fairly small compared to the total number of participants at top fifty programs. For fuller information on this topic someone is going to have to ask for details on tuition waivers and scholarships. Public schools need to be separated from private colleges and universities. Most of all a comparison needs to be made between aid and total college or university costs which means getting tuition and fee data at the same time as one gets scholarship and financial aid data. Only such a process would give the forensics community real in depth forensics financial aid and scholarship information. Meanwhile, this survey of the top fifty programs indicates financial aid and scholarships among top forensics programs are increasing but not at accelerated rates. More schools are giving aid or scholarships but only a few have wfull ride"Cadillac programs and some of these are not in the top fifty forensics programs. Anyone seeking causative connections between scholarships and forensics success would have a ways to go because 2/5 of the top fifty programs had no forensics aid or scholarships at all or mere token amounts.

E. Budgets

Probably the most interesting section for most people will be this section on the budgets of the top fifty national forensics programs. Money talks because money is power. Perhaps what distinguishes the top fifty forensics programs more than anything else is that they have bigger budgets. That, at least, is probably what many people think. They may well be correct but many top fifty programs are getting along on medium sized budgets, particularly considering how many students they serve. Their directors may be justified when they argue that they get more per dollar than some of their peers. Table 10 shows the distribution of budgets across each of the four survey periods.
TABLE 10: TOP 50 BUDGETS (Table unavailable on line.)

In 1974-75 top fifty budgets ranged from $3,600 to $17,000 + . The average budget was $l0,980. The mode Nor top fifty budgets in 1974-75 was $l0,000-$11,000. Eleven programs had less than $7,000 while eleven programs had more than $14,000. In 1977-78 top fifty forensics budgets ranged between $5,000 and $29,000 + . The average budget was $13,340. The mode for top fifty programs was $13,000-$14,000. Twenty programs had between $10,000 and $14,000 in their budgets. In 1979-80 forensics budgets at the more successful national programs ran from $2,900 to $48,000. The average budget moved up to $15,390. Twenty five programs had budgets between $5,000 and $12,000. fifteen programs had budgets between $15,000 and $23,000. In 1983-84 the range of top fifty budgets went from $7,000 to $60,000. The average budget was $20,100. The modal budget was $20,000. Twenty seven programs had between $13,000 and $22,000. Thirteen programs had between $20,000 and $23,000. A second set of figures derived from the 1987 survey for 1983-84 instead of from the 1983 survey came up with slightly different figures. These figures are different because the top fifty schools in 1987 are different from the top fifty schools of 1983 and because different schools responded. According to the 1987 figures for 1983-84 top fifty budgets ranged from $7,000 to $57,000. The average budget was $18,700. The modal budget was between $l9,000 and $20,000. Twenty eight forensics programs had budgets between $17,000 and $26,000. Only four squads had less than $8,000 and only six were above $30,000. The most pertinent figures for most interested people concern 1987- 88. In 1987-88 top fifty budgets range from a low of $10,000 to a high of $92,000. The average budget for travel and services not for scholarships or salaries is $27,200. Thirty eight programs, by far the preponderant majority of top fifty respondents, had budgets between $15,000 and $32,000. Only 3 budgets were below $14,000 and only 6 budgets were above $36,000. The 1992 survey results showed the average budget increasing once again to $34,700 and had a range of $14,500 to $75,000. This is a significant increase over the previous survey period of approximately $7,000. Twenty programs had budgets ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 as illustrated in Table 10. Only 2 programs had budget below $15,000 and 8 had budgets exceeding $50,000.
In 1977, 26 programs claimed that all or essentially all of their budgets came from administrative sources, several commenting that they preferred the stability of administrative budgets to the Wflightincssw of student allocation and felt jusilcd in administrative funding due to the educational nature of forensics activities. Nonetheless, eight programs got all or essentially all of their budgets from student governments or through a fee per student system. Fourteen programs got some student monies and some administrative monies. There were very very few forensics endowments. Eight programs claimed to get significant monies from their alumni but the questionnaire was not specific enough to pick up how or when they collected such monies. National tournament competition money was often extra and obtained by special request after qualification though sometimes national competition was built into regular budgets.
In 1983 thirty one programs stated that all or essentially all of their budgets came from administrative sources. This was up a bit. six claimed that all or essentially all of their budgets came from student government. This was down a bit. The other respondents had some sort of mixed system for obtaining their budgets. There were still very very few endowed forensics monies. Many programs still got extra funds for national competition. About the same half dozen plus claim significant alumni funds but these seem to be raised ad hoc. Very few got any significant financial breaks in expending their money. Those that did usually had a donated squad van or station wagon. As in 1977, there were not many significant sources of funding outside the administration, students, and/or alumni. A few programs got significant dollars from their summer institutes or through handbook sales. The most common significant fund raiser was running forensics tournaments, particularly high school tournaments on campus. Many programs make from $1,000 to $4,000 annually through their tournaments mostly through a tremendous number of donated hours by forensics staff, students, alumni, and others given to tournament management and judging. Way down the list as a fund raiser but used by a few squads in special instances were food sales: burritos, snacks, candies, bagels, et al. A lot of programs claim significant support from department chairs, deans, vice presidents, provosts, presidents, and/or trustees who are ex debaters or speakers.
The budget situation was not changed significantly in terms of sources of funds in 1987-88. Thirty seven respondents in 1987-88 proclaimed that their exclusive budget source was administrative. Six programs got all or almost all of their budgets from students. Ten programs got their budgets from a mix of administrative and student sources. One school's budgets uniquely came almost entirely from alumni and current gift funding. Only four schools mentioned significant endowment monies as part of the regular budget. In 1987-88 as was the case in 1977-78 and 1983 forensics had to pay most mailing and phone costs though in some instances these were shared with or paid by a departmental budget. Most programs got student secretarial work study assistance mostly independently but in some cases shared with their base departments. Most programs in 1987-88 seem to have built nationals competition into their budgets versus getting extra monies once qualified for nationals as only seven or eight programs mentioned getting extra funds for nationals from their deans, presidents, or alumni. Seven to eight schools did mention getting significant alumni funding. Four used this partly for their current expenses as mentioned above. The remaining alumni funds seemed to go for the beginnings of an endowment fund or for student scholarships. This seems to be a burgeoning area of potential for top fifty programs except in those instances where school rules prevent mailings or phonathons to alumm separately from school wide efforts. More research into this area should prove worthwhile for someone. In 1987-88 very few programs got special deals in expending their funds. The most common break was a free van or car or cheap mileage fees. Ten to fifteen programs mentioned getting school vans for twenty to twenty five cents a mile. Finally, almost no one in the 1987 survey mentioned special fund raising efforts. Those that did disparaged such efforts as too much work for too little return. A typical comment stated zwe tried jogathons and candy sales but the money raised was seldom worth the effort."
In 1992, 27 programs claim to receive nearly all of their funding through administrative channels again claiming the advantage of stability. Of these programs, tournaments, summer debate institutes, and alumni gifts accounted for approximately five per cent of their total budget. For the most part, outside monies (including alumni funds) are insignificant parts of the total budget. One program sold video tapes to earn additional money but with the exception of tournament profits which averaged less than S2,000, none of these programs conducted additional fundraising campaigns. S programs receive nearly all of their budget through student government and student activities. None of these programs indicated any additional fundraising efforts. 10 programs receive their funding through a mix of administrative support, alumni gifts, departmental funding, and student government. For the most part, these schools use tournaments and alumni donations for their additional revenues and no program suggested that it used non-forensic related fundraisers.
The top fifty programs seem to have been successful in their attempts to improve their budgets. The appeals for forensics budgeting are both wide ranging and cross the spectrum from the cliche to the ingenious. Most directors start with the educational values of forensics arguing that forensics teaches critical thinking, research skills, self-assurance, case making and refutation, and oral communication presentational skills. Most then make a series of arguments concerning forensics as a recruiting mechanism to get some of the best and brightest students to attend their schools. Many discuss forensics as one of the oldest and most disting ushed special education programs for gifted students. Most then proclaim that they have broad based programs with great student participation In fact, number of students and participation was the most frequently mentioned budget argument. Almost all directors of forensics then discuss competitive excellence. Some discuss excellence in general as an educational objective while others discuss success versus school rivals. Lots of public relations phrases such as a tradition of excellence came into play in budget requests. Publicity and public relations for the college or university via the forensics program was also included in a majority of budget requests. Several directors said they did regular reports and/or an annual report to assure they were in front of the college community regularly not just at the time for requesting money Many directors of forensics in requesting budgets mentioned their campus and community service with regards to tournaments, public debates, and esp. with high school demonstrations. Quite a few directors argued the career successes of forensics alumni. Some attached testimonials as proof of their claims. Many directors mentioned the number of tournaments attended, miles traveled, and student successes. Most mentioned inflation and rising travel, lodging, and food costs. Most argued their frugality in getting the most possible per dollar expended. Directors of forensics used the rhetorical Kitchen sinkw in their budget appeals. Many commented that they made special efforts throughout the year not just annually at budget request time to sell forensics on their campuses and particularly to key decision makers such as deans, vice presidents, provosts, and presidents.
Several important trends can be seen in this analysis. Budgets have risen from an average of $10,980 in 1974-75 to $34,700 which is almost a three-fold increase. Although part of the increase can be attributed to inflation-particularly in travel and housing costs-the average top 50 program had stayed ahead of inflation and ahead of many university budgets. $34,700 may seem like a lot of money to commit to a co-curricular activities program, but expenditures for forensics shrink to insignificance when compared to sports, music, drama, or even student government on most campuses. S34,700 to send thirty gifted, talented, and hard working students to 21 tournaments per year seems quite a good deal. Forensics remains one of the best programs ever for gifted and talented students as it has been for over one hundred years. Most directors of forensics, in fact, state they have absolutely no difficulty selling almost anyone on the academic and intellectual values of forensics, they just have trouble getting the money to implement this philosophic commitment pragmatically in their program budgets.


What makes for a great forensics squad or at least a top fifty forensics squad as defined in this paper? A fine director of forensics, a favorable geographic location, a quality school, a great tradition, and a number of other intangibles certainly make a distinct difference. For the more than one hundred programs identified in four top fifty surveys in this study, staff, squad size and participation, scholarships, and budgets also seem to make a difference. Only thirteen schools appeared on all four surveys and twenty-four appeared in three of the four. The top fifty programs are fluid, almost fifty percent of the top fifty schools turn over every five years.
The definition for success among top fifty programs has shifted away from NDT debate and toward CEDA debate and individual events. By 1992, individual events constitute the largest single component of the successful program. While NDT remains a central component in several top 50 schools, their numbers have dwindled markedly from 1978 to 1992. Twenty years ago, the top 50 programs sent 176 teams to the NDT, now only 94 teams are sent. NDT has become much more regionalized over the passage of time. There are still 6 programs that emphasize primarily NDT debate, but that is a sharp decline from 14 only five years ago.
Although the number of schools participating in CEDA exceeds NDT, they have begun to decline. Five years ago, 37 programs participated in CEDA debate and 10 years ago 35 programs were active. In 1992, however, only 28 programs claimed to be active in CEDA. Part of this decline can be attributed to 45 versus 51 survey returns 5 years ago, but nonetheless, a slight decline is evident.
Participation among top fifty schools in individual events is way up. The average number of individual events participants is much higher than 10 years ago. The 1983 survey showed only 15 average participants compared to the 1992 result to 21. Individual events participation was roughly equal between the 1992 and 1978 surveys but individual event success is much higher in 1992 indicating a greater program focus and commitment to individual events participation. For instance, in 1978, the top 50 programs accounted for 534 total individual events slots at the NFA national tournament. In 1983 the number jumped to 418 slots in the NFA and 577 total slots at the AFA-NIET for a total of almost 1,000 slots. Yet, in the 1992 survey, top 50 programs accounted for 3,183 slots at NFA and 1,916 slots at AFA during the last five year period.
A top fifty program generally has a staff of two to three people. There is one director of forensics and often an associate or assistant director. At many schools the co-director or assistant director is a professional colleague perhaps with only an MA and lecturer status, but a professional colleague nonetheless. At many schools with graduate programs a graduate student may be an assistant director. The director of forensics and her/his co director or assistant usually get 1/2 released time or one class. Graduate students get 1/2 or all of their teaching load allocated to forensics. There is a small rising trend for forensics professionals to get adm nistrative or term contracts but most directors of forensics are still regular academics on tenure tracks. There seems to be another small trend to modify normal tenure and promotion standards for forensics folks weighting teaching and service a bit more heavily and diminishing slightly in quantity if not quality publication expectations but this question needs more detailed and more thorough research and analysis than was possible in this paper. There is also a disturbing, yet still slight trend, to replace tenure track positions with renewable term contracts.
A top fifty forensics program usually has about thirty active members. Six top 50 squads in 1992 seem to be pretty much exclusively individual events teams-up from 4 five years ago. Eleven top fifty quads in 1992 seem to be pretty much exclusively debate teams with a few more who merely dabble on the side in individual events. The preponderant majority of top fifty forensics squads do both debate and individual events with some people specializing in one or the other but with many doing both. Top fifty squads attend twenty or more tournaments a year generally and sponsor one to four tournaments per year on their own campuses. The most typical pattern seems to be to host one college and one high school tournament per year but some host more and a few less. 13 of the responding schools have no scholarships or tuition waivers, but the remaining majority do. 10 schools offered full tuition waivers although most seemed to have token scholarship awarded on the basis of merit. There seems to be a rising trend toward more schools having some form of forensics financial aid, especially vis merit awards, but details as to forensics financial aid as a proportion of overall school costs and real cross comparisons between schools in this arena awaits for detailed and thorough future analysis.
Top fifty budgets have increased from an average of $10,980 in 1974 to an average of $37,400 in 1992. The majority of schools in the top fifty have budgets ranging from $20,000 to $40,000. There are a very ftw small budgets among top programs and only two have budgets less than $15,000. Conversely, the number of big budget programs have increased markedly. In 1978, no program claimed to have a budget in excess of $50,000. In 1983, one program made such a claim. In 1987, three programs had budget over $50,000 and one claimed a budget level of $92,000. Yet, in 1992, 8 programs have budgets over $50,000.
Most top fifty budgets come primarily from administrative sources as forensics is considered a co-curricular academic activity at most schools. There has been an upward trend in top fifty programs getting their funding from administrations with 26 getting most of their money in this manner in 1977 but 37 getting most of their money in this manner in 1987. Nationals competition used to be an extra with a special request made at the end of the year for most schools and that is still the way it is at a few schools but many top fifty programs seem to have built nationals tournament funding into their budgets. Few top fifty schools get any breaks on expenditures except for the usage of school vans or cars and mileage rates at twenty to twenty five cents a mile at a number of colleges and universities. All budget figures are primarily travel figures with some mailing, phoning, and paper and supplies tossed in. Scholarship figures and salary figures would be additional budget costs for most programs. Fnslly, very few schools participate in fundraising beyond hosting tournaments and some efforts with alumni.
We have attempted to combine the data about the top 50 programs over the twenty years in an effort to discover the dominant characteristics of these programs. Through persistence in following up on questionnaires the data base seems basically good. A few schools did not respond and a few refused information on some things as for example 2-3 schools refusing their budget figures and a few directors just skipping some questions which accounts in places for the discrepancy between total respondents and the exact figures listed in the various tables Nevertheless the four surveys over twenty years of forensic history seem to present a fairly good retrospective for the Stop fifty forensics programs in the U.S."The authodhopes that this information is useful to the forensics community and will help top fifty programs to maintain or increase their status and for other programs to join them.