Thursday, February 27, 2020

$1.5 million alumni gift allows ongoing scholarships and funding for debate team

December 5, 2018
The timer used by social relations and policy sophomore Luc Walkington and Physics sophomore Evan Runburg is pictured on Feb.18, 2017 at Wells Hall. Michigan State hosted the district five qualifier to determine who goes to the 71st national debate tournament in March.
The timer used by social relations and policy sophomore Luc Walkington and Physics sophomore Evan Runburg is pictured on Feb.18, 2017 at Wells Hall. Michigan State hosted the district five qualifier to determine who goes to the 71st national debate tournament in March. —
Photo by Jon Famurewa | and Jon Famurewa The State News

A $1.5 million gift given to the MSU debate team from an alumni couple will help ensure "the nationally competitive program will enjoy ongoing scholarship and funding support for years to come," a university press release said.

The gift―the largest the team has ever received―will be used to provide future and current members with scholarships and resources.

“This gift is a game-changer for the debate team, allowing us to expand our opportunities to innumerable future students,” Casey Harrigan, director of the debate program, said in the press release. “Equally important is the legacy piece, ensuring that MSU Debate remains a permanent and significant institution at MSU forever, locking in all of the efforts and hard work of our alumni and staff over decades.” 

The team―which is housed within the Honors College―requires hours of research, speech and argument development and travel for tournaments. 

MSU debate teams have proven to be elite, the press release said. A team from the university has qualified for the National Debate Tournament each of the past 22 years. Teams also earned national championships in 2004, 2006 and 2010. 

The donors chose to remain anonymous, but both believe debate and critical thinking is beneficial beyond graduation in all fields, the press release said. 

The contribution will allow the team to expand, and will provide support to Empower Extraordinary, a capital campaign ensuring future students have the resources they need to be successful. The group has raised over $1.75 billion, and provided 3,500 scholarships to students. 

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