Brief History of the LDU

Intercollegiate debate at the University of Vermont began in 1899 when Edwin W. Lawrence '01 started the University of Vermont debate team. Throughout the early part of this century debate was a constant part of life at UVM.

After the Second World War, a cohesive national level of debate competition began to take shape, and Vermont was an important force. Dr. Robert Huber came to UVM in the late 1940's, and throughout the 1950's and 1960's he led the Vermont debate team to national dominance, including national titles at all levels. During this time, Edwin W. Lawrence gave generously to the University to establish an endowment for the debate team and a professorial chair to teach forensics and work with the team —— which became the Lawrence Debate Union.

The 1980's replaced the doldrums of the 1970's with a revitalized and successful debate team stressing education, competition, and service. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s UVM has been a consistent top national competitor. Since the award was created four out of the six East Region Debater of the Year awards have gone to UVM students. During this period UVM has national championships in Novice Debate, Junior Varsity Debate and Public Debate, and has placed as high as Third in Varsity Debate and as high as Fifth in the National Sweepstakes race.

This is doubly impressive because the vast majority of our opponent schools have extensive scholarship programs for talented high school debaters and a substantially larger budget, while UVM has students with little or no high school experience and very high travel costs. Success is possible through a community of students, staff, faculty, alumni volunteers, and friends.