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The Director's Welcome

WKU Forensics  is the oldest and most successful program in the history of Western Kentucky University. Records reveal that public speaking contests, like the Ogden Robinson Oratorical competition, took place on The Hill as early as 1877, suggesting forensics activities predate the official founding of the university. The team has evolved substantially over the last seven score. 

In 1995, Western Kentucky University shocked the country winning our first team National Forensics Association National Championship in Lincoln Douglas Debate. The team would go on to win LD - Debate Team National Championships in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. In 2021 WKU won the National Forensics Association LD sweepstakes title in historic fashion, with the largest point total ever recorded at the tournament. 

WKU students also broke individual barriers along the way to our monumental team accomplishments. In 2016, WKU student Nefertiti Dukes became the first Black person and first Black woman to win the national final round of Lincoln Douglas debate. In 2017, two WKU students, Mark Allseits and Jon Sahlman advanced to the final round, earning the first and only national final round close-out in LD debate. In 2021, sophomore Andre Swai became the first Black man to win the final round.

By the late 1990s, WKU established a reputation of excellence in debate we have maintained ever since. In 2003, WKU shocked the circuit again, winning our first American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament Team Championship. That victory signaled the beginning of what would become the most successful holistic forensics organization on the planet. The program would go on to win AFA Team National Championship Titles again in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2019. In 2021, WKU won AFA by the largest point total recorded at the tournament in at least the last decade and possibly of all time. That season, the program also won five individual event national championships, tying the historical record. 

In 2003 WKU also won our first NFA Individual Events National Championship. At that time, only two teams ever proved capable of earning both tournaments’ Individual Events Team National Championships: Eastern Michigan and Bradley University. When Western Kentucky University won the AFA and NFA IE Team Championships in the same year in 2003, it sent shockwaves throughout the activity and established our institution as a premier location in the country to participate in forensics. The next year, 2004, WKU invented a new standard of excellence on collegiate Forensics, becoming the first and only team to ever win the American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament, The National Forensics Association Individual Events Team Championship, and the National Forensics Association Lincoln Douglas Debate Team National Championship in the same season. Until that point, no one imagined what it could possibly be like for one team could prove to be the best at both.  We would go on to win the NFA Individual Events National Championship for a third time in 2006, then again in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018. In 2021, WKU won the National Forensics Association Individual Events Team Championship by the largest point total ever recorded at any of the above national competitions in the history of collegiate forensics. 

11 American Forensics Association National Championships since 2003.

13 National Forensics Association Individual Event Team National Championships since 2003.

18 National Forensics Association Lincoln Douglas Debate Team National Championships since 1996. 

WKU is the only team to ever win the AFA NST Team Sweepstakes Championship, the NFA IE Team Sweesptakes Championship, and the NFA LD Team Sweepstakes championship in the same season. In 2021 WKU accomplished this feat for the ninth time (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2021) since 2004. 

Taken together, Western Kentucky University has earned 42 Team National Championships Across Speech and Debate activities since 1996. Making Western Kentucky University unquestionably the most dominate collegiate speech and debate organization over the last quarter century. 

Despite these truly unparallelled competitive accomplishments, the success of WKU Forensics is not measured in pewter and marble, but in the transformative power of our approach. Forensics offers students the skills necessary to confidently and effectively communicate in any situation. Students  follow current events, interpret a wide-array of fiction and non-fiction literature, engage in critical discourse, and learn how to become wise consumers of persuasion. Students on the WKU Forensics program craft dazzling presentations rooted in their lived experiences and learn from the diverse perspectives of others. Ultimately, we think forensics encourages the recognition of our shared humanity. For this reason, students in the activity are not only impressive in job interviews, but also tend to be more engaged in social issues and civic life.

Current team members work as official university ambassadors, hold positions in our Student Government Association, lead Greek Life and Religious Organizations, and participate in countless community improvement initiatives. Since 2012, WKU Forensics has produced 3 Critical Language Scholarship Winners, 3 Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship earners, 2 Boren Award for International Study recipients, 1 Foundation for Global Scholars recipient, 1 Lifetime Experience Grant, 3 Truman Scholarship finalists, 4 Fulbright Scholars, and 2 Fellowships for Princeton in Asia. Our graduates have gone on to earn master’s degrees in a variety of fields as well as PhDs, EdDs, and JDs. Students have earned full scholarships to continue their education at elite institutions like Harvard, Duke, Georgetown, and NYU. All of our graduates know that no matter where they end up, they forever have a home on The Hill.

We thank you for taking the time to learn more about this life-changing activity and we encourage you to share it with others in you community! Please let me know if there are any questions about our program I can answer.

Ganer Newman

Contact Info

Ganer Newman
1906 College Heights Blvd. #51084
Bowling Green, KY  42101-1084


Phone: 270 745 6340
Fax: 270 745 6341


all photos: Sur la Lune Photography



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 Last Modified 2/22/24