USD student wins debate competition, professor honored A University of South Dakota student has won a national debate championship and a university faculty member won an outstanding director award at the recent National Education Debate Association (NEDA) National Competition in Kankakee, IL.
Austin Eich, a senior political science major from Madison, won the national championship in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate at the NEDA National Tournament competition. Eich, a speech communication minor, also received one of four National Education Debate Association All-American Awards for outstanding performance in debate, academics and community service.
James Lewis, USD professor and chair of the department of speech communication and acting director of forensics, and Ken Tauke, graduate debate assistant, each received 1999 Outstanding Director Awards from NEDA. Tauke, a native of Cascade, IA, has been appointed debate coach for West Point Academy for the fall semester.
"Debaters have to deal with complex research and develop complex ideas, they have to be able to translate these into understandable and persuasive presentations," said Lewis. "Austin Eich proved that he is one of the best in the entire country by his performance."
According to Lewis, the top four debaters qualify for the semifinals, and then proceed to a single elimination competition.
"We were very close and it looked for awhile like we'd have three of the four finalists, but qualifying two of the finalists is pretty marvelous," said Lewis, noting his team's performance played a role in his being selected an outstanding forensics director.
This semester's policy topic for the four NEDA tournaments leading up to and including the national championship tournament was "Federal Campaign Spending Limits Should Be Strengthened," according to Lewis.
Two other students also turned in outstanding forensic performances at the national competition. Jesse Kelley, a senior political science and business management major from Sioux Falls, earned fourth place in the Lincoln-Douglas division. Ben Aker, a sophomore from Spearfish, placed fifth in the Lincoln-Douglas division of the tournament.
Eich and Kelley each received senior recognition awards from NEDA for their years of performance in forensics/debate.
Twelve teams from across the country participated in the 1999 national competition, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, based in Kankakee, IL. NEDA is a national association with approximately 40 schools as members.
"Students come from all areas of academic study, so this shows that debate is really a university activity, not just a speech communication activity," Lewis said.