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Lakeland College is creating a debate program and the college has hired a familiar face from Wisconsin's debate community to lead it.
David Henning, who has more than 30 years of debate experience, will coach Lakeland's debate and forensics team and teach the college's new debate course, which will be offered for the first time this spring.
Lakeland's program is for students at every level of experience - from high school national championship qualifiers to those with no previous debate experience. More than a dozen current Lakeland students - some with high school debate experience - have expressed interest in joining the debate team, and they'll give Henning a core to build around. Lakeland's team will compete in various debate, forensics and individual speech events.
"Everyone I have met and talked to at Lakeland has reinforced the idea that there is a commitment to building a competitive debate program," said Henning, director of debate at Sheboygan South High School and assistant director of debate at Sheboygan North High School.
"I'm looking forward to taking intelligent, motivated students with little or no formal debate experience and teaching them the debate skills they will use for the rest of their lives as well as turning them into solid collegiate debaters who fare well at regional and national college debate tournaments." In Henning, Lakeland has hired a fixture from Wisconsin's debate community who has succeeded in motivating his debaters to share in his enthusiasm.
Henning has been a debater, debate coach and judge for 32 years. He participated in more than 300 debates in high school and college, and has judged nearly 2,000 debates. He won one high school and three college state debate championships and placed second nationally in the 1985 Freshman/Sophomore College National Debate Tournament.
Henning helped South High qualify a record four varsity teams to the Wisconsin State Debate Tournament in 2012, and his top team tied for 17th out of 200 teams at the National Catholic Forensics National Debate Tournament.
He was Judge of the Year in the Milwaukee Debate League in 2006 and 2011, and final round judge for the NFL and CFL national qualifying tournament from 2006-12.
Henning has also been on the judging panel for the championship round of the Wisconsin State Debate Tournament in 1991-1994, 2007, 2008 and 2012. He was also on the panel for the National Championship Debate at the NFCL National Tournament in 2009 and on the national semi-final judging panel at the NCFL in 2011.
The Sheboygan native is in his third year as coach at South High School (his alma mater), his first as head coach. He is also the lead instructor at Marquette University's Debate Institute. He will continue to hold these positions, in addition to his work at Lakeland.
Lakeland's new debate course will include traditional readings and discussions, videos of several different formats of debate (political, presidential, high school and college policy debates, parliamentary and world debates) and fun, interactive lessons.
"I place an emphasis on building research skills, crafting logical arguments and identifying illogical ones, note-taking and listening, and effective refutation and persuasion," Henning said. "These are skills that will help anyone succeed in the rest of their college and graduate school classes, as well as in their chosen careers."
Henning envisions his team holding debates for the student body and/or public on topics of interest or importance.
"A successful program will attract interest from regional and national debaters interested in attending a small, high quality educational institution. Success in competitive debate builds on its own success, and through the testimonials and later career success of former students it helps brings more of the same to Lakeland."
Henning has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He spent six years as a teaching assistant, two at UWM and four while in the doctoral program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.