The History of Forensics At Southwest Missouri State College, 1906-1971

Date of Graduation

Summer 1972


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Holt Spicer


Southwest Missouri State College has, from its early existence, recognized the academic value of speech activities, and forensic competition has been a vital part of its student activities. The interest taken by students, coupled with the contribution of the faculty has led to the formation of a highly successful program. Throughout the sixty-five year history of the college, many changes have taken place in extra-curricular speech activities. However, no composite record of forensics at Southwest Missouri State has been written. This study proposes to provide such a record. The nature and purpose of historical research, is to provide an account of past occurances. However, there can be additional benefits gained. This study will endeavor not only to record the events in the development of forensics at Southwest Missouri State College, but also to show the causal reasons for that development, and demonstrate its relationship to national forensic growth patterns. The history of a program at an individual school is naturally of interest to the personnel involved. It gives recognition for their efforts and achievements. It can be of additional value when analysis is made of the program, and the reasons for its successes are explored. Only four years after the school's founding, the first intercollegiate debate and public speaking contests were held. A short time later the college participated in triangular league competition, and then began tournament debating. Throughout the years both the debate squad and faculty personnel have gained special recognition. This record includes consistent representation in national championship competition, multiple wins in prestigious tournaments, and an excellent winning percentage. The most noticeable accomplishment of the forensics program is not the many individual successes, but rather the consistent quality of S.M.S. debate. The college's experience is not limited to isolated victories and occasional strong individuals, but continued excellence demonstrated by a large number of students. This speaks highly for the coaching staff and other faculty, as well as the debaters involved. The guidance and education offered by the faculty and the determination of the students have combined to build a most impressive record. The history of forensics at Southwest Missouri State shows a well-grounded, vibrant educational program that has consistently recorded impressive successes. The hallmark of S.M.S. forensics has always been quality education and competititve excellence. There is every reason to believe that this pattern will continue.

Subject Categories



© Leonard Wyrick Westphal