There is little likelihood that the results reported on this page are either perfectly accurate or entirely complete. There are periods of time in the program’s history where there were no year-end summaries and there are stretches where those summaries have vanished. Some of the gaps have been filled in by going through the archives of the student newspaper and that process has often revealed large gaps between what happened at tournaments and how those results were reported in The Mac Weekly. Not infrequently, the paper has placed a Mac team in the final round of a national championship tournament when those who were there know full well that they were eliminated in the quarter-finals. I also have no doubt that some significant accomplishments have been overlooked because one editor or another decided that another Mac student winning a forensics contest was not particularly newsworthy.
The history of Macalester forensics may not be the stuff of legends or epic poetry, but it is still a tale filled with interesting people and grand accomplishments. The College’s first debate coach, Professor Glenn Clark, also served as the College’s football and track coach for a time, set up a publishing house devoted to books about prayer, and was a nationally-known lecturer. Another former coach, Harold LeVander, spent a few years training Macalester debaters before he became the Governor of Minnesota. The accomplishments of the more recent directors are equally noteworthy. Professor Roger Mosvick, who led the program for more than a decade starting in the late 1950s, is an internationally recognized authority on the subject of making meetings more effective and a communications consultant for firms across the globe. His successor, Dr. W. Scott Nobles was a scholar whose range stretched from academic debate and classical rhetoric to political and legal communication, serving as a commentator for a wide range of political debates, as a trial consultant for a number of law firms as well as a lifetime of service to a wide variety of professional organizations.
The process of putting together this brief history of the program’s national awards provided a rare opportunity to study the rosters of the program and to take note of the number of bright and talented people who have competed under its banner. Some of the program’s alumni are well-known and others should be better known. The program’s alumni include such luminaries as a former Vice-President of the United States, Walter F. Mondale; a former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Laureate, Kofi Annan; Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, one of the nation’s most accomplished professors of rhetoric; prize-winning author Tim O’Brien; nationally-known businesswoman Lois Quam, health care advocate Juan A. Figueroa; Barbara Dailey Rudd, who carved an impressive legal career when female attorneys were a rarity, the creator of the web development tool Cold Fusion, J.J. Allaire; Patricia Lanegran Kane, a much beloved Macalester professor and distinguished scholar of British and American literature; New York Times columnist and best-selling author Randall E. Stross; political and campaign consultant Nikki Heidepriem; Dr.Daniel B. Yarosh, a widely recognized pioneer in the science of DNA repair; noted philosopher Anthony Weston; the distinguished theologian Beverly Wildung Harrison, the acclaimed business consultant Merwyn Hayes; noted civil rights attorney and advocate for the homeless Rebecca Troth; and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson.