Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team Ranked #10 Program in the Nation


Finishes in Sweet 16 at National Debate Tournament and Third Place at CEDA National Championship

(NEWARK, NJ) – The Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team, sponsored by the Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), concluded its 2015-16 season by being ranked the #10 debate program in the nation by the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA), the largest intercollegiate policy debate association in the United States. This follows impressive performances at the back-to-back, end-of-season national debate competitions held each spring. RU-N placed third at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) National Championship with the three teams sent by RU-N making it to the elimination rounds for the second year in a row. The team also finished as one of the top 16 teams in the nation at the prestigious, invitation-only National Debate Tournament (NDT). Both tournaments were held in April at Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY.

“Our successes at both of our annual national championship tournaments are testament to the hard work and dedication of our students and the tradition of excellence that we have established on the Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team,” said Christopher Kozak, Director of Debate at Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA).

At the CEDA National Championship, all three teams sent by RU-N advanced past the double-octofinals to become one of the top 32 teams. The team of Andres Monclut and Chaz Wyche lost to the top-ranked team at the tournament. This was an extremely impressive accomplishment for this young team, as normally only much more experienced debaters accomplish such a feat.

For the first time, Rutgers University-Newark had two teams represented in the sweet 16 at the CEDA Nationals. The team of Hannah Stafford and Kevon Haughton defeated the University of Central Oklahoma's top team on a 2-1 decision, but then lost their next debate in the quarter-finals (elite 8) against the University of Vermont. Hannah was the 12th ranked speaker at the tournament out of over 200 speakers. 

The team of Devane Murphy and Nicole Nave made it to the semi-final (final 4) debate against Liberty University. Nicole was the 5th ranked speaker at the tournament and Devane was 9th. Unfortunately, the team lost on a very close 2-1 decision to Liberty University in the semi-finals, ending RU-N’s run at a CEDA National Championship. Devane and Nicole received third place overall, making them the third best team in the nation at the CEDA National Championships. 

At the 70th National Debate Tournament (NDT), the oldest, most prestigious, and most competitive debate tournament in the United States, the Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team attained remarkable achievements as well. Only 78 of the best teams in the nation are invited to attend the NDT and schools can only qualify a maximum of three teams each year. This year marked the second time RU-N has had two teams qualify for the tournament.

Nicole Nave and Devane Murphy were first-round-at-large qualifiers. They had an impressive 6-2 record at the end of preliminary debates and were the 8th ranked team heading into elimination rounds. Nicole was awarded 11th Best Speaker and Devane was awarded 15th out of 156 speakers in the nation. Nicole and Devane defeated Northwestern University in the double-octofinal round (top 32) to advance to the octofinal (sweet 16) round at the tournament. Devane and Nicole lost a very close debate to rival Wake Forest University in the octofinals having them finish in the top 16 teams in the nation. Of note, RU-N Debate Team alumni Elijah Smith coached the Wake Forest team who defeated Devane and Nicole. The team was in good company in the octofinals, as some of the other schools that made it to this round included Michigan University, Harvard, Emory, Georgetown, University of California-Berkeley, United States Military Academy, and the University of Kentucky. This was the second time in the history of the RU-N debate program that the school was represented in the sweet 16 of the National Debate Tournament.

The team of Kevon Haughton and Christian Quiroz also represented Rutgers University-Newark at the NDT. They received a second-round-at-large qualification to the tournament. This was Kevon’s third time qualifying to the National Debate Tournament – most individuals go their entire debate career without qualifying for the NDT and Kevon is the only member of the Rutgers debate team in its history who has qualified for the NDT three times. Christian is a freshman who attended his first NDT this year. Together they went a respectable 4-4 at the tournament, losing their last debate to Harvard, which knocked them out of the running for elimination rounds. Only teams that have a record of 5-3 or better are eligible to compete in elimination rounds at the NDT.

Because of Rutgers University-Newark’s outstanding successes at nationals this year, RU-N received its highest national ranking to date. The team was named one of the top-10 debate programs in the nation by the Cross Examination Debate Association through their system of ranking that scores programs based on the debate performance of the entire school over the course of the 2015-2016 debate season.

The Rutgers University-Newark Debate Team is sponsored by the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) and the Office of the Chancellor at Rutgers University-Newark. Since its start in 2008, Director Christopher Kozak has led the team to three consecutive years as the #1 ranked team in the Northeast. For the year of 2014-2015, the team was ranked 14th in the nation, again sending qualified members to the invitation-only National Debate Tournament (NDT) while taking 1st place at numerous regional level tournaments.

About Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA)

The School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University-Newark educates and motivates students to choose careers in public service and administration through its innovative and comprehensive bachelor of arts in public and nonprofit administration, master of public administration (MPA), global executive online MPA (GEOMPA), doctoral, and professional and graduate certificate programs. The school’s faculty generates knowledge and best practices in public service and administration, and collaborates with public and nonprofit sector organizations and professionals throughout the U.S. and the world. Guided by the principles of knowledge, competence, diversity, service, and ethics – with an emphasis on public service values and competencies for effective performance – SPAA promotes accountability, transparency, and performance in the public and nonprofit sectors. Rutgers SPAA is highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report and accredited by NASPAA – the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. In addition, SPAA is the first U.S. school to earn full international accreditation from ICAPA – The International Commission on Accreditation of Public Administration Education and Training Programs.

Best Value Schools ranks Rutgers SPAA:

  • 5th nationally as the most innovative public service school ranks Rutgers SPAA:

  • 6th nationally as a top public administration program

U.S. News & World Report ranks Rutgers SPAA as:

  • 7th nationally in information and technology management
  • 11th nationally in city management and urban policy
  • 13th nationally in the core field of public management/administration
  • 17th nationally in nonprofit management
  • 18th nationally in public finance and budgeting
  • 28th nationally in public policy analysis
  • 34th nationally in public affairs

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MEDIA CONTACT:                                                                                                         
Christopher Kozak, MPA
Director of Debate, School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), Rutgers University-Newark; 973-353-3967

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