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Published May 13, 2022
Matt Liu, director of debate at the University of Wyoming, received the National Service Award from the National Debate Coaches Association at its recent meeting.
Liu was selected for the award for developing a number of initiatives that UW debate is accomplishing to boost debate in the Mountain West region.
Among the programs initiated are:
-- Developing Team Wyoming, a program that provides free debate coaching to high school students in the region.
-- Starting a high school debate team with the Wyoming Virtual Academy, an online school.
-- Providing significant outreach to the home-school community.
-- Hosting four high school debate tournaments.
-- Establishing the Western Series, an initiative to spotlight high-quality and accessible tournaments in an emerging post-pandemic environment.
“Having our efforts recognized was a terrific honor,” Liu says. “I hope it draws more attention to the programs we are providing so more people take advantage of them.”
Liu has been involved in competitive debate for 21 years. He joined UW’s program three years ago after coaching multiple national championships at the University of Minnesota and Wake Forest University.
When discussing what he likes about debate, Liu reflects on the bigger picture.
“Debate can be such a game changer for people’s lives. It teaches critical thinking, research and public speaking,” he says. “At the end of the day, though, I just love the competition. Debate is a deep and complex intellectual game. It is a battle of wits with all the competitive rigor of Division I athletics.”
Liu also is an assistant lecturer in the UW Department of Communication and Journalism, and he teaches courses in persuasive argumentation and other topics.