Chris Burk Joins UTD as Debate Coach
Instructor To Lead University’s Nationally Ranked Forensics Team
Forensics expert Chris Burk has joined The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) as head debate coach with a lofty goal – to lead UTD’s team to its first-ever appearance at the prestigious National Debate Tournament (NDT).
UTD’s debate program, which is ranked among the top 15 university debate programs in the country, alongside such schools as Northwestern, Michigan and U.C. Berkeley, has not yet been invited to the NDT. Participation in the tournament is important to raise a debate program’s stature and rank.
Burk previously served as assistant debate coach at The University of Texas at Austin (UT). While there, he helped qualify three teams for the NDT in 2000 and 2001 and led teams to two first round-at-large invitations to the tournament.
Prior to joining UT, Burk served as assistant debate coach at Georgetown High School, where he led the school’s team to qualify for the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky. The team also competed at the Texas Forensics Association State Tournament and in various University Interscholastic League tournaments. Burk also has judged at multiple national collegiate tournaments, including the NDT, as well as numerous high school tournaments throughout Texas and the country.
As a collegian, Burk competed on UT’s debate team and participated in the NDT on two occasions. He obtained a B.A. at UT and currently is a doctoral student in the university’s Department of Government.
UTD Forensics Director Stephanie Steele said Burk would play an integral role in the continued growth of UTD’s program, including taking teams to competitions on the national level, developing the high school recruiting program and making UTD Debate a stronger presence on campus.
“We are excited to add Chris to the program and are confident he will provide the guidance to strengthen our varsity teams and expand our novice teams beyond regional domination,” Steele said. “Given his background and experience, we believe he will provide the teams the direction and attention they need to eventually move among the top ten collegiate debate programs in the nation.”
Burk joins a UTD debate program on the rise. In recent years, the team has built an outstanding reputation and earned dozens of tournament awards for both debate and superior speaking skills. Among accomplishments are multiple first places, several shutouts in finals, including capturing both first and second place and many elimination-round awards. Most notably, UTD debate rose from a rank of 67 in 1999 to a rank of 15 in 2000, out of approximately 180 collegiate teams in the nation.
“I look forward to working with UTD debaters and continuing the team’s outstanding success of recent years,” Burk said. “I believe there is no level of accomplishment to which the UTD program cannot achieve.”
The 2000-2001 academic year was a record-breaking season, marking the program’s first big push from being primarily a regional competitor. UTD debaters competed in 13 tournaments across the country, winning dozens of awards in both team and individual competitions. The team advanced to the elimination rounds of the CEDA National Debate Tournament and won the Junior Varsity National Debate Championship. Efforts spanned the novice, junior varsity and varsity levels of competition.
The 2001-2002 academic year already is off to a stellar start. In the season opener, varsity debaters advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Moorhouse Debate Tournament at Wichita State University. Varsity debaters also captured top honors by winning the final round of the Sunflower Debate Tournament – an important step during the early part of the season. Strong wins over district rivals bode well for the teams’ chances to clinch a district bid next spring when the team will attempt to win a bid to the NDT.
Debate, in addition to chess and creative problem solving, has afforded UTD the opportunity to become nationally known for various “cerebral” forms of competition.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s Web site at www.utdallas.edu.