College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Forensics Team Extends Winning Streak at ‘Great Debate’

Two members of the UM’s forensics team have proven they are a small but mighty force as winners of “The Great Debate.”

Evan Kirkham, a public policy leadership major from Dallas, and Austin “Woody” Wood, a political science major from Southlake, Texas, competed in an exhibition debate in Memphis against students from Wiley College of Marshall, Texas. (Wiley College was featured in the 2007 movie The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington.)

The debate topic was “Resolved: President Barak Obama should be re-elected.” Kirkham and Wood were prepared to debate either side of the argument and won the coin toss to debate the affirmative.

“Their case was thought-provoking, evidence-based and laced with the type of rhetoric that both inspires and promotes thought,” said JoAnn Edwards, director of forensics in UM’s Lott Leadership Institute. “They represented Ole Miss with dignity and grace, and as their coach I am extremely proud.”

The Rev. LaSimba Gray of New Sardis Baptist Church in Memphis planned The Great Debate and invited the two schools.

Wood was honored to have the privilege of competing.

“It was a coming together of many people from many backgrounds and I know everyone was there with an open mind,” said Wood, who is also a Provost Scholar. “Forensics is crucial to many students because it is an opportunity to see so many different perspectives. Competitive forensics is one of the most amazing activities.”