Directing the Trojan Debate Squad

Directing the TDS

Strong faculty leadership has been a hallmark of debate at USC. As part of the College of Oratory, founded in 1895, forensics prospered under the first faculty leadership, Dr. A. William Olmstead, an Associate Professor of Debate and Forensics in the College of Oratory.

Dr. Olmstead helped to define what it meant to be a Director of Forensics. He coordinated the university’s travel against other universities as well as continued to nurture the burgeoning on campus debating societies. These included the Athenian society for women and the Aristotelian society for men.

Even though each director has left a strong legacy of success, the presence of Dr. Alan Nichols is still felt today. He guided the TDS for nearly four decades and is one of the founding giants of modern inter-collegiate debate.

A select few have served as either the TDS Director of Forensics or Debate over the last 125 years. The Director of Forensics (DOF) has traditionally served as the administrative director of the program, responsible for scheduling, coaching and the many logistics that make a successful debate team possible. The Director of Debate (DOD) has traditionally served as the coach most responsible for working closely with the students to develop their arguments and argumentative skills. These positions work closely, along with the staff, to help ensure the success that is a long tradition at USC.

William Olmstead, 1914-1920, Director of Forensics
Alan Nichols, 1921-1956, Director of Forensics
Charles Redding, 1946-54, Director of Debate
James H. McBath, 1956-1963, Director of Forensics
John DeBross, 1964-1980, Director of Forensics
Lee Garrison, 1973-1980, Director of Debate
Thomas A. Hollihan, 1980-1990, Director of Forensics
Robert H. Gass, 1980-1981, Director of Debate
Randall A. Lake, 1981-1990, Director of Debate, 1990-1994, Director of Forensics
David P. Damus, 1994-2007, Director of Forensics
Gordon Stables, 2002-Present, Director of Debate, 2007-Present, Director of Forensics