A healthy dose of arguing leads debate teammates to marriage

Posted on Mar 30, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Plenty of Jayhawks think they have the best “how I met my spouse at KU” story. But Bill and Dana Hensley’s story isn’t up for debate.

Bill, c’73 l’76, and Dana, d’73 g’76, met each other through the KU debate program. After two years on the team together, it was only natural that they developed some chemistry. Ultimately, it led to marriage.

After this year’s team won a national championship, we reached out to the Hensleys to learn more about their time at KU and how the program has changed over time.

How did you meet?

“We both debated in high school in Kansas, but didn’t meet. Bill joined the debate squad as a freshman and competed for KU all four years. Dana was a piano major and didn’t debate until transferring as a junior to the School of Education with an emphasis in English and Speech in secondary education.

One course requirement was Introduction to Debate, which was taught by a graduate student/assistant debate coach. He encouraged Dana to come out for the KU debate squad and dip her toe into debate at a low-key tournament in Emporia. He gave her some debate material to look at. The next day, Dana opted to take the bus from Daisy Hill due to rain. At the next stop, Bill got on, saw the debate material on Dana’s lap, and struck up a conversation.”

Bill and Dana Hensley | KU debate teammates debate couple

What are your memories of KU debate?

“We remember spending a lot of time on debate and enjoying every minute. The squad was large, talented, and fun to be around. We had great coaches and traveled often. We had only one tournament together as colleagues. We always joked that Dr. Parson, the Head Jayhawk (Coach), thought that might break us up. It didn’t.”

Are you still involved in the program?

“There is an active debate alumni association that follows the KU debate program. Last year, in association with the National Debate Tournament which KU hosted, we had a debate association reunion at which some of the current KU debaters attended and [current debate director] Scott Harris spoke. Without financial support from KU alumni and other friends of KU debate, the program couldn’t travel the large squad to national tournaments and compete at the high level it has historically.”

How does debate nowadays compare to when you were students?

“It is probably more specialized now than when we debated, but the activity continues to match KU debaters against the best and the brightest in other universities, both public and private. Judging by KU’s track record in recent years, the KU program is in the best shape it has ever been, even though we will both claim we debated during the halcyon years.”

Thank you to the Hensleys for sharing their story! Debate is one of the oldest activities on KU’s campus. The first debate on campus was held on November 8, 1867. Learn more about KU Debate, and find out how you help support KU Debate as an alumnus.

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KU Debate wins 2018 National Championship

Posted on Mar 27, 2018 in Alumni News and News

The University of Kansas’ most dominant team has brought home another trophy.

2018 National Debate champions Will Katz and Quaram RobinsonQuaram Robinson and Will Katz defeated Georgetown University late Monday night in Wichita to become KU’s 6th National Debate Tournament champions. The team joins previous champions from 2009, 1983, 1976, 1970, and 1954.

The KU debate program has performed at a high level throughout its history, qualifying for 67 National Debate Tournaments over the 72-year existence of the competition.

The team of Robinson and Katz dominated all season, winning the Rex Copeland Award as the top policy debate team in the country for the 2017-18 regular season. KU debate director Scott Harris said the pair had “the best regular season performance by a KU team in my 28 years directing the program.” Robinson in particular made school history as the first KU debater to advance to the championship final twice, and the first to make it to the elimination rounds four times.

Robinson is a senior from Austin, Texas, majoring in African and African-American studies and Katz is a senior from Topeka, Kansas, majoring in economics.

-Ryan Camenzind


Video courtesy of KU Marketing Communications

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