Mark Hlavacik, revived the Penn State Debate Society
Last year, Penn State sent students to speech debate competitions for the first time in 10 years with an opportunity to compete against students from top U.S. and international universities, including the Ivy League and University of Pittsburgh. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership of Mark Hlavacik ’09, ‘13PhD.
In fall 2009, Mark—a PhD candidate in Penn State’s Department of Communication Arts & Sciences—was approached by a student interested in founding a new intercollegiate debate organization. Having found debate very important during his own collegiate career, Mark enlisted the support of several other fellow CAS graduate students and instructors, and they all agreed to help. Together with the Debate Society’s student members, Mark and the other coaches steadily built up the membership and began holding public debates over important campus issues like alcohol consumption and social media.
Mark, along with the help of his current co-coach Cory Geraths and the help of his students, continues to devote hundreds of hours to the Debate Society, teaching debate theory and practice, organizing meetings, recruiting students and publicizing events. It truly is a remarkable example of service to Penn State’s undergraduate students, as debate supports both the academic and civic mission of the University.
The society is sponsored by the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences and the Center for Democratic Deliberation. The Penn State Debate Society also works with the Schreyer Honors College and Democracy Institute to present public debates at University Park. Weekly meetings are held Mondays at 6:00pm in 162 Willard, and are open to all members of the University community.
Throughout this labor of love, Mark found time to be a father to his two year-old son, publish an article in a national journal and win a prestigious award for his dissertation proposal. Mark also volunteers his time as a moderator for the State College Public Issues Forum.