Willamette Debater No. 1 in Country

Politics and Spanish major MaryAnn Almeida '09 beat out 445 other students to take the top overall debater award at the National Parliamentary Debate Association Championship Tournament, held March 27-30 at the University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

Almeida and her partner, politics major Nic Robinson '09, reached the final eight out of 223 university debate teams at the tournament. Eric Lowe '09, a politics major, and Acacia McGuire '09, a psychology major, qualified for the final four.

Willamette historically has had a strong debate program, and has participated in the national tournament annually since 1994. In 2006 Willamette won the tournament's Sweepstakes Championship for best overall school performance, and the Season Sweepstakes Championship for best performance throughout the season. A team of Willamette students, including Almeida and Robinson, won the Oregon Independent College Foundation Ethics Bowl competition in 2007.

Willamette also is one of two places in the U.S. to serve as headquarters for the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), which teaches debate skills to youths in more than 40 emerging democracies, promoting peaceful conflict resolution and the free exchange of ideas.

For more about the National Parliamentary Debate Association, visit Learn more about the Willamette University Debate Union at, or about IDEA at