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 on: April 18, 2019, 08:55:08 PM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall

The Dartmouth, April 18, 2019

Former debate coach remembered for hard work, intelligence

by Lorraine Liu | 4/18/19 2:05am

Strange, center, helped lead the Dartmouth Forensics Union to three National Debate Tournament championships.
Source: Courtesy of John Turner

A legendary figure in the field of debate coaching, Ken Strange not only inspired many students with his hard work and strategic thinking, but also shaped college debate coaching.

“There are probably three or four debate coaches in the history of college debate in the United States who kind of stand in the similar competitive and influential point today,” said Dartmouth Forensics Union director John Turner ’03. “He was a part of a generation of coaches that really made the activity what it was.”

A former director of the Dartmouth Forensics Union for 35 years and founder of the Debate Institute at Dartmouth, Strange passed away on April 4, 2019 at the age of 69, according to his sister Kay Strange. He was interred yesterday at a private family gathering in Oklahoma City. He is survived by his sister and stepdaughter Lindsey Gideon.

“He showed me what hard work was,” Gideon said. “He was always there, he was reliable, he was kind [and] humble.”

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Strange demonstrated his intelligence at an early age, recalled Kay Strange.

“He was a precocious child, from what others have told me,” she said. “He was always a very bright student, he enjoyed school.”

Strange participated in debate throughout high school and continued to pursue this activity while he studied political science at Northwestern University. During his years of pursuing an undergraduate and master’s degree at Northwestern, he coached debate at local high schools. He taught debate at the University of Iowa before becoming the director of Dartmouth Forensics Union in 1980.

While coaching debate with DFU, Strange churned out teams of Dartmouth debaters who succeeded at debate tournaments across the country. Under his directorship, DFU won three National Debate Tournament championships, placed second five times and placed third nine times, according to a Facebook post by DFU.

Beyond that, under Strange’s leadership, Dartmouth consistently ranked as one of the top college debate teams in the country, according to Turner. He said that Strange had at least one team win an elimination round at the NDT for 30 years.

“That’s a competitive streak that is unlikely [to] ever be equaled in college debate,” Turner said.

According to Mark Koulogeorge ’85, Strange was known for his “unique level of engagement” with the debate team, as he helped students with research and argumentative strategies in addition to simply providing them with instructions. Koulogeorge and his teammate Leonard Gail ’85 were the 1984 National Debate Tournament champions with Strange as their coach.

“A lot of the coaches just provided advice, [but] he also helped us do research and worked aggressively with us on particular arguments.” Koulogeorge said. “As a result, he really inspired the rest of us to also work hard. He was a coach who was working with us, not just instructing us.”

Turner, who also trained with Strange while he was an undergraduate student at Dartmouth, echoed Koulogeorge’s sentiment about Strange’s strategic coaching style.

“Ken was someone who was very good at taking a set of information and turning it into a coherent strategy.” Turner said. “Not just knowing something about the topic, but knowing this is exactly where we want to aim our argument.”

Turner recalled that when he joined the team as a first-year without too much debate experience, he felt immediately welcomed because Strange assigned him to do research that later contributed to the work of advanced debaters.

“For him, the team was his family,” Koulogeorge said.

In 1986, Strange established the Debate Institutes at Dartmouth, which features premier summer debate workshops that train high school students for different types of debates, according to lifelong friend David Baker. Baker, who worked with him for 16 years, said that Ken started the Institutes because of his passion for bringing quality debate education to more students.

“I think Ken started the Institute because he really wanted to provide a high-quality program for exceptional students,” Baker said.

Apart from producing nationally successful policy debaters for more than 30 years, the Debate Institutes also attracts students to apply to Dartmouth. Steven Sklaver ’94, who attended two summer debate workshops at the institute before coming to Dartmouth and was a 1993 National Debate Tournament champion alongside Ara Lovitt ’94, said he applied to Dartmouth because of his high school debate experience with Strange.

“Ken is my Dartmouth experience,” Sklaver said. “He is the reason I went to Dartmouth and the reason I chose my roommate, and I am extremely grateful for it.”

After his directorship at Dartmouth ended in 2015, Strange worked as the assistant head coach at the Wake Forest University debate team for two years.

Strange inspired his students in many different aspects that are not limited to simply college debate. Craig Budner ’87, a member of the second-place team at the NDT in 1987, said that Strange taught him how to “work, research, and frame arguments in a way that someone else could understand.”

“I would say that he was probably the teacher who played the most influential role in my life,” Budner said. “He made me who I was, and I think about him every day.”

Correction appended (April 18, 2019): The original version of this article misspelled Kay Strange's last name. The article has been updated to reflect this change.
Tags: news, featured

 on: April 18, 2019, 11:41:44 AM 
Started by GFrappier - Last post by GFrappier
This position is now posted and accepting applications. Link is below. Please contact me at or if you have any questions about the team, the university or the Spokane community.

 on: April 10, 2019, 09:16:38 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by burke
I was floored to hear of the passing of Ken Strange. He was a titan in the debate community. I can't believe he is gone.

I was in Ken's lab one summer at the DDI. And even though I was only his student for four weeks 18 years ago, I always felt like Ken cared about me and all his camp students. I stopped by a debate tournament a couple years ago and even though I'm sure it had been five years or more since I had seen him, Ken sought me out to say hello and ask about my life and career.

A few miscellaneous memories: Ken voted against me once on "fairness is bad" and laughed when I complained that the decision was unfair; the Dartmouth Round Robin was my single favorite debate event as a student and coach, and I've heard others voice similar opinions, and I think it was a reflection of Ken; Ken gave me work detail at the DDI for writing "Antonucci is watching" in duct tape on a dorm room wall, but rescinded it on the grounds that he found it funny; Ken was always part of the best NDT panel names: Strange Green Butt.

I will remember Ken for being so kind. My heart goes out to the Dartmouth and Wake programs and to the entire community.

-Ryan Burke

 on: April 10, 2019, 08:32:32 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
From David Baker:

We will gather to celebrate Ken’s life on Saturday afternoon, June 8, 2019 in Dallas Texas.  There will likely be informal gatherings on Friday and possibly Saturday evenings—because being among friends and telling war stories is good.  More details (including hotel options) will follow soon.  For planning purposes, we will use a to-be-determined RSVP system.  Once the RSVP system is up and running, feel free to share the link.


Several people have generously offered to help defray costs.  Please send me a private note if you are interested in helping.  After all the bills are paid, any remaining funds will be contributed to the “Dartmouth Forensic Union in memory of Ken Strange fund” at Dartmouth College.  Please feel free to contact me (214-500-8528 cell) if you have questions or concerns.


Ken will be interred on Wednesday, April 17 at a private family gathering in Oklahoma City.  At 1:00 p.m. (CST) next Wednesday, please observe a moment of silence and reflection.


See you in Dallas.


My best,



 on: April 10, 2019, 06:45:09 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
Madison Dallas Laird

Very sad to hear this news. His mentorship touched many lives.

 on: April 10, 2019, 06:40:52 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
Andrew Leong

R.I.P Ken Strange

Every Dartmouth debater had a “Ken impression”—which typically involved dropping one’s voice an octave and slowing down to emphasize three *words*...*like*…*this*. But years after, I’ve come to understand “impressions of Ken” in a different way. They weren’t, and maybe never were, just about the superficial qualities of deep pitch and deliberate emphasis. The deeper, more lasting impressions that Ken left upon the debaters he coached reside somewhere else, in the fundamental clay of our habits of thought and action. At any given moment, one of Ken’s former debaters is a researcher who looks at one more source because they aren’t satisfied with current work on a topic, a writer who spends one more moment to find the core of an idea or a story, or an advisor who doesn’t presume to know or do everything for a student or client, but asks one more question that will help distill the clearest and most persuasive formulations of a project or case.

It’s spring in Berkeley, abundant rain has made everything bloom. I can’t help but think of a spring in Atlanta, sixteen years ago, and the last time I saw Ken really break down in tears. John and I had lost the last debate of our careers in the round of 32, and in a Bendaryl-ed and sleep-deprived haze of exhaustion I looked at Ken and thought—“Why is he crying like this? This loss is so small in the grand scheme of things.” As an oblivious twenty-one-year-old, who despite reading arguments against the calculability of human life in every other debate, still preferred the concrete and the countable, I could not understand that the loss Ken was mourning was not the loss of one debate, but the passing of four years of shared work and experience, an ending of a period beyond which only memory would permit return. That moment, and those years, are by any measure, only small fragments of the life that Ken lived. There is no formula that could give how much one ought to weep for Ken if Ken’s love and tears for others were the measure. There is no measure. There are no words for words like this.

 on: April 09, 2019, 09:31:55 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by Paul Elliott Johnson
Interactions with Ken at a tournament were always a blessing, he was jovial, hilarious, and a hell of a judge. More blessings are with us in the form of many of the debaters and coaches that Ken worked with at Dartmouth, a bunch of seemingly genial, nerdy goofs: that is, up until they absolutely annihilated you on some question which they had been thinking about since the pre-season, one which you, in your lack of wisdom and lack of proximity to Ken Strange, had only considered for the first time that morning when you looked at the pairing. At the next tournament, having thought about and worked on the question more, you would find, to your dismay, that they too had kept thinking and working on the problem. This also tended not to end well for you. I'm sure this is a testament to the kind of argument culture Ken fostered at Dartmouth. He will be missed.

 on: April 09, 2019, 07:48:34 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
Jon Paul Lupo

Thanks so much for sharing. He will certainly be missed.

 on: April 09, 2019, 07:48:00 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
Meg Howell

Wonderful memories of a great man, mentor, and friend.

 on: April 09, 2019, 07:47:37 AM 
Started by SherryHall - Last post by SherryHall
Alma Nicholson

I am so sorry for your loss, Nicole. Ken was a great guy and an incredible life force. Your memories are precious!

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