In Memoriam: James Russell Church

Russell ChurchJames Russell Church, a former faculty member who coached the UT Debate Team for many years, passed away July 6. He was 69.

Church came to UT in 1982 to coach the debate team. He was based in Speech and Theatre in the College of Communications. The Memphis native spent many hours training and rehearsing students, driving them to tournaments across the country, and imparting to students his passion for debate.

In 1985, the UT debate and forensics program won more than fifty trophies and awards—the most awards ever garnered by the program in a single year. That same year the UT debate squad ranked eighth in the nation out of 240 teams participating in the cross-examination debate society. A duo Church coached finished fourth in the national debate tournament in Reno, Nevada.

Church left UT in 1988 to coach students at other higher education institutions including Middle Tennessee State University and John Carroll University in Ohio.

Church served as president and treasurer of the Cross-Examination Debate Association. He also was lead author of an argumentation textbook that was the first book to focus primarily upon debating value resolutions. Values and Policies in Controversy: An Introduction to Argumentation and Debate was published in 1986.

Those wishing to honor Church’s memory may contribute online to the Dr. James Russell Church Debate Endowment or the UT Debate Team.