THE CASE FOR BUILDING A FORENSICS ENDOWMENT AT UM
From its inception through the early 1980's, the University of Montana enjoyed a strong tradition in intercollegiate forensics. However, the late 1970's saw reduced funding for higher education and forensics, which led to the suspension of the program in 1981. Throughout the 1980's and 1990's there were no forensics programs at any of the public universities in Montana. Unless Montana students could afford private schools or out-of-state tuition, they had to retire from forensics after high school. Yet, participation in forensics at the high school level has remained strong and there is great interest in forensics among students who apply to UM. In the past 20 years, many prospective students have gone elsewhere when they learned that they could not compete in forensics at UM. Others have chosen to attend UM despite the absence of a forensics program but they have missed out on a valuable experience that would have enriched their education.
After a 20 year absence, students are again participating in intercollegiate forensics at The University of Montana. The new forensics team now has over 20 student members hosting local speaking events and competing in regional tournaments. As the leading public liberal arts university in Montana, The University of Montana is the natural location to house a competitive forensics program. Nonetheless, the program faces hard funding challenges, particularly due to the high cost of student travel to regional competitions. In order to ensure the continuation and growth of the program, supporters of forensics have initiated a Forensics Endowment.
What a forensics endowment will accomplish
The greatest challenge for the forensics program is to fund student travel to tournaments where they can compete with students from other universities around the region. Tournaments are the primary catalyst of any forensics program. Tournaments are the focus of the team's preparation, they provide an opportunity to test debate and speaking skills in a competitive setting, and they generate positive publicity and recognition for students, the university, and their supporters. Having a forensics team that does not travel to tournaments is similar to having a football team that only scrimmages itself and never plays an actual game.
It costs $2,000 to $3,000 to send a team to each tournament. Well funded programs attend tournaments regularly throughout the year and gain a great competitive advantage through the additional experience. With an endowment that generates $5,000 per year, the team could attend 2 additional tournaments.
You can help ensure a promising future for forensics at UM by making a gift to the UM Foundation in the name of Forensics. If you would like to discuss the Forensics Endowment, please e-mail Vickie Mikelsons of the UM Foundation or call Vickie at 406-243-2593. The students of the UM Forensics Team sincerely appreciate your support.