Student Life

UWF hosts annual Marks Invitational Speech and Debate Competition

The University of West Florida Department of Communication Arts hosted the annual Marks Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament last weekend, Jan. 16-17. A total of 14 colleges and universities competed in the tournament, including: University of West Florida, University of the Cumberlands, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida State University, Southeastern University, Florida Southern College, University of South Florida, Northwest Florida State College, Florida State College Jacksonville, Belmont University, Berry College, Carson Newman University and Lenoir Rhyne University. The competition hosted 11 different public speaking events, as well as parliamentary debate.

The UWF Speech and Debate Team currently has 10 competitors, eight of whom competed in the tournament. Of those 10 competitors, two are second year competitors and the other eight are in their first year of competition. UWF Director of Speech and Debate, Dr. Chris Fenner, said that this has been a rebuilding year for the team and that the students have been making consistent improvements throughout the competitive season.

“I am very proud of our speech and debate showing at the Marks Invitational,” he said. “We have a young team, and they have been making great strides all season. This weekend was their best showing to date, and clearly their hard work is paying off.”

UWF freshman Ben Woodberry received sixth place in Program of Oral Interpretation, senior Brandon James was sixth in Dramatic Interpretation and sophomore Mahalia Hall was fifth in Novice Impromptu. Other students noticeably improved, according to Fenner.

The UWF Forensics Program allows undergraduates the opportunity to develop their communication skills through participation in regional and national tournaments. Students travel several weekends each semester to intercollegiate speech or debate tournaments where they have the opportunity to compete against peers from across the nation and receive feedback from members of the academic community all while acting as ambassadors for UWF.

For additional information about the UWF Speech and Debate Team, visit the UWF Department of Communication Arts website,