A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Affirmed: The Importance of Debate

By Mary Frances Forcier on May 21, 2013


Name the most important components of professional success—the grasp of complex issues, the ability to think on your feet, and the capacity to clearly articulate your position—and you’ve just named the key attributes of Mason debaters.

The George Mason University Debate Team is currently ranked first in the nation and since its debut in 1974, has consistently ranked among the top debate schools. The team regularly qualifies for the National Debate Tournament and has won or placed at almost every major tournament throughout its history.

The Debate Team's varsity squad. Photo courtesy of the Debate Team.

The Debate Team’s varsity squad. Photo courtesy of the Debate Team.

And thanks to a $250,000 gift from Burton Gray, BA Economics and English ’95, and his wife, Yardly, the debate team will gain additional scholarship support, travel expenses, and funding for coaches. The gift supplies endowed and current-use funds for the team, ensuring that immediate needs and long-term wishes can be met.

“Burton and Yardly’s contribution will have a huge impact on our team’s potential for success,” says Warren Decker, director of the Mason Debate Team. “This will help us in our recruitment efforts and enable us to compete on a higher level

Gray, a member of the debate team while a student at Mason, cofounded and ran DCide, an independent record label in Washington, D.C., from 1995 to 2007. Gray currently serves on the board of directors of the Washington Home and Community Hospices, as well as on the board of trustees at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School.

“This is truly a transformational gift for the debate team, and we are so grateful for the Grays’s support. Mason Debate provides an incredibly challenging academic pursuit, and this commitment further elevates the team’s already high profile,” says Jack Censer, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.


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