Department of Communication Studies

Team History

Contrary to what the name might lead you to think, UNI Forensics has nothing to do with the type of forensics activity on popular television shows such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." The forensics team at UNI participates in intercollegiate speech and debate tournaments across the nation. Although we begin our work in the summer months, we usually begin traveling to tournaments in September and conclude our season with several national tournaments in March and April. Speech (also called individual events) and debate teams are often collectively termed forensics. This term comes from Aristotle's "The Rhetoric" in which he divided all forms of rhetoric intro three general categories: epideictic (ceremonial), deliberative (policy), and forensic (legal). Historically, public address and debate skills were first honored, and therefore became necessary, in the court systems of Ancient Greece. Contemporary speech and debate grew out of this tradition of learning how to advocate for and defend oneself.

UNI Forensics is one of the oldest student reported activities on campus. The University of Northern Iowa was originally founded as the Iowa State Normal School in 1876. The Normal School is reported to have had many forensic exercises offered through the English department, such as elocution, oratory, and debate. Particular oratory contests that attracted great attention were the debates between the "pedagogy" of Cedar Falls and the "farms" of Iowa State College. These debates were so entertaining and popular that they became a regular feature in the campus newspaper. In 1909 the name of the university was changed to the Iowa State Teachers College. Research indicates that from 1911 to 1917, the Iowa State Teachers College won first place in the Interstate Normal Oratory League Contest. Debate was considered to be an activity for men only until 1915 when debate leagues were created for women competitors. In 1961 the name was changed again to the State College of Iowa until 1967 when it was changed one final time to the University of Northern Iowa. Although the university has undergone several name changes, UNI Forensics has maintained a strong presence on campus since it first opened in 1876.

Below is some of our more recent team history:


Directors of Forensics


2013-2014 John Fritch (interim administrator)

2008-2013 Kate Lavelle

2006-2008 Cate Palczewski (interim)

2004-2006 Jacob Thompson

2003-2004 Cate Palczewski (interim)

1998-2003 Leah White

1997-1998 Arnie Madsen

1978-1997 Bill Henderson

Pre-1978 Forrest Conklin


Directors of Individual Events


2008-present Rebecca Buel

2005-2008 Voiza Greene

2004-2005 Jennifer Struve (Graduate student)

Spring 2004 Jennifer Struve and Nicole Tremel (Graduate students)

2002-2003 Will Major

2000-2002 Margaret Kaszonyi, Bruce Wickelgren, Celeste Matheson, Bruce Wickelgren and Celeste Devore

1989-1991 Penny Geurink and Bruce Wickelgren

1988-1989 Rich West and Penny Geurink

1980-1988 Mary Ann Renz and Rich West

1976-1980 Phyllis Carlin


Directors of Debate


2008-present Richard Tews

1994-2008 Catherine Palczewski

1989-1992 Walter Ulrich



Individual Events Champions


National Champions


Harrison Postler: 2013 AFA National Champion, Impromptu Speaking

Todd Prins: 1992 NFA National Champion, Persuasion

Shelly Schnathorst: 1988 AFA National Champion, Persuasion

Deanna Gunderson: 1988 AFA National Champion, Communication Analysis


American Forensics Association-National Individual Events Tournament


2011 - University of Nebraska-Kearney, April 1-4, 2011

13th in Team Sweepstakes

11th in Individual Sweepstakes - Yaw Kyeremateng


2nd - Yaw Kyeremateng - Poetry Interpretation

3rd - Harrison Postler - After Dinner Speaking


Yaw Kyeremateng - Program Oral Interpretation

Harrison Postler & Yaw Kyeremateng - Duo Interpretation


Chris Outzen - After Dinner Speaking


2010 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, April 1-4, 2010


Yaw Kyeremateng - Program Oral Interpretation (7th)


Ashlee Lopez - Program Oral Interpretation

Michael Taylor – Persuasion


2009 - University of Akron


Ali Horsted & Anna McDermott - Duo Interpretation


2007 - Minnesota State University-Mankato

Quarterfinals - Jessica Sauer (After Dinner Speaking)

Semifinalists - Ali Horsted (Dramatic Interpretation)


2006 University of Florida

Quarterfinals - Coltrane Carlson (Program Oral Interpretation)


2005 - Kansas State University

Quarterfinalist - Jessy Ohl (Persuasion)


2004 - California State University - Long Beach

Quarterfinalist - Danielle Dick (Prose)


2003 - University of Mississippi at Oxford

5th - Sara Gronstal (After Dinner Speaking


1997 -

Quarterfinalist - Alli Nuckels (After Dinner Speaking)

Anastasia Lee (Poetry & Drama)


Debate Tournament Champions

2013 - Idaho State University - March 23-26, 2013

Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA)

Triple Octafinalists: Zach Simonson & Abbie Shew

2011 - University of Texas-Dallas- March 25-28, 2011

National Debate Tournament

Qualifiers: Al Hiland & Zach Simonson

2007 - University of Texas-Dallas - March 28-April 2, 2007

Qualifiers: Michael Pham & Ian Beier

2003 - Emory University (GA) - March 28-31, 2003

Qualifiers: Melanie Johnson & Mark Langgin

1999 - Wayne State University (MI) March 25-27, 1999

Qualifiers: Jennifer Rawe & Adam Briddell

1997 - Liberty University (VA) March 21-24, 1997

Qualifiers: Jeffrey Grant & Jennifer Rawe

1990 - West Georgia College

First Round At-Large

Aaron Hawbaker & Ken Schuler (2nd overall)

4th Speaker - Aaron Hawbaker

6th Speaker - Ken Schuler

Octafinalists:  Schuler & Hawbaker