Northwestern University’s head debate coach has won the Ross K. Smith National Coach of the Year Award. Daniel J. Fitzmier (GC02, 06) is the 45th recipient of the award, which was initiated in 1967 to honor exceptional teachers who “advance the forensic art.”
Fitzmier is the director of forensics for the university and a faculty member in the School of Communication. He is the third Northwestern University Debate Society coach to win the honor. David Zarefsky (C68, GC69, 74) won the award in 1972; Scott Deatherage (GC94) won in 2002.
Over the course of his career, Fitzmier has coached eight different teams in the final round of the National Debate Tournament (NDT), including the National Champions in 2000 (Emory University) and Northwestern champs in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2011; he most recently coached the second-place finalists at the 2012 NDT. He has coached the last two NDT Top Speakers, in addition to five Copeland Award winning teams—the award given to the team with the top overall performance each debate season. He was named as the first annual Unger Award winner for coaching Northwestern’s Copeland winners in 2009, and received the award again in 2012.
Fitzmier holds a PhD from the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Communication.
Northwestern University has the oldest continuous debate program in the country. The team has won the National Debate Tournament a record 14 times and has produced 11 NDT Top Speakers and eight Copeland Award-winning teams.