The Hofstra University Speech and Debate team, also known as Hofstra Forensics, is a program within the Department of Rhetoric in which members train and compete in debate and public speaking events against students from dozens of other colleges and universities across the nation.
They participate in several formats of debate as well as 11 individual speech events including impromptu speaking and prose interpretation.
The team was relaunched in 2014, under the direction of Associate Professor of Rhetoric Tomeka Robinson, PhD, after last being active in 2008. The newly formed team was immediately popular and has achieved great success since its inception. By its second year, it had won more than 155 awards and boasted the top two speakers in the nation against 86 other collegiate competitors.
The team is open to undergraduate and graduate students of all majors, and places a priority on building confidence as well as critical thinking, networking and presentation skills. Team members commit at least 30 minutes a week for competition prep with Dr. Robinson or her coaching staff. The team travels about six weekends a semester for competitions out of state.
The Hofstra Speech and Debate team was first started by Dr. Shirlee Sloyer in late 1950s and participated in intercollegiate debate for several years. Dr. Charles Fleischman restarted the team in 1983 as an individual events team, specializing in publicizing and performance of literature events.
Dr. Fleischman was the coach and director of forensics until his retirement from Hofstra in 2008. Under his leadership, the team was active on the state, regional and national levels. The team was twice named New York State champion and was also successful on the national level. It won invitations to compete at the annual National Forensic Association’s individual events championship every year from 1983-2008, ranking ninth nationally in its division in 2000. Following Dr. Fleischman’s retirement, the team went on hiatus until it was revived in 2014 with Dr. Robinson as director.
For more information, email Dr. Robinson at Tomeka.Robinson[at]hofstra.edu.