The Georgia Debate Union is led by Dr. Edward Panetta. Our staff's diverse backgrounds and argumentative specialities each contribute to the team's success in unique ways.
Edward Panetta has been the director of the Georgia Debate Union for the last twenty-two years. During that period the University of Georgia has qualified forty teams for the National Debate Tournament (NDT). In the 1996-1997 season UGA became one of five debate programs in the sixty-two year history of the NDT to place two teams into the semi-finals (finalist and semi-finalist). Our 2003 team became the seventeenth team in the history of the NDT to compile a record of 8-0 in the preliminary rounds of the tournament. Our 2007 team was the 1st seed at the NDT and the winner of the Rex Copeland award. UGA debate has also been active in international debating during Panetta's tenure as director. Members of the Georgia Debate Union have been selected to represent the United States in Japan, Great Britain and Eastern Europe. Additionally, Dr. Panetta was selected to coach the U.S. team that visited Russia in 1997. In 2007, he was named the National Debate Coach of the Year. Dr. Panetta is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at UGA.
Athena Murray is a Ph.D. student in Communication Studies at the University of Georgia where she is an assistant debate coach and the Director of the Georgia Debate Institutes. Previously, Athena coached at the University of Kansas where she received her M.A. in Communication Studies and was a member of the coaching staff of the 2009 National Debate Tournament Champions. Athena has worked at the Jayhawk Debate Institute, Spartan Debate Institute and the Georgia Debate Institutes at various points as Director, lecturer, lab leader, office manager and residential assistant. From 2004 to 2008 Athena debated for Michigan State University and participated in over 25 tournaments, making it to the elimination rounds of several national tournaments, won the Wayne State University Debate Tournament and qualified to the 2008 National Debate Tournament.
Will is a Graduate Assistant Coach and Ph.D. Candidate in Speech Communication at UGA. He completed his bachelors in Philosophy at the University of Wyoming and his M.A. in Speech Communication at Georgia. He qualified to the NDT four times, participating in the elimination rounds as part of the first Wyoming team to do so in more than 30 years. He enjoys playing foosball in his copious spare time.
Rob is a Graduate Assistant Coach and M.A. Candidate in Speech Communication at UGA. He recently completed his B.A. in Political Science and English at Northwestern University, where he received a first round bid to and reached the quarterfinals of the National Debate Tournament. Before Northwestern, he debated for and attended Celebration High School in Orlando, Florida.
Len debated for UGA from 1991-1995 and was a graduate assistant at Georgia from 1995-1997. After that, he went to Samford for two seasons before leaving the activity for seven years. He is now an assistant coach at UGA and helps with the integration of new technology with debate practices. He is a partner in a web development firm in Athens called Boxkite Media and teaches Speech Communication classes at the University of Georgia. His podcast can be found at Mad About Town, and you can follow him on Twitter. He likes watching movies in the theater, and is thinking of switching back to vinyl but is afraid of the commitment.