Contact Us


Ruth Zisman
Term Assistant Professor of Social Studies and Faculty Advisor of the Bard Debate Union
Ruth Zisman has been coaching debate since 2004 when she worked to found the Bard Debate Union and served as the team’s first coach. From 2004-2008, Ruth worked to establish a strong debate presence at Bard and to lead the team to great national success. Ruth rejoined the Bard Debate Union in Fall 2011 after spending three years doing full-time graduate work at New York University, where she earned her Ph. D. in German Studies. Ruth has taught at numerous debate workshops and institutes over the years, including the World Debate Institute in Burlington, Vermont and the Worlds Schools Debate Academy in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. As Faculty Advisor of the Bard Debate Union, Ruth oversees all aspects of the team’s functioning, focusing especially on the team’s public debates and events, tournament hosting, outreach projects, travel calendar and logistics. Ruth also teaches courses in Philosophy and Human Rights.

David Register
Faculty Fellow and Director of Debate
David Register has been coaching debate since 2004 when he began coaching the University of North Texas debate team while pursuing his Master’s degree in Communication Studies. From 2006-2012 David was the head debate coach at the University of Vermont where he coached top teams in both policy and parliamentary debate formats. He has also taught at debate workshops and institutes in the United States, Germany, Serbia, and Slovenia. David is a top/breaking judge at nearly every tournament he attends and has won several coaching awards. David joined the Bard Debate Union in Fall 2012. As Director of Debate, David oversees the team’s research/skill development and tournament travel, in addition to coaching a branch of the Bard Debate Union at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility. David also teaches public speaking both at Bard and in the Bard Prison Initiative.

Clarence A. L. Brontë ’18
Team Captain

Clarence A. L. Brontë is the Team Captain of the Bard Debate Union. This is their second year in the position, and they are beyond excited to keep the ball rolling! They primarily work to prepare the team for tournaments by holding focused weekend meetings, heading research initiatives, and focusing on maintaining a strong community spirit within the union. Clarence is a Junior Psychology major with a concentration in Science, Technology, and Society. Outside of debate, they work as a Writing Fellow in the Learning Commons, as a Research Fellow in the Memory Dynamics Lab, and as a Citizen Science Teaching Fellow. Clarence hopes to one day pursue a PhD and become a professor in their field. As a result, they are very enthusiastic about designing, managing, and directing team research as well as organizing student led practices, assisting novice debaters, and serving as a liaison between team members and coaches.

William Crowdus ’19
Club Captain
William Crowdus is the Club Captain of the Bard Debate Union. This will be his first semester as Club Captain of the debate union and his second year as a member. He is responsible for drawing up and presenting the club budget as well as facilitating public debates on campus. William is a second year student deciding between a philosophy and a history major.

Caila Drew-Morin ’19
Civic Engagement Captain

Caila Drew-Morin is the Civic Engagement Captain of the Bard Debate Union. This is her first year as a captain and second year as an active member of the team. She is excited to be more involved in the community through working with local high school and middle school students to improve their debating skills. Caila is a second year anthropology major and will be moderating this year. She plans to continue her education in anthropology after getting her undergraduate degree from Bard College and is excited to travel and do anthological field work. Outside of debate Caila is involved in the Bard Bike Co-op and works at the Bard Stevenson Library.


Jonathan Becker
Co-Director, Bard Model United Nations
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement;
Associate Professor of Political Studies
Jonathan Becker has been at Bard since 2001. A former policy debater himself and a tremendous supporter of civic engagement and political participation throughout the college and local community, Dean Becker has been instrumental in establishing a thriving debate program and Model UN team at Bard College. Additionally, he has taught at Central European University, University of Kiev Mohyla Academy, Wesleyan University, and Yale University and is the author of Soviet and Russian Press Coverage of the United States: Press, Politics and Identity in Transition (1999; new edition, 2002) as well as articles in European Journal of Communication, Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly, Slovo, among others. In addition to Co-Directing the Model UN team, Dean Becker teaches courses in Russian Politics and Media.