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Ruth Zisman
Associate Dean of Network Programs
Term Assistant Professor of Social Studies
Co-Director, Bard Debate Union
Ruth Zisman has been coaching debate since 2004 when she founded 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 organized and taught at debate workshops and institutes in the United States, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Russia. Ruth oversees 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
Instructor, Bard Learning Commons
Faculty Fellow, Bard Prison Initiative
Co-Director, Bard Debate Union
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. David oversees the team’s skill/research development and tournament travel, in addition to teaching courses public speaking and debate. David also founded and coaches the world-renowned Bard Prison Initiative Debate Union.

Nathaniel Carlsen ’18
Tutor Coordinator Intern, Bard Learning Commons
Assistant Coach, Bard Debate Union
Nathaniel graduated Bard in 2018 with a degree in History and Political Studies. While a student, he worked as a Peer Counselor, a Learning Commons Tutor, and a Golf Cart Driver. Nathaniel now works for the Bard Learning Commons as the Tutor Coordinator Intern. He debated throughout all four years of his time as an undergraduate, during which he was the champion and 9th place speaker at The University of Rochester Open Debate Championship, an octo-finalist at the United States Universities Debating Championship at Stanford University, and debated in the 2016 World Universities Debating Championship in the Hague, Netherlands. Nathaniel is also an avid bicyclist and apple pie baker.

Hannah Hutchinson ’19
Team Captain
Hannah is a senior and a double-major in Historical Studies and Film Production. Hannah is an active member of the student body, employed in both the Film Equipment Room and the Photography Dark Room. Additionally, she plays on an intramural soccer team and regularly collaborates with other filmmakers on projects. Since joining the debate team last fall, Hannah has established a competitive record; She was the champion and 5th place speaker at The University of Rochester Open Debate Championship, a semi-finalist at the Cornell University Open Debate Tournament, the champion of The University of Vermont Women’s and Gender Minorities Debate Championship, and an octo-finalist at the United States Universities Debating Championship at Stanford University.

Estrella Frankenfeld ’20
Club Captain
Estrella is a junior, studying written arts and history. She works on campus as a Peer Counselor, at the Bard Nursery school, and at the Center for Curatorial Studies Library. During the 2017-2018 year, Estrella’s first year of debate, she advanced to elimination rounds at several tournaments including the novice finals of UVM, finals of the St. Petersburg Open, and quarterfinals of the North American Women’s and Gender Minorities Debate Championship. In addition to competing in various tournaments and helping out with the public debates and outreach programs, she also traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia with her debate partner in March 2018 to represent Bard Annandale at the 2nd Bard Network debate conference.


Jonathan Becker
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.

David Shein
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Students
Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy
David Shein is the college’s dean for student academic affairs.  He supports students in their academic work and in designing their programs of study, supports faculty in academic advising and the exercise of academic policies, and works especially closely with seniors who are struggling with the demands of the final year of study.
As chair of the College’s Scholarships and Fellowships Committee, David recruits and works with students who are interested in applying for nationally and internationally competitive undergraduate and post-graduate opportunities, such as the Watson Fellowship, the Luce Scholarship, and the Rhodes, Mitchell, and Marshall Scholarships. David also teaches in the philosophy program.