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Ruth Zisman
Co-Director of the Bard Debate Union
Term Assistant Professor of Social Studies
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
Co-Director of the Bard Debate Union
Faculty Fellow, Bard and BPI
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.

Alec Waters ’19
Team Captain
Alec Waters is the Team captain of the Bard Debate Union.  This is his first year in this position.  He hopes to help every member of the team improve their skills as a debater and be prepared for tournaments.  He also hopes to maintain the strong team spirit of the debate union.  Alec is a double major in Chemistry and History.

William Crowdus ’19
Club Captain
William Crowdus is the Club Captain of the Bard Debate Union. This will be his second year as Club Captain of the debate union and his third 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 history major.


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.