Co-Director, Bard Debate Union
Dr. Ruth Zisman founded the Bard Debate Union in 2004. Since then, she has worked to build a world-renowned debate program at Bard – expanding debate from an extra-curricular activity into a centerpiece of liberal arts education – while also working to develop debate programs in Bard’s surrounding school districts and throughout Bard’s national and international networks. Ruth oversees the team’s public debates and events, tournament hosting, outreach projects, travel calendar and logistics. She has organized and taught at debate workshops and institutes in the United States, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Russia, held fellowships in Berlin and Weimar, and presented at academic conferences at Cornell, Yale, and the University of Zurich. Ruth earned her B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Vassar College (2004), her M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought from NYU (2008), and her Ph. D. in German Studies from NYU (2015). Ruth is also the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and a faculty member in the Philosophy program, where she teaches courses in continental philosophy, political philosophy, and the German philosophical tradition.
Co-Director, Bard Debate Union
David Register joined the Bard Debate Union in 2012. David oversees the team’s skill and research development and has coached Bard debaters to the top levels of national and international competition. Before coming to Bard, David coached debate 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, Slovenia, Hungary, and Russia. David holds a B.S. in Communication Studies from Emporia College (2004) and a B.F.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Texas (2006). David is also a Faculty Fellow and the Director of Debate at the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) – where he founded and coaches the now internationally recognized BPI Debate Union – and a faculty member in the Bard Learning Commons where he teaches courses in Public Speaking and Argumentation.
Hadley Parum ’21
Team Captain, Bard Debate Union
Hadley Parum is a Junior studying Psychology and Music. This is their second year as the Team Captain of the Bard Debate Union and third year as a member. Their debate accolades include six breaks at tournaments in the U.S. and Hungary, advancing to Novice Finals at 2018 USUDC, and to Open Finals at the 2019 Empire Debates and 2019 Colgate Open. Hadley also represented the Bard Debate Union at the Third Bard Network Debate Conference in Budapest, Hungary in March 2019. On top of their involvement with the Bard Debate Union, they are a Research Assistant in the Memory Dynamics Lab on campus and a peer tutor in Writing and Music Theory through the Bard Learning Commons. In the spare moments in between their many commitments, they enjoy watching comedy, playing sudoku, and enjoying coffee.
Elaina Taylor ’20
Club Captain, Bard Debate Union
Elaina Taylor is a Senior at Bard majoring in philosophy, particularly interested in the study of ordinary language. This is her second year as club captain and third year as a member of the Bard Debate Union. Elaina has won several awards in her time debating, including Finalist at the Smolny Open Debate Tournament 2018, Quarterfinalist at Colgate Open 2019, Novice Finalist at UVM Huber Debates in 2017, and 2nd Novice Speaker at NAW*DC 2018. In 2018 she represented the Bard Debate Union at the Second Bard Network Debate Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. Elaina also works as Assistant House Manager at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and runs the Bard Poker Club.