From the inception of Boston College, elocution and oratory skill were among the most important assets that the school actively cultivated in its students.

The Fulton Prize Debate took place annually in Boston College Hall and attracted students and lay spectators from all over the city. The winner was crowned the best debater of the year and received a medal of gold. The prize was one of the highest honors that could be bestowed upon a Boston College student at the time.

Unmatched in garnering of acclaim for the university in the 19th and early 20th centuries, debates lured crowds from all across Boston and teams from across the globe. The intercollegiate debates strengthened bonds and set a sturdy foundation with colleges across the country for future sporting matchups.

In the early years of the Fulton Debating Society, before the College moved to Chestnut Hill, one of the highlights of the academic year was the annual prize debate. The first of these debates was held in 1890, and the debate has remained a Boston College tradition for more than 100 years.

When University Hall (now Gasson Hall) was dedicated in 1913, a special room on the third floor was dedicated to the Society. The ceiling of the room forms a Gothic arch, reflecting the building's architecture. The sloping ceilings on either side were, fittingly, adorned with six examples of or tributes to oratory: in Greek by Demosthenes, in Latin by Cicero, in Jerome's Latin rendition of St. Paul, in Italian by Paolo Segneri, S.J., in French by Louis Bourdaloue, S.J., and by Daniel Webster. Three of the quotations are from secular and three from sacred eloquence. From the vantage of the platform in the Fulton room the quotations from Cicero, Webster, and Demosthenes are on the left wall and those from Segneri, St. Paul, and Bourdaloue on the right.

The list of Fulton Medal Winners on the wall of the Fulton room contains the names of many great and some legendary Boston College graduates. Some standouts are Monsignor Michael J. Splaine, 1896, a revered churchman; Henry Foley, 1921, founder of a distinguished Boston law firm; James M. Curley, Jr., 1928, son of Boston's mayor, whose prospects were cut short by an early death; John J. Wright, 1931, later bishop and cardinal, possibly the quickest and wittiest debater in Fulton history; Lawrence J. Riley, 1936, a beloved auxiliary bishop of Boston; James J. Unger, 1963, long-time Director of Debate at Georgetown University; John J. Curtin, Jr., 1954, first Boston College alumnus and Law School Alumnus to be president of the American Bar Association; and Joseph M. McLaughlin, 1964 and 1965, a champion debater and master litigator. The first woman to win the Fulton Medal was Jane M. Osborne, 1973, an outstanding accomplishment in light of the fact that total coeduation had come to Boston College just three years earlier.

In the early years of debate at Boston College there were two separate debating societies--the Fulton Debating Society for upperclassmen and the Marquette Debating Society for underclassmen. The Societies functioned independently and each conducted a prize debate in the spring. While the Marquette become a part of the Fulton years ago, the Fulton remembers the Marquette Debating Society each year when it presents the historic Gargan Medal to the second best speaker in the Fulton Prize Debate.

In the early years of debate at Boston College there were two separate debating societies--the Fulton Debating Society for upperclassmen and the Marquette Debating Society for underclassmen. The Societies functioned independently and each conducted a prize debate in the spring. While the Marquette become a part of the Fulton years ago, the Fulton remembers the Marquette Debating Society each year when it presents the historic Gargan Medal to the second best speaker in the Fulton Prize Debate.

Year Name
2022 Ian McNabb
2021 Sophia Carter
2020 Sophia Carter
2019 Benjamin Dewhurst
2018 Benjamin Dewhurst
2017 Fisher Pressman
2016 Fisher Pressman
2015 Fisher Pressman
2014 Sean MacDonald
2013 Michael Holland
2012 Nora Lopopolo
2011 Grant Gendron
2010 Nora Lopopolo
2009 Sean O’Hara
2008 Ryan Malone
2007 Mandy Castle
2006 Mandy Castle
2005 Mandy Castle
2004 Allen Best
2003 James P. Smith
2002 Ben Bireley
2001 Christopher Schroeck
2000 Lisa Langdon
1999 Lisa Langdon
1998 Jared Fields
1997 David Staiti
1996 Gregory Connor
1995 William Macey
1994 Christopher Strunk
1993 Wenyu T. Ho
1992 Jennifer W. Paul
1991 Charles E. Morris III
1990 Jennifer R. Dowd
1989 Lisa Marie Ameden
1988 Christopher T. Gassett
1987 John I. Goodwin
1986 Andrea Rocanelli
1981 Jeffrey Corkery
1980 Daniel Feeney
1979 James Guerra
1978 Steve Malachowski
1977 Stephen Kelly
1976 Frank Roach
1975 John Hart
1974 John Meany
1973 John Meany
1972 Jane Osborne McKnight
1971 Mary-Ellen Raux
1970 Robert Baker
1969 John J. MacMillan
1966 Robert Halli, Jr.
1965 Robert Halli, Jr.
1964 Dennis M. McCarthy
1963 Joseph T. McLaughlin
Year Name
1962 James J. Unger
1961 James J. Unger
1959 Kevin T. Byrne
1958 Brian J. Moran
1957 John Howard
1956 Terry Logan
1955 Edward J. F. Thomas
1954 Edward J. F. Thomas
1953 Frank Tannian
1952 John J. Curtin
1951 George H. Parsons
1950 William Falvey
1949 Donald W. White
1948 Lawrence E. Spellman
1947 William J. Murphy
1946 Paul E. Kelly
1943 John W. Moriarty, Jr.
1942 John W. Moriarty, Jr.
1941 Joseph A. Timpany
1940 Robert E Kopp
1939 Thomas J. Finnegan
1938 Paul Greeley
1937 John F. X. Gaquin
1936 Francis E. Sullivan
1935 John Donelan
1934 Lawrence J. Riley
1933 Mark J. Dalton
1932 Gabriel G. Ryan
1931 Joseph G. Brennan
1930 Joseph F. Rogers
1929 John J. Wright
1928 Harold P. Sullivan
1927 Henry M. Leen
1926 Paul R. Hinchey
1925 Francis I. Murphy
1924 Raymond S. Morgan
1923 Maurice J. Hickey
1922 Joseph M. Gavan
1921 Joseph G. Crane
1920 Henry Foley
1919 Eugene J. Sullivan
1918 Thomas F. McNamara
1917 Richard A. McShane
1916 Warren J. Clear
1915 Francis S. Quinn
1914 John J. Connolly
1913 Frederick W. Wennerberg
1912 Edward S. Farmer
1911 Edward A. Sullivan
1910 Vincent J. Hickey
1909 Thomas A. Flynn
1903 Daniel J. O'Hearn

Dr. Joseph F. Quinn joined the Economics Department in 1974 after earning his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as chair of the department from 1988 until 1994. Quinn was the highly regarded Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College from 1999 until 2007, when he returned to the Economic Department and was named the James P. McIntyre Professor.

In recognition of his distinguished career as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and his longstanding support of Fulton Debate, Dean Quinn was honored at the 2007 Fulton Prize Debate with a Friend of Fulton Award. At that time, the Society also announced the creation of the Joseph F. Quinn Award for the Outstanding First Year Debater. The first recipient of the Quinn Award was Matthew Maerowitz '10, an economics major from Phoenix, Arizona.

The recipients of the Joseph F. Quinn Award for the Oustanding First Year Debater include:

Year Name
2021 Anderson Zhang
2020 Cross Conrad
2019 Sophia Carter
2018 Benjamin Dewhurst
2017 Conner Coles
2016 Jenna Bilak
2015 Harrison Kenner
2014 Ryan Carelli and Amanda Sie
2013 Ted Kontopoulos
2012 Alexander Carlman and Sullivan McCormick
2011 Michael Maerowitz
2010 Nora Lopopolo
2009 Gabriel Stacy
2008 Michael Stork and Kevin Walton
2007 Matthew Maerowitz

At the culmination of the annual Fulton Prize Debate, the Society recognizes one member of the Boston College community as "Fultonian of the Year." This award may recognize a special friend of the Society, a gifted speaker who has used oratory for the greater good, or a teacher or administrator who has served Boston College with distinction.

Previous recipients of the "Fultonian of the Year" include:

Year Name
2017 Grace Peters
2015 Rita Rosenthal
2014 William Stanwood
2013 Patrick Waldinger
2012 Bonnie S. Jefferson & Wenyu Ho ('95) Blanchard
2011 John P. Katsulas & Dale A. Herbeck
2010 John J. Burns
2009 John L. Mahoney, Jr.
2008 Barbara Viechnicki
2007 Joseph T. McLaughlin ('65)
2006 Patricia DeLeeuw
2005 John Neuhauser
2004 Donald Fishman
2003 Howard Singer
2002 Joseph Quinn
2001 Dorman Picklesimer
2000 Kevin P. Duffy
1999 Carole Hughes
1998 Marilyn Matelski
1997 Gail McGrath
1996 Frank Campanella
1995 Margaret Dwyer
1994 Donald J. White
1993 Rev. Charles Donovan, S.J. ('33)
1992 Bernie O'Kane
1991 Robert Sherwood
1990 Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J.
1989 Kevin P. Duffy
1988 John Neuhauser
1987 Rev. Joseph R. Fahey, S.J.
1976 Mary L. Kinnane

The National Debate Tournament (NDT) began at the United States Military Academy in 1947. For the next 20 years, the NDT was organized and conducted by the academy. In 1967, the NDT entered a new era as the American Forensic Association, the national professional organization of forensic educators, assumed responsibility for the tournament. The NDT was moved from West Point and has been hosted by a schools across the United States. Boston College hosted the NDT in 1976.

At the first tournament in 1947, 29 colleges participated in five "seeded debates" and four elimination rounds over a three day tournament. Over the years, the tournament has expanded in size and 78 teams now participate at the NDT. Since 1970, it has been possible for a school to qualify two teams to attend the NDT.

Boston College first qualified to attend the NDT in 1962 and has been represented at the tournament by 38 teams. The Fultonians who have participated at the NDT include:

Joseph T. McLaughlin Award for Public Debate

The accomplishments of Joseph T. McLaughlin ’65 as a Boston College debater are unrivaled. He and his debate partner, James Unger, achieved remarkable success at the National Debate Tournament (NDT), which remains the gold standard for measuring debate success. In 1963, the BC duo reached the semi-finals of the NDT, where they lost a 4-1 decision to the University of Minnesota. McLaughlin and Unger improved upon their performance at the 1964 NDT where they lost the final round to the University of the Pacific on a close 4-3 decision. These two performances at the NDT were not surprising: McLaughlin and Unger were one of the dominant teams both years, winning elite national tournaments such as the Henry Clay Debates at the University of Kentucky in 1963.

After graduating from Boston College with honors, McLaughlin attended Cornell Law School, and then clerked for Chief Justice Joseph Tauro of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. For the next forty years, McLaughlin enjoyed a fabulously successful career as a litigator. A former partner at Shearman & Sterling, McLaughlin served as counsel at Bingham McCutchen, he taught international arbitration at Fordham University School of Law, and he served as a professional arbitrator and mediator with JAMS. McLaughlin passed away in January 2012.

In honors of his long and distinguished career, the Fulton Debating Society inaugurated the Joseph T. McLaughlin Award for Public Debate in 2010. The Award is presented to the Fultonian who has demonstrated a commitment to the Society's public debate series and has mastered the art of arguing before large audiences.

Past winners of the Joseph T. McLaughlin Award for Public Debate include:

Year Name
2021 Cross Conrad & Anderson Zhang
2020 Lauren White
2019 Van-Ado Jean-Noel
2018 Conner Coles
2017 Sean MacDonald
2016 Fisher Pressman
2015 Sean MacDonald
2014 Michael Maerowitz
2014 Alexander Tingle
2013 Patrick Allen
2012 Gabe Stacy
2011 Grant Gendron
2010 Ryan Malone

Dr. Kevin P. Duffy served as Vice President of Student Affairs at Boston College from 1976 until his retirement in 1990. A strong supporter of student activities including Fulton Debate, the Society honored his exceptional career with the creation of the Kevin P. Duffy Award for Excellence in Debate. This award recognizes a Fultonian who has made an outstanding contribution to Fulton Debate while a student at BC.

Previous recipients of the Kevin P. Duffy Award for Excellence in Debate include:

Year Name
2021 Sophia Carter
2020 Louis Gleason, IV
2019 Noah R. Valdez
2018 Noah R. Valdez
2017 Fisher Pressman '17
2016 Sean MacDonald '17
2015 Ryan Carelli '17
2014 Sean MacDonald '17
2013 Sullivan McCormick '15
2012 Brendan Benedict '12
2011 Brendan Benedict '12
2010 Brendan Benedict '12
2009 Sean O'Hara '10
2008 Matthew Maerowitz '10
2007 Allen Best '07
2007 Mandy Castle '07
2006 Jeffrey Sullivan '06
2005 Kevin Shatzkin '05
2004 Ben Bireley '04
2003 Christopher Schroeck '03
2002 Kevin Hartzell '02
2001 Jared Fields '01
2000 Kevin Collins ‘00

In 2017, the Fulton Debate Hall of Fame began by inducting five members from the pre-World War II era. Subsequently, at least five new members will be enshrined each year until every decade is represented. Thereafter, nominations from alumni will be solicited for adding additional members.

Pre-World War II Inductees

1940's Inductees

1950's Inductees

1960's Inductees

1970's Inductees

1980's Inductees

1990's Inductees