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.

2023Christopher Cheek
2022Ian McNabb
2021Sophia Carter
2020Sophia Carter
2019Benjamin Dewhurst
2018Benjamin Dewhurst
2017Fisher Pressman
2016Fisher Pressman
2015Fisher Pressman
2014Sean MacDonald
2013Michael Holland
2012Nora Lopopolo
2011Grant Gendron
2010Nora Lopopolo
2009Sean O’Hara
2008Ryan Malone
2007Mandy Castle
2006Mandy Castle
2005Mandy Castle
2004Allen Best
2003James P. Smith
2002Ben Bireley
2001Christopher Schroeck
2000Lisa Langdon
1999Lisa Langdon
1998Jared Fields
1997David Staiti
1996Gregory Connor
1995William Macey
1994Christopher Strunk
1993Wenyu T. Ho
1992Jennifer W. Paul
1991Charles E. Morris III
1990Jennifer R. Dowd
1989Lisa Marie Ameden
1988Christopher T. Gassett
1987John I. Goodwin
1986Andrea Rocanelli
1981Jeffrey Corkery
1980Daniel Feeney
1979James Guerra
1978Steve Malachowski
1977Stephen Kelly
1976Frank Roach
1975John Hart
1974John Meany
1973John Meany
1972Jane Osborne McKnight
1971Mary-Ellen Raux
1970Robert Baker
1969John J. MacMillan
1966Robert Halli, Jr.
1965Robert Halli, Jr.
1964Dennis M. McCarthy
1963Joseph T. McLaughlin
1962James J. Unger
1961James J. Unger
1959Kevin T. Byrne
1958Brian J. Moran
1957John Howard
1956Terry Logan
1955Edward J. F. Thomas
1954Edward J. F. Thomas
1953Frank Tannian
1952John J. Curtin
1951George H. Parsons
1950William Falvey
1949Donald W. White
1948Lawrence E. Spellman
1947William J. Murphy
1946Paul E. Kelly
1943John W. Moriarty, Jr.
1942John W. Moriarty, Jr.
1941Joseph A. Timpany
1940Robert E Kopp
1939Thomas J. Finnegan
1938Paul Greeley
1937John F. X. Gaquin
1936Francis E. Sullivan
1935John Donelan
1934Lawrence J. Riley
1933Mark J. Dalton
1932Gabriel G. Ryan
1931Joseph G. Brennan
1930Joseph F. Rogers
1929John J. Wright
1928Harold P. Sullivan
1927Henry M. Leen
1926Paul R. Hinchey
1925Francis I. Murphy
1924Raymond S. Morgan
1923Maurice J. Hickey
1922Joseph M. Gavan
1921Joseph G. Crane
1920Henry Foley
1919Eugene J. Sullivan
1918Thomas F. McNamara
1917Richard A. McShane
1916Warren J. Clear
1915Francis S. Quinn
1914John J. Connolly
1913Frederick W. Wennerberg
1912Edward S. Farmer
1911Edward A. Sullivan
1910Vincent J. Hickey
1909Thomas A. Flynn
1903Daniel 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:

2023Joyce Hua
2022Caleb Wachsmuth & Ian McNabb
2021Anderson Zhang
2020Cross Conrad
2019Sophia Carter
2018Benjamin Dewhurst
2017Conner Coles
2016Jenna Bilak
2015Harrison Kenner
2014Ryan Carelli and Amanda Sie
2013Ted Kontopoulos
2012Alexander Carlman and Sullivan McCormick
2011Michael Maerowitz
2010Nora Lopopolo
2009Gabriel Stacy
2008Michael Stork and Kevin Walton
2007Matthew 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:

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

2023Christopher Cheek
2022Christopher Cheek
2021Cross Conrad & Anderson Zhang
2020Lauren White
2019Van-Ado Jean-Noel
2018Conner Coles
2017Sean MacDonald
2016Fisher Pressman
2015Sean MacDonald
2014Michael Maerowitz
2014Alexander Tingle
2013Patrick Allen
2012Gabe Stacy
2011Grant Gendron
2010Ryan 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:

2023Louis Gleason IV
2022Sophia Carter
2021Sophia Carter
2020Louis Gleason, IV
2019Noah R. Valdez
2018Noah R. Valdez
2017Fisher Pressman '17
2016Sean MacDonald '17
2015Ryan Carelli '17
2014Sean MacDonald '17
2013Sullivan McCormick '15
2012Brendan Benedict '12
2011Brendan Benedict '12
2010Brendan Benedict '12
2009Sean O'Hara '10
2008Matthew Maerowitz '10
2007Allen Best '07
2007Mandy Castle '07
2006Jeffrey Sullivan '06
2005Kevin Shatzkin '05
2004Ben Bireley '04
2003Christopher Schroeck '03
2002Kevin Hartzell '02
2001Jared Fields '01
2000Kevin 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

2000's Inductees