Skip to main content


ETBU Professor Cole Franklin receives IPDA Coach of the Year Award

April 24, 2019

Dr. Cole Franklin received the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) 2019 Bennett Strange Coach of the Year Award at the IPDA National Championship Tournament and Convention on Tuesday, April 17 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Determined by a vote of all university programs attending the national tournament, the Coach of the Year award is presented to a debate director annually and honors the coach for his or her dedication to students, mentoring, debate education and pedagogy, and service to the association and debate community.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award,” Dr. Franklin said. “It is even more special because Bennett Strange was my debate coach when I was in college, as well as a colleague when we both taught at Louisiana College. I’m especially honored to receive an award named in his memory.”

Dr. Franklin serves as the Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Professor of Communication, and Director of the ETBU Debate Team. He has more than 25 years of teaching experience in higher education. Prior to his tenure at ETBU, he served at various public and private institutions, including Louisiana College, Mississippi College, Louisiana State University at Alexandria, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from Louisiana College, a Master of Arts in Communication from Stephen F. Austin State University, and a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from The University of Southern Mississippi.

“I have known Dr. Franklin since my first semester at ETBU,” ETBU senior Speech Communication major and Debate Team member Hannah Lawson shared. “Dr. Franklin challenges me to step outside of my comfort zone in order to reach my goals. He encourages the whole team to use their talents for the Lord and prays for us. To us, Dr. Franklin has always been Coach of the Year. We are beyond excited that IPDA has officially recognized him for his hard work and sacrifice.”

The IPDA initiated the award in 2006 and named it in memory of Bennett Strange, who served as debate coach at the University of Southern Mississippi and Louisiana College for over 25 years. The association was founded in 1997 and is the fastest growing debate association in the nation. In the 2018-2019 season, 141 universities from across the country participated in tournaments sanctioned by the association. Two hundred and seventy-five competitors from 41 universities and 14 states competed at the 2019 national tournament.