Connolly's Spectacular Save
Why Bates Debate owes a debt to this man.


Tom Connolly '79 "was a very gifted debater," said Robert Branham, professor of rhetoric. Branham began coaching Bates debate the year before Connolly arrived as a student, and under Branham, Connolly attended nationals in each of his four years at college -- a first for a Bates debater.

But Connolly's biggest service to Bates debating -- and Bates history -- was rescuing the contents of a Pettigrew Hall storage closet, where 100 years of Bates debating history had been abandoned in cardboard boxes after the unexpected death of the legendary Brooks Quimby in 1968.

Connolly's prodigious efforts -- he wrote his senior thesis on the history of Bates debate -- ended up in Special Collections at Ladd Library. The thesis served as an education for Branham, who had arrived at Bates without any knowledge of the College's rich debating past. "His thesis provided a real service to the College," said Branham, author of Stanton's Elm: An Illustrated History of Debating at Bates College, published in 1996 to mark the centennial celebration of Bates debate.

Bates Professor of Rhetoric Robert J. Branham, 45, died in October of cancer. A tribute and obituary will appear in the winter Bates Magazine. - Editor


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