Dick Sullivan Honored by Harvard

“Volunteer of the Year” Award from Harvard Club of Chicago

The Harvard Club of Chicago recently honored one of the CDL’s most important and accomplished supporters, Dick Sullivan, presenting him with an award of special recognition at its annual meeting. The text of the award reads “The Harvard Club of Chicago Expresses its Most Sincere Appreciation and Gratitude to Richard W. Sullivan, AB ’67 for His Outstanding Contributions to the Harvard Club of Chicago as Debate Coach for the Club’s Adopt-a-School Program at Walter Payton College Prep.” As a special surprise, two of Dick’s former top debaters, Halle Apy and Jeremiah Pickert, attended the ceremony and spoke in appreciation of his efforts.

Dick currently serves on the Board of Directors for the CDC and directs the Walter Payton College Prep debate program. His involvement with high school debate in Chicago began about ten years ago, after he retired from a 31-year career as a business process consultant. Dick found himself eager to contribute to his community and offered his services to Walter Payton to assist in a wide variety of after-school programs. In Dick’s words, “The debate team stood out distinctively.” So he volunteered as a judge and took the mandatory 3-hour judge training session.

Now, almost 10 years later, Dick can certainly be designated as one of the strongest forces shaping debate in Chicago. He assumed responsibility for managing and training all the judges and for the operation of the tournaments. He joined the Chicago Debate Commission. In March, 2005, he led the re-launch of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, the national organization that fosters Urban Debate Leagues across the country. And in 2007, Dick led the reactivation of the CDC.

The Payton Debate Team has become one of the city’s strongest, winning the 2009 Chicago Debate Championship in both the Varsity and JV Divisions. Dick has also facilitated national competition for CDL teams, founding the National Circuit Program several years ago. The NC Program has helped CDL teams form several schools, including Payton, compete very successfully at the most advanced and competitive high school tournaments in the state, region and country.

CDC Executive Director, Les Lynn, states succinctly, “Dick started as a humble judge for one of our schools, and now years later he’s had a large impact on the foundations of the Chicago Debate League — tournament operations, training, business practices, national competitiveness, the organization and identity of the CDC. If there were a Mt. Rushmore for the CDL, Dick’s face would be chiseled there in granite.”

Dick summarizes his experience this way, “My involvement with the Payton Debate Team — and with the Chicago Debate League as a whole — remains a high point in my life. The joy of watching adolescents mature personally, develop life skills, develop a passion for learning, and most of all enjoy the experiences of debate, has fueled, and will continue to fuel, many hours of work on behalf of organized urban school debating.”