by Kortney Scroger ’14
As chair of the Communication and Theatre Department and PLU professor of more than three decades, Dr. Michael Bartanen is well known around campus. What may not be as well known are his ties to the oldest national collegiate speech and debate society, Pi Kappa Delta (PKD). His loyalty to this speech and debate fraternity was recognized at the centennial anniversary this March in St. Louis, Missouri.
At an intimate gathering of no more than 30 PKD members, surrounded by photos and memorabilia of a long-lived, well-loved organization, Bartanen was inducted into the centennial hall of fame. With humor and humility he addressed the closest members of his PKD family, thanking them for the honor and sharing the story of his first experience with forensics.
“[After my first debate] I understood my vocation, I understood the life lessons of what we do in this activity, because for that moment, I learned about debate as a form of empowerment,” said Bartanen.
After his acceptance speech, everyone in the room began reminiscing about how Bartanen had helped them in some way during their PKD careers.
“I wish we had a Michael in every organization and every meeting because what he has been for the organization is a true visionary,” said current PKD President, Gina Jensen.
Bartanen has been a member of PKD since his college years. In 1974 he was part of the first team ever to represent Western Washington University at a national debate tournament. For more than 40 years he has been active in PKD on virtually every level, from debate coach and Archivist/Historian to his current role as National Secretary Treasurer.
A national council established the Pi Kappa Delta Hall of Fame in 1987, Bartanen happened to be one of those council members. Now the hall of fame has 38 inductees. The hall of fame recognizes members that have contributed a great amount of time, energy and passion into the organization.
Bartanen has been very influential to PKD’s success by investing in their history, providing counsel for past presidents and much more. So much so, that for their centennial celebration he was the only inductee into the Hall of Fame.
PKD is a fraternity that was established at Ottawa College in Ottawa, Kansas in 1913. In the past 100 years PKD has initiated more than 60,000 students and has more than 200 active chapters on college campuses across the United States.
The centennial was a major celebration for PKD and the goal of the event was not only to celebrate the past but also to celebrate the future.
“This is the 46th year I have either been in a debate or judged one and I hope to keep that streak going for a very long time,” said Bartanen.