Jacob Thompson

Director and Head Coach, UNLV Debate Team & Professor-in-Residence, Communication Studies
Expertise: Competitive Debate (NDT/CEDA policy debate), Argumentation and persuasion, Presidential and other political campaign debates, Domestic political campaigns and persuasion, American foreign policy


Jacob Thompson is the head coach and director of UNLV's nationally recognized, award-winning debate team and a professor in residence in the department of communication studies. Under his leadership, UNLV's debate team has risen rapidly since its rebirth in 2007 and has been ranked among the best teams in the nation for several years. In 2018, Thompson received the George Ziegelmueller "coach of the year" award at the National Debate Tournament. Thompson also played an important role in the third presidential debate in 2016 that took place at UNLV, serving on multiple university committees that organized debate-related activities, and participating in over 100 interviews as a University media expert on presidential debates. Thompson's research and teaching focuses on presidential and political campaign debates, persuasion, argumentation theory and practice, and the rhetoric of American foreign policy.


  • Ph.D., Communication Studies, University of Kansas
  • M.A., Communication Studies, University of Kansas
  • B.A., Political Science, Wayne State University

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communication, politics (national)

Jacob Thompson In The News

Las Vegas Sun
March 11, 2019
In an age of predawn rage tweets by President Donald Trump and public cries from his opponents like “Impeach that (expletive),” a special debate last week at UNLV offered hope that civil discourse can return to American politics.
The Nevada Independent
October 15, 2018
Nevada voters are about to weigh in on a governor’s race that’s closer than any has been in decades, with implications for the health care of hundreds of thousands of people and the future of public education.
Las Vegas Sun
July 16, 2018
Growing up in a military family in Florida, Matthew Gomez entered high school as what he describes as a “hard-line Republican.”
Las Vegas Review Journal
April 2, 2018
The 3-2 decision decided UNLV’s fate.

Articles Featuring Jacob Thompson

UNLV debate team members
Campus NewsMarch 6, 2018
UNLV’s young debate team is ranked fifth in the nation and poised to make a deep run in March’s National Debate Tournament.
Reece Aguilar
Campus NewsSeptember 20, 2017
UNLV's team of rapid-fire competitive policy debaters advanced to the elite eight of the season's first tournament.
Jennifer Hurtado
Campus NewsNovember 10, 2016
The best summation of the presidential debate experience: "No one treated me like a student. For a couple of hours, I felt like a professional."
2016 Debate flags
Campus NewsSeptember 22, 2016
Students and the Las Vegas community will gather to watch live streams of the debates leading up to the final contest Oct. 19 at UNLV.