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
June 15, 2020
A normal day on the UNLV campus has students walking class to class, studying in groups at public tables, and waiting in line at the student union for a snack before heading to a packed lecture hall for class.
KLAS-TV: 8 News Now
February 20, 2020
The big question following Wednesday night’s debate is who won. After the debate, the campaigns spoke to members of the media to make their case.
February 20, 2020
We’re at a crucial point in the the 2020 Democratic presidential primary: two early voting states are behind us and two more — Nevada and South Carolina — lay ahead. Some candidates are skyrocketing in the national polls while other former frontrunners are swiftly dropping; needless to say, February has been intense.
FOX 11 News
February 19, 2020
The stakes are rising rapidly for the six Democratic presidential candidates set to debate at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas Wednesday night, as a new poll shows Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ lead widening, one-time top candidates tumbling, and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg mounting a serious challenge for the nomination.

Articles Featuring Jacob Thompson

Representatives from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians wrap UNLV Marta Meana in a blanket as part of the tribe's gift announcement to the university.
Campus NewsMarch 5, 2020
A collection of news stories from February highlighting the people and research of UNLV.
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."