Statement on Dr. Neil Berch
Dr. Neil Berch, Associate Professor of Political Science of West Virginia University, receiving degrees from Princeton University and the University of Washington and coach emeritus of the long-running, award-winning policy debate team and long-time supporter of the New York City Urban Debate League passed away late last week from his on-going battle with brain cancer at the age of 55.
Dr. Berch, an advocate of argumentative advocacy and critical thinking produced hundreds of successful debaters, academics and active citizens under his tenure as educator. On a personal note, Dr. Berch enjoyed working with members of various urban debate leagues, fighting towards providing scholastic debate for all students from all economic, racial, gender and other social backgrounds. His love for politics and debate inspired many people to be aware of who we are, our surroundings and how we as individuals can contribute to our society.
He served as a role model to many. In fact, he served as my role model as he taught me the importance of giving back through volunteering. When I first started volunteering my time as a debate coach to various local high schools, Dr. Berch reminded me that the purpose of my existence as a debate coach is to "educate and inspire; for winning will soon come after." This quote continues to embody my purpose and mission as an educator. His spirit will continue to inspire many. His desire towards creating future leaders, educators and simply great human beings will live on. Dr. Neil Berch will be missed but never forgotten.
The New York City Urban Debate League celebrates the life and times of a great educator, Dr. Neil Berch. Our league thanks you for what you have given us.