As an undergraduate student at the University of North Texas (UNT), Max was a member of the debate team for five years, during which time he served as president and secretary of the team's student organization. At UNT, Max qualified for the National Debate Tournament (NDT) three times, as well as appearing in the elimination rounds at the Cross-Examination Debate Association's (CEDA) national tournament three times. Each NDT and CEDA appearance, Max debated with a different partner. As a debater, Max prided himself on his ability to work with different partners with different backgrounds and levels of experience. Max also developed the flexibility to debate (and coach) from every angle in debate - traditional policy focus, critical philosophy based argumentation and performance.
Before coming to Augustana, Max's coaching experience included work at the high school and college level. While at North Texas, Max was an Assistant Coach at Coppell High School (TX) for three years. During that time, Coppell debaters advanced to the elimination rounds of Tournament of Champions (TOC) qualifiers and the Texas Forensics Association (TFA) state tournament. As a graduate student at Kansas State, Max coached as part of a very large team of debaters. More than twenty students participated in debate at Kansas State. Being part of such a large squad provided Max with experience in planning travel, recruiting and coaching students of varying levels of experience, skills that have enabled him to achieve success in his first term as director at Augustana College. During his time there, Kansas State achieved two qualifications for the NDT and two appearances in the elimination rounds at CEDA nationals, the first such qualifications in four years. This success culminated in Kansas State moving from 41st place the year before his arrival to sixth in CEDA sweepstakes and fifth in NDT sweepstakes standings.
During his first term at Augustana, the debate team has experienced great success and growth. During the fall term alone, ten different students travelled to tournaments at the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and Emporia State University. At the season opener at UNI, one student with no previous experience received recognition as the third place speaker. At UNLV, Augie advanced two teams to the elimination rounds and finished second place in the novice division. At this tournament, Augustana was also recognized with third-place speaking honors and the top speaking honors. It was the first time in five years Augustana brought home a top speaker award. At Emporia State, two students succeeded in the difficult junior varsity division, despite being the only team with no prior experience. These accomplishments are the result of intense preparation and practice on the part of the students. These students provided commentary on the presidential debates for local media outlets and represented Augustana with the highest levels of professionalism and determination that Max has experienced as a coach.
In addition to coaching the debate team, Max teaches COMM 211: Communication, Politics and Citizenship. Each term, Max's students learn about the campaign process, the different methods of political communication, the principles of rhetoric and the means to evaluate public discourse in the political arena. Max's academic research interests focus primarily on rhetoric, with specific attention to the communication issues that arise in disaster planning and response. Max is particularly interested in community disaster response and how to improve the ability for citizens to organize themselves in the event of a catastrophe. During his free time, Max enjoys reading about politics, watching Houston Astros baseball and Dallas Mavericks basketball, and listening to hip-hop.