National Mediation Tournament Comes to Brenau Campus

Oct 31, 2012
Brenau Staff
Hunstein, shown here at Brenau commencement exercise in 2010, addresses tournament participants on Nov. 3.

Teams from California to Massachusetts converge on the Brenau University campus here Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 1-3, for the 13th Annual National Intercollegiate Mock Mediation Tournament.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, Georgia Appeals Court Judge J.D. Smith, noted mediation author Richard Calkins and internationally known mediator Tom Valenti are scheduled to participate in various segments of the three-day program. Tournament officials said they expect more than 150 student mediators, faculty sponsors and professional judges to attend the competition.

Participating teams include Boston University, Brenau, Cameron University (Lawton, Okla.), Clayton State University (Morrow, Ga.), Culver-­Stockton College (Canton, Mo.), Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa), University of Dubuque (Dubuque, Iowa), Gainesville State College (Oakwood, Ga.), Georgia State University, (Atlanta), Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.), Lewis University (Romeoville, Ill.), Loras College (Dubuque, Iowa), Middle Georgia College (Cochran, Ga.), Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Principia College (Elsah, Ill.), University of San Diego (San Diego, Calif.), University of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls, S.D.), the University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Wesleyan University (Fort Worth, Texas), Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, N.C.), Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.), and University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Each institution can field up to two three-member teams for the tournament.

The Georgia event, sanctioned by the InterNational Academy of Dispute Resolution, marks the first time the tournament has ventured away from Chicago or Des Moines, Iowa, where it began at Drake University in 1999.

“It is quite an honor for Brenau University to be the first host for the tournament outside the Midwest,” said Ken Frank, a member of the INADR board who is also chair of the humanities department and the conflict resolution and legal studies program at Brenau. “This opened the door for participation for schools that have been unable to travel to Chicago or Des Moines for previous events. Hopefully, this tournament will generate more interest in one of the fastest-growing segments of the American judicial system.”

Mediation is the increasingly popular and often court-mandated form of legal problem-solving in which a trained negotiator guides conflicting parties toward a mutually acceptable agreement – part of the alternate dispute resolution discipline that attempts to unclog federal and state courts of issues that can best be resolved without judges and juries. Mediators often are lawyers or retired judges, but they are not required to be. It is their job to get both parties in a dispute to agree on an outcome that presumably benefits all parties, even if that outcome does nothing more than settle matters quickly without costly, emotion-wrenching litigation.

The intercollegiate tournaments, Frank explained, are an important teaching tool for students to give them experience outside the classroom in employing their skills.

Frank, who has a law degree from the University of Colorado, developed Brenau University’s conflict resolution and legal studies major 13 years ago, making Brenau the only institution in Georgia – and one of just a few in the country – to offer an undergraduate degree in the subject. He has been taking Brenau teams to the national tournament – usually with great success – since the inception and has been a pioneer in advancing the relevance of the competition in the education process for future mediators.

The university, which recently won first-place team honors at two regional competitions, has fared well in past national tournaments, winning top honors in 2002 and seldom ranking below the top 10. A dozen Brenau students have been honored as “All-American Mediators,” including Christina Poole and Heidi Cranford, who were added to the All- America rolls following their stellar performance in the 2011 national tournament in Des Moines.

The eight teams making the finals round will be invited to attend the one of the International Law School Mediation Tournaments in Dublin, Ireland, or Dubai in 2013.

For more info about the national tournament, call (770) 534-6297 or email