To the surprise of absolutely no one who ever went head-to-head with her in a courtroom, the Hon. Barbara Crowder was a skilled debater long before she ever worked her first case.
For that, the retired Madison County Circuit Court judge has a few former UI professors in part to thank.
“Dr. Kurt Ritter, who helmed the U of I debate team during my undergraduate years of 1974-78, kept a large group of old high-school debaters from all around the country busy with campus debates and attending debates at other universities,” says Crowder (BA ’78/speech communication; JD ’81).
“The fun and challenge of those years — plus the inspiration of Dr. Joe Wenzel, who was my advisor and adored professor — laid the groundwork for my future.
“I had the great fortune of being a TA in the Speech Communication Department and assisting the debate team throughout my years at the U of I College of Law. The eventual career path in becoming a judge for 20 years and an officer in the Illinois Judges Association all comes from Lincoln Hall — and the law school. I was honored to be named a distinguished alumni of the College of Law in April 2018.
“Plus, I still travel with my undergraduate roommates — Margaret Penar, now Winsor; Debra Look; Carol Morris; Gail Lundberg; and Barbara TerBush, now Russell — even though we dispersed all over the country.
“And my best takeaway from the U of I is my husband of 37 years, fellow alum Lawrence Taliana. Our two sons have their degrees from the University of Illinois — we bleed orange and blue.”