Marilyn J. Young Endowment for Intercollegiate Debate Receives Gift of Real Estate

Article written by Lauren Martin

Marilyn Young and Michael LaunerMarilyn J. Young, Professor Emerita of Communication, and her husband, Michael K. Launer, Professor Emeritus of Russian, have made a real estate contribution to the Marilyn J. Young Endowment for Intercollegiate Debate. They created this fund in 2014 with plans to grow it over the years. “Our goal with the endowment is to secure the future of the debate program, first by endowing a coach position and, once that is completed, by supplementing funds for team travel and graduate assistant coaches,” Young says.

Young, an FSU alumna as well as a member of the retired faculty, participated in debate throughout her high school and college careers and served as a coach to the FSU debate team from 1972-1985. “I firmly believe that debate is one of the most empowering activities students can engage in,” she explains. “It prepares them for life and hones skills that are adaptable to a number of professions.”

The couple recently donated a property located on Lake Anna in central Virginia to the Endowment. “Our plans have changed from when we purchased the property, so we decided to make it a real estate gift to the Debate Endowment,” Young explains. This is a unique and beneficial way some alumni choose to give back to their alma mater.

Kim Gabbard works with the Florida State University Real Estate Foundation and explains how real estate gifts typically work:

“In short, the FSU Real Estate Foundation can generally accept property anywhere (including vacant land, rental property, farms, or homes) as long as the property is marketable and does not create a risk for FSU. By donating property directly to FSU, the donor may receive a charitable tax deduction for the appraised value.

Once the gift property is transferred to FSU’s ownership, we usually place it up for sale and the proceeds from the sale are used to benefit the college unit in the manner the donor has indicated (in this case, funding the endowment for intercollegiate debate). In some cases, the property may be held for the college unit’s use if that is the donor’s preference (for example, we have received coastal property that is used by the FSU Marine Lab).”

In this instance, the couple hopes that the property will bring the current total in the Endowment to the half-way point for securing a coaching position for the debate team. In addition to their generous contributions, Young and Launer constantly reach out to other debate alumni, many of whom have also contributed to the fund. “We are fortunate in that we have a core of very generous and consistent donors who have helped us reach this milestone,” Young says. “FSU has had a debate program for over 100 years, at least since it was The Florida Military and Collegiate Institute in the 1800s. For many of our alums, debate is one of the defining experiences of their time at FSU, and through this endowment, we hope to make that experience available to FSU undergraduates for the next 100 years.”

CCI would like to thank Marilyn, Michael, and all the alumni who have made generous contributions to this fund so far. If you are interested in making a gift of your own, please visit the Marilyn J. Young Endowment for Intercollegiate Debate. If you are interested in learning more about FSU’s debate team, read about it here.

For more information on debate and CCI giving opportunities, please contact Mafé Brooks, Director of Development, at

Marilyn Young and Michael Launer with blueprint
Marilyn and Michael admire a blueprint of the building where they met at FSU.