University Speakers

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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University speakers range from guest lecturers and resident scholars to traveling authors and commencement speakers. Typically, it's the latter of these that gets top billing on campus, as graduation is a landmark event. Each spring, colleges and universities begin jockeying with one another to land the biggest names in hopes of creating buzz around campus and, perhaps, in the press.

It's not uncommon for speakers as high up as ex-presidents to deliver commencement addresses, especially at their own alma maters. If schools such as Yale and Georgetown land other university speakers first, these ex-politicos may deliver West Point or Annapolis commencement speeches instead. There's no law forbidding top politicians (or anyone for that matter) from giving multiple addresses during the same graduation season, and there's no more fitting place for a past Commander-in-Chief to speak than to a crowd of armed service grads.

Other Types of University Speakers

Academia is one of the hotbeds of the public lecturing circuit, primarily because so many disciplines are alive and well across college campuses. Where else can authorities on Latin or ancient cuneiform put their knowledge to good use before an audience of generalists? Where else can chemical engineers or particle physicists address anyone outside those in their own industry circles?

Writers are another group of university speakers who tend to flourish, if only because college campuses are one of the last places where people still actively read. Moreover, a lot of college towns are home to great independent bookstores that compete against the corporate chains by drawing better or more intriguing guests to their shops. Provided authors can get their publishers to foot the tab for their promotional tours, there's no reason why they shouldn't look to universities as lucrative speaking venues.

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