Speaker selection process explained

Throughout the school year, various speakers are brought to campus in order to present their ideas. These speakers are chosen through a variety of processes and brought to campus with the help of endowments.

“The goal is to always offer someone who can offer an educational focus, and provide access to these highly educated speakers who are well regarded within their field,” said Susie Gonzales, director of public and media relations.


The speakers brought to campus can be sponsored in a number of ways, including endowments set aside for speakers or sponsorship by a particular professor or department. Usually, a member of the department suggests a speaker, and then the entire department discusses the selection before any decision is made. Many departments may be included in the selection process, and the final decision on speakers for endowed series usually comes from the President’s Office. Sponsoring a speaker includes paying for his or her flight, hotel and dining. At times, professors choose a theme to focus on and choose speakers that correspond with that theme.

“It’s so great at Trinity, because you can go to a small-scale lunch or meeting and you have a lot of access to this brilliant person who you can learn a lot from,” Gonzales said.

The Distinguished Lecture series, which brings one or two speakers to campus each year, is endowed by a trustee so that students, faculty and staff can attend the lecture freely. Other endowments that make these lectures possible include those made by Flora C. Crichton, the benefactor for the Cameron Lecture series, and the endowment for the Stieren Arts Enrichment series, provided by Arthur and Jane Stieren. Endowments to the university make these series possible, and their providers have the opportunity to meet with the speakers their contributions bring to campus.

“I am so proud that Trinity brought somebody in saying what [Miko Peled] was saying,” said Judith Norman, professor of philosophy. “I would love to hear people’s reactions, and do not want people to get shouted down.”

Those brought to the university by professors follow a different process. While it is possible for them to be brought through one of the above series, more frequently their sponsorship is provided by individual departments, who make the decision within their faculty on whether or not the suggested speaker should be brought to the university.

“Our question is, is this a good speaker for the university?” Norman said. “I don’t think people are saying what he is saying, and it is an important perspective.”