The Miami University annual Lecture Series kicks off on September 24 with a lecture from ex-Cincinnati mayor and television talk show personality Jerry Springer. The lecture series will ultimately bring five speakers to campus, each of them with a unique perspective on topics ranging from social media and voting to international travel.
Other speakers include NPR radio host and guidebook author Rick Steves, business leader and political consultants Becki Donatelli and Sam Graham-Felsen, Peabody Award winner Krista Tippett, and distinguished NASA scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
According to Howard Kleiman, professor of mass communication, Lecture Series speakers are chosen by the University Lecture Series Committee, which consists of both students and faculty.
“Oxford, being as isolated as it is, needs to bring in a variety of things that students can engage with and a strong lecture series is one of those things,” Kleiman said.
According to Patricia Newberry, senior lecturer and coordinator of special events and internships, the Lecture Series Committee takes most of the preceding academic year to thoroughly consider all of the possible lecture candidates and come up with a final list of speakers. Possible candidates are considered based on a number of factors including current events, the diversity of both the speakers and their topics and University lectures from previous years.
Other factors are also given consideration, according to Newberry.
“We’re also looking at the gender mix and the racial mix,” Newberry said. “We want to make sure we’re reflecting the diversity goals of the university and exposing students to people of all cultures, genders, and political views.”
Newberry said audience interaction is intended during the presentations, and a Q&A session is anticipated at the end of each lecture.
Newberry said student input is valuable not only in terms of those sitting on the selection committee, but also in gauging the number of tickets that need to be sold.
“It’s not all that often we have to turn away hordes of people”, said Newberry.
The series opener, featuring Jerry Springer, promises to be of particular interest to the communication department. According to Kleiman, students on the selection committee admired Springer’s breadth of experience and diversity of past occupations, and expect an interesting presentation on human manipulation.
According to Newberry, when negotiating with speakers, the Lecture Series Committee agrees with the speakers on a topic of discussion, and from there the speaker can take their own liberties on where they want to steer their material, and from what angle the topic will be addressed.
The cost related to bringing in speakers is negotiated between the University Lecture Series Committee and the presenter’s booking agent, and often varies based on the demand for a particular speaker, and the timing of their visit. Costs paid to the speaker include travel expenses and lodging, according to Newberry.
Sophomore Ian Free said he looks forward to Jerry Springer as an exciting guest.
“I think Springer would be an interesting speaker to see based on his career diversity,” Free said. “He probably has a good perspective on certain issues because of his background.”