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So Many Speakers, So Little Time

Posted by on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 in College Life, Speakers Committee, Student Life, Vanderbilt Programming Board.

Tonight I am going to see former Massachusetts’s governor Mitt Romney speak at Vanderbilt’s own Langford Auditorium.  Last night political activist Ralph Nadar and John Stossel were here as well.  These lectures are a part of Impact Symposium.  This year’s theme: “The Future of Capitalism.”

Last year former U.S. Secretary Madeline Albright and former Israeli legislator Natan Sharansky spoke on “Diplomacy in the New Millennium.”

I decided to do a little researching and learn more about Impact Symposium.  I found some interesting – easy to access, but relatively unknown – information.

Impact Symposium is a once a year tradition here at Vandy that started 1964. Students at the time wanted another means of exposing and discuss current issues.  Today, Impact Symposium is still student run as a part of the Vanderbilt Speakers Committee.  The event usually takes place over multiple days, and speakers are still brought to campus in hope is to “inspire enthusiasm, awareness, and discussion of controversial and current events” as stated by the Vanderbilt website.

Previous notable speakers have included Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert McNamara, Jesse Jackson, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Robert Kennedy drew a record crowd of 16,000 people in 1968.

Impact Symposium is the most important event for the Vanderbilt Speakers Committee.  Throughout the year they bring in speakers that are “entertaining, diverse, and accomplished in their fields.”  This past September, Tiki Barber, retired NFL Pro Bowl running back and NBC correspondent, spoke on the success of his philanthropic corporation Tiki Ventures LLC.  Less than a month later I listened to crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times, Will Shortz, lectured about his life as the only academically accredited puzzle master in the world.

*Langford Auditorium – This is in the Vanderbilt Medical Center built in 1976 seats 1,200 people, and is used for a variety of purposes from lectures to theater and dance productions.

**Vanderbilt Speakers Committee – part of the Vanderbilt Programming Board, one of our many student run organizations.

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