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A monthly conversation with Missouri State University President Clif Smart.

The Value of Guest Speakers For The University Community

Photo credit: MSU Public Affairs Conference

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/value-guest-speakers-university-community_80041.mp3

At various times throughout the year, colleges and universities across the nation invite guest speakers to campus to address students, faculty and community members.

On Thursday night, former Secretary of State General Colin Powell addressed a large crowd inside JQH arena as part of Missouri State University’s Spring Public Affairs Convocation.

University President Clif Smart says part of the goal in bringing these speakers to campus is to enlighten and challenge the university community.

“We like them to be across the political spectrum; we don’t want all liberals or all conservatives. And we want them to be interesting and engaging and challenging, and I think we hit the mark this year,” Smart said.

Smart says reaction to bringing Powell to campus has been mostly positive, but notes that anytime a speaker has been associated with a political ideology it can bring out critics.

Powell’s visit was funded by the Missouri State University Foundation, the David D. Glass Lecture Series in the Missouri State College of Business and presenting sponsor Trailiner Corporation – H.E. “Spook” and Liz Whitener.

Last semester, roughly 4,500 people came out to hear TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie, and learn about his quest to provide shoes to children in need, at MSU’s Fall Public Affairs Convocation.

“He was very high energy,” Smart said. “I thought his message in terms of doing something that matters really resonated with our campus and with our students.”

Aside from the fall and spring convocations, Smart says dozens of speakers visit MSU that are sponsored by various departments, including an appearance this week by Alumnus Kathleen Turner, who spoke with graduating seniors in the Theatre and Dance Department.

Additionally, upcoming events like the Public Affairs Week will bring in some 50 speakers, Smart says. And while several speakers visit campus, there are numerous local professors that are invited to visit other campuses.

“That’s really what a university ought to bring to the community and its students, is the opportunity to hear lots of different people talk about a whole spectrum of topics of interest and challenge them to think differently and think bigger and really grow as a part of being in the university,” Smart said.

A majority of speaking engagements at the region’s colleges and universities are free and open to the public.

Click play above to hear our entire conversation with President Clif Smart, as part of our monthly program Engaging the Community.