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Speaker programs should bring current decision makers to campus

By John Guy
On September 13, 2013

The vacuous speech of Dr. Ron Paul arose from the institutionalization of professional speakers and endowed speakers' programs.
An endowed speakers' program is required to invest in speakers every year regardless of whether an appropriate speaker is available. The number of popular speakers, whose names automatically attract audiences, is limited, probably less than 10,000 world wide, and most are represented by speakers' bureaus which perform the hard labor of making a match.
The majority of popular and available speakers are "former" this and that. Few, if any, are current decision makers. For example, Paul gained his following by declaring Libertarian values, by serving in Congress, and by running for President. He did not become famous for achievement. He never held leadership positions in The House, was not elected President, and did not serve as an administrator as does a governor, mayor, or cabinet appointee. In The House, he had one vote. So, I think, it is fair to say he never had direct responsibility for any policy or decision, and his name is not associated with any successful legislation. Perhaps the best adjective to describe him is curmudgeon.
I prefer that endowed speakers' program assets are spent for persons either recently having had a responsible position, or who currently are working on a program or cause. In other words: someone now on the firing line.
A sports metaphor makes my point. Rafael Nadal or Gabrielle Douglas are more attractive contemporary speakers than Michael Jordan or Mary Lou Retton.

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