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Lecture series hoping online

If students have been unimpressed – or just plain uninterested – with speakers who have visited campus in the past, USF now offers them a chance to directly influence these choices.

For the first time in its history, the University Lecture Series has launched an online survey in which students can rank the speakers they would most like to see in the upcoming fall and spring semesters. The Web address is

From talk show host Stephen Colbert and former politician Colin Powell, to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and former NBA star Magic Johnson, students can choose from a list of 39 candidates.

In previous years, only student groups could propose speakers. ULS Director Mike Dolinger hopes the online survey will attract attention and therefore make the average student more interested in the lectures.

“We’re trying to make the ULS series a lot bigger,” said Dolinger. “And we want it to be as diverse as possible.”

A committee consisting mostly of students compiled the list, and the survey will give the student body an even greater voice in the selection process.

Dolinger said he believes ULS can afford four speakers from the list of 39, which also includes CNN creator Ted Turner, director Spike Lee and talk show host Ellen Degeneres. However, ULS’ exact budget, which comes from Activity and Services fees, won’t be determined until Student Government finalizes its budget.

So far, Dolinger said, anywhere from 400-450 students have voted. More than 44,000 students attend USF.

“That’s good, but we need more,” Dolinger said.

Four speakers not on the list have already been selected, but Dolinger said their identities couldn’t be released yet.

ULS was established in 1988 and has brought a wide variety of speakers, including director Oliver Stone, peace activist Desmond Tutu and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to campus.