Spring ULS speaker lineup announced

Next semester, the University Lecture Series (ULS) will host lectures by ESPN analyst Herm Edwards, entrepreneur Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerrys ice cream and, most notably, Grammy-winning artist John Legend.

ULS will spend more than $110,000 on the three speakers who will address topics ranging from sports and ethics, business and sustainability, and education and involvement. ULS Director Romel Boiser, a senior majoring in public health, said the speakers were selected based on interest demonstrated in surveys distributed online.

As long as Ive been in the (ULS) office, weve grown every single year, he said. Were doing something that students can have an affinity toward, but that the community can enjoy as well.

The first speaker next semester will be Herm Edwards, former NFL head coach for Kansas City,
former Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant coach and studio analyst for ESPN. Edwards, who will receive $33,000, will speak Jan. 16 about his experiences in athletics and philanthropy. Edwards was also selected to speak during Martin Luther King Jr. week, Boiser said.

The thing that would make him an ideal candidate for us would be his ethics, and his practical use of how he coaches and how he discusses the topic of sports in general, he said.

On March 4, Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerrys ice cream, is expected to speak.

Greenfield will receive $21,000, and is expected to share his entrepreneurial expertise and sustainability practices. According to the contract between Greenfield and ULS, free samples of his companys ice cream will be served to attendees during the lecture.

Though ULS featured Greenfield in 2005 and topics such sustainability have been addressed in previous lectures, most recently with Jeff Corwin on Nov. 15 to a crowd of more than 1,000 people, Boiser said business is a different topic we dont normally hit.

The final speaker during the spring semester will be musician John Legend, who will speak on April 9. When the lineup was announced last week at the Corwin lecture, the crowded room broke into applause when Legends name was announced.
Hes going to have that aspect we want to see in our speakers substance, Boiser said. His lecture will nourish students and make them want to succeed in life. They are going to want to listen to someone they grew up listening to. Hes going to stick more with them.

Legend, who is known for his social activism, is expected to address the importance of education and civic engagement. In addition to the lecture, a contract between Legend and ULS states that Legend will play three or four songs.

Legend will be the most expensive ULS speaker of the academic year at $56,500. In total, next semesters speakers will cost ULS $10,000 more than this years, which cost a combined $100,000, with Bill and Giuliana Rancics cost at the forefront at $43,000.

ULS expects Legends lecture to attract the largest crowd, similar to the rapper Commons who spoke last fall and attracted a crowd of more than 1,200.

Student Life and ULS graduate adviser Jenna Kelly said the lectures tend to produce a higher turnout as more students become aware of the program and through increased marketing efforts.

Though she said most of ULSs budget, $263,452 in student-paid Activity and Service fees this year, is spent on speakers, there is still an amount used for marketing and promotional items. Last years ULS budget was $215,180, and seven speakers were brought.

I believe we have continued to (improve our marketing) and every lecture has improved, Kelly said. This year with the surveys, we are asking the basic questions but we are also trying to get beyond those surface questions and see how we are impacting students.

Marketing and surveys are important to determining the outcome of each event, Boiser said.

The lowest attended event this semester was the lecture by Rosario Dawson on Sept. 19, which cost $32,000 and had 370 people in attendance. If students had to pay a ticket price for this event, it would have been $86 per head, making it the most costly lecture based on the results.

Boiser said Dawsons lecture was based on the programs research that concluded students were supposed to be interested in her lecture.

For Rosario, we were looking for someone who would have a political impact, as well as Hispanic heritage, Boiser said. Statistics show that students were interested in that.

Boiser said ULS is optimistic for next semester.

Our message is that after you come to our lecture, you are going to want to do something more, he said. Whatever the topic may be, we want students to take initiative, take action, and hold themselves accountable for whatever the topic was beforehand. … I feel that from each of these lectures, you are going to see that.