Professors hit the road for Faculty Speakers Bureau
KU faculty travel across the region to give free lectures on range of
By Jennifer Kepka
All the world may not be a stage, but thanks to the Faculty Speakers Bureau,
all of Kansas is now a classroom.
Tom Mulinazzi, professor and chair of civil, environmental and architectural
engineering, knows this firsthand. As part of the speakers bureau, Mulinazzi
has lectured in 80 Kansas counties, giving him an insight into the communities
from which his students hail.
“KU students appreciate it when you know something about their hometown
or their part of the state,” Mulinazzi said.
Similarly, different parts of the state have appreciated KU professors’
knowledge on a range of topics. The speakers bureau, administered by the
University Governance office and funded by the provost’s office,
offers approximately 120 professors willing to speak — free of charge
— on topics ranging from aerospace engineering to theatre and film.
“We get a lot of calls asking for it,” said Kathy Reed, the
main contact for the speakers bureau.
Current events often drive interest in certain topics.
Last summer, when a KU expedition getting ready to travel to Antarctica
to study polar ice sheets made the news, Reed fielded requests from several
organizations for a speaker to discuss the group’s exploration —
and recruited a professor to do just that.
“Sometimes other faculty recommend people or we recruit from other
faculty,” Reed said.
So far, no request for a speaker has been turned down on account of not
having an expert on the requested topic, though some requests are more
specific than others.
“I went to Wamego and spoke to a Chamber of Commerce meeting last
year,” Mulinazzi said. “My topic was ‘Crazy Traffic
Speakers have visited a wide range of groups, from middle-school classes
to a manufacturing plant in Iola. One speaker even drove to McPherson
to give a speech — an effort that was rewarded by a call from the
McPherson College organizer to praise the service, Reed said.
“The evaluations are all very positive, and the speakers are very
positive,” Reed said. “It fosters goodwill.”
Mulinazzi agreed. After his speech in Wamego, Mulinazzi said, he “was
most pleased with the fact that I was representing KU in rural Kansas.
It is important that people in Kansas be exposed to the faculty at the
University of Kansas. It also helps our faculty to travel throughout the
state of Kansas.”
For more information on Faculty Speakers Bureau visit www.ku.edu/~speakers/.