Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and poet Maya Angelou are only two of the biggest names on the ballot for next year’s Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Wisconsin.
But UW students interested in influencing the lecture lineup for the next academic year should hurry up, as balloting is almost over.
The seven open roster spots to fill the DLS lineup are currently up for grabs, and the DSL committee is looking to the rest of the university for input on who they should book.
According to Aaron McKean, DLS committee chair, the series has had big names before and though Carter “costs quite a bit,” there is a real possibility DLS could get Carter to come to UW — despite his usual asking price of $60,000 per appearance.
According to McKean, the committee has considered hiring fewer speakers that are more famous and more expensive. Ultimately, though, they think it’s the ideas — rather than the names — that are really important, he added.
“Having someone who may be nearly impossible to get here pushes our committee to get creative in figuring out how we can meet those needs,” McKean said. “I can’t say the top seven vote getters will be the roster for next year.”
According to McKean, Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” and Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” are perennial winners. In order to meet the desire for comedic news coverage, UW booked Ben Karlin to speak on campus last year. Karlin, a UW alumnus, is a writer and producer for Comedy Central.
He added the committee has been handing out ballots at every DLS event this semester and, now that the DLS season is over, is just waiting to get back the ballots that have been distributed at UW residence halls.
UW junior Amanda Steward said she thinks it is a good idea to provide as many ideas as possible, though she has already picked her favorite.
“I would go with Bill Nye over anyone else, but that’s just me,” Steward said. “I think it would benefit the entire campus to have a variety of speakers.”
McKean said they have been accepting nominations throughout the academic year at the individual DLS events as well as on their website, www.union.wisc.edu/dls.
McKean added the committee went through the entire list to eliminate candidates who have died or who do not exist — like Bugs Bunny – until they had a list of 50 to 60 possible speakers to put on the ballot.
The DLS is organized through the Wisconsin Union Directorate, and prominent past speakers include “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk, the Rev. Al Sharpton and syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage.