Clinton School Speaker Series: The Year That Was and Looking Ahead to 2018-19

The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service’s renowned Speaker Series hosts about 100 programs per year that are free and open to the public. This series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.

The Speaker Series features a diverse array of programs ranging from senators, congressman, cabinet officials, and ambassadors to renowned academics, corporate CEOs, philanthropists, authors, and journalists.

Guests of the series include 47 ambassadors, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, 12 heads of state, and seven Nobel Prize winners.

Highlights from the 2017-18 year include Liberian President Ellen Johnson SirleafEuropean Union Ambassador to the United States David O’Sullivan, and the Children of the Little Rock Nine as part of the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School.

The series began in 2004 when Senator Bob Dole of Kansas delivered the inaugural lecture at the request of his former Senate colleague and Clinton School founding dean David Pryor. In 2006, when Skip Rutherford became dean, he expanded the program based on what he had seen while visiting Harvard University.

“I saw so many opportunities for Harvard students to connect with leading academics, newsmakers, and world leaders and I wanted our students to have similar experiences,” Rutherford said. “Nikolai DiPippa has taken the series to an exceptional level. In addition to making  programs free for the public, Nikolai does a masterful job connecting our students with the speakers.”

Since then, the Speaker Series has grown to include speakers across all spectrums of politics, news, literary interests, and current events. Senator John McCain, former United States Attorney General Eric Holder, and former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove are just a few of the political names to appear over the years. Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Jesse Jackson, and George Stephanopoulos are some other notables of the speaker series.

In its 13-year history, the speaker series has hosted nearly 1,300 programs and welcomed more than 200,000 attendees. More than 500,000 people from over 200 countries have viewed the series online.

 Clinton School students also benefit from participating in the school’s Speaker Series, which gives students unprecedented access to leaders in government, politics, business, foreign policy, journalism, and philanthropy addressing issues in public service.

“The Speaker Series has definitely been a highlight of my Clinton School experience,” said Christine McCall, Clinton School student from Chicago, Ill. “The public programs are hosted in an intimate setting that provides students and the general public with a space to connect with the speakers. I have been fortunate to introduce a couple of the speakers and get to know them on a more personal level. In return, they have taken the time to speak with me and assist with professional development.”

“The speakers are of high-caliber and represent various industries including journalism, non-profit, community development, government, and the arts, among others,” McCall continued. “There is truly something for everyone and I hope people will take advantage of this valuable program in Little Rock.”

With the launch of the Clinton School’s new online degree, the Executive Master of Public Service, the Speaker Series is used to complement course lessons.

“Recordings from the speakers series were an integral part of the EMPS Foundations class,” said Associate Dean Susan Hoffpauir. “They provided real-world examples of the course content and increased students’ knowledge of how public service is practiced across the globe.”

To watch past speaker series events, visit



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