On Building a Lecture Series

Submitted 4 months ago
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Behind the scenes at OSHER@Dartmouth's Summer Lecture Series

John Ferries and Pete Bleyler have co-chaired OSHER@Dartmouth's Summer Lecture Series committee for the past three years. They recently agreed to speak with Osher member Steve Tofel and answer some questions regarding this year's series.

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Q: Last year's series, Global Challenges Confronting the United States, was the most successful in the series' 21-year history. To what do you attribute its success?

Pete Bleyler: I believe the two reasons that last year’s program was so successful were that the overall theme and the individual topics were timely and in the news, and the array of outstanding speakers were able to attract [an audience].

Q: How was this year's topic chosen?

Pete: Osher’s Summer Lecture Series committee begins meeting right after the series ends in August to begin planning for the next year. We conduct a survey of series ticket holders and the results are analyzed and discussed by the committee to provide invaluable input to deciding the next year’s theme.  Many ideas are put forward and then whittled down during the early autumn months. 

Q: Once you've selected a topic, you've been able to attract some of the top experts in each of the sub-categories. What's the process for getting so much talent to Hanover on Thursday mornings?

John Ferries: The recruitment of speakers is a challenging process. We compile a list of potential speakers for each session, then start at the top. We have to be flexible because some speakers have very busy schedules (for example, Senator Mitchell was available only on August 9). The key factors in attracting the speakers were our prestigious Dartmouth connection, the size of the audience, and the names of expert speakers already confirmed to participate.

Q: Obviously, you both, along with members of your committee, volunteer hundreds of hours toward creating a successful series. What's the most rewarding part for you personally?

A: The most rewarding part for me is to sit down in Spaulding Auditorium and be presented with articulate and compelling experts [who] share their knowledge and expertise on issues important to our society.

The OSHER@Dartmouth Summer Lecture Series is open to the public; membership in OSHER@Dartmouth is not required. Tickets are $25 per session. For more information, or to purchase admission to any session of the series, visit osher.dartmouth.edu, or call (603) 646-0154. Click here for more information on each session of the 2018 series.


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