Guest Speeches

Listen to audio recordings of guest speeches

  • G. Mennen Williams, Campaign Rally Address, 1966

    G. Mennen Williams (1911-1988) was the 41st Governor of Michigan, and later worked under John F. Kennedy as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and served as Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. In 1966, Williams unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Michigan. This audio recording captures Williams in a campaign stop, introducing primary speaker Robert Kennedy.
  • Fred Rogers, Commencement Address, 1973

    Fred Rogers was an American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. Rogers was famous for creating, hosting, and composing the theme music for the educational preschool television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968–2001), which featured his kind-hearted, grandfatherly personality, and directness to his audiences. In this address to the graduating class of 1973, Rogers stresses his view that education is individually varied according to the student doing the learning; different student characteristics necessitate a diverse array of teaching methods. Rogers says that though the road to discovering one’s true self may be long, it is also worth the wait, especially with the help of intuitive and creative teachers. Rogers performs two of his own compositions, “Truth and Freedom,” and “There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You” during the presentation.
  • Elliot Richardson, Commencement Address, 1974

    Elliot Lee Richardson (July 20, 1920 – December 31, 1999) was an American lawyer and politician who was a member of the cabinet of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. As U.S. Attorney General, he was a prominent figure in the Watergate Scandal, and resigned rather than obey President Nixon's order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. In this address, Richardson warns the graduates of Eastern Michigan University against being “mastered by change,” and instead encourages them to “be in charge of change,” and to resist the prevailing sense of cynicism felt in the late 60’s and early 70’s. At the conclusion of the ceremony, several people are awarded honorary degrees by President Sponberg, including new Detroit Mayor, Coleman Young.
  • Olga Madar, Address from the Inauguration of President James Brickley, 1975

    Olga M. Madar (May 17, 1915 – May 16, 1996) was the first woman to serve on the United Auto Workers (UAW) International Executive Board. In 1938, she graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in physical education. In 1941, she joined the UAW Local 50 while working at Ford’s Willow Run bomber plant. According to Doug Fraser, former UAW president, Madar “was a trailblazer in the struggle for equal rights,” fighting to end racial discrimination and a champion of women’s rights. In this address prior to the inauguration of university president James Brickley, Madar details her attempt to navigate the “confusing” socio-political landscape of the 1970’s, and the role of minorities and women within that landscape. Madar condemns the gender wage gap, and lauds EMU for its placement of value on the education of women. Madar also addresses the possible threat to universities like EMU by a steadily growing number of community colleges, expressing her view that large universities need to begin paying more attention to low-income community members. A Q&A session follows the speech.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Campaign Rally Speech, 1966

    In 1966, Robert F. Kennedy visited Eastern Michigan University and delivered an address from the steps of Pease Auditorium. Kennedy began by rallying support for Congressman Wes Vivian, gubernatorial candidate Zolton Ferency, and G. Mennen Williams, poking fun at Williams’ wardrobe in the process. Kennedy next compares the voting record of Republican United States Congressmen to that of the Democratic vote, pointing out the shortcomings of several Republican voting records on issues such as an federal education act, Medicare, and the draft lottery, which he says should apply equally to everyone regardless of background or economic status. Embedded in Kennedy’s speech are humorous anecdotes and self-defacing quips.
  • William F. Buckley, Winter Commencement Address, 1971

    William F. Buckley Jr. was an American conservative author and television commentator, most notably on his own program, Firing Line, where he became known for his transatlantic accent and wide vocabulary. Regarded as one of the most important conservative intellectuals of his time, Buckley here lays out three concepts that he has taken from his association with the youth of 1971. First, Buckley emphasizes the younger generation’s affinity for new technologies, and explains that with every new technological advance, there are concerns as well as benefits. Second, Buckley has learned from the youth that reason will hold as much influence as romanticism in the decisions made by the graduating generation. Third, Buckley has realized that the youth of 1971 are fully able to determine that the idealism of others is just as valuable as their own idealism, though it may differ greatly. At the end of this recording, 5 honorary degrees are given, including one to Buckley, as well as another honorary degree to Motown Records founder Barry Gordy.
  • Vice President Alben Barkley, Centennial Address, 1949

    Alben Barkley was United States Vice President under President Harry Truman. In this address, Barkley gives a thorough summary of the role of education in the last 100 years of the nation. Discussing the United States of America from its founding through World War II, Barkley explains that only through education can Americans overcome the fear that has permeated the American psyche in the wake of WWII.
  • Hannah Arendt, Commencement Address 1964

    Johanna "Hannah" Arendt (14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-born, American political theorist. Her eighteen books and numerous articles, on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology, had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century. In this address, Arendt emphasizes the importance of truth-seeking in the world outside of the university. The experience of education, Arendt says, is the experience of committing to the pursuit of truth, and once outside the bubble of academia, students will find this commitment to truth to be invaluable.
  • Harold Urey Address, Dedication of Strong Hall, 1958

    Dr. Harold Urey was an American physical chemist whose work on isotopes earnd him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1943 for the discovery of deuterium. Here, Urey dedicates the newly-built Strong Hall on the campus of Eastern Michigan University by linking the growth and success of science to the national psyche. Urey explains how the popularity -and unpopularity- of science leads to a decline in science education.
  • Governor G. Mennen Williams, Introduction to Vice President Barkley, 1949

    In this address at the Michigan State Normal College Centennial Celebration, Michigan Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams introduces the principle speaker of the day: United States Vice President Alben Barkley.
  • Lee M. Thurston, Inauguration of Eugene B. Elliott, 1949

    Lee M. Thurston served as Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1948-1953. In this address, Thurston speaks of the value of state support for Michigan schools, stating that without state involvement, Michigan schools risk consolidation and centralization of programs by the federal government in Washington D.C. Thurston also stresses the need for a belief in college and university education by common citizens, and notes that Michigan State Normal College is, and will be, an example of a school that bolsters the belief in education.
  • Lee M. Thurston, Centennial Address, 1949

    Lee Thurston serve as Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1948 to 1953. Here he Thurston delivers an address concerning the needs of public institutions, and how to effectively meet those needs. The framework of needs that Thurston discusses range from material, administrative, and structural needs to scientific and interpretive needs.
  • Arthur G. Ruthven, Inauguration of Eugene B. Elliott, 1949

    Zoologist and President of the University of Michigan, Arthur Ruthven was selected to speak at the inauguration of Michigan State Normal College President, Eugene B. Elliott. In this address, Ruthven speaks of the important place of MSNC in the post-World War II nation and world, while also emphasizing the need for regional studies and national defense training.
  • Charles W. Hunt, Centennial Address, 1949

    Charles W. Hunt served effectively in many capacities at State University College at Oneonta, and in this address, given at the 1949 Michigan State Normal College Centennial Celebration, Hunt states that the influence of MSNC has been felt around the world by virtue of the training given teachers at the college. In a democratic culture, says Hunt, normal colleges like MSNC are vital instruments in the furthering of knowledge and growth of all citizens.
  • John R. Emens, Centennial Address, 1949

    Michigan State Normal College alum, John R. Emens, class of 1926, served as President of Ball State Teachers College, 1945-1968. In this address at Michigan State Normal College, Emens relates the history of MSNC, along with many of the lessons he learned while a student at the college. Emens also explains that the influence of MSNC is felt around the world, as many of the students and faculty of the institution have gone on to do great things globally.
  • Charles Colby, Centennial Address, 1949

    An alumni of Michigan State Normal College, class of 1906, and head of the Department of Geography at the University of Chicago, Charles C. Colby speaks in the address of the need for training teachers with an understanding and good judgement of an acceptable standard of living. In order to understand and judge this standard of living, Colby insists that teacher training in the field of economics is vital.
  • Joseph E. Warner, Bowen Field House Dedicatory Address, 1955

    Joseph E. Warner of Ypsilanti served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1921-1930, and again from 1937-1956. Warner also served on the Ways and Means Committee which appropriated funding for Bowen Field House. Here, he congratulates Michigan State Normal College and Ypsilanti at large for the addition of Bowen Field House to their campus and community.
  • Stephen Nisbet, Bowen Field House Dedicatory Address, 1955

    A member of the Michigan State Board of Education, Stephen Nisbet uses an analogy of Babe Ruth to illustrate the importance of teamwork whether on the baseball diamond or when building a new building on the campus of Michigan State Normal College. State government, the local community, and the college itself are the team players involved in building the new Bowen Field House. Without that group effort, Nisbet says, the porject would not have come to fruition.
  • James M. Hare, Bowen Field House Dedicatory Address, 1955

    James Hare was Michigan Secretary of State from 1955-1970. In this address at the dedication of the new Field House, Hare recalls his days playing various sports for Wayne State University in Detroit. Michigan Normal College, he says, was always dear to his heart, and he enjoyed his time competing here because of the lively school spirit. Hare also declares Bowen Field House to be a symbol of the direction the United States must take in the wake of World War II - that of active participant and not spectator.
  • Senator Louis G. Christian, Bowen Field House Dedicatory Address, 1955

    Michigan Senator Louis G. Christian expresses his gratitude for being allowed a part in the building of Bowen Field House, remarking that a sound body is essential to a sound mind. Happy for Michigan State Normal College and the Ypsilanti community, Christian relates an “Arabian proverb:” “He who has health has hope; he who has hope has everything.”
  • Senator Jerome Hart, Commencement Address, 1963

    Jerome T. Hart was a Democratic member of the Michigan Senate from 1965 through 1990. He served on the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee from 1959 through 1963 and was an alternate delegate to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. He was also an executive assistant to the state treasurer. In this commencement address, Hart focuses on the American Civil Rights Movement and the role of graduates in the struggle for racial equality. Hart tells graduates that they cannot afford to simply pay attention to the actions of politicians in regards to Civil Rights; person-to-person interactions must also change if a cultural shift is to take place.
  • Lenore Romney, Address to Women's Faculty Club, 1965

    Lenore LaFount Romney (November 9, 1908 – July 7, 1998) was an American actress and political figure. The wife of businessman and politician George W. Romney, she was First Lady of Michigan from 1963 to 1969. She was the Republican Party nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1970 from Michigan. In this address to the Eastern Michigan University Faculty Women’s Club, Romney encourages listeners to begin to look inward for the resources to improve their lives, rather than depending on federal government programs to improve them. Romney argues that by being involved and informed on the current political issues, one can then vote responsibly, as well as pass that information down to their children.
  • Wes Vivian Introduces Zolton Ferency, 1966

    Wes Vivian was a United States Congressman from Michigan from 1965-1967. In this brief recording, Vivian makes a campaign stop in Ypsilanti, on the steps of Pease Auditorium, to introduce gubernatorial candidate Zolton Ferency.
  • Zolton Ferency Introduces G. Mennen Williams, 1966

    Zolton Ferency was a lawyer, political activist, and professor at Central Michigan University. Ferency ran unsuccessfully for governor of the State of Michigan in 1966. In this brief speech from the steps of Pease Auditorium in 1966, Ferency introduces his running mate, G. Mennen Williams, and warms the crowd up for primary speaker, Robert Kennedy.
  • Timothy Dyer, Address at the Dedication of Bowen Field House, 1967

    Timothy Dyer served twelve years on the Board of Regents at Eastern Michigan University, and two years as Mayor of Ypsilanti. In this audio recording, Dyer explains the connection between the Ypsilanti community and Eastern Michigan University, stating that both entities coexist and that each must take the other into consideration. He congratulates EMU, on the behalf of the City of Ypsilanti, on the building of the new library.
  • Donald Currie, University Library Dedicatory Address, 1967

    Donald Currie serve as dean of students at Eastern Michigan University until joining the staff of the Royal Oak public schools, where he served as superintendent. Still president of the EMU Alumni Association, Currie was asked to speak at the dedication ceremony for the new University Library. Currie speaks at length on the growth of the university libraries throughout the years, and notes that all library growth can be traced back to just three individuals -Elsie Andrews, E. Walfred Erickson, and Genevieve Walton- in the more than 100 years that the school has been in existence. Currie says that more than how many books a library has, the real success of a library is measured in how well it serves the academic community.
  • Calvin Vanderwerf, Address at the 20th Annual Honors Convocation Ceremony, 1968

    Calvin A. Vanderwerf (1917-1988) was President of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and former University of Florida chemistry professor. Invited to speak at the 20th Annual Honors Convocation ceremony at Eastern Michigan University, Vanderwerf speaks of his 25 years in academia, and shares his observations of the changing national attitude toward college education and the development of the American intellect.
  • United States Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Address to NTEC, Somalia, 1968

    Hubert Humphrey served as 38th United States Vice President to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965-1969. This address occurred during Humphrey’s extended tour of Africa in 1968, and was given to the faculty and students of the National Teachers Education Center - an institution which employed many Eastern Michigan University faculty as supervisors and consultants. In this address, Humphrey expounds upon the importance of a well-rounded education, stating that the purpose of education was the emancipation from fear and suspicion.
  • United States Senator Robert Griffin, Commencement Address, 1969

    Robert Paul Griffin (November 6, 1923 – April 16, 2015) was a Republican U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan and Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. As a junior United States Senator from Michigan in 1969, Griffin here acknowledges that he is the “last obstacle between the graduates and their diplomas,” and remarks upon the distrust of the establishment felt by many college graduates of the late 1960’s. Rebellion, Griffin says, is essential to moving society forward, and he warns the students of the pitfalls of destructive rebellion. Destructive rebellion only leads to more destruction, while constructive rebellion has the potential to change American society in positive ways.
  • Robert Solow, Address to Eastern Michigan University Honors College, 1973

    Robert Solow is an American economist particularly known for his work on the theory of economic growth that culminated in the exogenous growth model named after him. He is currently Emeritus Institute Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he has been a professor since 1949. He was awarded the John Bates Clark Award in 1961, the Nobel Memorial Award in Economic Sciences in 1981, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. In this address to the graduates of the Eastern Michigan Honors College, Solow attempts to answer the question of how to pay forward our debt to the future, and how to ensure a stable and peaceful world for future generations. Following the address, Bruce Nelson presents students with outstanding academic records at EMU.
  • Helen Milliken, Address to Eastern Michigan University, Friends of the Library, 1974

    Helen Wallbank Milliken (December 4, 1922 – November 16, 2012) was an American women's rights activist, environmentalist, and former First Lady of Michigan. Milliken, the longest serving First Lady in Michigan's history, served from 1969 to 1983 during the tenure of her husband, former Michigan Governor William Milliken. Milliken was known for her activism on behalf of many causes throughout her life. She was one of Michigan's leading proponents of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution during the 1970s. In this address to the Friends of the Eastern Michigan University Library, Millien expresses her sense of value for the arts in Michigan, exemplified by the art project she spearheaded - the Art Train. Art Train was a traveling art exhibit of all mediums, intended to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • George Goodman, Mayor of Ypsilanti, Address to the Fall Faculty Luncheon, 1974

    George Goodman was a lifelong Ypsilanti resident, having attended the Roosevelt School before graduating from Eastern Michigan University. Goodman served as mayor of Ypsilanti from 1971 until 1981. Concerned with the “orderly growth of the community,” Goodman here recaps the first 150 years of Ypsilanti, recounting both achievements and problems, before describing the city in terms of infrastructure, historic preservation, and the costs of new city resources such as bridges, fire trucks, and public transit. Dismissing the possibility of any major industrial powers making their homes in Ypsilanti, Goodman stresses Ypsilanti's need for the jobs and prestige that EMU brings to the community. Goodman also lists several ways in which the city and the university could improve their relations.