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Opinion >  Letters

College speaking done right

Shawn Vestal (“What are colleges’ speakers teaching?” Oct. 4) muses about what colleges hope to teach students by sponsoring ethically questionable speakers like Condoleezza Rice and Angelo Mozilo. For-profit celebrity speakers are part of a larger problem of universities adopting the business model; where the search for knowledge is sacrificed to quest for money.

But there are counter-examples. Last Thursday, the Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University hosted Nick Hanauer’s lecture at the Fox Theater. Hanauer charged no speaking fee.

A wealthy venture capitalist, Hanauer can afford to be generous. However, as the author of two best-sellers on politics and a civic activist, Hanauer argues real patriotism requires putting national interests above self-interests. He calls for higher taxes on wealthy investors like himself and policies to help the struggling middle class, something he calls “middle-out” economics.

Hanauer’s ideas are important and worthy of emulation. He exemplifies what university speakers should be: interested in shaping the public discourse, not personal gain.

The Foley Institute was proud to host Hanauer. There was an audience of 500. Sadly, his talk received little media coverage the following day, so maybe the media is part of the problem, too. (Hanauer’s talk can be seen at

Cornell Clayton



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