The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Quieting concerns about the Bryan Series


Concern is mounting over whether the Bryan Series is still a student-focused event. Since 2004 changes have been made that are seemingly taking the Series further away from campus and the speakers further away from students. Considering that the lectures are heavily billed to potential students as essentially the college’s gift to students’ minds, these concerns are troubling.

When the Bryan Series began in 1999, speakers came to campus and held small group sessions with students. Their lectures, which were held in Dana Auditorium, were free and open to everyone in the Guilford and Greensboro community. That was in line with Joseph Bryan, Jr.’s vision for his endowment — to expose the Guilford community to insightful, successful people while exposing the Greensboro community to Guilford in a very positive light.

Ty Bucker, associate vice president for communications and marketing, says that Joseph Bryan, Jr.’s vision is still intact, despite how recent changes make it appear.

In 2004, the Series was moved from Dana to the War Memorial Auditorium, over five miles away. And the lectures are no longer open to anyone who wants to attend. Students, faculty and staff are limited in their number of tickets. And the public now has to buy tickets, most commonly through a yearly subscription to the Series.

These changes may seem to contradict the origins of the Series, but Buckner explained these changes as being financially necessary.

“Early on the interest … was pretty high,” Buckner said. “It began to wane, even though the number of speakers increased and the distinction of the speakers maintained.”

By moving the Series and charging the public for attending, the college secured added revenue to guarantee a constant stream of high-quality speakers streaming through Guilford.

Because, even though the speakers no longer speak at Guilford, almost all of them do visit campus to hold a small-group session with students. Buckner tallied that only four out of the 44 speakers the Series has hosted haven’t held a small-group session.

And along with practically guaranteeing interested students the chance to meet these distinguished speakers in a more personal setting is the absolute guarantee that every interested student, faculty and staff member will be able to get a ticket.

Despite running out of the originally allotted 733 tickets for President Clinton’s lecture, enough tickets were eventually produced to accommodate all 917 requests. And enough buses were available to transport everyone who signed up.

“If we have more riders, we’ll get more buses,” Buckner said. All of that is budgeted for.

And that budget doesn’t draw a single dollar from campus funds. Never will tuition, student activities fees or anything of the like increase to cover the cost of the Bryan Series. And that’s an amazing thing.

According to Buckner, Guilford is the only liberal arts college in the state that has a lecture series large enough to host the likes of Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu and Colin Powell.

Yes, it would be wonderfully convenient if the lectures were just a short walk through the quad away. But the opportunity to see the movers and shakers of the world speak for free is worth the extra time on a freely provided bus.


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