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Public Speaking


More than $12,000 in cash prizes are awarded each year in the Hamilton Public Speaking Competition. 

The finalists are chosen after a preliminary round in February. The final round for the 2017 competition will be held the afternoon of March 4 in the chapel.

Through generous alumni support, three prizes are awarded each year:

  1. The McKinney Prize is awarded to one student from each class. Speeches must be persuasive and focus on a topic relevant to the Hamilton community.
  2. The Clark Prize is open to members of the senior class. Students submit a persuasive essay on an assigned topic. Preliminary round competitors will be selelcted based on essays.
  3. The Warren E. Wright Prize is awarded to the top informative speech from a student who has completed the college's public speaking course.

Students interested in the 2017 competition should register online.

Clark registration and essay due Monday, February 6 at noon. McKinney and Wright registrations due Friday, February 10 at noon.

Preliminary rounds scheduled for Wednesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 16.

Final round scheduled for Saturday, March 4 in the Chapel.

Public Speaking Competition
Winners of the 2016 competition, from the left, Jeremy Mathurin ’16, Jake Blount ’17, Conor O’Shea ’18, Jonathan Kirshenbaum ’19 and Michael Nelson ’16.

2016 Competition

Five students were awarded prizes in three categories in the annual Public Speaking Competition on Saturday, March 5, in the Chapel.

See videos of winning speeches

The 2016 McKinney Prize recipients and their topics are:

  • Class of 2016: Jeremy Mathurin, “The Problem We All Live With”
  • Class of 2017: Jake Blount, “Continuing Our Founder’s Commitment to the First Peoples” 
  • Class of 2018: Conor O’Shea, “What’s in a Paycheck Anyway? The Value of Public Service”
  • Class of 2019: Jonathan Kirshenbaum, “Social Media May Solve this Crime. But Will It?”

 The 2016 Clark Prize recipient is Michael Nelson ’16, whose winning presentation was titled “Modern Optimism’s a Farce — So Let’s Change it.”

Michael Nelson was also the Warren Wright Prize recipient. His topic was “Making Friends When We’re all Sad and Awkward.”

Judges for the competition were Chad Graves '84, P'16; Melissa (Howe) Graves '85, P'16; Lisabeth "Betsy" Bitner '83, P'14; Mitchell Radin '76;  Susan (McGuirk) Blank '77;   Kimberly Williams, Days-Massolo Center; Barbara Britt-Hysell, ESOL;  Theresa Lopez, Philosophy;  Thomas Phelan, Communication; Sharon Rippey, Alumni Relations; and Fred Rogers, Annual Giving.

Contact Information


Amy Gaffney

Oral Communication Center Director
Kirner-Johnson 222
315-859-4401 oralcomm@hamilton.edu
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