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Public Speaking


More than $11,000 in cash prizes are awarded each year in the Hamilton Public Speaking Competition. The finalists are chosen after a preliminary round in February. Speakers’ presentations are either persuasive or informative in nature, and in one category students are asked to address an assigned topic. The final round for the 2017 competition will be held the afternoon of 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

In the McKinney Prize competition, a prize is awarded to one student from each class for a 5-8 minute persuasive speech that is socially relevant and of interest to the extended Hamilton College community.

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 Clark Prize competition is open to all members of the senior class and calls for participants to address an assigned topic through both written and oral presentations. The 2016 Clark Prize recipient is Michael Nelson ’16, whose winning presentation was titled “Modern Optimism’s a Farce — So Let’s Change it.”

The final prize category, the Warren Wright Prize in informative speaking, is open to those students who have enrolled in the college’s public speaking course. Participants also respond to questions from the audience, and their responses are included in the judges’ evaluations.  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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