About Us


The Great Issues Committee strives to stimulate insightful, provocative debate on current issues that will inform and educate as a service to the Saint Louis University community. All speakers are meant to engage the community, both within the university and citywide, in a healthy and informative debate and discussion over numerous current issues and events garnering national attention.


As it is at most institutions of higher education, it has been a custom to invite "guest speakers" to come to the Saint Louis University campus to share their ideas with the faculty, students, and invited guests of the sponsoring office or organization. In some instances this is done in connection with an honor to be bestowed on the individual-such as the Messing Award of the Associates of Saint Louis University Libraries. Other speakers are invited as part of an annual series honoring a former faculty member or a departmental tradition. Other guest speakers address departmental groups.

During the mid-1960's, a group of students led by Bruce Hall initiated a series of lectures to address what they perceived to be "great issues." They sold season subscriptions and planned their programs on a budget, which was determined by income solely from ticket sales. The success of their project led them to apply for funds from the newly established Busch Student Activities Board, and they were incorporated into the responsibilities of the Activities Director of the Busch Memorial Center (a position which was abolished in 1975 for budget reasons.) Because of the success of the programs, a budget of approximately $10,000 was granted to the Great Issues Series in the early 1970's. The Great Issues committee included five students, two alumni, and two faculty members. In 1975-1976 this committee ceased to function when the Student Government Association assumed responsibility for promotion of the program.

Today, the Great Issues Committee is a Chartered Student Organizations and former standing committee of the Student Government Association but is open to all members of the university community. It depends on a budget granted from by the SGA General Assembly. In recent years, Elie Wiesel, Vicente Fox, and Janet Reno have highlighted the Great Issues speaker series. Changes have been made to ensure advance planning and additional members have been added to increase the projects of the committee and its representation of the university.

- Adapted from "A Brief History" by Tricia Fechter


-Mitch Albom
-Dr. Atul Gawande
-Dr. Hawa Abdi
-Morris Dees
-Eric Alva
-Donna Brazil 
-Ralph Nader 
-Ehud Barak; Former Prime Minister of Israel 
-Ben Stein
-Fr. Jon Sobrino
-Nadine Strossen; President of the ACLU
-John Bul Dau
-Mary Robinson; First Female President of Ireland
-General Wesley Clark
-Bob Woodward
-Rebecca Walker
-Paul Begala
-Anya Kamentez
-Bill Nye
-Mike Huckabee
-Vicente Fox; Former President of Mexico 
-Fr. Mark Ravizza
-Tracy Kidder
-Elie Wiesel
-Cornel West