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Parker Merrill

Congratulations to Parker Merrill 2021 Champion, Iman Behbehani ‘23! 


Congratulations also to runners-up Youness Cheboubi ‘24 and Owen McCarthy ‘25, Sergiu White ‘22 who received honorable mention, and finalists Emily Vivanco ‘23, Eleanor Roth ‘25, Brandon Morales ‘23.5.

Preliminary Round

Oct 20   |   Innovation Hub 132 Blinn Ln

Contestants delivered a persuasive 3-minute speech privately, audition-style, to a panel of judges. Seven speakers advanced to the Championship.


2021 Championship

Nov 5   |   7pm  |  Coltrane Lounge

The 7 finalists each delivered 4 to 5-minute speeches to a general audience. Judges selected the Champion, two Runners-Up, and an Honorable Mention award.


Champion: $500

Runners-Up (2): $250



Rant about something awful, then rave about something awesome!

Judging Critera

  • Compelling Idea

  • Persuasive Argument

  • Engaging Delivery

2019 Championship Preview Video

by  Dan Levesque '21.5

This Middlebury tradition isn't just about public speaking. It's "persuasive storytelling, scholarship, and self-expression used to bring an audience together...the kind of rhetoric we don’t hear about much—the good kind!”

Reviving an Old Tradition

The competition was founded, and partly funded, by Middlebury’s first professor, Frederick Hall. When hired in 1806 he was immediately granted a two-year leave to study in Europe. While there, he was befriended by Daniel Parker, a wealthy American living in Paris. When Hall fell ill, Parker lent him $180 to tide him over. Parker refused to accept repayment, so Hall gave the sum (along with $120 of his own money) to Middlebury College as a prize for undergraduates who excelled in public speaking.

In 1855, local pastor Thomas A. Merrill added his name to the prize, seeking to recognize “the student who has excelled his competitors in the care and gracefulness of his manner, in the intonations and modulations of his voice and in the propriety and elegance of his manners.”

Our last record of the annual Parker Merrill Competition, before we revived it in 2016 is the May 27, 1965 edition of The Campus.