2022 Qualifying Rounds
Wear RED Night!
Tuesday, Jan 18 - 7:30pm - Coltrane Lounge
Wear BLUE Night!
Sunday, Jan 23 - 7:30pm - Coltrane Lounge
Wear GREEN Night!
Tuesday, Jan 25 - 7:30pm - Coltrane Lounge
Nominees from the class of '25 and '24.5 will deliver 3-minute speeches in response to the Spencer Prize Prompt. Faculty/Staff judges will choose 2 Finalists from each qualifying event. The audience will also select a Peoples' Choice prize winner at each of the 3 events.
2022 Grand Championship
Feb 1, 2022 7:30pm ET
MAC Robison Hall
The 6 finalists will each deliver 5 min speeches to a general audience. Three judges will select the Spencer Prize 2022 Grand Champion.
step to the mic
Grand Champion: $500
People's Choice: $50
All participants: water bottle and sticker
“Connect something you’ve discovered in a Middlebury class to something you care about. Can you get your audience to care too?”
Speaker captured the imagination by connecting something learned in class to something they care about.
Speaker used an efficient progression of thoughts to develop the central concept and establish its significance.
Speaker maintained a strong connection to the audience using body and voice to clarify and amplify their intent.
To compete in the Spencer Prize, first-year students from the class of '25 (including Sophomore Febs, class of '24.5) must be nominated by a Middlebury College faculty- or staff-member.
Nominators are asked to recognize students for public speaking potential as well as current ability, or for their eloquence and engagement in classroom discussions.
Spencer Prize video by Zack Einhorn '21
Congratulations to Bre Moitt, Spencer '21 Grand Champion!
. . . and congrats to finalists Meg Farley, Kent Canonigo, Sarah Miller, and Andrew Grossman
The 2022 Spencer Prize Team
Photos and Video:
Ben Powers, Oratory Now Associate
Mary Moore '22.5 and Seth Brown '24
Ellie Thompson '22
Seth Brown '24
Mary Moore '22.5, Sascha Leidecker '24.5
Vlera Hasani '24.5, Celeste Levy '22,
Hugh Easton '23
Manuel Morillo '23, Amelia Seepersaud '24
Soph Charron '22
Marlow Saucier '24, Youness Cheboubi '24, Catherine Kish '24, Erin Chouinard '24
Maya Fray-Witzer '22, Liza Toll '24
Michael Eller '24, Nick Jaccaci '22,
Hugh Easton '23
Tanzim Ahmed '22, Nick Jaccaci '22,
Henry Friedman '24
The 2020 Finalists
"Writing, rehearsing and ultimately presenting my speech were worthwhile experiences I would definitely do again. The audiences at the presentations were supportive and attentive to the point that it almost felt like a big group of friends getting together to swap stories about life. I consider the platform the Spencer Prize has given me a prize in and of itself."
–Treasure Brooks, 2018 Spencer Prize Grand Champion
The Spencer Prize in Oratory Honors the memory of African Studies Emeritus Professor of History and former trustee, John Spencer
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Princeton in 1953, John served for two years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He then worked at the National Sugar Refining Company, with the Institute of Current World Affairs in East Africa, at the Ford Foundation for Eastern, Northern, and Southern Africa, and as a Peace Corps evaluator for Gambia, Mauritania, and Senegal. His work with the Peace Corps eventually led him to earn his MA and PhD from Columbia University.
“Many current faculty will remember him as a mentor, offering sage advice about how to survive and be exceptional at Middlebury,” said Ted Perry, Fletcher Professor of the Arts Emeritus. "Many students will remember his extraordinarily helpful role in emphasizing oral presentations, a practice he made central to success in his classes. He knew it was a skill they would need in whatever life’s work they chose.”
Former Middlebury President John McCardell Jr. reflected on his many years working with John Spencer: “John was a model administrator, a masterful teacher, a true student and mentor in the field of public speaking (keep your jacket buttoned, never say ‘uh,’ don’t breathe through your mouth). He truly made the field of African History at Middlebury -- students flocked to his courses.”