Breanna Moitt post-01.jpg

Congratulations to Bre Moitt, Spencer '21 Grand Champion!

And congrats to all 51 speakers on outstanding performances...

you make Middlebury proud!

2021 Grand Championship

Feb 9, 2021   |   8:00pm ET   |   Zoom

The finalists delivered 6-minute speeches to a

general audience. Three judges selected the

Spencer Prize 2021 Grand Champion: Bre Moitt!

Congratulations to this year's Finalists!

Breanna Moitt

Meg Farley

Kent Canonigo

Sarah Miller

Andrew Grossman

2021 Qualifying Rounds

At 5 events held online between Jan 24 and Feb 2, 51 Nominees delivered 3-minute presentations. Faculty/Staff judges chose a Finalist and two Runners-Up from each qualifying event. The audience also selected a Peoples' Choice winner at each of the 5 events.

First-year scholars

step to the mic


Grand Champion: $500

Finalist: $100

Runner-up: $50

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?”

Judging Critera

Compelling Connection:

Speaker captured the imagination by connecting something learned in class to something they care about.

Persuasive Argument:

Speaker used an efficient progression of thoughts to develop the central concept and establish its significance.

Engaging Delivery:

Speaker maintained a strong connection to the audience using body and voice to clarify and amplify their intent.

Nominate a Speaker

To compete in the Spencer Prize, first-year students (including Sophomore Febs) 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.

The nomination period for Spencer '22 opens Nov 15. Stay tuned!

Spencer Prize video by Zack Einhorn '21
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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 2021 Spencer Prize Team


Exec Producers:



Graphic Design:


Promotion Team:

Tech Directors:




Judge Liaisons:


Contestant Liaisons: 

Ben Powers, Oratory Now Associate


Kamari Williams '23 and Koach Kochar '23


Ellie Thompson '22, Christian Kummer '22, 

Sean Rhee '21

Sam Martin '19


Lucy Townend '22, Manuel Morillo '23

Kayla Lichtman '21, Melanie Leider '23.5,


Ciara Carlson-Healy '22, Manuel Morillo '23

Spencer Royston '21, Madison Middleton '22.5,

Kayla Lichtman '21, Constance Gooding '23,

Jordyn Johnson '23, Celeste Levy '22

Gillinda James '21, Maggie Connolly '23, 

Vera Rousseff '23


Kate Hilscher '20.5, Tanzim Ahmed '22,

Akari Tsurumaki '23, Ben Yamron '21,

Maya Fray-Witzer '22, Yasmine Signey '22

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.”