About Public Lectures

For over a century, Princeton University has presented public lectures featuring intellectuals, academics, artists, and writers. There are five grants that support these lecture series: Spencer Trask, Stafford Little, Louis Clark Vanuxem, J. Edward Farnum, and Walter E. Edge.

Spencer Trask 

The Spencer Trask Lecture Series was founded in 1891 with a gift of $10,000 from Spencer Trask of the Class of 1866 for the purpose of supporting public lectures at the University on subjects of current philosophical, artistic, or scientific interest. Previous Spencer Trask Lecturers include T. S. Eliot, Bertrand Russell, Margaret Mead and Salman Rushdie.

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Stafford Little 

The Stafford Little Lecture Series was founded in 1899 with a gift of $10,000 from Stafford Little of the Class of 1844 for the purpose of supporting public lectures at the University to be given by former President Grover Cleveland. Following President Cleveland’s death in 1908, funding has been used to bring other eminent public intellectuals to the Princeton campus, including Albert Einstein, Thurgood Marshall, Jill Lepore and Anita Hill, to name a few.

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Louis Clark Vanuxem

The Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture Series was founded in 1912 with a bequest of $25,000 under the will of Louis Clark Vanuxem of the Class of 1879 for the purpose of supporting public lectures at the University on subjects of current scientific interest. Previous lecturers in this series include Alfred N. Whitehead, Edwin P. Hubble, Robert Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson, Elaine Oran, and Marcia Angell.

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J. Edward Farnum

The J. Edward Farnum Lecture Series was founded in 1939 with a gift from George L. Farnum of the Class of 1894 in memory of his brother J. Edward Farnum of the Class of 1890. Previous J. Edward Farnum Lecturers include Tony Kushner, Edward Albee, Twyla Tharp, J. W. Fulbright, Glen Close and Margaret Atwood.

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Walter E. Edge

The Walter E. Edge Lecture Series was founded in 1957 in memory of Walter E. Edge, Class of 1946, who served twice as Governor of New Jersey and also as United States Senator and Ambassador to France. The lectureship is supported by a bequest from his estate assigned to the University by his family as a means of bringing to Princeton eminent statesman and women from abroad as well as leaders in American public life. Previous Walter E. Edge Lecturers include John Kenneth Galbraith, Amos Oz, Elie Wiesel, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and John Paul Stevens.

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Public Lectures Committee

Jill S. Dolan
Ex-Officio
Dean of the College
Christie Henry
Ex-Officio
Princeton University Press
Evangeline Kubu
Ex-Officio
The Graduate School
Steven Chung
Committee Chair
East Asian Studies
Eldar Shafir
Committee Member
Psychology, Princeton School of Public & International Affairs
Ludovic Tangpi
Committee Member
Operations Research & Financial Engineering
Robert E. Tarjan
Committee Member
Computer Science
Samuel S. Wang
Committee Member
Molecular Biology & Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Sean Wilentz
Committee Member
History
Julia B. Gilbert
Public Lectures Administrator