Featured Speakers Series


2021-22 Featured Speakers SeriesKent State University at Stark's Featured Speakers Series brings national and international experts in civil rights, politics, education, environmental activism, literature and arts to campus.

The community is invited to attend Kent State University at Stark’s Featured Speakers Series with an impressive selection of personalities. For 30 years, this popular Kent State Stark series has attracted thousands of campus and community members who take advantage of a rare opportunity to be introduced to national and international experts on a wide range of topics and issues that shape our society. 

Notable figures have included Golden Globe-winning actor Henry Winkler, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, national political broadcaster George Stephanopoulos, journalist and National Geographic Explorer host Lisa Ling, tennis star Billie Jean King, rags-to-riches prodigy Chris Gardner, legendary drummer Max Weinberg, ice cream entrepreneur Jerry Greenfield, cinematographer Spike Lee, CNN's broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper, Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, distinguished astronaut Mark Kelly, best-selling author Nicholas Sparks and acclaimed journalists Soledad O'Brien and John Quinones. View our former Featured Speakers.


  • Lectures are free and open to the public.
  • Tickets are required for entrance and seating is limited. All seating is general admission.
  • Ticket distribution is first-come, first-served. Limit two (2) tickets per person.
  • Pick up tickets for Elizabeth Smart beginning Monday, Feb. 7, in the Office of Student Services, 132 Main Hall, during regular business hours:
    Monday - Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    Wednesday - Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • No phone or email reservations will be taken and tickets will not be mailed.
  • Lectures are held at the Kent State Stark Conference Center. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.
  • For disability accommodations, email starkcmc@kent.edu no later than two weeks prior to the lecture date.

Important: Face coverings are required while indoors at Kent State Stark.


WEDNESDAY, FEB. 23, 2022
7:30 P.M.

Tickets available Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Abducted in 2002, Smart’s captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Police safely reunited Smart with her family nine months later. Through this traumatic experience, Smart has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation. The founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, Smart has helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation. She also has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times best-selling book, “My Story” and has recently released a new book about reclaiming one’s life, “Where There’s Hope”.

7:30 P.M.

Tickets available Monday, March 28, 2022

While it’s been over 20 years since Julia Roberts starred in the Oscar-winning film, “Erin Brockovich”, it turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th century icon by showcasing how her dogged persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history. Today, Erin Brockovich is president of Brockovich Research & Consulting, and she is currently involved in numerous environmental projects worldwide. She has requests for her help in groundwater contamination complaints in every state within the country, Australia and other international hot spots. A best-selling author, Brockovich’s latest release, “Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It”, drew wide media attention before its publication.


Maxwell KingMaxwell King
Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021
7:30 p.m.

Tickets available Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

Maxwell King is the author of the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, “The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers”. As former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and a director of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, King created this definitive portrait of Rogers, a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations. King’s four-decade career also includes presidencies at two of the country’s largest philanthropies – The Pittsburgh Foundation and Heinz Endowments. His strong advocacy for vulnerable groups – at least 30% of the region’s population – in the benefit streams of a resurgent Pittsburgh, anchored a signature organizing principle: 100 Percent Pittsburgh.