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University Forum Speaker Schedule

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Since 1974, the University Forum has brought some of the most respected and innovative cultural, scientific, and artistic voices in the United States to Southern Miss. Forum is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of this extraordinary Southern Miss tradition all year long with an incredible slate of speakers and, perhaps, a little cake. (Hint: Our anniversary celebration will take place on October 8th!)

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Registration is not required and all Forum events are free and open to the public. We are happy, however, to send you a reminder email (that will include an easy-to-use link to attend virtually). 


We will announce the Fall 2024 Forum schedule in early August 2024. All fall events will be held in person at Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg Campus. Most Forum events are also available through a live stream broadcast.  Links to live events will be posted below the speaker’s bio on the day of the event.  (Live streams of Forum events are offered as a courtesy; unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the quality of the live stream and cannot take questions from the online audience. If you are a student and your instructor requires proof of attendance, you must attend the in-person event to have your attendance recorded.)

If you require a sign language translator or any other accessibility accommodations, please contact University Forum at forumFREEMississippi at your earliest convenience.

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Spring 2024 Speaker Schedule

Kat BlaqueKat Blaque

February 6, 2024
6:30 p.m.
Bennett Auditorium

True Tea with Kat Blaque

Kat Blaque is a transgender rights activist who speaks out on issues of social justice concerning race, gender, and the LGBTQ+ community. She is known for fostering conversations where survivors and victims’ alike can feel as though they have a voice, discussing white supremacy and how it’s impacted her own life, and advocating for self-acceptance in a world where trans people aren’t seen as valid. She playfully refers to herself as “intersectionality salad” as she embodies various identities and experiences. Blaque hosts a weekly show on her YouTube channel called “True Tea” where she answers questions sent to her by her followers. She currently contributes to Everyday Feminism,, and the Huffington Post.


Kristen RadtkeKristen Radtke

March 19, 2024
6:30 p.m.
Bennett Auditorium

Alone with Kristen Radtke

Kristen Radtke is a writer and illustrator. Her 2021 nonfiction comic, Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, was named a best book of the year by NPR, TIME Magazine, The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, and The Los Angeles Times. Publishers Weekly described Radtke’s work as “innovative in form and painfully relevant in content.... For a treatise about the perils of being alone, it creates a wonderful sense of being drawn into conversation.” Seek You was awarded a 2019 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant and was shortlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. Radtke is the art director and deputy publisher of The Believer magazine and her comics have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, and the Oxford American.


John GreenJohn Green

April 9, 2024
6:30 p.m.
Bennett Auditorium

In Conversation with John Green

John Green is the acclaimed author of works of fiction including Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, and Turtles All the Way Down as well as a collection of essays, The Anthropocene Reviewed, featuring detailed reviews of everything from the QWERTY keyboard and sunsets to Canada geese and Penguins of Madagascar. His books have been translated into more than 55 languages and several have been adapted for film. Along with his brother, Green is also a prolific co-creator of many online video projects, including Vlogbrothers and the educational channel Crash Course. Green was the 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, is a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His charity, Project for Awesome, supports maternal health in Sierra Leone.


Fall 2023 Speaker Schedule

Jamil ZakiJamil Zaki

September 12, 2023
6:30 p.m.
Bennett Auditorium

The War for Kindness

Jamil Zaki, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab, is best known for his 2019 book The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World. Zaki’s research demonstrates that empathy is not a fixed trait, but rather a skill that can be strengthened through practice. In The War for Kindness he tells the stories of people fighting for kindness in the most difficult of circumstances. Jamil’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and the Atlantic. He is also known for a TED Talk, “We’re experiencing an empathy shortage, but we can fix it together.” Jamil Zaki’s Forum address is co-sponsored by the Luckyday Scholars Program.


Adam KinzingerAdam Kinzinger

October 10, 2023
6:30 p.m.
Bennett Auditorium

An Evening with Representative Adam Kinzinger

Former U.S. Congressperson Adam Kinzinger witnessed the polarization of American politics firsthand. Kinzinger, an Air Force pilot who flew in both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and who remains an active member of the Air National Guard, served six terms in the House of Representatives. In Congress, he supported efforts to combat election disinformation, find employment for military veterans, lower taxes, curtail environmental legislation, and address the opioid epidemic. Following the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, Kinzinger was one of two Republicans who agreed to serve on the January 6th Committee that investigated the riot. Kinzinger’s autobiography titled Renegade: My Life in Faith, the Military, and Defending America from Trump's Attack on Democracy will be released in October 2023.



Jay Hakes

Jay Hakes

November 14, 2023
6:30 p.m.
Fleming Education Center (and livestreamed in Bennett Auditorium)

Biggest Resilience Challenge: Twenty-Year Strategy on Climate Change

An expert on U.S. energy policy, Jay Hakes has a long history of working on energy issues, including as Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and as director for research and policy for President Obama’s BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission. He also served for thirteen years as the Director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. Hakes, who earned a doctorate from Duke University and was a tenured professor at the University of New Orleans before entering government, is the author of numerous articles and two books: A Declaration of Energy Independence: How Freedom from Foreign Oil Can Improve National Security, Our Economy, and the Environment and Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Tough Choices in the 1970s.

November’s University Forum will be held in-person at the Fleming Education Center on the Gulf Park Campus of Southern Miss and live streamed to Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus.  We encourage you to attend one of these community events; however, you can access a personal Zoom live stream by clicking the button below.  You will be asked for your name and email address.


For those connecting by phone, the webinar number is  821.2043.6621.  We will not be using Zoom for questions, but you may submit a question for Jay Hakes (during the live presentation) at 601.463.5263.


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Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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