The Vanderbilt University Speakers Committee has the responsibility of enhancing the quality of student life and the Vanderbilt educational experience by attracting and presenting distinguished speakers to the University. The programs of the Speakers Committee seek to encourage thoughtful reflection and dialogue on contemporary issues in order to promote and strengthen the intellectual environment at Vanderbilt. We achieve this by inviting speakers throughout the year who are entertaining, diverse, and accomplished in their fields. One of our most important events is the IMPACT Symposium, which has been a tradition at Vanderbilt since 1964. This is an annual multi-day symposium in which speakers are invited to discuss current events and topics of a controversial nature.

Vanderbilt University’s IMPACT Symposium, one of the oldest lecture series of its caliber in the nation, this year features Common and Hunter Schafer.

Tickets for this event are FREE for Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff, and are $10 for the general public. All events take place at 7pm in Langford Auditorium. Tickets are available on TicketWeb. Note: each night requires a separate ticket.

This symposium is sponsored by the Vanderbilt Programming Board Speakers Committee, an organization of undergraduate students dedicated to enhancing the quality of student life and the Vanderbilt educational experience through attracting and presenting distinguished speakers to the university.


Hip hop artist and actor Common is one Tony Award away from becoming an EGOT—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony—winner. And that’s not counting his Golden Globe or any of the other numerous awards he’s won. Throughout his career he has used his art as a platform to change people’s perspectives, promote more diverse narratives, and encourage people to move. At the podium, Common motivates audiences to nurture the dreams of the young, overcome adversity, and address the persistent hope that lives within us all. Compassionate, mindful, and driven to inspire, Common reminds audiences that we all have a voice—and we must speak out.

Hunter Schafer

Hunter Schafer is an actress and artist best known for playing ‘Jules Vaughn’ in HBO’s Emmy-Award Winning series EUPHORIA. Hunter most recently starred in a special episode of the hit series which she co-wrote and co-executive produced with series creator Sam Levinson during quarantine. Before landing the role of Jules, Schafer worked as a fashion model for popular brands such as ‘Calvin Klein,’ ‘Dior,’ ‘Helmut Lang,’ ‘Maison Margiela,’ ‘Marc Jacobs,’ ‘Miu Miu,’ ‘Vera Wang,’  ‘Versace,’ and ‘Rick Owens.’  Schafer has appeared on the cover page of many popular magazines, including ‘Porter’ ‘V’ ‘Allure’ and ‘Dazed.’ Teen Vogue Nominated Hunter for its 2017 ‘21 Under 21’ list.


Year IMPACT Theme Speakers
1964 The South in Transition Ralph McGill

James J. Kirkpatrick

1965 Democratic Responsibility Winthrop Rockefeller

George Wallace

1966 America’s New Global Challenge Barry Goldwater

Alexander Kerenski

John Seigenthaler

1967 Individual in American Society Martin Luther King Jr.

Allen Ginsberg

Strom Thurmond

Stokley Carmichael

1968 The Resting of Dissent Julian Bond

Robert F. Kennedy

William F. Buckley Jr.

1969 The Emerging Generation McGeorge Bundy

Nathan Hare

Allan Lowenstein

Edmund Muskie

1970 The Struggle to Communicate James J. Kilpatrick

William Kuntsler

1971 Technology and Social Change George McGovern

Sam Ervin

Bella Abzug

1977 America’s role in its Third Century Omar Bradley

Thomas Eagleton

Frank Church

Phillip Crane

Donald Rumsfeld

1978 The Destiny of the South Thomas B. “Bert” Lance

Barbara Jordan

Robin Beard

1979 Towards Global Unity George HW Bush

Ivor Richard

Betty Williams

1980 The Election:  America’s Leadership Decision Tom Brokaw

George McGovern

Jack Kemp

Malcolm Toon

1981 American Foreign Policy:  New Directions For the 80s William H. Sullivan

Edmund Muskie

Robin Beard

1982 Conservatism:  A Mandate from the People Gary Hart

Richard Allen

1983 Technology and Society:  Contemporary Perspectives on Progress Al Gore

Leon Martel

1984 The Private Sector:  Is it Governmental Business Jerry Brown

John LeBoutillier

Eugene McCarthy

1985 Media Under Fire:  The Rights and Responsibilities of the Media Sam Donaldson

Jody Powell

John Dancy

Nina Totenberg

1986 The Next Move:  Conflict or Compromise in East/West Relations Jimmy Carter

Gerald Ford

Robert McNamara

Andrew Young

1987 The Regan Era and Beyond:  Looking Back to Look Ahead William Proxmire

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Michael Deaver

Hodding Carter III

1988 Global Leadership:  Does America Have the Edge Jean Kirkpatrick

Zbigniew Brzezinski

John Daney

1989 Battle on the Homefront:  Preserving the American Dream Jesse Jackson

Bettina Gregory

Edwin Newman

Joe Clark

James Neal

William Rusher

1990 Freedom:  The Popular Mandate in Eastern Europe James Schlesinger
1991 Democracy in Distress:  America Ideals on Trial William Bennett

Tip O’Neill

Robert Novak

1992 Campaign ’92:  Will Rhetoric Become Reality Oliver North

P.J. O’Rourke

Helen Thomas

Ronald Brown

1993 America:  Challenged to Change Jack Kemp

James Carville

Mary Matalin

1994 The New World Order:  Will America Find its Role? Oscar Arias

Lawrence Eagleburger

William Webster

1995 The First Hundred Days:  A New Direction Mario Cuomo

Dan Quayle

1996 From Bosnia to Beyond:  The International Response Margaret Thatcher

Edward L. Warner III

1997 Education:  Leading the United States into the 21st Century Lamar Alexander

Bill Bradley

Cal Thomas

John Siegenthaler

1998 Campaigning in America:  Renewing Democracy for the 21st Century Bob Dole

Dick Morris

1999 Challenges of a Changing World Colin Powell

Robert Gates

2000 Violence America’s Response John Walsh

Chuck D.

John Lott

Frank Zimring

2001 Will the White House Ever be the Same James Carville

David Gergen

Sam Feist

Joel Kaplan

2002 The Steel of American Resolve Norman Schwarzkopf

Thomas Von Essen

Sam Feist

Joel Kaplan

2003 The Political Divide General Barry McCaffrey

James Carville

Mary Matalin

2004 The Media’s Election:  The Influence of the Media on the 2004 Presidential Election J.C. Watts

Paul Begala

Tucker Carlson

2005 Visions of America Al Sharpton

Ann Coulter

Howard Dean

2006 Disappearing Borders Peter Brimelow

John Edwards

2007 The Political Landscape Lou Dobbs

Newt Gingrich

Harold Ford Jr.

2008 Middle East Meets West Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Reza Aslan

Gideon Yago

John Abizaid

2009 Diplomacy in the New Millennium Madeleine Albright

Natan Sharansky

2010 The Future of Capitalism Ralph Nadar

John Stossel

Mitt Romney

2011 Bridging the Gap:  America’s Middle Class Arianna Huffington

William Kristol

Tim Pawlenty

Christina Romer

2012 The Rise of the Rest:  What is the Future of American Foreign Policy Lamar Alexander

Wesley Clark

Vincente Fox

John Huntsman

Bill Richardson

2013 Dimensions of Peace and Conflict Ehud Barak

George Mitchell

Leymah Gbowee

2014 Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness:  Defining Civil Rights and Responsibilities Gen. Colin Powell

Olympia Snowe

Barney Frank

2015 How You See It:  Perceptions of (In)Equality Anna Deavere Smith

Eugene Robinson

Stephen A. Smith

Rudy Giuliani

2016 The Struggle for Success:  Is America Dreaming? Azar Nafisi

Brittany Packnett

Sike Lee

John Boehner

2017 The Time is Now:  What Message Will We Send? Van Jones

Shaun King

Ezra Klein

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

2018 Chris Matthews

Hasan Minhaj

Jessica Carbino

2019 Who Are Our Heroes? Ava DuVernay

Abby Wambach

Ta-Nehisi Coates

2020 Cancelled – COVID Steve Wozniak


2021 Aubrey Plaza

Laverne Cox

Bill Nye


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar