What is the convocations budget?

While it would be exciting to have a parade of celebrities coming to campus every week, the simple fact is that it cannot be afforded. Nationally prominent speakers usually get an average of $30,000 for a one-hour lecture, and the entire convocations budget for the year is only $68,000.

Alumni or others connected to Carleton typically come for very small fees, or nothing at all. Other speakers have a standard fee that fits into a fairly common range. Speakers who have recently published a bestseller or are in high demand will usually have an agent, and will charge whatever the market will bear. Honoraria or fees paid to convocation speakers typically range from $500 to $8,000.

Occasionally the convocations program can partner with an academic department to share some of the cost. Also, there are some endowed lectureship funds that allow us to bring to campus individuals we might not otherwise be able to, providing the speakers fit the criteria of the designated funds.

But it is important to realize that we don’t need to have celebrity speakers in order to have interesting, informative, and challenging convocation presentations. There are many Carleton alumni, parents of Carleton students, and colleagues of Carleton faculty who are doing fascinating and significant things, whose stories and messages are important for us to hear and to consider. Very often, these are our best convocations, and they don’t come with a high price tag.