138th Annual Baldwin Oratorical Contest: Auditions April 5, 6, 9

The Department of Rhetoric at Wabash College Announces the: 138th ANNUAL BALDWIN ORATORICAL CONTEST

The oldest continuous public speaking contest west of the Alleghenies!

Auditions are on April 5, 6, and 9 and the final public round will be held on April 12 at 8pm in Korb Classroom in the Fine Arts Center. A signup sheet with audition times is located outside the “Rhetoric classroom” on the second floor of the Fine Arts Center.


Speech is the chief tool with which civilization was developed and it remains the chief tool by which men (sic) work and live together. – Professor W. N. Brigance  (Wabash College 1922-1960)

Contest Theme: Practicing Civic Engagement

There are many different sorts of actions we might label as “being a good citizen,” from voting to being a political activist, from serving on the local school board or city council to establishing a career in public service, from helping to build a local skateboarding park to taking an active interest in one’s community.  These acts of citizenship illustrate the concept of civic engagement, our participation in organizations, institutions, and societies with the goal of contributing to the public good.  Through civic engagement we enrich our communities and seek means to collectively address the challenges and problems we face.  In keeping with the traditions of rhetoric at Wabash College, the Rhetoric Department invites students to partake in civic engagement by giving a persuasive speech on an issue of public concern.

Is there an issue of significant public debate within your community that you would like to transform?  What might a group of concerned, engaged citizens do about this problem if it came together and agreed upon a solution?  Many problems can seem too “big” and “distant” for citizens to imagine how they can make a real impact, but when an advocate translates that problem into local terms, it becomes relevant and creates the possibility for change. Your charge is to advocate for a specific public action that addresses an issue faced by your community.  To succeed, you should talk about the issue and your solution in local terms whenever possible.  That is, explain how the problem and your approach impact your immediate audience, and guide the audience toward actions they can take to help solve the issue.

Format:  Contestants will deliver a persuasive speech.  You are given great latitude in how you address or deal with the topic.  The speeches should fall in a range between 8 and 10 minutes and be delivered in an extemporaneous style.

The members of the Rhetoric Department (Profs. Abbott, Drury, and McDorman) will judge the preliminary rounds on Thursday, April 5, Friday, April 6, and Monday, April 9.   You may sign up for a time on the sheet outside the Rhetoric classroom (FAC 206).  If you cannot make one of those times, we will do our best to arrange an alternative time.  The top speakers will advance to the finals round at 8:00 P.M. on Thursday, April 12 in Korb Classroom in the Fine Arts Center.  Preceding the finals, the final round speakers have dinner with the Rhetoric faculty and our distinguished panel of final round judges at 6:30pm in the Trippet Dining Room.

The final round will be judged by:

Carolene Mays, Member of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, Treasurer of the Mid-America Regulatory Conference, former member of the Indiana House of Representatives (2002-08), former Publisher and President of the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper and the Indiana Minority Business Magazine.

David Hadley, Chair and Professor of Political Science, former Dean of Students, former Chair and member of the Indiana State Ethics Commission, former legislative staff member of Governor Evan Bayh, former Chair of the South Montgomery School Board, former Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

Peggy Lohorn, Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge, member of the Board of Directors and Strategic Planning Commission of the Judicial Conference of Indiana, member of the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau Board of Directors, former chief deputy prosecuting attorney in Montgomery County.

If you have questions or wish to discuss a speech topic, contact one of the members of the Rhetoric department.

1st Prize           $250

2nd Prize          $150

3rd Prize           $100

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