Robert C. Vance Distinguished Lecture Series

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The Robert C. Vance Distinguished Lecture Series was a series of 23 lectures[1]between 1983 and 2013 at Central Connecticut State University. Most of the speakers were either well-known journalists such as Anderson Cooper, Dan Rather, and Bob Woodward), or government figures, including Robert Gates, Rudolph Giuliani, and Shimon Peres. Three former U.S. Presidents have also been among the lecturers in the series.

The lecture series was named in honor of Robert C. Vance, publisher of the New Britain Herald from 1951 to 1959.

The original aim of the series was to bring to CCSU speakers from the field of journalism.[2] Newscaster David Brinkley was scheduled to give the first Vance lecture in 1983, but was replaced only days before the lecture by Benjamin Bradlee.[3],[4] The twelve lecturers following Bradlee were well-known political figures, but since 2001, journalists have also been featured.

All costs for the series were covered by the Robert C. Vance Charitable Foundation,[5] a private foundation founded in 1958.[6] Lectures were free to the public, although in later years a paid reception and dinner with the lecturer was usually held before the lecture.


After the Rudolph Giuliani lecture in March 2013, the university's Faculty Senate, having “expressed its dissatisfaction with the lack of progressive speakers over the past few years,” created an ad hoc committee to recommend future speakers.[7] However, the university and the Vance Foundation could not reach consensus on a speaker for 2014.[8] The ad hoc committee submitted a list of potential speakers the following term,[9] but again, no consensus was reached.

The university issued a news release[10] dated December 9, 2015, stating that “The Robert C. Vance Lecture Series will be discontinued.” Although no reason was given for ending the series, it was noted that funding for the series had not been discontinued, and that these monies “will be redirected to the [Vance] Endowed Chair [in Journalism and Mass Communication] in support of critical initiatives that will have a more direct impact on CCSU students, faculty members, as well as the larger New Britain community.”

List of Vance Lecturers[edit]

The following twenty-four speakers gave lectures in this series. There were twenty-three events, as William F. Buckley, Jr. and George McGovern appeared together in 1990. Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson is among the speakers the Vance Foundation has been unsuccessful in booking.[11]

speaker date
Benjamin Bradlee executive editor (1968-91), the Washington Post 1983[4]
Harold Wilson Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1964-70, 1974-76) 4/28/1984[12]
Jimmy Cartera President of the United States (1977-1981);
2002 Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Henry Kissingera U.S. Secretary of State (1973-1977); 1973 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate 3/24/1987[14]
Gerald Forda President of the United States (1974-1977) 3/23/1988[15]
William F. Buckley, Jr. Political author and commentator; founder, National Review (1951) 3/28/1990[16]
George McGovern U.S. Senator (1963-1981); 1972 presidential candidate 3/28/1990[16]
Jeane Kirkpatricka United States Representative to the United Nations (1981-1985) 4/4/1991[15]
Fay Vincenta Commissioner of Major League Baseball (1989-1992) 4/28/1992[17]
Helmut Schmidta Chancellor of West Germany (1974-1982) 4/28/1993[18]
Brian Mulroneya Prime Minister of Canada (1984-1993) 4/26/1994[19]
Lech Wałęsaa President of Poland (1990-1995); 1983 Nobel Peace Prize laureate 4/10/1996[20]
F. W. de Klerk State President of South Africa (1989-1994);
1994 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate
George H. W. Busha   President of the United States (1989-1993) 3/11/1999[21]
George Mitchella U.S. Senator (1980-1995) and Senate Majority Leader (1989-1995) 4/12/2000[22]
Bob Woodward Reporter, editor, the Washington Post (1971-) 4/18/2001[23]
Shimon Peres Prime Minister (1995-1996) and President (2007-2014) of Israel;
1994 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate
Hugh Downs Newscaster, NBC (1962-1971), ABC (1978-1999) 4/12/2005[25]
Dan Rather Anchor, CBS Evening News (1981-2005) 4/4/2007[26]
Bob Dole U.S. Senator (1969-1996); Senate Minority/Majority Leader (1985-1996);
1996 presidential candidate
Anderson Cooper Newscaster, CNN (2001-) 4/31/2009[28]
Steve Forbes Editor-in-chief, Forbes magazine (1990-); 2000 presidential candidate 4/28/2010[2]
Robert Gates U.S. Secretary of Defense (2006-2011) 11/8/2011[29]
Rudolph Giuliani Mayor of New York City (1994-2001); 2008 presidential candidate 3/14/2013[30]


a speaker received an Honorary degree from CCSU on the date of his or her lecture.


The Vance Lecture Series has been accused of conservative bias by members of the CCSU community.[31]

  • Eighteen of the 24 speakers have been government officials or political figures. Of the U.S. officials, three have been Democrats (Carter, McGovern, and Mitchell) and nine have been Republicans (Kissinger, Buckley,[32] Ford, Kirkpatrick, Bush, Dole, Forbes, Gates, and Giuliani). The six foreign heads of government were evenly split on ideology (Wilson, Schmidt, and Peres represented left-center parties, while Mulroney, Wałęsa, and de Klerk were members of right-center parties).
  • Five of the speakers represented the news media, which is routinely accused of liberal bias. Hugh Downs is generally viewed as a libertarian, while Woodward's ideology has been debated.[33],[34],[35] Based on reputation, Bradlee, Cooper, and Rather are liberals.
  • In his Vero Beach Newsweekly articles, the remaining speaker, former Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, occasionally offers moderately conservative views[36], [37] but is generally nonpolitical.

In particular, the lectures of Kissinger, de Klerk,[11] and Gates[30] were met with protests.


  1. ^ "Rudolph Giuliani Delivers Vance Lecutre" (2013, May). Central Courier, 38(4), p. 2. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  2. ^ a b Traynor, Melissa. (2010, March 29).Steve Forbes Will Be 2010 Vance Distinguished Lecturer. The Recorder. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  3. ^ "Brinkley will be filling in this week for ABC anchormen Frank Reynolds and Ted Koppel, who are ill, a CCSU spokeswoman said..." (Bradlee Replaces Brinkley. (1983, May 3). Hartford Courant, p. B4B.)
  4. ^ a b James, Alayna (17 February 2013). "Vance series adds to its tradition of distinguished guest speakers". New Britain Herald. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  5. ^ Board of Trustees for the Connecticut State University System (2000, November 2). Resolution naming the new classroom and office building at Central Connecticut State University in honor of Robert C. Vance. Board Resolution BR#2000-89. Retrieved 2013-5-29.
  6. ^ see Overview at the National Center for Charitable Statistics
  7. ^ Otlowski , Acadia. (2013, September 25).Faculty Senate Elects New President. The Recorder. Retrieved on 2016-2-3.
  8. ^ Otlowski , Acadia. (2014, February 12).Faculty Senate. The Recorder. Retrieved on 2016-2-3.
  9. ^ Bruno, Ruth. (2015, January 4). Faculty Senate Bullet Points. The Recorder. Retrieved on 2016-2-3.
  10. ^ “Vance Lecture Series Concludes: Funding redirected to student educational, social programs.” News Release, Central Connecticut State University [This press release was distributed via e-mail but does not appear on CCSU's web site.]
  11. ^ a b c Carlson, Meredith. (1997, April 22).De Klerk's Planned Visit Stirs Protests at CCSU. Hartford Courant, p. B1. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  12. ^ Gustavsen, John. (1984, April 29). British Leader Praises U.S. Dealings with Soviets. The (Norwalk, CT) Day [AP], p. 3.
  13. ^ Carter Lecture Moves to Larger Location. (1985, March 21). Ridgefield Press, p. 7B.
  14. ^ Kissinger says Iran arms sale a mistake. (1987, March 26). Chicago Sun-Times [AP] , p. 64.
  15. ^ a b Central Connecticut State University (May 16, 2013). Commencement exercises: May 2013, p. 46 [unpaginated].
  16. ^ a b This Week in Connecticut (March 25, 1990). New York Times, p. CN12, col. 5.
  17. ^ Amore, Don. (1992, April 29). Vincent not optimistic on return of Steinbrenner. Hartford Courant, p. F6.
  18. ^ Campbell, Joseph W. (1993, April 29). Schmidt Says West Can Do Little On Balkans War. Hartford Courant. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  19. ^ Ex Canada Leader To Speak at CCSU. (1994, April 19). Hartford Courant, p. D9.
  20. ^ Lech Walesa To Speak At CCSU. (1996, March 6). Hartford Courant, p. B3.
  21. ^ Brown, Matthew Hay. (1999, February 4). Former President Bush To Give R.C. Vance Lecture at University. Hartford Courant, p. B3.
  22. ^ Willingham, Trish. (2000, March 9). Mitchell To Give Talk At CCSU. Hartford Courant, p. B4.
  23. ^ Fillo, Maryellen. (2001, April 19). Writer Enthralls Audiences: Woodward Gives 2 Speeches In State. Hartford Courant, p. A9. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  24. ^ Gottlieb, Rachel. (2003, April 15). At CCSU, Peres Makes Appeal For Peace; Nobel Laureate Criticizes Sharon, U.N.. Hartford Courant, p. B1.
  25. ^ Decnantis, Julia. (2005, March 9). Hugh Downs To Speak At CCSU. Hartford Courant. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  26. ^ Larcen, Donna. (2007, March 29). Dan Rather Visits CCSU. Hartford Courant. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  27. ^ Fillo, Maryellen (2008, April 10). A Republican Luminary In Spotlight At CCSU. Hartford Courant.
  28. ^ 360 Degrees of Anderson Cooper. (2009, April 30). Hartford Courant, p. .
  29. ^ Newberg, Liz. (2011, November 11). Gates speaks at CCSU; Students protest. Newington Town Crier, p. 16. Retrieved on 2013-5-29.
  30. ^ a b Burnham, Johnny J. (14 March 2013). "Giuliani speaks at Vance Lecture series". New Britain Herald. Retrieved 25 December 2015. 
  31. ^ Otlowski, Acadia (2013, March 13). Faculty Senate Stands in Solidarity With Student Protests. The Recorder. Retrieved on 2013-6-29.
  32. ^ William F. Buckley, Jr.: Author, Editor, Lecturer, Host of "Firing Line." (n.d.).
  33. ^ Pierce, Charles P. (2013, February 25). The Woodward Myth. Esquire. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  34. ^ Botwinick, Nathaniel & Andrew Johnson (2013, February 28). The Liberal Excommunication of Bob Woodward. National Review Online. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  35. ^ Boehlert, Eric (2002). His Master's Voice. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  36. ^ Vincent, Fay (2012, September 4). Getting old, you have 'no agenda and are not trying to impress anyone. Vero Beach Newsweekly. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  37. ^ Vincent, Fay (2010, November 16). Pelosi just hanging on, like Willie with the Mets. Vero Beach Newsweekly. Retrieved 29 May 2013.