Distinguished Speaker Series

Dynamic events. Fascinating people. Captivating stories.

Compelling speakers from National Geographic Live are sponsored by the George E. McCammon Memorial Distinguished Speaker Series.

The George E. McCammon Memorial Distinguished Speaker Series challenges students to examine key issues facing our society and apply the tools of their liberal arts curriculum as they search for truth and enlightenment.

In 1998, Class of 1925 alumnus George A. McCammon established the George E. McCammon Memorial Distinguished Speaker Series at McKendree with an endowed gift in honor of his father, Dr. George E. McCammon. Dr. McCammon served as a Methodist minister for 18 years before he became president of McKendree College in 1919.

Like his father, Mr. McCammon believed that significant learning is not limited to the classroom. With this gift to McKendree in his father’s honor, he created a forum for the exchange of ideas that occurs outside the classroom.




Play the Kenny Broad, Cave Diver VideoNat Geo Live! logo

Kenny Broad, Cave Diver: Exploring the Bahamas' Blue Holes

Monday, October 14, 2019, @ 7:30 p.m.


Kenny Broad, National Geographic’s Explorer of the Year for 2011, is also an accomplished cave explorer. He pursues this extreme and dangerous occupation not for sport, but to gain valuable insights into the freshwater world beneath our feet. A witty and entertaining speaker and committed scientist, Broad uses his research to study climate change and groundwater pollution to help better manage freshwater resources.

Largely unexplored, unimaginably beautiful, and considered among the most hazardous places to dive, the flooded caves, or “blue holes” of the Bahamas, are a potential treasure trove of scientific knowledge. Broad leads scientific expeditions to these dangerous but fascinating environments, making discoveries with implications for fields as diverse as microbiology, archaeology, and even astrophysics.

$20 adult, $20 senior, $10 student/child, McKendree University students FREE

Tickets on Sale - July 22 at Noon button




Play the Brian Skerry, Underwater Photographer VideoNat Geo Live! logo

Brian Skerry, Underwater Photographer: Ocean Soul

Wednesday, February 26, 2020, @ 7:30 p.m.


    • National Geographic Photography Fellow

    • Regular contributor at the World Economic Forum, TED, and the Royal Geographical Society in London

Wildlife photographer Brian Skerry has spent more than four decades exploring the world’s oceans—capturing “the soul of the sea” for National Geographic for more than 20 years. His images celebrate the mystery of the depths and offer portraits of creatures so intimate they sometimes appear to have been shot in a studio. Skerry dives eight months of the year, often in extreme conditions beneath Arctic ice or in predator-infested waters, and has even lived at the bottom of the sea to get close to his subjects.

His book, Ocean Soul, is a stunning tribute to our seas. Go beyond its pages to journey with him from the glacial waters of the North Atlantic, where harp seals face the threat of declining sea ice, to the balmy waters of Australia, home of the fastest shark in the world—the mako. He’ll share a fascinating look at some of the oceans’ apex predators, as well as stories of hope from marine reserves where wildlife is protected and thriving. A passionate spokesman for the oceans he loves to photograph, Skerry inspires reverence for the marine realm and powerful motivation to protect it.

$20 adult, $20 senior, $10 student/child, McKendree University students FREE

Tickets on Sale - July 22 at Noon button



In 2020, McKendree University will celebrate 50 years of hosting Model United Nations conferences for local high school students. Model UN educates students about diplomacy, global policy, international issues, debate, and public speaking. Students take on the role of diplomats, representing nations from across the world and participating in simulated UN committee sessions. In honor of the University’s 50-year affiliation with Model UN, the Hett is proud to present a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Ambassador as part of the 2019-2020 Distinguished Speaker Series.


Play the Ishmael Beah VideoIshmael Beah, Human Rights Activist and Writer

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, @ 7:30 p.m.


    • UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War

    • Human Rights Watch Children’s Advisory Committee member

    • Author of A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier; and Radiance of Tomorrow

Ishmael Beah wants to put a human face on the suffering of children forced to go to war. In 1991, at the outbreak of a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, West Africa, his parents and two brothers were killed and he was forcibly recruited to become a soldier at age 13. After two years, with UNICEF help, he was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home.

At the 1996 United Nations presentation of the Machel Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, Beah spoke about the devastating effects of war on children in his country. At the 2000 UN Special Session on Children, he served on the panel, “Reclaiming Our Children: The UN Responds to the Plight of the Child Soldier,” with then-Secretary General Kofi Annan and UN agency officials. Today, as a human rights activist and author, he continues his advocacy for thousands of children trapped in wars.

McKendree University hosts an on-campus Model United Nations conference for local high schools. Currently 15 schools and over 300 students attend this conference each semester. McKendree has hosted this conference for over 40 years - it is one of the longest-running Model UN conferences in the country!

$10 adult, $10 senior, $5 student/child, McKendree University students FREE

Tickets on Sale - July 22 at Noon button


Additional Links

Student Performances

McKendree Department of Music   

McKendree Department of Theater