Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a renowned environmentalist speaker, will be speaking at Missouri Western on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. in the Looney Complex for the 16th annual convocation on critical issues.
Kennedy will be the first speaker to focus on the environment. He was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Planet” for his success in helping to restore the Hudson River. A senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Kennedy has questioned the environmental policies of the United States for years. He is also the author of the bestselling book Crimes Against Nature. An extremely strong defender of the protection of our planet, Kennedy’s speech will hope to inspire Missouri Western students to try to make a difference in the world.
Bringing in such a well known speaker is a big step for the convocation.
“We’re pleased to be able to bring a speaker of such national prominence to our students and to this community,” said Dan Nicoson, vice president for university advancement.
Dan Boulware, a former president of the Board of Regents and founder of the convocation, said that one of the main reasons that Kennedy was chosen to speak is because of his focus on the environment.
“When this was started, it was convocation on critical issues, and we’ve addressed a myriad of critical issues over the years,” Boulware said. “But we’ve never addressed the environment. He brings to us a unique perspective that we have not had before.”
Ironically, a part of Boulware’s motivation to start the convocations came from a speech he heard as an undergrad in 1968 from Bobby Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s father.
“It meant a lot to me and I wanted that experience for our students here,” Boulware said. “I thought it would elevate this university in the eyes of its peers. I thought the students appreciate the opportunity and be stimulated by the opportunity. I hope that when you’re older, you’ll look back and say ‘hey, I heard RFK.’ I may not have agreed with him or I might have agreed with everything he said, but it’s part of the educational experience.”
Boulware understood that hearing different speakers talk about different issues in our world today is a crucial part of learning and opening minds. This is one of the main reasons that in 1993 he started bringing nationally renowned speakers to Missouri Western for the students to hear. While cost can be a limiting factor to who Missouri Western is able to bring in, some big names have still spoken here on campus and hopefully will in the future. Some of Boulware’s favorites from the past are Colin Powell, David McCullough, and Joe Nye.
“I have always liked going to the convocations,” said senior Western student Zack Kerner. “I know a lot of people choose not to go, but the speakers I’ve heard are pretty interesting and talk about important stuff. There’s a lot to be learned by going and listening to what they have to say.”