‘Legendary’ Dr. Jane Goodall to speak at Mizzou Arena

The world-renowned scientist and advocate will speak as a guest lecturer Sept. 17.

The chimp champ. The ape aristocrat. A speaking savant for scientific society. Alliteration aside, Dr. Jane Goodall is kind of a big deal, and she’s coming to speak at MU.

On Sept. 17, Goodall will give her speech, “Sowing the Seeds of Hope,” at Mizzou Arena.

Senior Cale Sears is the mastermind behind the Speakers Committee, a group within the Department of Student Activities, that brainstorms, coordinates and executes four to eight guest speaking events a semester. The committee collaborated with the Delta Gamma Lectureship Foundation to bring Goodall to campus.

The DG Lectureship, which has been working with the Speakers Committee since 1998, is comprised of a committee of its own, mostly volunteers and alumni of Delta Gamma.

Lucinda Rice-Petrie is the chairwoman of the committee.

The goal of the lectureship is “very simply, to promote ethical behavior and values through exposure to distinguished lecturers,” Rice-Petrie said.

Goodall will talk on contemporary and sometimes controversial issues.

Known primarily as a primatologist, Goodall is much more. She’s an advocate for global action, non-human rights and environmental sustainability. At 80, she travels 300 days out of the year and is a UN Messenger of Peace.

“There is only one Jane Goodall,” Sears said. “She is one of a kind. She is legendary in the science world.”

Goodall doesn’t just appeal to science buffs, though.

“Even I had to do my own research to learn about Jane,” Sears said. “It took me a period of time to understand what I think is the gravity of this visit.”

Sears equated Goodall’s appearance to that of Maya Angelou in 2012. After Angelou’s death this past May, students will never again have the chance to hear her inspirational words or experience the depth of her character.

“This is going to be… a once in a lifetime opportunity for students who attend,” Sears said.

He said that it was his (“kind of selfish”) hope that students look back on their time at MU and remember the Goodall lecture.

In recent years, Sears said, it has been the goal of the Speakers Committee to bring in more content-driven lecturers: scholars who can really get students involved.

Deciding on Goodall was no easy task. The committee often has to try and find up-and-comers in the lecture field, a similar job to that of the students who plan the Fall Welcome Concert.

“I look at trends as far as what kind of issues are popping up — what could affect campus life,” Sears said.

In the DG Lectureship’s case, Goodall has been a goal for close to eight years.

“It’s a dream come true to us who have been with the lectureship from day one,” Rice-Petrie said.

In Goodall’s case, she’s a timeless speaker and an expert at relating to young people and discussing very pertinent and popular topics.

In a twist from previous speakers, Goodall will be speaking at Mizzou Arena instead of past lectureship venues such as Jesse Auditorium or Missouri Theatre.

The event was moved after DSA members noticed a trend of large audiences in universities that Goodall has spoken at previously. Sears said the committee’s top priority was to make sure that students who wanted to attend would not end up without a ticket.

The DSA is planning for 4,000 audience members, a huge hike from the 1,200-to-1,700-member audiences of previous lectures.

The Speakers Committee will also be hosting many more speakers this semester, such as actress Laverne Cox and J.R. Martinez.

“If you want to make a difference, come see how it’s done,” Sears said.

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