About and FAQs

Distinguished Lecture Series is unique in that we are entirely student-run and as such, all of our programing is designed, organized, marketed, and put on by students. Participation in the committee offers students the opportunity to learn valuable skills in event planning, marketing, leadership, and to be exposed to a diverse and vibrant array of people, backgrounds, and ideas.

Since 1987, we have brought the best and brightest minds to premiere platforms at UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Union. See the outstanding list of people and groups who have come to campus to bring their ideas to light.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get tickets to your events?

Most DLS lectures are free, unticketed, and open to the public. As such, seating at our venues is typically first come, first served. If an event is ticketed, however, you may pick the tickets up ahead of time in-person or online through the Union Box office.

What time should I arrive to ensure I get a seat?

For 7:30pm lectures taking place in Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall, our doors open half an hour before the start of the lecture, at 7:00pm (unless otherwise noted). We recommend arriving early to ensure you get a seat, as we’ve had people camp out for over an hour before doors open for certain speakers.

What happens if I don’t get seats at a lecture?

We will always try our best to get everyone seated, but that may not always happen.  In the past for events at Memorial Union, we have been able to project video and audio on the screens outside Shannon Hall and into Sunset Lounge, located across the hall from the theater entrance, so that you may still be able to enjoy the lecture when our agreement with the lecturer allows us to do so. 

Are the lectures recorded?

More often than not, our speakers' contracts do not permit us to record their lecture. However, this varies from speaker to speaker, and we will let you know if we make a lecture recording available for the public to enjoy!

Do you accommodate for accessibility needs at the lectures?

Absolutely! We try our very best to ensure everyone can enjoy our events. If you have questions or requests regarding accessibility, please email us at dls@union.wisc.edu

How are your speakers chosen for the year and can I get involved in the process?

Speaker nominations are collected online throughout the year, or you may submit ideas in person at our events! At the conclusion of each year, DLS committee members collectively go through submissions and narrow down a list of potential speakers, which then leads to the booking process that happens over the summer. Some of the speakers that eventually end up in our lineup also result from collaborations with other campus organizations. As a UW student, getting involved in the committee means you can play a huge role in potentially bringing your intellectual heroes to campus, while also having tons of fun along the way with some of the coolest and most passionate group of students on campus!