University of Wisconsin-Madison (opens in new window)

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 produced 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

  • Almost all DLS events are free and open to the public, however many DLS events are ticketed or require pre-registration.  To learn more about whether an individual program requires pre-registration or a ticket, please check the event's page for details about the engagement.  While we strive to keep all pages updated, it is recommended that you follow the event on social media as well in case an update is posted there and not on the event page here on the Union website. 

    If a DLS event is ticketed, the tickets will typically be made available through Campus Arts Ticketing via both their Box Office on the first floor of Memorial Union and their online ticketing system (there is a processing fee associated with online tickets). If an event is not ticketed, attendance is available on a first come, first served basis. 

    Note:  DLS events are primarily intended for UW-Madison students, followed by members of the campus community, Wisconsin Union members, and then members of the general community.  Therefore we follow a ticket release schedule that attempts to prioritize our student audience first.

  • Doors will open 30 minutes prior to all event start times 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.

    For ticketed events, even if you are a ticket-holder, we recommend arriving early to give yourself the best available options for seating within the venue.  

  • Speakers' contracts will occasionally allow us to stream or record their lecture.  You can inquire via email about a whether a previous lecture was recorded; we will follow up with you to confirm if a recording is available.  Our prior contracts do not allow us to make the lectures we have recordings of generally available to the public via the internet.  

  • 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

  • Speaker nominations are collected online throughout the year or you may submit ideas in person at our events. At the conclusion of each spring semester, members of the DLS Committee 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!

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