The Warren A. Guthrie Prize in Public Speaking recognizes the university’s most outstanding orators. All undergraduate majors in the CWRU College of Arts and Sciences are eligible to compete for the prize.

The inaugural Guthrie public speaking competition will be held in April, 2019.

Contestants will deliver 4-5 minute talk modeled after the Ted-X presentation style.

Students who are interested in competing in this year’s competition are encouraged to consider the following criteria as they prepare their speech.

  • Choose a topic that will be of interest to a broad general audience.
  • You should be fluent in your topic, but you do not need to be an expert.
  • You do not need to present on an academic subject, and in fact you may find it easier to craft a stirring speech about another one of your passions. Extracirricular, volunteer, and social justice experiences can all make for inspiring orations.
  • A/V will be available for students who want to make use of slideshows or other media. While visuals are encouraged, they are not required.


Remember, the maximum time limit of 5 minutes will be strictly enforced. So practice your Ted-X style talk extensively. Ideally, you will only need a single page or note card to deliver your presentation.

Professor Warren A. Guthrie (1911-1986). In 1934, Guthrie joined the Speech Department of Western Reserve University, where he also served as chair from 1946 to 1964.  Following his successful teaching career, Guthrie became a pioneer television newscaster as the “SOHIO Reporter” for WJW-TV in Cleveland.  Guthrie joined the public relations team of SOHIO in 1963 and retired in 1986 after serving 20 years as director.

The Guthrie Prize is awarded through the generosity of Ronald H. (Karpinski) Carpenter (WRC ’54, MA ’59). Dr. Carpenter earned his PhD in Speech from the University of Wisconsin in 1966 and has enjoyed a distinguished career as professor of speech and English at the University of Florida.  He is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles, the recipient of awards for his teaching and scholarship, and a consultant in public speaking to private industry.  Dr. Carpenter credits his relationship with Warren Guthrie and winning first prize in the Woodward Oratory Contest at Western Reserve University with establishing the trajectory of his career.