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The namesake of the series, Alf Landon, on the cover of Time magazine, May 18, 1936

The Alfred M. Landon Lecture Series is a series of speeches on current public affairs, which is organized and hosted by Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. It is named after Kansas politician Alf Landon, former Governor of Kansas and Republican presidential candidate.[1] The first lecture in the series was given by Landon on December 13, 1966.[2]

The lecture series has been described as "prestigious,"[3][4][5][6] and Eric Lichtblau noted in his 2008 book Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice that the "Landon Lecture Series has provided an unlikely but powerful platform allowing world leaders, from Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev to Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger, to expound on the critical public issues of the day."[7]

Among the speakers who have delivered Landon Lectures are nine Nobel laureates, eight Pulitzer Prize-winners, and more than 40 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.


Notable speechesEdit

Seven of the ten men to serve as U.S. President since the series began in 1966 have delivered Landon lectures (excluding Lyndon B. Johnson, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump).[2] George W. Bush (2006), Ronald Reagan (1982) and Richard Nixon (1970) delivered speeches during their tenure in office. Bill Clinton (2007), Jimmy Carter (1991) and Gerald Ford (1978) spoke after leaving office. George H. W. Bush delivered a Landon Lecture while serving as Vice President of the United States in 1985, before being elected to the Presidency. Before Reagan delivered his Landon Lecture as U.S. President in 1982, he previously spoke in the series in 1967, while Governor of California.

Other sitting U.S. federal officials to speak in the series include: Vice President Walter Mondale; Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield; Minority Leaders Hugh Scott, Howard Baker and Tom Daschle; House Speakers Tip O'Neill and Jim Wright; Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor; and Attorney General Janet Reno.[2] In addition, nine current or former foreign heads of state have also spoken in the series, including former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, former Malawian President Joyce Banda, and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo.[2]

Robert F. Kennedy (1968)Edit

U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was one of twenty-two active U.S. Senators to deliver a lecture in the series (including also his brother Ted Kennedy in 1984). Kennedy's speech on March 18, 1968, "Conflict in Vietnam and at Home", is notable for being the first speech Kennedy delivered after announcing his much-anticipated candidacy for the U.S. presidency two days earlier.[8] The campaign speech was attended by a crowd of 14,500 people, and Kennedy used the opportunity to share anti-war views on the Vietnam War.[9] Evan Thomas wrote in his biography of Kennedy that "the setting was ideal for a raucous campaign kickoff."[8] Kennedy was assassinated less than three months later, on June 6, 1968, after winning the California Democratic primary.

Gen. William Westmoreland (1969)Edit

U.S. General William Westmoreland, a main target for student protests against the Vietnam War, spoke on April 9, 1969.[10] The alternative newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas, wrote afterwards: "The man himself came to speak to the students of Kansas State. Yes, General William Westmoreland decided to deliver his first college lecture since returning from Viet Nam here, and he could not have picked a better place. Kansas State students will be courteous at all times... The General was greeted by applause, by cheering, by approval."[11]

Richard Nixon (1970)Edit

U.S. President Richard Nixon spoke at the Landon Lecture Series on September 16, 1970.[10] As student protestors gathered outside, Nixon delivered what the Christian Science Monitor called "one of the strongest and most uncompromising speeches of his career," denouncing the protests as part of a "cancerous disease" that is gripping the United States. Nixon asserted: "we face the greatest crisis in the history of American education today."[12] The complete speech was aired on network television, and then rebroadcast on several local stations after Nixon supporters purchased time to re-air it.

Ian Smith (1980)Edit

Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith was scheduled to deliver a Landon Lecture on October 31, 1980. The speech was disrupted by protestors objecting to the denial of voting rights to blacks in the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) under Smith's governance. Due to the controversy, the speech was recategorized as a non-Landon Lecture and is not included in the history of the series.[13]

Ashleigh Banfield (2003)Edit

MSNBC news reporter Ashleigh Banfield delivered a Landon Lecture on April 24, 2003. Banfield used the forum to raise concerns regarding media coverage of the Iraq War. She spoke against "cable news operators who wrap themselves in the American flag and go after a certain target demographic" and specifically named Fox News Channel as an example.[14][15] The New York Times reported that her speech angered NBC management, who rebuked her and lowered her profile.[16][17]

George W. Bush (2006)Edit

On January 23, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush spoke at the Landon Lecture, one month after news reports broke the story of the U.S. government's warrantless wiretapping of telephone conversations in the United States. In his Landon Lecture, Bush gave the domestic wiretapping program the name of "Terrorist Surveillance Program" for the first time.[7][18] Before Bush's speech, NPR aired a piece comparing Bush's Landon Lecture speech to Nixon's appearance in the series in 1970, noting both were defending their national security policies "as public discontent with a foreign war persists."[19]

Landon Lecture speakersEdit

Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivering a Landon Lecture in November 2007

Through March 2017 there have been 177 Landon Lectures, featuring 180 speakers.[2] The most recent speaker was Joyce Banda, the former president of Malawi, who spoke on January 29, 2018.[20] Unless otherwise noted, the speaker held the office indicated below at the time the Landon Lecture was delivered:

U.S. PresidentsEdit

U.S. Vice PresidentsEdit

Cabinet officialsEdit

US Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson speaking in 2013

Congress membersEdit

U.S. diplomatsEdit

Finance and business figuresEdit

  • Paul Volcker, Federal Reserve Chairman (1981)
  • John Hofmeister, corporate officer (2006)
  • Sheila Bair, FDIC Chairman (2009)
  • Mehmood Khan, corporate officer (2016)


Health and science figuresEdit

Historians, economists and political theoristsEdit

Media figuresEdit

Military and intelligenceEdit

Religious figuresEdit

U.S. SenatorsEdit

U.S. Supreme Court JusticesEdit

Foreign politicians and diplomatsEdit



  1. ^ "History of The: Landon Lectures". Kansas State University. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Landon Lecture Series – Past Speakers". Kansas State University. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  3. ^ Thomas, Ricks (June 6, 2013). "Why South Korea and others should take a page from Israel in how to handle the U.S." Foreign Policy. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Matt, Moline (May 4, 2004). "Roberts discusses policy, goals". Topeka Capital Journal. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  5. ^ Jim, Garamone (October 2, 2012). "Dempsey: Americans will shape image of modern vet". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  6. ^ Jan, Landon (December 10, 2006). "Kansas was Bobby's first campaign stop". Topeka Capital Journal. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Lichtblau, Eric (2008). Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice. Pantheon.
  8. ^ a b Thomas, Evan (2013). Robert Kennedy: His Life. Simon and Schuster. p. 362.
  9. ^ Kennedy, Robert (March 18, 1968). "CONFLICT IN VIETNAM AND AT HOME". Landon Lecture website. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Rhodes, Joel (2001). The Voice of Violence: Performative Violence as Protest in the Vietnam Era. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 190–191.
  11. ^ "Up The General's Ass". Reconstruction. Lawrence, KS. April 21, 1969. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  12. ^ Nixon, Richard (September 16, 1970). "IT'S TIME TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED". Landon Lecture website. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  13. ^ Acker, Duane (2010). Two At A Time: Reflections and Revelations of a Kansas State University Presidency. iUniverse. p. 187.
  14. ^ Banfield, Ashleigh (April 24, 2003). "Banfield Landon Speech". Landon Lecture website. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  15. ^ Banfield, Ashleigh (28 April 2003). "MSNBC's Banfield Slams War Coverage". AlterNet. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  16. ^ Rutenberg, James (May 5, 2003). "Ashleigh Banfield's Career No Longer Seems to Shine as Bright". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
  17. ^ Dumas, Timothy. "Truth and Consequences: Meet Ashleigh Banfield. She spoke out about TV war coverage and paid a high price. Would she do it again?". New Canaan-Darien Magazine. Moffly Publications. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
  18. ^ "Fox follows Bush's lead, renames domestic spying program as "terrorist surveillance program"". January 31, 2006. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  19. ^ Gonyea, Don (January 23, 2006). "Echoes of Nixon in Bush's Kansas State Speech?". NPR. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  20. ^ "Speakers | Landon Lecture Series | Kansas State University". Retrieved 2018-01-31.

External linksEdit