Program with Impact: Popular Speakers for Colleges and Universities


Colleges and universities strive to bring their student body together for engaging events and thoughtful dialogue. Let the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau team help you curate impactful events with outstanding speakers for colleges and universities. Our speakers are leading experts, bestselling authors, and prominent thought leaders, ideal for commencement and convocation speeches, lectures series, first-year experience events, and other engaging formats.

Top Headliners for Colleges & Universities

Celebrity speakers and thought leaders for impactful events

Headliner Speakers for Colleges and Universities

Ta-Nehisi Coates: #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Between the World and Me and The Water Dancer

  • A look at urgent cultural topics (discrimination, mass incarceration, media & democracy)
  • Grappling with complexity through writing and personal narrative 

Jennifer Egan: Author of The Candy House and the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad

  • Experimentation in Fiction
  • Novelist as Journalist/Journalist as Novelist

Eric Holder: Former U.S. attorney general during Obama Administration and esteemed civil rights leader

  • American law, policy, and ethics
  • The fight to save democracy

Isabel Wilkerson: Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the critically acclaimed bestsellers The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste

  • The Great Migration, immigration, racial reckoning
  • Generational trauma

Booking Headliner College University

Mental Health on College Campuses

Speakers that help students grapple with their mental health

Speakers for Colleges and Universities Mental Health

Dr. Michele Harper: Emergency room physician and author of the New York Times-bestselling The Beauty in Breaking

  • Personal story: From childhood trauma to resilience and healing
  • Racism: Our most crucial public health crisis

Dr. Thomas Insel: Neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and national leader in mental health research, policy, and technology

  • Post-Covid mental health crisis among young people
  • How technology is innovating mental health care

Tiffany Jenkins: Social media star, content creator, comedian, and recovering addict

  • The opioid epidemic: A personal story
  • Depression, anxiety, and overcoming adversity

Ian Manuel: Activist, poet, and motivational speaker

  • Solitude, the loneliness epidemic & mental health
  • Healing through poetry

Chanel Miller: Artist, activist, and author of the New York Times bestseller Know My Name

  • How art, creativity, and storytelling support mental health
  • Sexual assault on college campuses: The personal story of Emily Doe

Booking Speakers Mental Health

Spoken Word & Poetry

A new generation of poets telling powerful stories

Speakers for Colleges and Universities Spoken Word

Dr. Joshua Bennett: Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College and acclaimed poet

  • Environmental and racial justice
  • Transformative power of the spoken word

Olivia Gatwood: Feminist slam poet, educator, and author of Life of the Party

  • Art of performance, public speaking, and storytelling
  • Sexual assault prevention and recovery

Leila Mottley: Author of Oprah’s Book Club selection Nightcrawling and former Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland

  • Representations of Black girlhood in fiction
  • Black traditions in rap, blues, jazz, poetry, and spoken word

Alora Young: Spoken word poet and author of Walking Gentry Home

  • Navigating Black girlhood and womanhood in America
  • Spoken Word Poetry as the next great educational tool

Booking Speakers Spoken Word