(Posted February 28, 2019)

Photo: Amber Boring '18 

Photo: Amber Boring '18 

Huntingdon, Pa. – On March 5, Juniata College’s annual Bailey Oratorical speech competition will continue its tradition of drawing thoughtful and poignant discourse from its students. This year, students’ speeches will the prompt, “This I Believe: How can your core beliefs shape our future?” The competition begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Hall, Brumbaugh Academic Center. The event is free and open to the public.

More than 100 years old, the Bailey Oratorical encourages students from all areas of study to present 6-8 minute persuasive speeches on a topic that changes annually. This year’s prompt was inspired National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” program, which was hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. In creating This I Believe, Murrow said the program sought "to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization."


Students who choose to compete will focus their “This I Believe” speeches on the following question: “How can your core beliefs shape our future?”


Students first sign up for preliminary rounds of the competition, which take place on February 23 in Alumni Hall, Brumbaugh Academic Center. For this first round, four Juniata alumni will return to campus to act as judges. Morgan Horell, Stephanie Njeru, Kirstin Reed and Haley Schneider will have the responsibility of choosing the seven finalists of the competition.

Students finalists who advance to the final round are coached by faculty mentors to polish content and deliver their speech in preparation for the final round of the competition.

Judges for the final competition include Dustin Gee, a 2010 graduate of Juniata who serves as the head of employer development and engagement at Berklee College of Music; Dr. Rob Gillio, medical director of population health and clinical innovation at J.C. Blair Health Systems, Inc.; and Loni Fultz Kline, a 2003 graduate of the College who serves as vice president for advancement at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The competition, which is streamed live on Juniata’s YouTube page, features prizes of $1,000, $500, and $300 for the top three speeches. In addition, the first place winner will have their name inscribed on antique cup alongside previous Bailey Oratorical winners. Audience members are encouraged to participate in a text-to-vote poll which People’s Choice Award.

The original Bailey Oratorical Award was established in 1910 by Letitia Fisher Bailey and the Honorable Thomas F. Bailey, who served as president judge of Huntingdon County from 1916 to 1936. The contest is named in honor of John M. Bailey, the father of Thomas Bailey, and a former Huntingdon County president judge.

The oratorical contest has a long tradition at Juniata College, as students from all areas of study can compete for the monetary prize. The original prize for the contest was $15 and $25. An enhanced endowment contribution by Judge Bailey's son-in-law Colonel Sedgley Thornbury, provides the contest’s prize money. In addition, the name of the winner will be permanently inscribed on an antique loving cup presented to the college by Colonel Thornbury's son, Thomas Bailey Thornbury.  

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.