At Wyoming Catholic, Orations Week Has Arrived Once Again

“Has the capacity to speak well in public ceased to be important? By no means. Effective rhetoric still has extraordinary power. In fact, it can be an antidote to the steady manipulation of opinion through the news media, the entertainment industry, the courts, and the universities. There is nothing as bracing as live, forthright speech, vivid, well-organized, and well-delivered. The schemes and tropes might change with the cultural moment, but what was effective in Aristotle’s day—or Cicero’s or St. Augustine’s—remains effective now. Many things go into the education at Wyoming Catholic College, but I have to think that the oration—this public performance, which every student anticipates from freshman year on—is crucial.” Dr. Glenn Arbery

This week, regular classes are suspended as the seniors at Wyoming Catholic College present their senior orations to faculty, fellow students, board members, family, friends, and guests of the College.

This year’s events are being held two-at-a-time, often delivered to packed classrooms. The thirty-minute presentations are frequently delivered entirely from memory (though a few notes are permitted). Afterwards, the seniors will field questions from a panel of professors and from the audience for another half hour.

The Senior Oration is described by the College’s Catalog as “always to be based upon the [student’s] senior thesis, although it can look to one or another aspect of the thesis topic and need not cover exactly the same ground or utilize exactly the same research. It must be clearly and logically organized, make use of appropriate rhetorical tropes, manifest the speaker’s familiarity with the topic, and exhibit sound judgment.”

Further, “both the thesis [upon which the oration is based] and the oration are expected to show the characteristic signs of leisurely study: depth and breadth of relevant knowledge, careful and nuanced consideration of ideas, argumentative rigor, confident organization, and a rhetorically effective style.”

President Glenn Arbery says about Orations Week that “it is always a beautiful and moving thing to see our students step into this public arena, where they measure themselves against their professors and the distinguished visiting speakers who have spoken in similar circumstances. Please keep our Seniors in your prayers as they deliver this week’s orations!”

Orations Booklet (2022)

Related College News