Jensen Lecture Series

The Jensen Lecture Series was created at Western Oregon University in 1995 with the establishment of the Dr. Arne S. Jensen Jr. Endowed Lectureship. Jensen was a 1937 grad of WOU, during the Oregon Normal School era; his father, Dr. Arne S. Jensen, Sr., had been a psychology professor at Oregon Normal School and a contemporary of Thomas Gentle.

In addition to public presentations our esteemed speakers make during their visits, they also usually participate in a number of related activities, such as panel discussions, talks for area high school students and receptions.

Speaker presentations are scheduled periodically and are free for the public to attend.

Past Lecturers


Isaac Ford, Jr., MSW, author, diversity, equity & inclusion consultant, motivational speaker, and veteran. Watch the lecture.


Ayad Akhtar, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. His play Junk was nominated for a 2018 Tony Award and it won the 2018 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.


Vicente Fox, a former president of Mexico spoke for the lectureship and participated in other related activities.


Chet Orloff, an adjunct professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, director-emeritus of the Oregon Historical Society, and founding president of the Museum of the City.  


Sister Helen Prejean, a nun and activist spoke about the injustice and immorality of the death penalty as practiced in the United States.


Andrei Codrescu, an author and poet reflected on writing, storytelling and popular culture’s influence on politics.


Robert Musil, a peace activist and CEO of Physicians for Social Responsibility discussed the dangers of nuclear weapons, the history of the antinuclear movement, and the activities of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Helen Caldicott, discussed the risk of nuclear war and the relations between weapons manufacturers and the United States government that make nuclear war likely to occur.


Rosemary Radford Ruether, provided an overview of the history of feminist theology in Christianity.


Itka Zygmuntowicz, a Polish-born Jewish American recounted her experiences as a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp under the Nazis of World War II.

Le Ly Hayslip, a Vietnam War refugee and author who discussed her experiences during and after the war.


E. Ethelbert Miller, a poet related how he became a political activist after entering college in 1968 and being exposed to African-American authors and artists, the civil rights movement, the black power movement and the anti-war movement.


Lorin Hollandar, a world-renowned concert pianist. He discussed his belief that creativity and destructive impulses both derive from spiritual longing.