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Texas State University
Texas State University

History

A Shared Conversation

In 2004, Dr. Denise Trauth, President of Texas State University, announced an initiative designed to cultivate a common intellectual conversation across the campus. "Early on, the vision was to connect entering students to a shared conversation," Trauth said in 2008, "but it quickly grew to include upper-level classes, student support services, campus activities, performing arts, and the San Marcos schools and community. The intentional connecting of many facets of university life is the kind of project that a small private liberal arts college might take on, but we cannot find evidence of a large public university ever having undertaken something so ambitious and encompassing."

Previous Themes

Each year since 2004, Texas State has presented an academic theme with events for everyone — students, faculty, staff, and community members. Pictured here: death-row exoneree Anthony Graves speaks to a capacity crowd in Evans Auditorium about our 2017-18 theme, The Search for Justice.

Anthony Graves onstage in a dress shirt and vest, holding a microphone
Erin Brockovich speaks to a massive crowd outside the LBJ Student Center, 2007

Previous Speakers

The Common Experience at Texas State has hosted some of the world's most iconic and distinguished voices, from poet Maya Angelou to astronaut José Hernández. Pictured here: environmental activist Erin Brockovich addresses a massive crowd in 2007.

Previous Books

We provide all incoming first-year students with a powerful Common Reading book related to the year's theme. Students discuss the book in University Seminar and other courses.

Numerous Common Reading books on display, including titles "The Runaway Species" and "What the Eyes Don't See"

Common Experience Attendance Records

Overall

  • 1. Common (2019) 6,368
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, Strahan Arena
  • 2. Maya Angelou (2005) 5,000*
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, LBJ Mall Area
  • 3. Erin Brockovich (2007) 3,000*
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, LBJ Mall Area
  • 4. Spike Lee (2006) 2,500*
      Common Experience Speaker, LBJ Mall Area
  • 5. Laurie Hernandez (2020) 2,095
      Common Experience Insight Series, Livestream
  • 6. State of Black Design (2020) 2,071
      Common Experience Event, Livestream
  • 7. Edward James Olmos (2006) 2,000*
      Common Experience Speaker, LBJ Mall Area
  • 8. Daniel Pink (2009) 1,600*
      Common Experience Speaker, Evans Auditorium
  • 9. John Quiñones (2020) 1,289
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, Livestream
  • 10. Soledad O'Brien (2011) 1,200*
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, Strahan Arena

In-Person Events

  • 1. Common (2019) 6,368
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, Strahan Arena
  • 2. Maya Angelou (2005) 5,000*
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, LBJ Mall Area
  • 3. Erin Brockovich (2007) 3,000*
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, LBJ Mall Area
  • 4. Spike Lee (2006) 2,500*
      Common Experience Speaker, LBJ Mall Area
  • 5. Edward James Olmos (2006) 2,000*
      Common Experience Speaker, LBJ Mall Area
  • 6. Daniel Pink (2009) 1,400*
      Common Experience Speaker, Evans Auditorium
  • 7. Soledad O'Brien (2011) 1,200*
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, Strahan Arena
  • 8. Colin Beavan (2010) 1,100*
      Common Experience Speaker, Strahan Arena
  • 9. (tie) Anthony Graves (2017) 1,000
      Common Experience Insight Series, Evans Auditorium
  • 9. (tie) Robert Rodriguez (2015) 1,000
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, Evans Auditorium

Live Online Events

  • 1. Laurie Hernandez (2020) 2,095
      Common Experience Insight Series, Livestream
  • 2. State of Black Design (2020) 2,071
      Common Experience Event, Livestream
  • 3. John Quiñones (2020) 1,289
      LBJ Distinguished Lecture Series, Livestream
  • 4. From Here to There (2020) 450
      Instagram Live
  • 5. HSI Forum (2020) 229
      Common Experience Event, Zoom Webinar
  • 6. Gerrymandering (2020) 220
      Common Experience Event, Zoom Webinar
  • 7. MLK Celebration (2021) 208
      Common Experience Event, Zoom Webinar
  • 8. Canales + Spradley (2020) 190
      Common Experience Event, Zoom Webinar
  • 9. Roundtable 360 (2020) 175
      Common Experience Event, Zoom Webinar
  • 10. Border South (2020) 171
      Film Screening + Zoom Webinar + Facebook Live

* estimated attendance
overflow simulcast to LBJ Student Center Ballroom
gold events presented during current academic year