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Franklin K. Houston Speaking Contest

Among the many gifts to Vanderbilt University from the late Franklin K. Houston, life trustee, was an endowed fund to provide prizes for public speaking.

Mr. Houston grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and took public speaking while he was a student at Vanderbilt. When he became CEO of the Corn Merchants Bank in New York City, he established this competition to encourage competent public speaking, as he believed that his experience at Vanderbilt had made a very real difference in his own life.

The Houston speech competition is held every semester. Watch past student speeches from the Houston contest.

Past Recipients


Founder’s Medal for Oratory

Since 1877, a gold medal has been awarded annually to the top graduating student from each school in honor of founder Cornelius Vanderbilt, who endowed the awards. In addition, Cornelius Vanderbilt established the Founder’s Medal for Oratory, which was first awarded (1976) before the other original Founder’s Medals (1877).

The tradition of Founder’s Medals lives on today with a medal still given for “oratory,” as well as for top honors in Vanderbilt’s 10 schools and colleges.

Past Recipients