Frequently Asked Questions

Why are all the lectures held on Tuesday or Thursday nights?

  • Great Lives began in 2004 as an academic course—and still is. This fact necessitates scheduling the lectures to coincide with a regular class period, and the 7:30 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday “track” seems the best choice to accommodate both students and the public.

What constitutes a “great” life?

  • It is perhaps the most common misconception that “great” equates to “good” or “admirable” in selecting subjects. The key criteria is not virtue, but rather influence on history or culture in a significant way—for good or (sometimes) ill. (This explains why the series has occasionally included some fictional characters.)

How are topics chosen?

  • A number of factors are taken into account. The guiding principle is diversity of subject matter—not just in terms of race or gender, but other areas of diversity as well, particularly fields of accomplishment. Thus topics include persons who have gained significant recognition in the areas of politics, military, literature, science, visual arts, music, theatre, sports, and popular culture. An effort is also made to incorporate lectures by the most recent scholars on various topics. As a rule, subjects are not repeated, unless considerable time has elapsed between lectures or the second lecture involves a new and/or controversial approach to the topic.

What time do the Great Lives lectures start?

  • The doors to Dodd Auditorium located in George Washington Hall open at 6:30 pm and the lecture begins at 7:30 pm.

Are tickets needed to attend the lectures?

  • No tickets are needed to attend the lectures and seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Is there a cost to attend a Great Lives lecture?

  • Fortunately, this is a free lecture series that the University offers to the public and students of the University. Donations are welcome. Gift cards for donations are available in the lobby of Dodd Auditorium. You can also contribute online here: umw.edu/onlinegiving.

May I be added to the Great Lives mailing list?

  • Please call the office of events  at (540) 654-1065 to let them know that you would like to be added. An oversize postcard of the season is sent in early December.
  • If you would like to receive weekly e-mail updates about author interviews, online videos of the lectures, and special events, please add your e-mail in the box under “E-Mail Updates” on the home page.

Are the lectures videotaped and available for viewing?

  • High-definition videos of the lectures are available five weeks after the live presentation. Click on “Archived Lectures“; for a list of the lectures and their release dates is available here.
  • There are also interviews with authors conducted by Liz Humes, host of “Wordy Birds” on WRIR-FM here.

Where can I park ?

  • Parking is available for Great Lives attendees in the George Washington Hall lot, which is the first lot on the left as you enter double drive. Parking is first come, first served.