Although the Academy may pay speakers as much as fifteen thousand dollars per presentation, “Expenditures vary widely by speaker,” said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Manory ’80. The Academy has paid as much as fifteen thousand dollars for a presentation.
Typically, speakers and their agencies have set prices but are sometimes willing to reduce them since the Academy is a non-profit institution. In addition their fee, Deerfield covers their transportation and housing expenses. “Speakers are typically here for twenty-four hours so that in addition to an evening talk, they can meet with small groups and attend classes,” said Math teacher Nils Ahbel.
“The price driver is the strength of the reputation of the speaker,” said Mr. Manory. Indeed, the Academy, though cognizant of various speakers’ costs, seeks to attract speakers that bring educational messages relevant to the interests of the student body, regardless of price.
“It is really hard work bringing people to the school,” commented English teacher Joel Thomas-Adams. “The primary difficulty is cutting through the indifference of the students.”
The Academy Events Committee works to overcome such student apathy when looking for speakers or performers. When a student or faculty member requests a certain speaker, that jump starts a search, leading the Committee to research the requested speaker to assess their potential appeal.
Though some more renowned speakers have an exceptionally high fee, the Academy maintains set budgets that allow for such in demand visitors. Concerns remain, however, regarding the way in which accommodating for such expensive speakers or groups affects the Academy’s ability to host other reputable, diverse, and provocative presenters.
Although the Academy Events Committee cannot predict the total ramifications of hosting such elite speakers, maintaining student enthusiasm and interest remains their top priority. Indeed, according to Mr. Ahbel, it is imperative that the “speaker or performance group meshes with the community.”