TEDx event in DSU’s future

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TEDx Talks — worldwide educational seminars — could be coming to Dixie State University in the near future thanks to the efforts of a certain DSU administrator.

Bill Christensen, executive vice president of academic services, is a big fan of TEDx Talks and said he hopes to help bring a TEDx event to the university with the help of DSU students and faculty. TEDx Talks are independently facilitated conferences with the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” Topics include anything from science to business to global issues and are usually in the form of short, powerful talks less than 18 minutes long.

One of the requirements for hosting a TEDx event is to have a sponsor who has attended an official TED conference. Christensen attended one of the TED conferences in Brazil last year in order to gain eligibility to hold a TEDx event at DSU.

“We now meet all the criteria to have a TEDx event here,” Christensen said. “But my hope is that this will be more of a student-driven activity, with students learning how to execute a program like this for themselves.” 

On Feb. 10, Christensen presented his ideas to President Biff Williams and the rest of the vice presidents, making the plans official and ready to start initial organizing. When DSU actually holds a TEDx event, Christensen said he wants to make it exceptional.

“We want [the TEDx event] to be hard-hitting, slam-bang, full of cool information but something you don’t have to listen to for a long time or pay a lot of money to attend,” Christensen said. “The speakers will be leading-edge people that will really wow people.”

The event is still in the preliminary stages. A venue, speaker and time for the event are yet to be scheduled. However, several faculty members have already volunteered to help.

Assistant communication professor Phil Tuckett and some of his film students have agreed to help film and broadcast the event. Dean of Students Del Beatty said he is interested in getting students involved with organizing the event.

“Once we are official in putting together a task force for planning a TEDx event, then I will help take charge of student government, and put together a group of senators to start to look at the type of speakers we’ll have and where we’ll have it,” Beatty said.

Christensen said the logistics that go into hosting a TEDx event are extensive. The staging and advertising has to be presented in a certain way, speakers have guidelines about what they can and can’t talk about, and the event must be professionally recorded and uploaded to the TEDx YouTube channel. These are just a few of the rules required to hold a TEDx event.

Having a TEDx event at DSU would bring a lot of positive change to the university, Beatty said.

“For one, [a TEDx event] will provide a sense of legitimacy to the university,” Beatty said. “People will say, ‘Wow, we’re a real university now, hosting real events that a university actually holds,’ and secondly, it’s a very modern, trendy, cutting-edge thing that even young people like.”

Christensen and Beatty have not yet started looking for speakers or venues for the event, but one thing is clear: They don’t want to break the budget hiring a speaker or renting a venue if they can’t generate enough money through ticket sales to break even.

Some of the venues being tentatively considered are the Cox Auditorium, the Tanner Amphitheater in Springdale, and even the hangar at the old St. George airport.

Both Christensen and Beatty said it would be ideal if the speakers were local — possibly even DSU professors — and without high speaking fees.

“I don’t know if we can pull it off this semester,” Christensen said. “It might be more practical to think of it as a fall 2015 event to give us a chance to get organized. But if it goes well, I’d like to see us do one of these each year in the future.”