In December 2006, Former College President Maggie O’Brien and English Professor Ben Click were discussing Click’s upcoming seminar on Twain and a recent biography, “Mark Twain: A Life” by Pulitzer Prize- and Emmy award-winning journalist and Twain biographer Ron Powers. O’Brien said, “I know him. Do you want to bring him here? I’ll fund it.” That conversation started the Twain Lecture Series. On March 2, 2007, Powers delivered “Mark Twain: Making Him Fresh Again,” to a packed house in Auerbach Auditorium of St. Mary’s Hall. The overwhelming response signaled one thing: the College and community needed an annual lecture dedicated to humor.
In addition to 15 annual Twain Lectures, the series has sponsored over 50 other events including “Music and Truth” and “Laughing to the Polls,” several writer’s talks, student writing and art contests, and numerous Twain talks given by Director Ben Click at places ranging from local libraries and schools to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The success of the Twain series brings a large and diverse audience to St. Mary’s College, with the annual lecture drawing its broad audience from community members, college and high school students, St. Mary’s faculty and alums, and residents who travel from Baltimore, D.C., and further.
Many groups have contributed to the Twain Lecture Series over the years. The Student Government Association (SGA) has consistently contributed financial support, but equally important are the energy and drive of its student representatives in promoting the annual lecture within the St. Mary’s College community. The Arts Alliance, The Lecture and Fine Arts Program, the English Department, and the Center for the Study of Democracy have been supporters since 2008.