Oprah Winfrey to deliver annual Stanford lecture on a meaningful life

Oprah Winfrey will serve as the Rathbun Visiting Fellow and speak Monday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Church. Free student, faculty and staff tickets will be available by lottery.

Photo of Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey will visit Stanford as the Rathbun Visiting Fellow and will deliver “Harry’s Last Lecture on a Meaningful Life” at 7 p.m. Monday, April 20, in Stanford Memorial Church. (Image credit: Courtesy Oprah Winfrey)

Oprah Winfrey, a global media leader, philanthropist, producer and actress, will offer her personal reflections on life when she delivers “Harry’s Last Lecture on a Meaningful Life” at 7 p.m. Monday, April 20, in Stanford Memorial Church.

The lecture honors the late Stanford Law School Professor Harry Rathbun, who delivered his renowned “Last Lecture” annually from the 1930s through the 1950s. 

For nearly 30 years, Oprah has worked to empower, enlighten and inspire people around the world to live their best lives. Oprah conducted the Commencement at Stanford University in 2008, and spoke at the View from the Top speaker series last year at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“The Office for Religious Life is truly delighted that Oprah Winfrey has agreed to be the 2015 Rathbun Visiting Fellow,” said Jane Shaw, dean for religious life. “Oprah encourages so many to find the path to a meaningful life: She fits the remit for this speaker series perfectly, and we look forward to hearing her wisdom and experience.”

Oprah serves as chairman and CEO of cable network OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, and is the founder of O, The Oprah Magazine and the digital platform Oprah.com. In September 2014, Oprah embarked on a multicity tour to lead transformational weekends for thousands of women. She also released the New York Times bestseller What I Know For Sure, a collection of magazine columns she wrote over 14 years offering readers a monthly source of inspiration and revelation.

Most recently, Oprah was a producer and actress in the critically acclaimed feature film Selma, which recounts the struggle to secure voting rights for all people in 1965. Oprah portrayed civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper.

One of the world’s leading philanthropists, Oprah established the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007 for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and graduated its fourth class in 2014. Graduates of the school have continued on to higher education both in South Africa and around the world, including at Stanford University, Spelman College, Smith College, Brown University and others.

Oprah has long believed that education is the door to freedom. Last year she partnered with Starbucks to create Teavana Oprah Chai with 100 percent of her proceeds going to support youth education.

Oprah will be the sixth person chosen as the Rathbun Visiting Fellow by the Office for Religious Life at Stanford to deliver “Harry’s Last Lecture.” Previous Rathbun Visiting Fellows were Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama; George Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state; Sandra Day O’Connor, retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; and Garry Trudeau, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist.

The Foundation for Global Community established the Fund for Exploring What Leads to a Meaningful Life in honor of Harry and Emilia Rathbun and their legacy of helping students experience personal reflection, thoughtful discussion and a deeper exploration of life’s purpose.  While the centerpiece of the program is the lecture, the Rathbun Visiting Fellow also spends some time on campus engaged in deeper discussions with smaller groups of students, faculty and staff members in a variety of other programs hosted by the dean for religious life.

Information will be available after Stanford’s spring break for students, faculty and staff members interested in attending Oprah’s April 20 lecture to enter a lottery for free tickets. A valid Stanford ID will be required.

Media Contacts

Media Contact: Lisa Lapin, University Communications: (650) 725-8396, lapin@stanford.edu