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updated: 1/25/2013 10:38 AM

Tony Blair another costly guest for Judson University

School believes costly names like Blair at forum are worth it

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  • Tony Blair

    Tony Blair


Tony Blair became one of the most sought-after former heads of state in the world when he finished his 10th year as prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2007.

Elgin's Judson University will maintain its reputation for bringing big-name leaders when it hosts Blair for the third annual World Leaders Forum on April 12.

University officials are not releasing details about event planning, speaker selection or the cost associated with the forum. They are working with the Washington Speakers Bureau to host Blair as the keynote speaker. Speakers bureau co-founder Harry Rhoads did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment about the event.

However, Blair is in an elite group of speakers, along with former President Bill Clinton, who are able to charge upward of $200,000 per event, depending on the details of the engagement, said Bob Davis, senior vice president of the American Program Bureau, a Massachusetts-based group that books high-profile speakers.

Blair is scheduled to speak twice during the Judson forum -- in a VIP reception that includes the keynote address and in a community event with a shorter speech and moderated question-and-answer session.

Judson is not releasing the time or location of the events, but last year's forum brought former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev to the Herrick Chapel to a crowd of about 600 people.

In a university news release, World Leaders Forum committee co-chairman Kevin Noe said the community event sold out very quickly for Gorbachev.

"This year we've made several accommodations to allow a larger audience to enjoy this unique opportunity," Noe said.

The university's news release said details of the event are not being released for security purposes but attendees will receive the information upon purchasing their tickets.

Davis, whose agency helped bring Gorbachev in 2012, said security is similar for all former heads of state. He said Blair likely would arrive with his own unit of security from Great Britain, and the U.S. would provide security through some regional office of the Secret Service. Depending on decisions by local authorities, Judson's campus police and departments from Elgin and Kane County also could be involved.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the Entrepreneurial Endowment Fund and the Judson Student Scholarship Fund.

Mary Dulabaum, director of marketing and communications at Judson, said the curriculum has already been created for Entrepreneurial Studies, but the university is waiting for it to be fully endowed before offering the classes.

Entrepreneurial Studies was designed by local business leaders and members of the Judson community over the last three years to help students hone their entrepreneurship skills and prepare them to serve their communities.

Dulabaum said the forum, in addition to being a good fundraising opportunity for the program, is good for Elgin.

"It's a great thing that you can come to Elgin, Illinois, and see speakers of that caliber," Dulabaum said. "We're really glad Judson is able to do it."

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