Auburn Speaks – Students Use Their Voice. Fall Public Speaking Competition in Honor of Philip Lutzenkirchen 


Contributed by Auburn
University College of
Liberal Arts

Students enrolled in public speaking this semester are set to compete in Auburn Speaks, a semi-annual public speaking competition held in the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center (GPAC) next week. 

 The winner of the competition will receive the Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award. This award was established in March 2017 as a way to honor the former Auburn student and football player’s long-lasting impact on the Auburn community. A $4,300 donation is given every semester by the Lutzie 43 foundation in honor of Lutzenkirchen, whose football number was No. 43. The foundation seeks to honor Philip’s legacy through this award by recognizing students who excel at public speaking.  

 Philip Lutzenkirchen was a bright young man who exuded confidence with every step he took. He tragically died in a car accident on June 29, 2014. His legacy is still felt across all parts of Auburn’s campus. This award honors his great character and achievement as a Communication and Journalism student and student-athlete during his time at Auburn.  

 Roughly four years ago, Jennifer Johnson, senior lecturer and director of public speaking at Auburn University, presented the Lutzenkirchen family with the idea for the award that would symbiotically link Lutzenkirchen’s legacy and dedication to his initial craft. Johnson taught Philip in several classes and knew he was passionate about using his notoriety to give students the opportunity to create a platform. 

 “He also was chosen by Coach Chizik and the staff to do a lot of the public speaking on behalf of the team, because I believe they trusted what he would say, what his message was, he would represent himself well and the Auburn family well. I believe that’s why we have this competition,” said Philip’s father Mike Lutzenkirchen, who began the Lutzie 43 Foundation as a lasting tribute to his son. 

 Each semester, public speaking students nominate exceptional classroom peers to perform their self-composed speeches in front of a panel of judges. A total enrollment of 1,800 students is narrowed down to roughly 70 semifinalists who competed in the semi-final round Wednesday at the GPAC. 

After the semi-final round, the panelists select six finalists to compete for the Philip Lutzenkirchen Excellence in Public Speaking Award.  

The final round of the competition will take place on Nov. 1 at the Gouge. 

“These kids are incredible, they’re 18 and 19 years old and their poise and professionalism are remarkable,”  Mike said. “They look and sound professional, the confidence that they have is fantastic. I’m looking forward to seeing the breadth of the topics the participants bring to the table this year.” 


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