UI Lecture Committee asks for public’s help in bringing J.K. Rowling to Iowa City

It's rare for J.K. Rowling to engage in public speaking, but the UI Lecture Committee says it's worth a shot. -- photo by Wendy via Flickr Creative Commons
It’s rare for J.K. Rowling to engage in public speaking, but the UI Lecture Committee says it’s worth a shot. — photo by Wendy via Flickr Creative Commons

Gryffindors, Slytherins, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs unite!

The University of Iowa Lecture Committee has launched a rather novel campaign to bring renowned Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling to Iowa City in the spring of 2016, and they want your help.

In its bid to bring the famed author to campus, the committee is asking members of the public to write letters to Rowling by Friday, March 13 (submission details below), with plans to deliver all of the letters to Rowling in one massive package.

Rowling rarely engages in public speaking, and when she does, its usually in service of new projects or charities. This is why the committee is taking an alternative approach, hoping personal letters from fans will convince her to come. The committee will also offer a donation to a charity of Rowling’s choosing.

“She’s without a doubt the author of a generation,” said Nathaniel Richmond, chairman of the UI Lecture Committee, whose idea it was to pursue Rowling. “It’s certainly a long shot, but our mindset is that you miss every shot you don’t take.”

If Rowling agrees to visit, the event would be free, open to the public and held in either Kinnick Stadium or Carver-Hawkeye Arena to accommodate the expected high turnout.

According to Richmond, the nearing deadline for the letters was intentional, “to instill a feeling of urgency and excitement in the community.” He said the committee did not want to risk giving people too long of a window that they would forget to write their letter.

Come March 13, the committee will consolidate all the letters they received and send them to Rowling in one massive box. They believe one overwhelming package will be more effective than countless individual letters that might otherwise get lost amid her usual fan mail.

The committee has also teamed up with the University of Iowa Honors College, the Iowa City Community School District, the Iowa City Public Library and the Iowa Youth Writing Project in an effort to have campaign to reach as many people as possible.

“The Harry Potter series is the narrative of the millennials,” said UI Professor Donna Parsons, who teaches the honors program seminar Harry Potter and the Quest for Enlightenment. “Having the opportunity to hear J.K. Rowling speak allows students to share a unique moment with the writer, who helped them realize that their goals and dreams can be accomplished.”

The letter-writing campaign is simple, and anyone can participate. For those interested, there are two objectives: The first is to thank Rowling, telling her how she has affected your life and why you appreciate her writing, and second is to ask her to visit Iowa in the spring 2016, and why you’d like to see her speak.

Letters can be dropped off (no need for an envelope) at room 145 of the Iowa Memorial Union, sent as an email attachment to, or can be mailed to the following address:

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University Lecture Committee
ATTN: J.K. Rowling Invitations
145 Iowa Memorial Union
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

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