Record ticket sales have required Jenna Fischer, Emmy-nominated actress and Truman State University alumna, to give her Holman Family Distinguished Speaker Series speech in Pershing Arena April 5.
Originally slated to be in Baldwin Auditorium, the speech will be delivered in Pershing to accomodate more people. While Baldwin Auditorium holds about 1,400 people, Pershing Arena can seat about 2,500.
Public Relations Director Heidi Templeton said all tickets for the event were reserved within the first 24 hours after they were announced on Truman Today.
After tickets ran out, Templeton said her office started to create a waitlist, but that quickly became too much to handle. Templeton then started working with the Pershing Arena staff to determine if the event could be hosted there and get approval from Fischer.
“We have really tried to do as much as we can to make sure people can be there,” Templeton said.
Templeton said a majority of the reserved tickets were claimed by students. While she knew the event would be popular, she said she did not expect the event to sell out as quickly as it did.
Director of Development Charles Hunsaker said while there have been famous speakers before, Fischer is by far the most popular in the series’ history.
“Obviously she is one of our alumni who has name recognition,” Templeton said. “So she has been on our list for quite a while. This just didn’t really fall into place until this year with Jenna.”
Hunsaker said the University has invited Fischer to return to campus in previous years.
He said timing worked out best this spring because Fischer had a short window of time after finishing production of season 2 of her ABC sitcom “Splitting Up Together.”
“She’s an alum and this is her alma mater, so that builds in a connection already,” Hunsaker said. “She’s one of us, and there’s somebody who walked on these grounds who has gone to Hollywood and made it on the biggest stage in that arena, and I think people are like, ‘That’s really cool,’ and they want to be a part of that.”
Hunsaker said he and Fischer talked about her time at Truman and her experiences in the theater department. Hunsaker said Fischer was adamant that students attend at no charge, but she also suggested a more exclusive event with a $100 admission fee to raise money for Truman’s theater department.
The University will work with the theater department after the event to determine exactly what projects the funds will go toward.
With a little over two weeks until the event, Templeton said her office is still selling tickets, but she expects Pershing Arena to sell out as well.
Fischer is the latest speaker in the Holman Family Distinguished Speaker Series, which brings speakers from all disciplines and backgrounds to Truman. The Holman Family Distinguished Speaking Series is one of three endowments established by Charles Holman, each of which contain about $1 million.