Guest Speaker Guidelines

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Alumni Speakers: if your speaker is a Duke Law Alumnus, you MUST contact the Alumni and Development Office at or 919-613-7071 to let them know the name of your speaker, and the day(s), date(s) and time that your speaker will be at the Law School.

International Speakers: specific Federal and University rules apply to international guests, especially in cases where an honorarium is offered. Please consult with Crystal Libby, Associate Dean for Finance and Administration, at a minimum of six months in advance of the visit to determine travel preparations and University policies.

Judges and Government Employees: Certain ethics laws and restrictions apply when inviting judges and various other government employees to participate in events. If you are having an event where there are invited federal or state officials (elected or administrators), you should check with the appropriate Duke office to verify what the reporting requirement might be under applicable lobbying law. For state officials, contact the Office of Government Relations, 919-416-8910. For federal officials, contact the Office of Federal Relations, 919-668-6270.


As a general practice, speaker honorariums are not provided. In lieu of an honorarium, it is common practice for the sponsoring group or department to offer to pay for the speaker’s travel expenses and meals associated with their visit. For special situations, honorarium may be requested, but approval must be granted by the Student Affairs Office for student organizations and by Crystal Libby, Associate Dean for Finance and Administration for faculty and departments. Duke Faculty are limited in the amount of honorarium they may receive.


Speakers may wish to book their own travel and be reimbursed for their expenses after an event or they may wish to have their expenses pre-paid. Student organizations may work with the Office of Student Affairs to have speaker travel and lodging pre-paid using a Duke University Corporate Card. If the speaker will have any reimbursed expenses, the host group or department MUST obtain the address the speaker would like the reimbursement check mailed to, in order for the reimbursement request to be processed.

Speaker to be informed of the following:

  • When purchasing airfare, coach or economy class tickets should be booked
  • Only the room rate and applicable taxes will be pre-paid or reimbursed for hotel accommodations. After the room cost and taxes, the speaker is responsible for all other expenses incurred on the room (long distance calls, mini bar, movies etc.).
  • Meal expenses to be covered should be clarified in advance (i.e., dinner on day 1, breakfast and lunch on day 2 etc.). The speaker must provide an itemized receipt for the meal to be reimbursed.
  • If the speaker is traveling to Durham by air, please make sure the speaker retains boarding passes and submits them following the event. For University accounting purposes, boarding passes serve as proof that the person was on the flight.
  • If the speaker is traveling by car, the Duke University reimbursement rate for mileage is $0.555/mile
  • The following are Non-Reimbursable Expenses
    • cleaning, pressing, and laundry
    • airline and other trip insurance
    • traveler's check fees
    • personal items (toiletries, barber, shoe shine, etc.)
    • personal telephone calls, unless necessary due to change in schedule
    • repairs on personal automobiles
    • traffic violations
    • loss or theft of personal property
    • movies, newspapers, books, snacks, spas, health clubs, and room mini-bars


It is understood that the inviting organization or department may wish to provide a token of thanks to visiting speakers or special guests. However, there are guidelines that you must follow processing these transactions through the University.

  • Monetary awards such as gift certificates, gift cards, gift coupons, vouchers and saving bonds are considered “cash equivalents.” Gifts of this nature, processed from group or department funds are highly discouraged because of the transaction processing costs and additional financial implications for both the department and the recipient. Giving such a gift will require that the recipient provide his/her social security number, so the “cash equivalent” cost of the gift can be reported to the IRS for gift taxes or the group or department has to “gross up” the amount charged to their account in order to cover the gift taxes. Either way, the gift is not worth the actual purchase price.
  • Gifts and awards of a non-monetary nature (example: cups, mugs, t-shirts, pens, pad folios, etc) are generally considered non-taxable to the recipient unless the approximate Fair Market Value is $100 or greater.
  • While faculty and staff like to receive recognition for a job well done, if you would like to give a faculty or staff member an award or token of appreciation paid for from your student group funds, it must be approved in advance by a Dean, Director, or Department Head. “Cash equivalent” gift items should not be given to faculty or staff, if paid for by student funding, due to existing Duke Law Policies against such gifts and the resulting gift tax ramifications.