A semiannual forum sponsored by the Center for Civic Leadership, the Jim Ryan Symposium brings local, state, and national leaders to the Benedictine University campus to discuss and debate issues important to domestic and international civic and political life. In the past, this symposium has featured such noted figures as:
- Richard Norton Smith, Director of the Lincoln Library in Springfield, who spoke about the effectiveness of American presidents.
- Then-U.S. Representative Mark Kirk, who spoke about China as an awakening superpower, influential ally and potential adversary.
- A panel of Illinois state senators, school and business representatives for a discussion on education finance reform.
- David Broder, political correspondent for The Washington Post, who spoke on democracy in modern America.
Other speakers have included:
- Then-U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama
- Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar
- WBBM TV Political Editor Mike Flannery
- Daily Herald Deputy Managing Editor Madeleine Doubek