UB’s 2012-13 Distinguished Speakers Series announced
Published: Thursday, August 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
A comedian, a former first lady, and a shoemaker.
Some have written best-selling books, received Grammy’s and Emmy’s, founded international literacy programs, supplied over 1 million shoes to children around the world, and made a career out of making people laugh.
On Wednesday, Aug. 3, UB announced the schedule for the 26th annual Distinguished Speakers Series, which will run from Sept. 20 to April 27. Headlining this year’s series is comedian Steve Martin, former First Lady Laura Bush, and TOMS Founder and Chief Shoegiver Blake Mycoskie.
UB’s Distinguished Speakers Series is known for its diverse lineup and this year’s season is no exception. Since 1987, the university has brought speakers of national and international fame to provoke thought and inspire debate between students and the Western New York community.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi is delighted with this year’s choices – a lineup, he said, of “truly world-class educators, leading public figures at the vanguard of the 21st century arts and culture, science and global policy.”
Conservative political and cultural commentator David Brooks will start the series on Sept. 20 in the Center for the Arts. He’s an OpEd columnist with The New York Times, and he has worked at The Weekly Standard, Newsweek, the Atlantic Monthly, and The Wall Street Journal. He’s written for many other publications, authored several books, and provided his political commentary and insight on foreign affairs through “PBS NewsHour” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Former First Lady Laura Bush takes the stage on Oct. 10 in Alumni Arena. As one of the most beloved and admired American first ladies, she’s worked endlessly to make strides in the fields of education, healthcare, and human rights. She was a key advocate of her husband’s No Child Left Behind Act – during George W. Bush’s first term, Mrs. Bush launched “Ready to Read, Ready to Learn” and founded the National Book Festival. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, she’s also been an outspoken supporter of the women of Afghanistan and became the first first lady to give the president’s weekly radio address.
Blake Mycoskie is a firm believer in Gandhi’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mycoskie, who will visit Alumni Arena on Nov. 15, started TOMS in 2006 after witnessing the hardships faced by children growing up barefoot in Argentina. TOMS supplies a pair of shoes to a child in need with every single pair purchased through the company – One for One. In its first year alone, the movement gave 10,000 pairs to children around the world with the help of TOMS customers. Mycoskie also is the author of this year’s UB Reads selection, Start Something That Matters, and he hopes to inspire young people to help make tomorrow better and give back to their communities.
The lineup will also feature novelist and social commentator Walter Mosely on Feb. 28 and world-renowned cognitive scientist Steven Pinker on March 27, both at the Center for the Arts.
Comedian Steve Martin will close out the series as the Undergraduate Student Choice speaker. He got his start in the ‘60s as a television writer before launching his career as a stand-up comedian on The Tonight Show. He’s been in countless films, authored several books, and has released two full-length music albums. He has won an Emmy and several Grammy’s and is a successful playwright – it’s no secret Martin has had a successful career in the entertainment world. Martin will bring his humor to Alumni Arena on April 27.
Dennis Black, UB vice president for university life and services, noted this year the speakers especially highlight UB’s desire for exchange and dialogue within the community.
“This year it will reflect what UB is all about: citizenship, service, diversity, discovery and a little bit of fun," he said in a press release. “And in bringing leading voices in key areas of concern and opportunity to our community for our collective consideration, the series serves its original intentions well."
All events begin at 8 p.m., and subscription packages are on sale immediately. Tickets for individual lectures will be available starting Aug. 16.