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Syracuse University announces 2011-12 University Lectures season

May 06, 2011

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Twelve distinguished guests will share their global experiences and perspectives with the Syracuse University and Central New York communities next fall and spring in eight presentations during the University Lectures 2011-12 season.

Guests during the fall 2011 semester will include Maria Hinojosa, host and managing editor of National Public Radio’s Latino USA and senior correspondent for NOW on PBS; Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine; humorist and author David Sedaris; Moira Gunn, host of NPR’s Tech Nation, in conversation with scientists Carol Finn, Pamela Matson and Elsa Reichmanis ’72, G’75; and journalist and author Bob Herbert.

During the spring 2011 semester, guests will include Jonathan Franzen, author of “The Corrections” (Picador, 2002) and “Freedom” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), in conversation with writer and professor George Saunders; novelist Zadie Smith; and environmentalist and author Terry Tempest Williams.

“Now in our 11th season, the University Lectures series will continue the tradition of bringing to Syracuse University people who educate us through their experiences and inspire us to be informed, active global citizens,” says Kal Alston, senior associate provost and director of The University Lectures series. “Each lecture is an opportunity for the University’s students, faculty and staff to join with members of the larger Central New York community in a shared-learning experience.”

All lectures are free and open to the public. Sign language interpretation and CART is available for all lectures. The 2011-12 guests are:

Maria Hinojosa
“Making the Invisible Visible”
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

hinojosaHinojosa has been documenting the story of Latinos in America for her entire career. She was the first Latina to be hired at NPR in Washington, and later became the first Latina correspondent for the network. Because of her work with the network’s Latino USA, Hinojosa is now recognized as one of the most influential Latino/a journalists in the country. In the new century, the drama of Latino immigration has become one of the most compelling, yet divisive, stories of our country. Latino USA is heralded by thousands of listeners who say that the program keeps them in touch with the pulse of a new America. Over the past year, Latino USA has opened its airwaves and website to increasing the dialogue about what this change means. In addition to her work with NPR, Hinojosa is senior correspondent for “NOW” on PBS, the host of the Emmy Award-winning talk show “Maria Hinojosa: One on One” produced by WGBH/La Plaza, and the author of two books—“Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son” (Penguin, 2000) and “Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1995). Hinojosa will also be a guest at the opening of the La Casita Cultural Center while in Syracuse.

Katrina vanden Heuvel
“On the Nation and Our Political Movement”
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

heuvelVanden Heuvel will offer analysis of the current political moment and speak about the important role that grassroots social movements and independent journalism can play in building a humane, sustainable world. Vanden Heuvel is the award-winning editor and publisher of The Nation magazine. She has received awards for public service from numerous groups, including the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Correctional Association and the Association for American-Russian Women. In 2003, she received the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Callaway Prize for the Defense of the Right of Privacy. She is also the recipient of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s 2003 “Voices of Peace” award, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s 2006 “Justice in Action” award. She is co-editor of “Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover” (Nation Books, 2009) and “Taking Back America–And Taking Down the Radical Right (Nation Books, 2004).

David Sedaris
“An Evening with David Sedaris”
Tuesday, Oct. 11, 6 p.m.
Goldstein Auditorium, Schine Student Center

sedarisSedaris is one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today. Sedaris is the author of “Barrel Fever” (Back Bay Books, 1995) and “Holidays on Ice” (Back Bay Books, 2010), as well as collections of personal essays, “Naked” (Back Bay Books, 1998), “Me Talk Pretty One Day” (Back Bay Books, 2001), “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” (Back Bay Books, 2005), and “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” (Back Bay Books, 2009), each of which became a bestseller. Sedaris’ pieces appear regularly in The New Yorker and have twice been included in “The Best American Essays.” His newest book, a collection of fables titled “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary” (with illustrations by Ian Falconer, Little Brown & Co.), was published in September 2010 and immediately hit the New York Times Bestseller Fiction List. He and his sister, Amy Sedaris, have collaborated under the name “The Talent Family” and have written half-a-dozen plays. A book signing will be held following the event.

Moira Gunn
In conversation with Carol Finn, Pamela Matson and Elsa Reichmanis ’72, G‘75
“The State of Earth”
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

gunnGunn stands squarely at the nexus of technology, science and society. Through her public radio program, “Tech Nation,” she has interviewed more than 3,000 people—from CEOs to scientists, from venture capitalists to politicians, from teachers to technophobes. In her words, everyone plays a role—everyone is a piece of the puzzle. Gunn also reached deeply into the world of biotech, interviewing the people who decode our DNA, seek cures for cancer and hope to solve the energy crisis along the way. Her book, “Welcome to BioTech Nation: My Unexpected Odyssey into the Land of Small Molecules, Lean Genes, and Big Ideas” (AMACOM, 2007) was named to the Best Science Books of 2007 by the Library Journal.

A former NASA scientist and engineer, Gunn was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. She has had a long career in software and systems development, and holds a software patent in nutrition research. Gunn is a member of the faculty of the School of Business and Professional Studies at the University of San Francisco, where she is the managing director of biotechnology programs.

finnFinn is a research geophysicist at the U. S. Geological Survey and president-elect of the American Geophysical Union. Her research interests are quite broad, but currently focus on the application of magnetic and gravity data worldwide—along with other geophysical techniques—to identify the subsurface distribution of hydrothermal alteration and causative sub-volcanic intrusions as they relate to both landslide hazard assessment and systematics of hydrothermal systems; geophysical and geochemical properties of Precambrian lithotectonic blocks for input into plate reconstructions and related global mineral resource assessment scenarios; sub-ice volcanoes in Antarctica to provide boundary conditions for ice sheet dynamic models and improved understanding of large alkaline magmatic provinces; and crystalline basement in Afghanistan to aid in resource and hazards assessments critical to the reconstruction effort. Finn has published extensively in scientific journals and has appeared on the Discovery and History channels.

matsonMatson is an interdisciplinary earth scientist who works to reconcile the needs of people and the planet in the 21st century. Her research addresses a range of environment and sustainability issues, including sustainability of agricultural systems; vulnerability of particular people and places to climate change; the consequences of tropical deforestation on atmosphere, climate and water systems; and the environmental consequences of global change in the nitrogen and carbon cycles. With multidisciplinary teams of researchers, managers and decision makers, she has worked to develop agricultural approaches that reduce environmental impacts while maintaining livelihoods and human well being. A MacArthur Fellow and a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Science, she is the founding co-chair of the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. At Stanford University, she is the dean of the School of Earth Sciences, a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for Environment and co-leads the Initiative on Environment and Sustainability.

reichmanisReichmanis recently joined the faculty of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, she was Bell Labs Fellow and director of the Materials Research Department at Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent. Her research interests include the chemistry, properties and application of materials technologies for photonic and electronic applications, with particular focus on polymeric and nanostructured materials for advanced technologies. She has had impact on the field of microlithography, which is central to the manufacture of electronic devices. Reichmanis was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995. She has been active in the American Chemical Society throughout her career and served as the society’s president in 2003. She was presented with the 1993 Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award and in 1995, was named Bell Laboratories fellow. She received her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from SU. A recipient of numerous honors and awards, she received the Arents Award, SU’s highest alumni honor, in 2001.

Bob Herbert
“An Evening with Bob Herbert”
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

herbertHerbert joined The New York Times as an op-ed columnist in 1993, and he wrote about politics, urban affairs and social trends in a twice-weekly column for nearly 18 years. Herbert announced his resignation from the Times in late March to pursue other projects. From 1991-93, Herbert was a national correspondent for NBC and reported regularly on the “Today Show” and “NBC Nightly News.” A founding panelist of “Sunday Edition,” a weekly discussion program on WCBS-TV, Herbert was also the host of “Hotline,” a weekly hour-long issues program on WNYC-TV, both beginning in 1990. Previously, Herbert worked at the Daily News from 1976-85 in a variety of roles, including general assignment reporter, national correspondent, consumer affairs editor, city hall bureau chief and city editor. In 1985, he became a columnist and a member of the editorial board. His column continued to appear in the Daily News until February 1993. His career began in 1970 as a reporter, then night city editor in 1973, of The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. He has won several awards for his work and is the author of “Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream” (Times Books, 2005).

Jonathan Franzen
In conversation with George Saunders
“On Autobiography and Fiction Writing: An Evening with Jonathan Franzen”
Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

franzenWhen “The Corrections” was published in the fall of 2001, Franzen was probably better known for his nonfiction than for the two novels he had already published. In an essay he wrote for Harper’s in 1996, Franzen lamented the declining cultural authority of the American novel and described his personal search for reasons to persist as a fiction writer. Five years later, “The Corrections” became an international bestseller and won Franzen the National Book Award. Franzen’s most recent novel, “Freedom,” was published in 2010. In August of that year, Franzen was featured on the cover of Time magazine—only the second time in the last decade that a living writer has been on the cover of this national magazine. “Freedom” debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was chosen later that year as one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2010.

Saunders is a professor of English in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences and teaches in the college’s Creative Writing Program. He is the author of the short story collections “Pastoralia” (Riverhood Trade, 1997), “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” (Riverhead Trade, 1997) and “In Persuasion Nation” (Riverhead Trade, 2007), among numerous other works. Saunders’ work appears regularly in The New Yorker, GQ and Harpers Magazine. Writing for GQ, he has traveled to Africa with Bill Clinton, reported on Nepal ‘s “Buddha Boy,” driven the length of the Mexican border, spent a week in the theme hotels of Dubai and lived incognito in a homeless tent city in Fresno, Calif. In 2006, he was awarded both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2009, he received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Zadie Smith
“An Evening with Zadie Smith”
March 20, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

smithSmith’s award-winning first novel, “White Teeth” (Vintage, 2000), is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London, told through the story of three ethnically diverse families. Her tenure as writer in residence at the Institute of Contemporary Arts resulted in the publication of an anthology of erotic stories titled “Piece of Flesh” (Cornerhouse Publications, 2001). She wrote the introduction for “The Burned Children of America” (Hamish Hamilton, 2003), a collection of 18 short stories by a new generation of young American writers. Smith’s second novel, “The Autograph Man” (Vintage, 2002), a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity, won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003, Smith was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists.’ Her third novel, “On Beauty” (Penguin Books, 2005) won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction. Smith is currently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. Her most recent book is “Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays” (Penguin Press, 2009).

Terry Tempest Williams
“The Writer as Witness”
Thursday, March 29, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

williamsWilliams has been called “a citizen writer,” a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. Williams, like her writing, cannot be categorized. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. She is known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, and is the author of numerous environmental literature classics. Williams is currently the Annie Clark Tanner Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change.

The University Lectures is a cross-disciplinary lecture series that brings to the University individuals of exceptional accomplishment. The series is supported by the generosity of the University’s trustees, alumni and friends. The lectures are free and open to the public.

The Office of University Lectures welcomes suggestions for future speakers. To recommend a speaker, or to receive additional information about the University Lectures series, contact Esther Gray in the Office of Academic Affairs at 443-2941 or More information can be found at

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