BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has announced the
schedule for its 26th annual Distinguished Speakers Series, which
will run from Sept. 20 through April 27 at 8 p.m. in Alumni Arena
and the Center for the Arts on the UB North Campus.
This year's speakers have written bestselling -- and sometimes
provocative -- books; been cited for corporate excellence, and
received a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, the American Comedy Award,
the O. Henry Award, the Library of Congress Living Legend Medal,
and have been included in Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential
Scientists and Thinkers" and Newsweek's "100 Americans for the Next
Conservative political and cultural commentator David Brooks
will open the series on Sept. 20 in the UB Center for the Arts,
followed on Oct. 10 by former First Lady Laura Bush in Alumni Arena
and by social entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes
and the man behind the growing One for One movement, on Nov. 15 in
In addition, bestselling novelist and social commentator Walter
Mosley will present the keynote address at UB's 37th annual Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event on Feb. 28 in the Center
for the Arts.
The Graduate Student Choice Speaker, world-renowned cognitive
scientist and author Steven Pinker, will appear on March 27 in the
Center for the Arts.
The 2012-13 series will close on April 27 in Alumni Arena with
the Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker, actor, comedian,
playwright, producer and musician Steve Martin.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi calls this year's lineup of
speakers "truly world-class educators, leading public figures at
the vanguard of 21st century arts and culture, science and global
policy. We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring their
voices to our university and our community through this
Dennis Black, UB vice president for university life and
services, notes that a key feature of the Distinguished Speakers
Series remains "exchange."
"The series not only offers a lecture platform, but an
opportunity for audience interaction with speakers through the
question-and-answer session that follows each talk," he says.
"This year it will reflect what UB is all about: citizenship,
service, diversity, discovery and a little bit of fun," says Black,
"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."
David Brooks (Sept. 20, Center for the Arts) is an op-ed
editor at The New York Times, senior editor at The Weekly Standard,
a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, and
currently a commentator on "PBS NewsHour" and "All Things
Considered" on National Public Radio.
A sometimes controversial figure, both beloved and criticized by
his fellow conservatives and taken to task by progressives as well,
Brooks is the author of "Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and
How They Got There" and "On Paradise Drive : How We Live Now (And
Always Have) in the Future Tense," both published by Simon &
Laura Bush (Oct. 10, Alumni Arena) is the wife of former
president George W. Bush and recognized in her own right as a
champion of children's education, human rights and health-care
initiatives here and abroad, among them the "Ready to Read, Ready
to Learn" initiative and global literacy programs. Her efforts have
earned her honors from the United Nations, the Elie Wiesel
Foundation, the Kuwait-American Foundation, Vanderbilt University,
the American Library Association and many other groups.
Bush has never courted controversy and revealed little of
herself to the public during her husband's administration. In spite
of that, or because of it, she was a wildly popular figure.
Post-administration commentators and readers of her
autobiographical book, "Spoken from the Heart," however, have found
that the former First Lady definitely has a mind of her own and
supports a number of progressive positions, such as those on Roe v.
Wade, same-sex marriage, Elena Kagan's appointment to the Supreme
Court and disagreement with Arizona's immigration law.
While not particularly candid about some issues, Bush has what
one reporter called "a keener eye, a readier laugh and a sharper
tongue" than many may have assumed.
Blake Mycoskie (Nov. 15, Alumni Arena) is a pioneering
social entrepreneur, and the founder and "chief shoe giver" of TOMS
, a footwear company that, through its "One for One" program and
with the assistance of humanitarian organizations throughout the
world, has provided more than 600,000 pairs of new shoes to
children in need.
Mycoskie is the recipient of the 2009 U.S. Secretary of State
Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE), which celebrates companies'
commitment to corporate social responsibility, innovation,
exemplary practices and democratic values worldwide.
Walter Mosley (Feb. 28, Center for the Arts) is one of
the most powerful and prolific writers working today in any genre.
He is the author of more than 35 books, ranging from crime novels
to literary fiction, nonfiction, political essays, young adult
books and science fiction. In his work, Mosley has explored the
black experience in America over the past seven decades, beginning
with the migration of African-Americans from the Deep South to his
native Los Angeles in the post-World War II era, and on to New York
City after President Obama's election. In his work he has created
the kind of fully formed, complex black characters that he says
have been absent from much contemporary literature.
Mosley is currently writing an HBO series based on his novel
"The Long Fall." His 2012 publications so far include "All I Did
Was Shoot My Man," "The Gift of Fire" and "On the Head of a Pin"
(the latter two books published in one volume).
Steven Pinker (March 27, Center for the Arts) is a
Canadian-born experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist,
linguist and popular science author who employs verve, wit and
popular culture to help non-specialists understand the science
behind human thought and action.
Pinker is known within the field of psychology for his theories
of how cognition works, the theory of language acquisition,
research on the syntax, morphology and meaning of verbs, and his
criticism of neural network models of language. He popularized Noam
Chomsky's work on language as an innate faculty of mind and defends
the idea of a complex human nature that comprises many adaptive
The accessibility of his books is one reason "The Blank Slate"
and "How the Mind Works" were bestsellers and finalists for the
Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, the masterly "The Better
Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined," is widely
considered an extraordinary achievement and also is a bestseller.
Its insistence that the worst forms of violence have diminished
worldwide, however, has ignited controversy and debate among
scholars and academics, genetic determinists and some who claim
Pinker has a political agenda supported by a naïve notion that
violence is purely physical.
Pinker is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, and
taught at Stanford University and, for 21 years, at MIT. He is a
fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the
American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has won a
number of teaching prizes and was named among Newsweek's "100
Americans for the Next Century."
Steve Martin (April 27, Alumni Arena) is an actor,
comedian, author, playwright, producer and musician who needs no
introduction to most American audiences. Martin began his career in
the 1960's as a television writer and won an Emmy Award for his
work on the hit series "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour."
His outstanding career as a stand-up comedian was launched by
frequent appearances on The Tonight Show. Martin was well known in
that genre before he went on to host several shows in the Saturday
Night Live series and launch a successful career as a producer,
actor and screenwriter of feature films.
His movies include "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," "Roxanne,"
"Housesitter," "Father of the Bride" and the 2011 comedy, "The Big
Year," in which he co-starred with Owen Wilson and Jack Black.
Martin also is the author of several successful books, including
the bestselling "An Object of Beauty," and "Shopgirl," which became
a film starring Martin.
A banjo virtuoso, he has released two full-length music albums:
"The Crow/New Songs for the Five-String Banjo," which won a Grammy
for Best Bluegrass Album, and "Rare Bird Alert," which features
guest vocal appearances by Paul McCartney and The Dixie Chicks.
Other awards include a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album in
1978 and 1979, the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental
Performance, the 2005 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the 2005
Disney Legend Award, the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors and the 2011
International Bluegrass Music Association's Entertainer of the Year
Order forms for 2012-13 Distinguished Speaker Series
subscriptions can be downloaded at http://buffalo.edu/dss, and are
also available at the UB Alumni Arena Ticket Office in person,
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets for individual lectures will go on sale Aug. 16. Tickets
for the Bush, Mycoskie and Martin lectures will be available
through the UB Alumni Arena Ticket Office and TicketMaster. Tickets
for Brooks, Mosley and Pinker can be purchased through the UB
Center for the Arts Ticket Office or by visiting http://www.ubcfa.org for online
ticket purchase options.
For more information on the speakers, subscription and ticket
orders and series sponsors, please visit http://buffalo.edu/dss.
The Distinguished Speakers Series continues to benefit from the
vital support of the program's presenting sponsor, the Don Davis
Auto World Lectureship Fund, and the UB Undergraduate Student
Association (SA), which is the exclusive series sponsor for the
17th consecutive year.
Affiliate series sponsors are WGRZ-TV, Hodgson Russ LLP, the
University Bookstore, the UB Graduate Student Association and
University Life & Services. Contributing sponsors include
United University Professions' Health Sciences Chapter, Buffalo
Niagara Marriott Hotel, the UB Division of Athletics, the UB Center
for the Arts and the UB Alumni Association.
Among those supporting specific lectures are the UB School of
Management Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (Mycoskie), the UB
Graduate Student Association (Pinker), the UB Undergraduate Student
Association (Martin) and the UB Minority Faculty and Staff