Lineup for UB Distinguished Speakers Series Announced

Political pundits, bestselling authors and genomic researcher coming to UB as part of 24th annual lecture series

Release Date: August 5, 2010 This content is archived.


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The 2010-11 Distinguished Speakers Series will open on Sept. 16 with an exchange between Arianna Huffington and Mary Matalin.

Mary Matalin

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, known as the "ambassador for the world's oceans," will speak at UB on Oct. 13.

Humanitarian and writer Greg Mortensen is the Distinguished Speakers Series' 2010 UB Reads book selection author, and will speak on Nov. 10.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo's Distinguished Speakers Series will open its 2010-11 season with a left vs. right exchange between two of the most widely recognized women in political media today: Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, and Mary Matalin, Republican strategist and CNN contributor.

The series, now in its 24th season, also will feature lectures by oceanographer Sylvia Earle, bestselling author Greg Mortenson, Pulitzer Prizewinner Jhumpa Lahiri, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and pioneering genomic researcher J. Craig Venter.

All lectures in the series will begin at 8 p.m.; Huffington/Matalin, Mortenson and Venter will appear in Alumni Arena, on UB's North Campus. Earle, Lahiri and Booker will appear in the Center for the Arts, also on UB's North Campus.

"This year's exciting slate of speakers strongly reflects the scope of our reach and impact as a university," said UB President John B. Simpson. "From shaping national and international policy to exploring new frontiers in oceanography, human genomics and world literature, our speakers this year truly cover the globe. But the common thread connecting all of them is that these artists, scientists and humanitarians are dedicated to changing the way we understand and respond to the world around us. That key objective is very much in line with UB's mission as a public university, and the Distinguished Speakers Series provides us with an exceptional platform to pursue that mission."

Huffington and Matalin will kick off the season on Sept. 16 with a timely exchange that is sure to touch on the mid-term elections. Huffington, a frequent guest on network and cable news programs, is the author of 13 books, the latest of which, "Third World America," will be released in September. Matalin, a bestselling author, served in the administrations of Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. They are co-hosts of the nationally syndicated radio program, Both Sides Now.

"We live in an increasingly political world. This year's debaters, Mary Matalin and Arianna Huffington will share a stage, but perhaps not much else," said Dennis R. Black, UB vice president for student affairs. "The 2010-11 lectures will take us from the streets of America's cities to school rooms in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"From the floor of the oceans to the sequencing of the human genome, this year's science lectures will focus on understanding what we have and ponder where we are going. And this year's political speakers will assist us in understanding issues and opportunities; in our cities, our states, our country and around the globe."

The series will continue on Oct. 13 with the "ambassador for the world's oceans," Sylvia Earle. Named by TIME Magazine as its first "hero for the planet," she is an explorer-in-residence at National Geographic. Earle, the UB Graduate Student Choice Speaker, is expected to discuss the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico as part of her UB appearance.

Humanitarian, writer, former mountaineer and co-author of the bestseller, "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time," Greg Mortenson, will join the series Nov. 10 as the 2010 UB Reads book selection author. Co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute and founder of Pennies For Peace, he has dedicated his life to promoting community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he has established more than 145 schools.

The UB Undergraduate Student Choice speaker, selected each year by UB's Undergraduate Student Association, is scheduled for Jan. 27, and will be announced in the near future. Past Student Choice speakers have included Jon Stewart, Tony Blair, Bill Cosby, Stephen Colbert and Rudy Giuliani.

Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri will speak at UB on March 2. Appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, she received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for "Interpreter of Maladies," a collection of stories exploring issues of love and identity among immigrants and cultural transplants. A film version of Lahiri's 2003 novel "The Namesake" was released in 2007, directed by Mira Nair. Lahiri's "Unaccustomed Earth" received the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the world's largest prize for a short story collection.

Cory Booker, 36th mayor of Newark, will present the keynote address for UB's 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event to be held March 30. The second-term mayor of New Jersey's largest city, Booker has earned recognition in such publications as TIME and Esquire, and has appeared on television programs including MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show and HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

The lecture series will conclude its 2010-11 season on April 27 with a talk by J. Craig Venter, a former UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute professor who founded Celera Genomics and was one of the first scientists to sequence the human genome. The successful completion of this research culminated with the 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal, Science. In 2010, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute reported the successful construction of the first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cell.

The Distinguished Speakers Series benefits from the support of the program's presenting sponsor, the Don Davis Auto World Lectureship Fund, and from UB's Undergraduate Student Association (SA), the exclusive series sponsor for the 15th consecutive year.

Affiliate series sponsors are WBFO-FM 88.7, WGRZ-TV Channel 2, the University Bookstore and the UB Graduate Student Association. Contributing sponsors include TIAA-CREF, the UUP Health Sciences Chapter, Time Warner Cable Business Class, Buffalo Niagara Marriott, Flynn & Friends Inc. Marketing & Communications, the UB Division of Athletics, the UB Center for the Arts and the UB Alumni Association. Among this year's lecture sponsors are UB Student Affairs (Mortenson), Hodgson Russ LLP (Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker) and UB's Minority Faculty and Staff Association (Booker).

Order forms for series subscriptions may be downloaded by visiting or calling UB Special Events at 716-645-3662 to request series subscription order forms. Series subscription orders are being accepted by the UB Center for the Arts Ticket Office which is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Individual lecture tickets will go on sale Aug. 9; tickets for Huffington/Matalin, Mortenson, the Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker and Venter will be available directly through the UB Alumni Arena Box Office and TicketMaster; tickets for the Earle, Lahiri and Booker lectures will be available through the UB Center for the Arts Ticket Office and TicketMaster.

For more information on the speakers, subscription and ticket orders and sponsors, visit:

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