This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Trump, Woodward, Rushdie, Reno to headline Distinguished Speakers Series

Published: September 2, 2004

Contributing Editor

Topics of national, international and interplanetary interest will take the stage this year when UB presents its 2004-05 Distinguished Speakers Series.



The series will open on Sept. 30 with Donald Trump, chair and president of The Trump Organization and producer and star of NBC-TV's "The Apprentice." Trump will appear as Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker.

Other luminaries speaking as part of the series are Steven Squyres, principal investigator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Mars Exploration Rover Project; critically acclaimed author and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich; political investigative reporter and author Bob Woodward and internationally acclaimed novelist and public intellectual Salman Rushdie.



Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and author, columnist and political commentator Ann Coulter will speak on March 10 in a "debate" format in which they will present their views on current events, question each other and take queries from the audience.

Scholar and best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson will be the keynote speaker for the 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event on April 7.

All lectures in the series will be held at 8 p.m. in Alumni Arena, North Campus, unless otherwise noted. Presenting sponsor of the series is The Don Davis Auto World Lectureship Fund. Series sponsor is the undergraduate Student Association (SA). Affiliate series sponsors are WBFO FM 88.7, WGRZ-TV Channel 2, USA Today, The University Bookstore and the Graduate Student Association.



"Providing a forum where timely and consequential ideas and issues can be presented, discussed and debated is one of the most vital functions of a major public research university like UB, and the Distinguished Speakers Series epitomizes the importance of that role," said President John B. Simpson.

"This year's speakers are among the foremost voices of our time, and their ideas have a profound impact on the world we live in," Simpson added. "The opportunity to have first-hand contact with such important figures is truly invaluable, and we're proud that we can share this experience not only with our students, faculty, and staff, but also with the region."

Dennis R. Black, vice president for student affairs, said the speakers secured by the Office of Special Events guarantee that "this will be an exciting and thought-provoking series. Imagine the 'day after' conversations on- and off-campus."



Donald Trump is the quintessential entrepreneur, personifying success and the power of "thinking big." His residential and commercial buildings and hotels are international landmarks known for their luxury and architectural magnificence. The Trump Organization is one of the world's leading operators of hotels and casinos, including The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., which houses one of the largest casinos in the world. Trump's real estate interests also include several breathtaking golf courses such as Mar-a-Lago Club, named "Best Club in the World" by the American Academy of Hospitality Services.

But Trump is perhaps better known in entertainment as the host and executive producer of "The Apprentice," the hit reality show featuring hopefuls competing for the opportunity to run one of his companies.

Trump is the author of a number of best-selling books, including "Trump: The Art of the Deal," "Surviving at the Top," "Trump: The Art of the Comeback" and, most recently, "Trump: How to Get Rich."



"Donald Trump is hands down the hottest speaker we have had in years," said Anthony Burgio, SA president. "A major American figure for more than two decades, Trump is at the peak of his popularity. This is by far the most exciting speaker series yet."

Steven Squyres, principal investigator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Mars Exploration Rover Project, will speak on Oct. 13.

Professor of astronomy at Cornell University, Squyres is best known as the face and voice of NASA's mission to Mars and the pioneering drive across its surface by two high-tech robotic rovers named "Spirit" and "Opportunity."



His extraterrestrial expertise has garnered him immense national attention. His main areas of scientific interest have focused on Mars and the moons of the outer planets. Key research areas for which he is best known include the study of the history and distribution of water on Mars and the possible existence and habitability of a liquid water ocean on Europa, one of the many moons of Jupiter.

Squyres has participated in many of NASA's planetary exploration missions, including the Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn, the Magellan mission to Venus and the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission. He also is a co-investigator on the 2003 Mars Express and 2005 MarsReconnaissance Orbiter missions, a member of the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer Flight Investigation Team for the Mars Odyssey mission and a member of the imaging team for the Cassini mission to Saturn.

Critically acclaimed author and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich will speak on Oct. 27 as the UB Reads Choice Speaker. Lecture sponsor is the Office of Student Affairs.



The author of "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America," Ehrenreich is one of the nation's most-recognized and original social commentators. Her articles, essays and humor have appeared in national publications, including Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Esquire and Harper's, as well as newspapers throughout the world.

Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" is the 2004 book selection of the UB Reads Program, and The Buffalo News October 2004 Book of the Month. In it, Ehrenreich explores how people live on the wages paid for unskilled labor and, specifically, how women forced into the job market by welfare reform fare on the $6- to $7-an-hour jobs generally available to them. "Nickel and Dimed" describes Ehrenreich's experiences trying to afford even the most meager shelter and basic sustenance while working as a waitress, maid, nursing home assistant and Wal-Mart salesperson. It is an eye-opening account of the demoralization and struggle for survival faced daily by many of our nation's working poor.

Her many books also include "Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class," "Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy," and "The American Health Empire: Power, Profits and Politics" with John Ehrenreich.



Ehrenreich is the recipient of numerous grants, honorary degrees and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Magazine Award for Excellence in Reporting. In addition to her writing, she is an avid public speaker and frequent talk-show guest, having appeared on such national programs as the "Today Show," "Politically Incorrect," "Crossfire" and "Nightline."

Political investigative reporter and author Bob Woodward will speak on Nov. 17 as the series' International Education Week Lecturer.

Woodward, who has received nearly every existing journalism award over the course of his career, including a Pulitzer Prize, is a managing editor at The Washington Post, responsible for special investigative projects.

Woodward's ability to infiltrate the inner-workings of Washington has made him a legendary print journalist. As an investigative reporter for The Washington Post, he first achieved national prominence in the early 1970s when he and colleague Carl Bernstein uncovered former President Nixon's connection to Watergate. Their book, "All the President's Men," detailed their account of the investigation and became a national best-seller, as well as a movie.

Since then, Woodward has authored several best-selling books investigating the American political arena, including "The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court," "Veil: The Secret Ways of the CIA," "The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House" and "Bush at War."

Woodward's latest book, "Plan of Attack," is a behind-the-scenes account of the motivation and events leading up to President George W. Bush's declaration of war against Iraq, as well as the actions that followed. "Plan of Attack" alleges that Bush began maneuvering for war with Iraq as early as 2001 when administration spokesmen maintained they were still pursuing a peaceful resolution. Woodward used information from administration insiders to recount confidential meetings, conflicts and decisions that took place between Bush and key members of his staff, including Vice President Dick Cheney, General Tommy Franks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and author, columnist and political commentator Ann Coulter will speak on March 10.

Appointed under the Clinton administration, Reno became the first woman attorney general of the U.S. Overseeing the Justice Department, Reno enforced federal policies on civil rights, the environment, gun control and immigration. As attorney general, she faced difficult challenges, including the Branch Davidian standoff and the Elian Gonzales case. During her time in office, crime and drug-use rates in the U.S. declined. She was and continues to be a strong advocate of children's and women's rights.

Reno received her law degree from Harvard University Law School. She went on to become staff director of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives and later, state attorney for Dade County. Reno's many honors include induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Coulter is a New York Times best-selling author whose books include "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter," "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right" and "Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism." Her provoking political views have made her a popular guest on such TV shows as "Larry King Live" and "The O'Reilly Factor." Coulter also is legal correspondent for Human Events, a national conservative weekly newspaper, and a columnist for the Universal Press Syndicate.

She previously worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee and was a litigator with the Center for Individual Rights. She holds a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

Scholar and best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson will be keynote speaker for the 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event to be held on April 7 in the Center for the Arts, North Campus. Lecture sponsor is the Minority Faculty and Staff Association.

Dyson is Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Named by Essence magazine as one of the nation's "50 most inspiring African Americans," he has been described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "a major American thinker and cultural critic."

Dyson has written 10 books in 10 years, ranging from works on cultural criticism, race theory and religious thought to philosophical reflection and gender and sexual studies. He also has written four books on "biocriticism"-works that use biography to probe social themes and cultural politics. These include a book ranked by Black Issues Book Review as one of the outstanding black books of the 20th century and a national bestseller, "I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.," and "Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur," his best-selling treatment of the slain rapper and icon.

Dyson also has published "The Michael Eric Dyson Reader" and "Why I Love Black Women," a national bestseller that won the 2004 NAACP Image Award for outstanding nonfiction literary work. Dyson is an ordained Baptist minister, radio commentator for NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show," contributing writer for Philadelphia Magazine and frequent guest on the nation's leading cultural and political television shows. Before all of his success, the former church pastor was a teen father on welfare in his native Detroit who worked in several factories before starting college at 21.

Internationally acclaimed novelist and public intellectual Salman Rushdie will speak on April 28 as the final speaker in the 2004-05 series. Lecture sponsor is the Graduate Student Association.

Rushdie is perhaps best known as the author of "Midnight's Children" and "The Satanic Verses." The latter novel was deemed sacrilegious by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeni, who in 1989 issued a fatwa calling on zealous Muslims to execute the writer—who was forced into hiding—and the publishers of the book. Rushdie went on to produce some of his most compelling work, including "The Moor's Last Sigh" and "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," while living in exile under the constant threat of death. His most recent book, "Step Across This Line: Collected Non-Fiction, 1992-2002," explores his own reaction to the fatwa, as well as reactions of the media and various governments.

In most of his works, Rushdie draws on his unique upbringing and personal history to make bold statements about modern life.

An astute and informed observer of events in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other hotspots, Rushdie argues that America and its allies must do a better job of evaluating the gains being made by the current "war" on terror, versus its costs—in lives, international cooperation and the goodwill of the very people who the effort is designed to liberate. Rushdie's answer to the question of how to create a safe world that isn't in some way also an authoritarian world is that we must not allow ourselves to be frightened out of our own morality.

Rushdie is an honorary professor in the humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He attended Cambridge College, where he studied history.

Orders for Distinguished Speakers Series subscriptions and advanced purchase of individual lecture tickets can be placed by visiting http://www., downloading an order form and sending it in with payment to the Alumni Arena box office, or by visiting the Alumni Arena box office in person between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patrons also can call 645-6147, ext. 2, to request that ticket order forms be faxed or mailed.

Non-discounted tickets for all events, except the Martin Luther King Jr. event, are available for sale through and at all Tops Friendly Markets, as well as at the Alumni Arena box office. Tickets for Eric Michael Dyson will be available through TicketMaster and the Center for the Arts box office.