This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Colin Powell to appear in speakers series

Published: September 1, 2005

Reporter Editor



Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the face of America to the world during the Bush administration's first term, will be among the notable speakers taking the stage at UB during the university's Distinguished Speakers Series for 2005-06.

The series, which will begin its 19th season this fall, also will feature comedian Conan O'Brien, novelist Alex Kotlowitz, world-renowned physicist Brian Greene and award-winning medical and science writer Laurie Garrett.

Public broadcasting talk show host Tavis Smiley will be the keynote speaker for the 30th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemoration Event on Feb. 3.



All lectures in the series will take place at 8 p.m. in Alumni Arena, North Campus, unless otherwise noted.

"This year's series looks at our cities and our people, the world around us and the science of tomorrow," said Dennis R. Black, vice president for student affairs. "It should make our community members think, wonder and dream."

The series will open on Sept. 29 with a talk by Alex Kotlowitz, author of the UB Reads selection, "There Are No Children Here." This heartbreaking story of two young brothers growing up in a Chicago housing project was given to all incoming freshmen to read before they arrived on campus in the fall. The New York Public Library named "There Are No Children Here" one of the 150 most important books of the 20th century, and it later was developed into a made-for-television movie, starring and produced by Oprah Winfrey.



Lecture sponsor is the Division of Student Affairs.

Kotlowitz also authored "The Other Side of the River," which examined the impact of a mysterious 1990s murder on two, neighboring Michigan cities, close in proximity, but vastly separated by race and class. The book depicts how the murder antagonizes old wounds and resentments, and how misperceptions fuel racial discord.

His most recent book, "Never a City So Real," takes a lighter note, giving the reader a look at the inner life and history of his hometown of Chicago.



A former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, Kotlowitz's investigative articles have appeared frequently in national publications, including the New Yorker and The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Colin Powell will speak on Oct. 19. Lecture sponsor is Hodgson Russ LLP.

Nominated by George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Powell became the 65th secretary of state in 2001 and served a full four-year term. Known for his moderate approach to military issues and his success with past Republican administrations, he is admired among both Democrats and Republicans.



A 35-year professional soldier, Powell received numerous military awards, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and rose to the rank of four-star general. In 1987, he became assistant to the president for national security affairs and in 1989, was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. During his tenure, he oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm and the Persian Gulf War. Prior to serving as secretary of state, Powell was the founding chairman of America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth, a national organization committed to rallying all sectors of America to build the character and competence of its youth.

Brian Greene, physicist and groundbreaking string theorist, will present the President's Lecture for Science & Technology on Nov. 16. Greene is one of the world's foremost experts on string theory, which proposes that the particles that were thought to be the most simplified components of atoms—electrons, neutrinos, quarks—actually are comprised of smaller units, filaments of energy called strings. If correct, string theory bridges the gap between quantum mechanics and general relativity, providing a unified theory of the universe.



Greene's 1999 book, "The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory," was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction and winner of the 2000 Aventis Prize for Science Books. It also was the basis of a PBS "Nova" special narrated by Greene. His second book, "Fabric of the Cosmos," which focused on space, time and the nature of the universe, was a long-time feature on The New York Times bestseller list.

Known for his expertise and ability to present complex scientific concepts in layman's terms, Greene has been a guest on CNN, "The Century with Peter Jennings," and even "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

He received a bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Public broadcasting talk show host Tavis Smiley will be the keynote speaker for the 30th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemoration Event, to be held at 8 p.m. Feb. 3 in the Mainstage theater in the Center for the Arts, North Campus. Lecture sponsor is the UB Minority Faculty and Staff Association.

Named by Time magazine as one of America's 50 most promising young leaders, Smiley can be seen nightly on PBS and heard weekly on Public Radio International, hosting "The Tavis Smiley Show." Both shows present a combination of news, issues and entertainment. In its first season on PBS, the show won the 2005 NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Television, News, Talk or Information (Series or Special)."

When Smiley originally began hosting the program on National Public Radio in 2002, it was the first nationally broadcast talk show centering on black issues. Smiley attracts high-profile guests, including Bill Cosby, Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Condoleezza Rice, Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy and Michael Eric Dyson. Over the course of his career, Smiley also has secured interviews with Bill Clinton, Fidel Castro and Pope John Paul II.

A well-known political commentator, Smiley is a regular guest himself on the nationally syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" and has made appearances on "Politically Incorrect," ABC's "World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" and NBC's "Today Show."

He has authored several books, including "Keeping the Faith: Stories of Love, Courage, Healing and Hope from Black America" and "How to Make Black America Better: Leading African Americans Speak Out."

Award-winning journalist Laurie Garrett will speak at 8 p.m. April 6 in the Center for the Arts. Lecture sponsor is the Graduate Student Association.

Garrett has traveled the world, researching and reporting on global health care, natural and man-made threats to public health and the impact of such threats on foreign policy and national security. She is the only person to ever win all three of the most elite awards in American journalism—the Peabody, the Polk and the Pulitzer. She is a medical and science writer for New York Newsday and her writings have also appeared in such publications as Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, Current Issues in Public Health and the Los Angeles Times.

Garrett is the author of two best-selling books: "The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance" and "Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health."

In 2004, she was named senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Conan O'Brien, the Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker, will appear April 22. O'Brien will interact with the audience in a question-and-answer format.

Combining his talents as writer, performer and interviewer, O'Brien has been the much-loved host of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" since 1993. Notorious for its off-beat sketches, the program was named "the most consistently funny and original show on late night" by The Boston Globe, and O'Brien himself has been described by The Washington Post as "modest, wry, self-effacing and demonstrably the most intelligent of the late-night comics." He and his writing staff have won four Writer's Guild Awards for "Best Writing in a Comedy/Variety Series."

A graduate of Harvard, where he was elected president of the lauded Harvard Lampoon for two years, O'Brien began his career in comedic writing with HBO's "Not Necessarily the News" and frequently performed on the program. In 1988, he was hired as a writer for "Saturday Night Live" and a year later, he and his colleagues won the Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series." From 1991-93, O'Brien worked as a writer/producer and eventual supervising producer for the Fox series "The Simpsons" and created some of the show's most popular episodes, prior to taking his current position as host of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

In 2009, O'Brien will become host of the highly acclaimed "Tonight Show."

Presenting sponsor of the Distinguished Speakers Series is The Don Davis Auto World Lectureship Fund. Series sponsor is the undergraduate Student Association. Affiliate series sponsors are WBFO FM 88.7, UB's National Public Radio affiliate; WGRZ-TV Channel 2; USA Today, the University Bookstore and the Graduate Student Association.

Order forms for series subscriptions and individual lecture tickets for the Distinguished Speakers Series may be downloaded by visiting http://www. Subscriptions and individual lecture tickets may be purchased at the Alumni Arena box office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

United University Professions (UUP) and TIAA-CREF are providing discount vouchers for tickets to UB faculty and staff. Visit http://www. for more information.

Non-discounted tickets for Alex Kotlowitz, Colin Powell, Brian Greene and Conan O'Brien are available directly through and all Tops Friendly markets; non-discounted tickets for the Smiley and Garrett lectures are available through Ticketmaster and the Center for the Arts box office.