In the coming semester, the President's Forum Series will turn its attention to creative change. The Series will explore how the combination of initiative and innovation make a global impact through art, politics, peace and the environment.
Emphasizing how an artist can make creative change in the fine arts, the spring 2008 series opens with Billy Collins, United States Poet Laureate (2001-2003), New York State Poet Laureate (2001-2003) and City University of New York professor of English, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12 in Albright Auditorium.
Throughout his career, Collins has redefined literary success by receiving equally high critical as well as popular praise. Collins will be reading from his vast repertoire of poems, which often contain a humor that serves as “a door into the serious,” he says. Collins' readings have filled lecture halls with standing-room-only crowds and smashed sales records for volumes of poetry. Some of his acclaimed collections include “Questions About Angels,” “The Art of Drowning” and “The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems.”
These literary innovations and others have earned Collins fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Oscar Blumenthal and Bess Hokin prizes from Poetry magazine.
Turning to political change, the Series will welcome Silda Wall Spitzer, First Lady of the State of New York, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 5 in the library's Geneva Room. An active participant in New York policy-making, Spitzer has worked to advance her husband's vision for “One New York” by helping to build a sustainable economy and by attracting and retaining the next generation of New Yorkers. In addition to spearheading the launch of these plans at the “I Live New York Summit,” Spitzer has led the Greening the Mansion Initiative and the related Green Residential Building Initiative. She chairs the New York State Commission on National and Community Service, which is dedicated to building strong service programs, expanding the volunteer base and promoting the vision of One New York through community building and civic engagement. She is Founding Chair (emeritus) of Children for Children, a New York not-for-profit that creates opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to “Grow Involved'” through volunteering and service starting at an early age.
On Monday, March 10, the President's Forum Series will delve into presidential politics when The New York Times National Political Correspondent Adam Nagourney adds his expertise and insights into the 2008 presidential election. Through his dedicated reporting, Nagourney has proven how vital the role of effective journalism is in the political understanding of the United States. In addition to covering current presidential candidates as they campaign for the 2008 election, Nagourney has reported on Hillary Rodham Clinton's run for the Senate from New York as well as the 2002 New York gubernatorial campaign. Since starting at the Times, Nagourney has covered the 1996 presidential race and later reported on the 1997 New York City mayoral race. Before his influential career at The New York Times, Nagourney reported for USA Today and New York's Daily News.
Shifting from the state of the nation to the state of the environment, the President's Forum series will welcome Co-Director of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment Dr. Anthony Cortese at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2 in the library's Geneva Room, allowing students to interact with the founder of the program changing the Colleges' carbon landscape.
In addition to finding new ways to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and other causes of global warming on college campuses across the country with the Climate Commitment, Cortese is the president of Second Nature, a nonprofit organization that creates ways for healthy, just and sustainable action to become an integral part of learning and practice in higher education.
Through his work at Second Nature, Cortese has complemented these changes by co-founding the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and the Higher Education Association Sustainability Consortium. Prior to Second Nature, he was commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, was the first dean of environmental programs at Tufts University and one of the key figures in the award-winning Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute in 1989.
The President's Forum Series will wrap up at 7:30 p.m.Thursday, April 24 at the Smith opera House, by welcoming Green Belt Movement Founder and Nobel Prize Winner Wangari Maathai Sc.D. '94 P '94, P'96. The event will give students the opportunity to meet an internationally recognized figure who is at the nexus the political and environmental progress and has single-handedly changed the way that the world views women and the environment. Maathai has lived a life dedicated to improving women's rights, the environment and humanity as a whole. In 2002, Maathai was elected to Kenya's Parliament and was soon appointed by Kenya's president as Assistant Minister for the Environment. Maathai is best known for founding the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization committed to helping women's groups plant trees to conserve the environment and improve quality of life.
In 2004, Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. In 2005, she was elected presiding officer of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union, which advises the African Union on issues related to African civil society. She has been named one of 100 people in the world who have made a difference in the environmental arena by Earth Times, one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine and one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes magazine. In 2006, French President Jacques Chirac awarded Maathai the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest honor.
Established in the winter of 2000 by President Mark D. Gearan, The President's Forum series brings a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty, staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members. Forum guests generally visit classes or gather with students and faculty members to discuss issues.
The Series is one of many offerings available at the Colleges that are open to the greater community. These efforts are being organized through the Geneva Partnership, formed by President Gearan to enhance community life for the benefit of all who live, work and study in the region.