World-class speakers featured in 2009-10 Presidential Lecture Series

Friday, April 17, 2009

UPDATED: Date added for the Sondheim and Rich presentation.

The 2009-10 Presidential Lecture Series at The University of Tulsa will feature a diverse set of speakers, including the director of the Library of Alexandria, one of the most respected Latin American authors, and a conversation between a legendary Broadway composer and an influential New York Times columnist. Additionally, a noted journalist and Asia observer will present the University’s commencement address on May 8.

The following are the scheduled speaker and dates for the 2009-10 Presidential Lecture Series: 

  • Ismail Serageldin, director of the Library of Alexandria, will speak on September 18; 
  • Author Carlos Fuentes is scheduled to speak on November 3; and 
  • Composer Stephen Sondheim will take the stage for a conversation with New York Times columnist Frank Rich on April 19, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. in the Reynolds Center at TU.

The Presidential Lecture Series at TU is presented by the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair, which was established to honor the memory of the late TU professor. A Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, scholar and critic, O’Brien was a member of the TU English faculty from 1978 until 1996. O’Brien died in 1998 at the age of 58, and the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair was established in 2001.

Journalist and Asia observer Orville Schell will be speaking at TU’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., May 9, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Schell is best known as one of the country's most well informed and thoughtful observers on China. He also been a ship-hand, a war correspondent in Indochina, a rancher, a journalist reporting for such magazines as The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, The New Yorker, TIME, Wired, and Foreign Affairs. He has been a contributor on China for PBS, NBC, and CBS, where a 60 Minutes program of his won an Emmy. He has also served as a correspondent for several PBS/Frontline documentaries on China and Tibet and covered the war in Iraq for The New York Review of Books.

Until recently, Schell served as Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. While he will remain on the UC Berkeley faculty, he has now been appointed as Director of the Asia Society's newly established Center on US-China Relations in New York City. In this new capacity, he will lead new programs on the environment, the media and foreign policy in an effort promote more constructive dialogue between key Chinese and American leaders. He will also be a Fellow at Shorenstein Center at the John F. Kennedy School, Harvard University.

Ismail Serageldin, Director, Library of Alexandria, also chairs the Boards of Directors for each of the BA's affiliated research institutes and museums. He serves as Chair and Member of a number of advisory committees for academic, research, scientific and international institutions and civil society efforts which includes the Institut d'Egypte (Egyptian Academy of Science), TWAS (Academy of Sciences of the Developing World), the Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is former Chairman, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR, 1994-2000), Founder and former Chairman, the Global Water Partnership (GWP, 1996-2000) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), a microfinance program (1995-2000) and was Distinguished Professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Serageldin has also served in a number of capacities at the World Bank, including as Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (1992-1998), and for Special Programs (1998-2000). He has published over 50 books and monographs and over 200 papers on a variety of topics including biotechnology, rural development, sustainability, and the value of science to society.

Author, statesman and scholar Carlos Fuentes has defined the cultural, emotional and hereditary identity of an entire continent. He is recognized worldwide as one of the greatest literary and political figures of the Spanish-speaking world. Fuentes’ novels, including The New York Times bestseller, “The Old Gringo,” and the classics “Terra Nostra” and “The Death of Artemio Cruz,” look deeply into the identity of Latin America, its internal conflicts and its contentious relationship with the superpower to the north. His nonfiction work and essays also celebrate the rich contributions of Latin culture (including “The Buried Mirror,” which became a Discovery Channel series).

He has won Mexico’s National Prize in Literature, the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (the highest honor for a Spanish-language writer), France’s Legion of Honor and the Four Freedoms Award. He was the first recipient of the Latin Civilization Award presented by the Presidents of Brazil, Mexico and France. He has also served as Director of International Cultural Relations for Mexico’s Ministry of Exterior Relations and the Mexican Ambassador to France.

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and New York Times columnist Frank Rich will appear together April 19 at the Reynolds Center for a conversation about the musical arts.

Sondheim is considered the most important artist to work in the American musical theater over the past half-century. He has not only collaborated on more than a dozen landmark shows and written countless standard songs but has also been the single most influential force in bringing the Broadway musical into the modern age. His early work included contributed the lyrics to two classic collaborations with the playwright Arthur Laurents and the director-choreographer Jerome Robbins, for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” which are now are universally seen as twin pinnacles of the post-war Broadway musical.

Rich serves as an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. His weekly 1,500-word essay helped inaugurate the expanded opinion pages that the paper introduced in the Sunday Week in Review section in April 2005. Before writing his column, Mr. Rich served as The Times’s chief drama critic beginning in 1980, the year he joined The Times. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Rich was the front-page columnist for the Sunday Arts & Leisure section as part of that section’s redesign and expansion. He also served in an advisory role in the revamping of The Times’s daily and Sunday cultural report during that time.

David Hamby