2012-13 Presidential Lecture Series

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Presidential Lecture Series, sponsored by the Darcy O'Brien Endowed Chair, will bring Michael Tilson Thomas, Robert Caro and Dr. Robert Sapolosky to the TU campus.

All presentations will begin at 7:30 p.m. Lectures are free and open to the public; no tickets nor registrations are required.


Michael Tilson Thomas
November 27, 2012, 7:30 p.m., Lorton Performance Center

pres lecture seriesA third-generation artist, Michael Tilson Thomas is a world-renowned musician, music director and conductor. He currently serves as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, founder and artistic director of the New World Symphony and principal guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Born in Los Angeles, he is the third generation of his family to follow an artistic career. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America. His father, Ted Thomas, was a producer in the Mercury Theater Company in New York before moving to Los Angeles where he worked in films and television. His mother, Roberta Thomas, was the head of research for Columbia Pictures.

Thomas began his career with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1969 as assistant conductor and was later appointed the orchestra's principal guest conductor. From the early 1970s, to mid-1980s, Thomas served as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also made guest conducting appearances at major orchestras throughout Europe and the United States.

Thomas' television work includes a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for the BBC and numerous productions on PBS' Great Performances. He has recorded more than 120 CDs of works by composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky while pioneering new sounds from music written by Charles Ives and Carl Ruggles.

The musician's 15-year tenure as music director of the San Francisco Symphony has garnered him international press, and he has been profiled on the CBS show 60 Minutes and ABC's Nightline. Thomas is a 10-time Grammy Award winner and a 2008 Peabody Award winner. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the U.S. government.

Robert Caro
February 12, 2013, 7:30 p.m., Allen Chapman Activity Center

pres lecture seriesThe author of highly admired biographies on Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, American journalist Robert Caro is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

In preparation for his first book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974), Caro spent seven years researching and talking with hundreds of people connected to New York City political powerhouse Robert Moses. The book revealed how Moses was a key player in the development and decline of New York City's physical structure and political system. Acclaimed today as a modern classic, The Power Broker was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 greatest nonfiction books of the 20th century.

After the release of The Power Broker, Caro and his wife moved from New York City to the Texas Hill Country and later to Washington, D.C., to trace the path of America's 36th president and write The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Documented in four volumes, The Path to Power (1990), Means of Ascent (1991), Master of the Senate (2003) and The Passage to Power (2012), Caro's series has been touted as one of the great political biographies of the modern age.

Caro has received two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography and also earned two National Book Critics Circle Awards for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year. Other accolades include the National Book Award and the Francis Parkman Prize. In 2010, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.

Caro is a graduate of Princeton University and later became a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He resides in New York City with his wife, Ina, a historian and writer.

Robert Sapolsky
April 4, 2013, 7:30 p.m., Allen Chapman Activity Center

pres lecture seriesScience writer, biologist and neuroscientist Dr. Robert Sapolsky is considered one of the most insightful experts on stress thanks to his groundbreaking research on primates and their connection to the human condition.

As a young boy growing up in New York City, Sapolsky dreamed of living the life of a naturalist where he could study the similarities between baboons and humans. At age 21, Sapolsky traveled to Africa to live with a group of baboons that would later inspire his early career as a field biologist and his first book, A Primate's Memoir.

For more than 30 years, Sapolsky has developed a unique perspective on the human condition based on his fieldwork with baboons and technical research as a neuroscientist. Like humans, Sapolsky says baboons live in large, complex social groups where stress levels run high and health problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure are common.

A captivating speaker, Sapolsky lectures with a flare of humor and humanity on various topics such as stress, baboons, depression and aggression. In his book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, he explains how human stress response has evolved to manage short-term physical emergencies.

Sapolsky is a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, and a research scientist with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya. He was featured in a National Geographic/PBS hour-long special on stress in 2008. In addition to four books, he also has written articles for Discover and The New Yorker.