By Sarah Carlson, Arts Editor
The Centennial Speaker series, which consists of eight professionals who will come to campus to speak about their respective careers and lives, is an opportunity to bring a variety of perspectives to campus during the “milestone” celebration said Amber Peck, director of Alumni Relations, in an e-mail.
“They will talk about their unique experiences in their realms of expertise and provide opportunities for us to broaden our horizons,” Peck said. “A variety of speakers also provides opportunities for people from the community to join us.”
Lester Holt, MSNBC anchor, will inaugurate the series at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Abilene Civic Center. Holt has covered major news events ranging from Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war in Afghanistan and served as the lead daytime anchor on MSNBC for the 2000 presidential election. Holt earned the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award in 1990 for his work on “48 Hours: No Place Like Home.” Holt is a member of the Manhattan Church of Christ and utilizes his faith in the media, Peck said.
The President’s Council on the Centennial and members of the Special Events Task Force initially brainstormed possible speakers, Peck said, narrowing their preferences while Alumni Relations began contacting booking agents to check for availability and fees. The council chose speakers for various reasons, Peck said, depending on who interested the team, who was available and who was affordable.
“We wanted to bring in people with something interesting or valuable to share,” Peck said.
Pat Summerall, NFL broadcaster for CBS, is third in the series and is someone whom a Board of Trustees member knew, Peck said. She said the member recommended Summerall, saying he had a great story, including a major struggle with alcohol and a liver transplant, and the member could help arrange to bring him to campus. Summerall turned to sports broadcasting after a career as a placekicker for the New York Giants, and is best known for his commentating alongside former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden. He will speak at 11:45 a.m. on Nov. 8 at the Teague Special Events Center.
The criteria speakers needed to have included being attractive to the ACU community and willing to abide by university standards and values while on campus; being talented at speaking to a large crowd; being accomplished in a field of study or endeavor; being nationally or being internationally known; and an individual of integrity, Peck said.
Other speakers throughout the school year are Dr. Kenneth Elzinga, professor of economics at the University of Virginia, on Sept. 26; Kathleen Norris, an award-winning poet, writer and author of several New York Times bestsellers, on Feb. 27; Dr. Stephen Carter, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University, on March 30; Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning, America,” on April 8; Dr. Jean Bethke Elshtain, a political philosopher and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago, on April 20; and John Maxwell, founder of INJOY Stewardship Services and New York Times bestselling author, on April 25.
Peck said students should take the opportunity to see and hear nationally known personalities, and some will have the opportunity to meet the speakers. Tickets for Lester Holt are $20, $10 for students, and will be available soon.