Kent State Stark gears up for new speaker series

Alison Ritchie

Team Coco fans at Kent State can unite once more.

However, this time their goal won’t be to keep their favorite red-headed comedian crowned as the late night king, but instead welcome Conan O’Brian’s band director, Max Weinberg, to the Kent State Stark Campus later this school year.

The lineup for this school year’s Featured Speakers Series at the Stark campus contains a variety of big names, including international humanitarian Jan Egeland, financial guru Liz Pulliam Weston, environmental activist Jerome Ringo and Weinberg.

“We’ve been very fortunate to get a mixture of speakers who can address many different areas that are affecting all of us,” said Tina Biasella, director of external affairs for the Stark campus.

The first speaker, Egeland, will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 at Stark’s University Center. Egeland is director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and a professor at the University of Stavanger. He has worked with the United Nations and won several awards for efforts in peace processes.

Cynthia Williams, public relations coordinator for Stark campus, said she thinks Kent State students will be able to relate to Egeland’s humanitarian work.

“He may not be as notable to the student generation,” Williams said. “But we think he brings forth a lot of the values that our students have. We think they can learn a lot from him. Our students are very involved in trying to make the world a better place. [He] gives them an idea of where he started from and how big this movement really is.”

Williams said Weinberg, the former drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, is expected to draw in the largest crowd. Before his speech on Feb. 28, Weinberg will hold a master class for Stark campus’s music students, who will perform with him on stage later that night.

“[Weinberg] is so familiar with the generation of students,” Williams said. “They ring a bell with him. That’s who we’re anticipating they’re going to be flocking to.”

While the events are free and open to the public, a ticket is required for admittance. Williams said the Stark campus began implementing that policy after the speech by Christopher Garner, who is portrayed in the film “The Pursuit of Happyness,” was “bursting at the seams,” with approximately 900 people in attendance.

Stefanie O’Connor, a sophomore history and geology major at Stark campus, said she would encourage other students, even those at the main campus, to attend this year’s programs.

“The events on campus are a great way for students to learn outside of the classroom,” O’Connor said. “You can never have enough knowledge.”

For additional information about the 2010-11 Featured Speakers Series, visit their website or contact Cynthia Williams at [email protected] .

-Alison Ritchie [email protected] .