Kent Stark welcomes big names for speaker series

Becky Smith

The Stark campus is preparing to welcome thousands of students, faculty and community residents to its 16th annual speaker series.

This year’s series will feature speakers who are experts and well-known figures in the subjects of cultural arts, the environment, humanities and entertainment.

“The purpose of the series is to bring notable speakers – international and national – in and provide people the opportunity to learn about other experiences and cultures,” said Cynthia Williams, Stark campus public relations coordinator. “We try to make sure everyone gets something out of the series.”

Williams said the series has been well-received by the educational community and the outside community, as audiences have reached a thousand people.

In past years, the series has boasted speakers such as David McCullough, an American historian and award-winning author of books including The Path Between The Seas, John Adams and 1776; George Stephanopoulos, political adviser and news broadcaster; Anderson Cooper, Emmy award-winning journalist and television personality; and Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan and the nation’s first woman to hold that position.

This year’s series is expected to draw large crowds as well.

The series will begin with Christopher Dillon Quinn, award-winning director of the documentary God Grew Tired of Us, a film about four Sudanese boys journeying to the United States. With him will be John Bul Dau, one of the boys featured in the documentary.

In the spring, Jean-Michel Cousteau, educator, environmentalist and film producer, will speak about his experiences and adventures studying the ocean. As the son of Jacques Cousteau, the famous ocean explorer, Jean-Michel will also tell how he uses his background in architecture to turn his oceanic dreams into realities.

Also in the spring, Dave Barry, humorist, author and social commentator, will provide wit and wisdom for audience members who are in need of a good laugh. As a columnist for The Miami Herald, he won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and has authored more than 20 books.

In past years, the speaker series had free admission, but due to some concerns with tardy series-goers, an admission fee may be instituted for those who would like to sit in the main presentation room. The money brought in by ticket sales will go back into a speakers fund for future events. These plans are still being solidified.

“We hope that this possible new cost structure will appeal to a larger audience and at the same time maybe provide the means to add an additional speaker,” Williams said.

Another slight change the series will undergo is a name change. For the past few years, the series has been called “The KIOSK Featured Speaker Series.” Williams said the name will likely change to “Cultural Flash.”

“Our hope this year is to sell-out for every speaker, and to culturally enrich all who are interested in attending,” said Sandy DeLuca, Kent Stark special events coordinator.

Anyone who is interested in receiving more information about the featured speaker series, as well as other cultural events at the Stark campus can call (330) 244-3262.

Contact international affairs and regional campuses reporter Becky Smith at [email protected].