University Speaker Series celebrates 30 years

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
September 9, 2010

A Pulitzer Prize winning Washington columnist, a national TV news correspondent who overcame stuttering and illiteracy, a renowned film critic, and a big-name blogger from the new generation of the GOP round out the 2010-2011 season of the University Speakers Series at Indiana State University.

The series, celebrating its 30th anniversary, has brought the likes of Ralph Nadar, Gerald Ford, Sister Helen Prejean, Amy Tan, Nancy Grace, Andy Rooney, Robert Ballard, Carole Simpson, Marlee Matlin, Maya Angelou, Jim Lovell, Garrison Keillor, Bob Woodward, Robert Osborne, Mitch Albom and Andrew Young to the campus of Indiana State.

As in previous years, a book signing and reception will follow each presentation. All events are free and begin at 7 p.m. in Tilson Auditorium.

Byron Pitts, a correspondent for CBS' 60 Minutes, will speak Oct. 4 in Tilson Auditorium. His presentation is being co-sponsored by WTHI-TV.

Pitts, an Emmy award-winning journalist for CBS News chronicled how he overcame stuttering and illiteracy, in his book, "Step Out On Nothing: How Family and Faith Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenge."

Pitts was one of CBS News' lead reporters during the Sept. 11 attacks and won a national Emmy award for his coverage. As an embedded reporter covering the Iraq War, he was recognized for his work under fire within minutes of the fall of the Saddam statue. Other major stories covered by Pitts include the Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Afghanistan, the military buildup in Kuwait, the Florida fires, the Elian Gonzalez story, the Florida Presidential recount, the mudslides in Central America and the refugee crisis in Kosovo. He was named chief national correspondent for "The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" in Jan. 2009.

Pitts other awards include a national Emmy Award for his coverage of a 1999 Chicago train wreck and a National Association of Black Journalists Award. He is also the recipient of four Associated Press Awards and six regional Emmy Awards.

Washington Post columnist and MSNBC regular Eugene Robinson will speak Nov. 10. His presentation is being co-sponsored by The Indianapolis Recorder.

In a 25-year career at The Washington Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award winning Style section. He has written books about race in Brazil and music in Cuba, covered a heavyweight championship fight, witnessed riots in Philadelphia and a murder trial in the deepest Amazon, and sat with Presidents and Dictators and the Queen of England. Robinson is frequently seen on MSNBC with Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow.

Robinson was born and raised in Orangeburg, SC. He remembers the culminating years of the Civil Rights Movement-the "Orangeburg Massacre," a 1968 incident in which police fired on students protesting a segregated bowling alley and killed three unarmed young men, took place within sight of his house just a few hundred yards away. He was educated at Orangeburg High School, where he was one of a handful of black students on the previously all white campus; and the University of Michigan, where during his senior year he was the first black student to be named co-editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper, The Michigan Daily.

He began his journalism career at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was one of two reporters assigned to cover the trial of kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst which arguably set the pattern for all the saturation-coverage celebrity trials that have followed.

He was named The Post's South America correspondent, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which allowed him to research his first book, "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race," published in 1999. For the subsequent two years, he was London bureau chief before returning to Washington to become The Post's foreign editor in 1994. That same year he was elected to the Council of Foreign Relations.

Robinson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and has received numerous journalism awards. His second book, "Last Dance in Havana: The Final Days of Fidel and the Start of the New Cuban Revolution"-an examination of contemporary Cuba, looking at the society through the vibrant music scene-was published in 2004. His latest book, "Disintegration," is scheduled for release in 2010.

Film critic and talk radio host Richard Roeper will take the Tilson Auditorium stage on Feb. 2, 2011.

Roeper, a film critic and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, co-hosted "Ebert & Roeper" for eight years. As a commentator for the Fox affiliate in Chicago, he won three Emmys and has hosted radio shows on a number of stations in Chicago, including WLS-AM and WLUP-FM. Roeper currently co-hosts The Roe Conn Show on WLS-AM.

Roeper continues to write his award-winning daily column for the Chicago Sun-Times. He has also written for Esquire, TV Guide, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, Reader's Digest and other publications. He is the author of eight books, including "Bet the House," a look at gambling in America, which was published earlier this year.

Author and blogger Meghan McCain will close out the 2010-2011 series on Feb. 23, 2011.

The daughter of U.S. Senator John McCain and Cindy McCain, she graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Art History. With ambitions to pursue a career in music journalism, she completed internships at Newsweek and Saturday Night Live before joining her father's 2008 presidential campaign.

McCain first received media attention in 2007 for her blog, McCainBlogette.com , on which she documented life on the campaign trail and mused about fashion, music, and pop culture. While writing her blog, she never imagined the main-stream media would pay attention to her social and political commentary. Quite the contrary, her positions have been discussed by some of the most prominent voices in politics, from Karl Rove to Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh.

The blog has been recognized with two distinguished awards in politics: The Golden Dot Award for Best Blog, and two Pollie Awards from the Association of Political and Public Affairs Professionals.

She authored "My Dad, John McCain," an illustrated children's book that brings her father's heroic story to life before young eyes. Her current book, "Dirty Sexy Politics," chronicles her personal journey across the American political landscape.

Media Contact and writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or paula.meyer@indstate.edu