Angelou, Ventura among those in Distinguished Speakers Series

August 22, 2003

University Park, Pa. -- The 2003-2004 Distinguished Speakers Series brings to University Park five internationally known figures, including an Olympic champion, a comedian, a former governor and professional wrestler, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and a civil rights advocate.

The scheduled speakers are:

• Greg Louganis at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 15, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Known as the world's greatest diver, he won his first Olympic medal at age 16 on the platform in the 1976 Olympics. Twelve years later at the 1988 Olympics, Louganis became the first man to win double gold medals for diving in two consecutive Olympics, competing against divers half his age, and despite a near disastrous injury during a dive. Louganis' difficult past and hope for the future, despite being HIV positive, has made him an inspiring role model. His best-selling autobiography, "Breaking the Surface," recently has been adapted as a critically acclaimed TV film.

• Margaret Cho at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 20, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Cho, a celebrated comedian who often performs to sold-out crowds, has garnered rave reviews for her 1999 off-Broadway show, "I'm the One That I Want," which has since been made into a movie. In 2001, Cho embarked on a record setting 27-city North American tour with her new show, "The Notorious C.H.O.," which ended in a sold-out Carnegie Hall performance that will be released on compact disc this year. Cho has received numerous awards for her work, including performance of the year from "New York Magazine," a MAC award and GLAAD's first-ever Golden Gate Award.

• Jesse Ventura at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Ventura was elected the 38th governor of Minnesota in 1998, the first-ever Reform Party candidate to win statewide office. He also was a Navy SEAL and served for six years during the Vietnam era. After his honorable discharge in 1973, Ventura attended North Hennepin Community College. Ventura wrestled professionally for 11 years when he retired in 1984 and turned to acting, appearing in several films including "Predator" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was prompted to run for mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minn. in 1990 and served in that position until 1995.

• Maya Angelou at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature and as a remarkable Renaissance woman, Angelou is a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She has authored 11 best-selling books including "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" and her current best seller, "Even the Stars Look Lonesome." One of her many poetry collections, "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Die, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In January 1993, she read her poem, "On the Pulse of the Morning," at President Clinton's inauguration, receiving a Grammy award for her recitation.

• Linda Chavez at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 29, 2004, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Chavez is president of the Washington, D.C. based Center for Equal Opportunity. She is the author of "Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation," which chronicles the untold story of Hispanic progress and achievement, and addresses the implications of bilingual education, voting rights, immigration, and affirmative action. Chavez has held a number of political positions, including White House director of public liaison and director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She was editor of "American Educator," the prize-winning journal of the American Federation of Teachers and served as U.S. expert on the United Nations Subcommittee on Human Rights.

The Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by the University Park Allocation Committee and coordinated by the Distinguished Speakers Series Committee and the Office of Student Activities. Funded by student activity fees, the series is free and open to the public. Tickets are required for the events and will be available at the Eisenhower Auditorium box office about one week prior to each lecture.

The Distinguished Speaker Series Committee will consider at least two University departments to co-sponsor each speaker. There is a $400 donation (to be used to defray reception costs) which includes: 15 VIP seats at the speech, 15 tickets to the reception (when applicable), 2 student invitations to dinner (when applicable), and co-sponsorship of publicity prior to and at the event.

Co-sponsoring a distinguished speaker is a great opportunity to meet guests on a more personal level. Co-sponsors are limited to one speaker per year. If interested, please contact Judy Albin at or (814) 863-3786.

For more information, contact the Office of Student Activities (814) 863-3786 or stop by 207 HUB-Robeson Cultural Center.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009