2016-17 Featured Speakers Series

Featured Speakers Series

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Kent State University at Stark's Featured Speakers Series brings national and international experts in civil rights, politics, education, environmental activism, literature and arts to campus.

The community is invited to attend Kent State University at Stark’s 26th season of the Featured Speakers Series with an impressive selection of personalities. For the past 25 years, this popular Kent State Stark series has been attracting thousands of campus and community members who take advantage of a rare opportunity to be introduced to national and international experts on a wide range of topics and issues that shape our society. 

Notable figures have included civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, national political broadcaster George Stephanopoulos, journalist and National Geographic Explorer host Lisa Ling, tennis star Billie Jean King, rags-to-riches prodigy Chris Gardner, legendary drummer Max Weinberg, ice cream entrepreneur Jerry Greenfield, cinematographer Spike Lee, CNN's broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper, Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, distinguished astronaut Mark Kelly and acclaimed journalist Soledad O'Brien.

Ticket & Venue Information

  • Programs are free and open to the public.
  • Tickets are required and seating is limited.
  • A limit of two (2) tickets will be available per person.
  • Pick-up tickets at the Main Hall Information Desk, beginning at 8 a.m. each weekday, on the date listed with each speaker.
  • Ticket distribution is first-come, first-served. No phone reservations will be taken nor will tickets be mailed.
  • Programs are held at the Conference Center in Timken Great Hall.

2016-2017 Featured Speakers

From WWI to WWZ: Learning from Our Mistakes
Monday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets available Monday, Sept. 26 at 8 a.m. 
Limit two (2) tickets per person.

Son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft and best-selling author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, Max Brooks is credited with helping propel zombie-lore from niche sub-culture fascination to mainstream pop-culture obsession. Using fictional metaphor and historical events to prompt serious discourse on large-scale problem-solving, Brooks explores new ways to attack old problems and new concerns. His unconventional thinking has inspired the U.S. military to examine how they may respond to potential crises. On stage, as with his writing, Brooks tackles the tougher questions, like what are the threads that hold society together, and what’s really at stake when those threads are stressed, loosed or torn.

Overcoming Adversity: Turning a Disadvantage to an Advantage
Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets available Monday, Oct. 24 at 8 a.m. Limit two (2) tickets per person.

RJ Mitte played Walt, Jr., the son of the cancer-stricken science teacher-turned-drug-manufacturer, on the Emmy-winning AMC drama Breaking Bad. Like his character on the show, Mitte has cerebral palsy, although his is a milder form of the disability. Beyond his acting, Mitte is involved with several organizations that raise awareness of equality and diversity. He is the Youth Spokesperson for the National Disability Institute's Real Economic Impact Tour, which works to improve  the financial situation of low-income persons with disabilities. Currently, he is working with PACER's National Center for Bullying Prevention on a nationwide campaign designed to educate those who witness bullying, leveraging peer-to-peer support.

Brain on Fire
Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets available Monday, Jan. 23 at 8 a.m. Limit two (2) tickets per person.

Susannah Cahalan is the New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. In the memoir, Cahalan recounts the day she woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to a bed, unable to move or speak, with no recollection of how she got there. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she has no memory—showed psychosis, violence and dangerous instability. Since sharing her remarkable story, thousands more have been diagnosed with the same autoimmune disease and saved the anguish and cost of misdiagnoses. She continues to fight to remove the stigma attached to mental illness. Cahalan currently works as a news reporter at the New York Post and, in 2009, was the proud recipient of the Silurian Award of Excellence for the article “My Mysterious Lost Month of Madness.”

Words of Wisdom About Doing the Right Thing
Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets available Monday, March 27 at 8 a.m. Limit two (2) tickets per person.

Combining a moving life story, an exceptional career, incomparable insights and a powerful presence, John Quinones has emerged as one of the most inspiring keynotes in the speaking world today. At the podium, he focuses on his odds-defying journey, celebrating the life-changing power of education, standing as a champion for the Latino American Dream and providing thought-provoking insights into human nature and ethical behavior. A lifetime of “never taking no for an answer” took Quinones from migrant farm work and poverty to more than 30 years at ABC News and the anchor desk at 20/20 and Primetime. As host and creator of What Would You Do?, the hidden camera ethical dilemma newsmagazine, Quinones has literally become “the face of doing the right thing” to millions of fans both on and off camera. 

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Kelly Simonis
Special Events Coordinator
Office of External Affairs