Recordings of Convocations

  • Created 17 April 2009; Published 5 May 2009
    Convocation: Doug Lansky

    Doug Lansky is an adventurer, award-winning author, and world-travel expert. After working the copying machine at Late Night with David Letterman, Spy Magazine, and The New Yorker during college, Lansky rejected life as a professional intern and hit the road. After two and a half years working his way around the planet—picking bananas in Israel, snowmobile guiding in the Alps, selling carpets in Morocco, and hitching on yachts—a car accident in Thailand brought him home. Six months later, Lansky was back on the road, but this time with a nationally syndicated travel column that grew to reach over 10 million readers in 40 major newspapers. Lansky seeks to help others avoid the pitfalls on the road less traveled and adapt an inquisitive travel mindset. He imparted lessons learned while backpacking through more than 100 countries in his presentation titled "Get Lost."

  • Created 10 April 2009; Published 15 April 2009
    Convocation: Daryl Davis

    Daryl Davis, a Grammy Award winning blues and R&B pianist, took an extraordinary journey into the heart of one of America’s most fanatical institutions – the Ku Klux Klan. Driven by the need to understand those who, without ever having met him, hated him because of the color of his skin, Daryl decided to seek out the roots of racism. Davis met Roger Kelly, Imperial Wizard of the Invincible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and began to explore the Klan, gaining real insight into its workings and members’ minds. This quest into the heart of ignorance and hatred gave Davis a ray of hope for harmony between races. Davis believes that after decades of violence and hatred, racism can be overcome as we get to know one another on a social basis, not under a cover of darkness. The author of the acclaimed book Klan-Destine Relationships, Davis seeks to empower others to confront their own prejudices and overcome their fears, establishing a common ground to help forge peace even with the most unlikely adversaries. The title of his presentation was "A Black Man's Odyssey into the Ku Klux Klan."

  • Created 3 April 2009; Published 8 April 2009
    Convocation: Craig Rennebohm '67

    Craig Rennebohm walks a regular route through downtown Seattle, seeking out those who are most vulnerable; those whose confusion or fear makes it hard to seek or accept assistance; those whose illness makes them feel isolated, unworthy, and hopeless. Rennebohm is there for the person who is seriously disturbed and uncertain about where or how to find aid. Working tenderly, he builds trust, helps find shelter and care, and continues to walk alongside as each person makes their way toward a new and stable life. In 1987, Rennebohm founded the Mental Health Chaplaincy in Seattle which, under his leadership, has grown to serve families, create mental health ministries in local congregations, and advocate for an effective and readily accessible community mental health system. His pioneering work with the homeless mentally ill community is known around the U.S. and overseas. The title of his presentation was "Recovering Human Neighborhood: From the Street to Systemic Change."

  • Created 27 February 2009; Published 5 March 2009
    Convocation: Kent Wommack

    Kent Wommack has worked since 1982 for The Nature Conservancy, and is often credited with changing the scale of conservation projects in this country by leading some of the Conservancy's largest, most complex and innovative projects. The world's leading conservation organization, the Conservancy works around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since its founding in 1951, they have protected more than 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide, and they operate more than 100 marine conservation projects in all 50 states and more than 30 countries. The success of the Conservancy is due to their science-based approach, aided by their more than 700 staff scientists. They pursue non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges, partnering with indigenous communities, businesses, governments, multilateral institutions, and other non-profits. The title of his presentation was "Conservation as if Nature and People Both Mattered".

  • Created 20 February 2009; Published 2 March 2009
    Convocation: David Quammen

    David Quammen is a science journalist and nonfiction author. He travels on assignment for various magazines, usually to jungles, deserts, or swamps, and his accustomed beat is the world of field biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation. He currently holds the positions of Contributing Writer for National Geographic Magazine and Wallace Stegner Professor of Western American Studies at Montana State University. In his book The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, Quammen focuses careful attention on Charles Darwin, father of modern biology and source of an idea so radical its implications are still only imperfectly understood: evolution by natural selection. Quammen tracks the naturalist's life through the two decades following his epiphany that "natural selection" formed the basis of evolution, a time during which Darwin kept his explosive idea under wraps and pondered when and how to release it to the world. Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, Quammen’s presentation was titled "Charles Darwin Against Himself: Caution versus Honesty in the Life of a Reluctant Revolutionary."

  • Created 13 February 2009; Published 18 February 2009
    Convocation: Tyrone Hayes

    Tyrone Hayes is a biologist and herpetologist who knows that scientific breakthroughs don’t begin and end in the laboratory. They also come from the field. Which is why, more often than not, Hayes can be found wet, muddy, and knee-deep in a swamp at 2 a.m., the time when the frogs come out. Associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Hayes’ primary research focuses on the role of environmental factors on growth and development in amphibians. His studies have revealed how synthetic chemicals (such as the pesticide atrazine which is frequently used in Minnesota) interact with hormones in a variety of ways to alter developmental responses. As these studies also help predict effects in other wildlife and humans, Hayes’ findings reveal a crucial new link between conservation and health. The title of his presentation was "From Silent Spring to Silent Night: A Tale of Toads and Men".

  • Created 6 February 2009; Published 13 February 2009
    Convocation: Mark Anthony Neal

    Mark Anthony Neal jokes that if you "Google" the term "black male feminist," his name will invariably show up near the top of the search results. His work, and life, are dedicated to challenging sexism and misogyny. Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University, Neal teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in black popular culture, black masculinity and hip hop aesthetics. A nationally recognized scholar, Neal has been examining issues of race, gender and sexuality for more than a decade. His book Soul Babies examines black popular culture since the end of the civil rights movement. Two of his books, What the Music Said and Songs in the Key of Black Life, examine the ties between black music and culture in the post-civil rights movement. The title of his presentation was "Barack Obama and the Era of the New Black Man."

  • Created 30 January 2009; Published 10 February 2009
    Convocation: David McMillen

    David McMillen is the External Affairs Liaison with the National Archives and Records Administration, where he is also Director of Congressional Relations. He has advised members of Congress on a broad range of information policy issues including the Freedom of Information Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Presidential Records Act, the Privacy Act, the confidentiality of information collected by the government on individuals and businesses, and the laws governing the operation of the National Archives and Records Administration. McMillen previously worked at the U.S. Census Bureau, and has a flair for making the imperative of the Census accessible and engaging. He has a current and historical perspective on how the Census has functioned as an orderly revolution in the distribution of power. The upcoming Census will again be a hot issue, as it will be outrageously expensive to conduct, and the political ownership and status of subgroup populations will continue to be contested. The title of his presentation was "Revolution is in the Air: The American Census."

  • Created 23 January 2009; Published 10 February 2009
    Convocation: Doug Blackmon

    Doug Blackmon is the Wall Street Journal’s bureau chief in Atlanta. Over the past 20 years, he has written extensively about the American quandary of race, exploring the integration of schools during his childhood in a Mississippi Delta farm town, lost episodes of the Civil Rights movement, and, repeatedly, the dilemma of how a contemporary society should grapple with a troubled past. Many of his stories in The Wall Street Journal have explored the interplay of wealth, corporate conduct and racial segregation. In 2001, he revealed how U.S. Steel Corp. relied on forced black laborers in Alabama coal mines in the early 20th century. The article led to his first book, Slavery By Another Name, which broadly examines how a form of neoslavery thrived in the U.S. long after legal abolition. The title of his presentation was "A Persistent Past: Reckoning with Our Troubled Racial History in the Age of Obama."

  • Created 16 January 2009; Published 21 January 2009
    Convocation: Melissa Harris-Lacewell

    Melissa Harris-Lacewell is Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of the award-winning book Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought. She is currently at work on a new book, Sista Citizen: For Colored Girls Who've Considered Politics When Being Strong Wasn't Enough. Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges facing contemporary black Americans and to better understand the multiple, creative ways that African Americans respond to these challenges. Her creative and dynamic teaching is also motivated by the practical political and racial issues of our time; for example, exploring the multiple political meanings of Hurricane Katrina. She has taught students from grade school to graduate school and has been recognized for her commitment to the classroom as a site of democratic deliberation on race. On the occasion of the celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the title of her presentation was "King in the Age of Obama."

  • Created 9 January 2009; Published 21 January 2009
    Convocation: Gary Telgenhoff

    Gary Telgenhoff is a forensic pathologist and consultant for the hit television drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." As the Deputy Medical Examiner at the Clark County Coroner's Office in Las Vegas, Nevada, Telgenhoff sees approximately one thousand bodies a year, 450 of which he autopsies. His presence is often required in court with regard to his findings and determination of cause and manner of death. "CSI" has brought crime scenes into America's living room and has sparked a wave of interest in forensic science as a career. Telgenhoff uses science, experience, and his own macabre sense of humor to explain how he speaks for the deceased in trying to solve their demise. The title of his presentation was "Speak for You: Telling the Tales the Dead Can't Tell."

  • Created 7 November 2008; Published 11 November 2008
    Convocation: Enrique Morones

    Enrique Morones is the founder of Border Angels, a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides support and relief to migrant workers on the United States-Mexico border. A high percentage of deaths among migrants have been the results of extreme heat and cold weather conditions in the Imperial Valley desert areas and the mountain areas surrounding San Diego County, as well as the areas located around the United States and Mexican border. Border Angels is an all-volunteer group that places food, water and other provisions on the border areas to help save migrant lives. Morones’ presentation was titled "The Human Side of the Story: People Behind the Immigration Policy Debates."

  • Created 31 October 2008; Published 11 November 2008
    Convocation: Charlene Teters

    Charlene Teters is a Native American artist, teacher, writer and activist. Her paintings and art installations have been featured in over 21 major exhibitions, commissions, and collections. As an internationally recognized artist, Teters expresses her personal and political views about America's dehumanization of Indian Peoples by creating multimedia installations that examine the social presumptions and portrayals of Indian people in pop culture and media. For the past two decades, Teters has been active in opposing the use of Native American mascots and other imagery in sports, and is a founding board member of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media. Teters delivered the Native American Heritage Convocation to help us celebrate and reflect on the legacies and the richness of Native American communities and individuals. Sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Life, the title of the presentation was "If Not You, Then Who?"

  • Created 24 October 2008; Published 11 November 2008
    Convocation: Scott Olson

    Scott Olson is known worldwide as the man who invented, named and marketed Rollerblades, praised by Time magazine as one of the 100 coolest products of the 20th century, alongside computers, cell phones and Post-it notes. The success of slapping four roller skate wheels down the middle of an ice skate was only the beginning for Scott; after growing bored with rowing on a stationary rowing machine in an indoor gym, Scott thought: "Why can’t I put this thing on wheels and go outside?" And his next successful invention, Rowbike, was born. Scott has gone on to invent and market many products, including Antarctic Lawn Penguins, Lunar Bed, Kong Pong and his biggest endeavor yet: a cross between cycling, riding a roller coaster and human-powered flight known simply as Sky Bike. With the same passion and excitement it took to create his inventions, Scott shared his exciting entrepreneurial journey and the keys to his success in his convocation address: "Fit Innovation: Exercise Your Entrepreneurial Spirit."

  • Created 17 October 2008; Published 23 October 2008
    Convocation: Rafael Campo

    Rafael Campo is a Cuban-American medical doctor who teaches and practices general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He has also received wide critical acclaim as an author and poet. This hybrid of physician and poet, referring to himself as a healer, is interested in the ways in which voice and narrative can explicate the experience of human suffering, which is reflected in his book "The Healing Art: A Doctor's Black Bag of Poetry." Poetry has the power to heal, and he argues for physicians to adopt a practice of integrative medicine, one in which the demands of the mind and soul are understood to play as important a part as those of the body. Rafael Campo delivered the Latino/a Heritage Convocation to help us celebrate and reflect on the legacies and the richness of Latino/Latina communities and individuals.

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