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President's Corner: February 2018

Within the next month, Old Dominion University will host two speakers in one of our most popular community offerings - the President's Lecture Series.

Launched 27 years ago, the series aims to expose the community to a range of viewpoints on topical issues from notable figures including authors, business innovators and politicians. All of the speeches are free and open to the public.

We recently attracted our biggest audience yet for a President's Lecture: About 1,800 people came to the Ted to hear author Michelle Alexander present the case that the U.S. criminal justice system is plagued with significant racial inequities.

Our next speaker, on Feb. 27, will be Charles Best, the founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, a crowd-funding nonprofit that has financed $630 million in teacher requests for classroom projects across the country. Best had a brainstorm when he taught history at a high school in the Bronx, N.Y., and wondered about alternatives so teachers wouldn't have to spend their own money on classroom activities. Best will also be the annual Marc and Connie Jacobson Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Speaker.

On March 15, we will have the last speaker in this year's series. She is probably a familiar face to many of you. Tamron Hall is the host of "Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall" on Investigation Discovery and a former co-host of the "Today" show.

Hall also has been active in the fight against domestic abuse after the unsolved murder of her sister. Hall will be designated the Women's Center speaker in connection with Women's History Month.

Best's and Hall's speeches will begin at 7 p.m. at the Ted.

I don't agree with everything that's said from the podium at the Lecture Series, and neither will you. The idea is to introduce our audiences to a variety of opinions. Each of the lectures concludes with a question-and-answer session to further encourage multiple perspectives.

The list of our previous speakers showcases the program's diversity. They have included Janet Reno, the attorney general for President Bill Clinton; Lynne Cheney, an author married to former Vice President Dick Cheney; Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter; conservative columnists William Buckley and James Kilpatrick; sportswriter Frank Deford, and actress and human rights activist Mia Farrow.

We also have had two Nobel Peace Prize recipients - the author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica.

I encourage you to attend Charles Best's and Tamron Hall's lectures. You'll come away enlightened and inspired.

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