A Real Tweet

When late night television host David Letterman recently returned to his alma mater the second time, he talked about something even bigger than the cutting-edge media facility dedicated in his honor on the Ball State campus in 2007.

Letterman, a 1969 alumnus of Ball State, joined Twitter cofounder Biz Stone for a conversation about social media in September 2010 in Ball State’s Emens Auditorium. The event was part of the David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series, established by the university in 2008.

Since its debut, the lecture series has brought a succession of national experts in the area of emerging media to campus for important exchanges with students and faculty. In 2011, Letterman brought another high-profile visitor, Rachel Maddow. With Ball State President Emerita Jo Ann M. Gora, he and the MSNBC prime-time host discussed the political field and today's media. Other past speakers have included legendary ABC News correspondent and former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, best-selling The Art of Innovation author Tom Kelley, and former MSNBC.com director of multimedia Brian Storm.

“When we established the Letterman lecture series, our intention was to provide students with opportunities to learn from leading experts about the newest developments in emerging media, which play an increasingly central role in the way we learn, work, and play around the globe,” says Gora.

“Clearly, David Letterman—whose career in network television entertainment spans more than three decades—and Biz Stone—who cofounded Twitter, a real-time information network that currently boasts more than 145 million registered users worldwide—qualify as two of the most informed people on the planet when it comes to modern media's impact on 21st-century society. Their joint visit to campus represents an extraordinary opportunity for our students and the broader campus community to tap their knowledge and experience, gaining fresh insights on the state of emerging media today and what may be in store in the years ahead."

Letterman, host of CBS’s Late Show, visited the campus for the dedication of the new $21 million David Letterman Communication and Media Building in September 2007. Gora described the ceremony as a “public demonstration of our admiration and respect for such an accomplished and loyal alumnus.” Letterman participated in the event with his mother, Dorothy Mengering, and praised the facility and its leading-edge studios and equipment as “the future of communication.”

His ongoing relationship with Ball State includes his funding of annual scholarships for telecommunications students in the College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM) who submit a short film, screenplay, series of storyboards, or other creative project in order to qualify for one of the much sought-after awards.

Biz Stone is an Internet pioneer who has spent the past decade developing large-scale projects that facilitate the open exchange of information. In 2003, he was recruited by Google, where he met and collaborated with Twitter cofounder Evan Williams. The pair later left the search company, and Twitter was founded in 2007.

Stone has published two books on the origins and social significance of our changing communication landscape and has lectured around the world.

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David Letterman visited Ball State in 2007 for the dedication of the state-of-the-art media facility named for him. He returned to campus in 2010 with Twitter cofounder Biz Stone as part of the university's David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series.