Letterman gives gift, lends name for new endowed speaker series

Topics: Speakers, College of Communication Information and Media, President

December 1, 2008

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David Letterman waves to the crowd during the Sept. 7, 2007 dedication of the David Letterman Communication and Media Building. A new gift from the CBS ~~~Late Show~~~ host will fund a new lecture and workshop series at Ball State.
A new distinguished speakers program at Ball State is expected to bring a succession of major business, media and academic figures to the university for important discussions about current issues and trends in the rapidly changing field of communications, providing students with direct access to communications and emerging media leaders of national stature.
 
Legendary newsman Ted Koppel and best-selling "The Art of Innovation" author Tom Kelley are among the initial guests for the series named for the university's most prominent alumnus, CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman.
 
On Sept. 7, 2007, Ball State dedicated the $21 million David Letterman Communication and Media Building, with the man of the hour on hand for the ribbon cutting and accompanying ceremonies. In front of an estimated crowd of 5,000 gathered in the shadow of Shafer Tower directly across from the new campus landmark, the Peabody Award-winning entertainer called the cutting-edge facility "the future of communication" and a few days later made a similar boast during a rare guest appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
 
His generous gift to the university at the time is the principal source of support for the new lecture and workshop series being coordinated by Ball State's College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM).
 
"The true sincerity and depth of Dave's regard for Ball State is again demonstrated by this latest involvement in the life of the university," said President Jo Ann M. Gora. "Our students, the broader campus community and those who study the various roles and influences of communications in our society will gain from the David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series for years to come. We are truly grateful for Dave's generosity and continuing commitment to our students.
 
"We live in the Information Age. Today's undergraduates grew up in the Net Generation. How we communicate, what we communicate, when, why and to whom is an increasingly central part of the global economy, international relations, government and politics, modern social movements and, of course, the shaping of popular culture and opinion. At Ball State, we are dedicated to extending our position of leadership in this crucial area. This gift helps move that agenda forward."
 
Since 1985, Letterman has provided annual scholarships of $10,000, $5,000 and $3,333 for three Ball State telecommunications students. He also was a financial force behind the establishment of WCRD — for "Cardinal Radio Dave" in the hearts of the campus radio station's all-student staff — now housed in handsome new studios on the second floor of the Letterman building.
 
Priming on politics
 
The new Letterman series will begin during the spring semester of 2009 and thereafter become a regular part of Ball State's annual calendar of events.
 
First to speak on Feb. 24 will be Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Elizabeth Ware Packard professor of communications and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, who just a month after Inauguration Day will examine "Emerging Media and the Path to the Oval Office."
 
Each presidential election year, the center conducts the National Annenberg Election Survey, the largest and most comprehensive regular temperature taking of the American electorate. It also is the sponsor of FactCheck, the often cited nonprofit devoted to examining the factual accuracy of U.S. political advertisements and claims.
 
"What voters know about the candidates and their positions matters because the relationship among campaigning, voting and governance makes it possible for the citizenry to hold those it elects responsible," says Jamieson, a frequent commentator on the American campaign and election process for National Public Radio, CBS, PBS' "The NewsHour," CNN and The New York Times. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she also is the author, co-author or editor of 15 books, including "Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment" (Oxford, 2008) and "unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation" (Random House, 2007).
 
More to come
 
Additional spring speakers and workshop leaders include Dale Herigstad, internationally recognized thought leader on the future of media consumption in an interactive, many-screen world. He's a leading researcher of newly emerging "gestural navigation" for computer interfaces such the Microsoft Surface. Ball State is one of the software giant's few alpha testers of the emerging technology, and among the first universities in the nation exploring its potential for applications in education.
 
Brian Storm, former director of multimedia at MSNBC.com and now president of MediaStorm, a multimedia production studio based in New York City, is scheduled to lead a late semester workshop as well.
 
The precise schedules of these visits are still being planned, and details will be announced closer to the date of each event.
 
Next fall, meanwhile, the university also looks to welcome Jason Whitlock, a 1990 Ball State graduate who has become a respected sportswriter for The Kansas City Star and analyst for FoxSports. His 2007 column in the aftermath of the Don Imus/Rutgers women's basketball team controversy further thrust the former Cardinals football player into the ongoing national debate about race relations. As a result of his "ability to seamlessly integrate sports commentary with social commentary and to challenge widely held assumptions along the racial divide," the Scripps Howard Foundation awarded Whitlock its National Journalism Award for commentary in March 2008, making him the first sportswriter to win the award and its $10,000 prize.
 
Appropriately, Whitlock will talk about "The Importance of Developing a Distinctive Voice in the New Media" during his return to campus.
 
He will be followed by the multiple Emmy, Peabody and DuPont Award-winning Koppel, currently senior news analyst for NPR, who holds the distinction of being the nation's longest-running network daily news anchor for his work on ABC's "Nightline" from 1980 until 2005, and Kelley, general manager of IDEO, the widely admired design and development firm responsible for giving us the Apple mouse, Palm V PDA and other cutting-edge products and services. He will lead a discussion of "Designing for the Future."

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