Spring speakers cover topics from civil rights to cinema, football to fashion

Topics: Speakers, Student Affairs

January 11, 2011

Civil rights leader Mary Frances Berry, Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, Hollywood movie producer Michael Uslan and international fashion executive Angela Ahrendts lead the list of prominent speakers appearing at Ball State this spring.

Berry, fired in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan from her seat on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for her stinging public criticism of his civil rights policies, will begin the procession with an address at 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 18, in Pruis Hall. One day after the national holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr., she will examine "How to Use the Political Process for Accomplishing Dr. King's Dream in the 21st Century."

As usual, each of the events in the spring speakers series is free and open to the public.

Berry ultimately sued Reagan in federal court and won reinstatement to the civil rights commission, the nonpartisan agency that monitors the enforcement of civil rights laws.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her chairperson of the commission. She resigned from her formal duties in Washington in December 2004 but retains her position as the Geraldine R. Segal professor of social thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1987.

One of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement that in the 1980s instigated anti-apartheid protests at the South African Embassy and other visible venues, she was arrested and jailed several times in the cause. Later, she was on hand in Capetown on Feb. 11, 1990, to meet eventual Nobel Peace Prize winner and South African President Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison after 27 years in custody.

Berry became the first African-American woman to head the nation's federal education programs when she was named by President Jimmy Carter as assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services/HHS) in 1977, before her appointment — again by Carter — to the civil rights commission in 1980.

A graduate of Howard University and the University of Michigan, from which she earned her PhD in history, Berry also holds a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

At various times vice president of the American Historical Association and president of the Organization of American Historians, she is a recipient of the Roy Wilkens Award and Image Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Hubert Humphrey Award from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Please touch

On Feb. 8 and in continuance of the 2010–2011 Freshmen Connections theme of responses to extraordinary challenges, the university welcomes Michael Naranjo at 7 p.m. in Pruis Hall. Despite becoming permanently blinded, Naranjo persisted in his goal to become an artist, relying on his memories, dreams, and sense of touch to sculpt.

Naranjo was born in the Santa Clara Pueblo, N.M., with nine siblings, many of whom are practicing potters. His mother, Rose, was a celebrated ceramic artist who taught her children and grandchildren the art of pottery. After returning disabled from Vietnam, Naranjo attended the California School for the Blind. He returned to Santa Fe, where he began the challenge of trying to sculpt without having sight and with greatly reduced use of his right hand, which also had been injured.

Naranjo's style is simple; he uses his fingers and fingernails to etch the details in his sculptures. He eschews the use of traditional sculpting tools since he cannot see what impact the tool has on the clay. Traveling exhibits of his touchable art allow Naranjo to share with others what he views as an opportunity for transformation through direct contact with art. An exhibit of Narajo's art, Seeing through the Mind and Heart, is on display in the Atrium Gallery (Art and Journalism Building) through Feb. 10.

Football and fashion

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell delivers a message about "Leadership Lessons" for the Excellence in Leadership Series on March 15, and the next night Ball State alumna and Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts joins the ranks of David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series guests.

Caldwell took the reins of the Colts in 2009 and produced one of the most notable seasons by a first-year NFL head coach, directing the club to a 14-2 record before winning two playoff games and reaching Super Bowl XLIV. The 2010-11 version of the Colts, challenged throughout the season by injuries, won the AFC South conference title and tied the NFL record in advancing to postseason play for the ninth consecutive year.

He speaks at 7 p.m. in Emens Auditorium.

Angela Ahrendts' encore at Ball State follows her much acclaimed spring 2010 Commencement address, which was quickly followed by a lengthy profile in The Wall Street Journal and a tete-a-tete with Charlie Rose on PBS.

Under her leadership, the London-based luxury clothier — one of the 100 largest companies in the United Kingdom — has experienced significant increases in revenues and profits accompanied by expansion into new markets. Ahrendts, long a fixture on the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women list, was named 2010 European Business Leader of the Future at the CNBC European Business Leaders Awards.

Much of the innovation taking place at Burberry stems from the company's appreciation of emerging media, as Ahrendts illustrated when she engaged with a group of seniors via a live Web chat two weeks ahead of spring graduation exercises. The iconic fashion brand last year broke new ground by beaming its runway show from London Fashion Week live and in 3-D to multiple locations around the globe. It also is the first luxury brand to attract more than 1 million fans on Facebook.
Ahrendts' presentation begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, in Sursa Performance Hall.

The following week, the Excellence in Leadership Series resumes with Michael Uslan, originator and executive producer of the Batman movie series — from Tim Burton's 1989 film to the 2008 box office record-breaking The Dark Knight. He'll reflect on the journey to bring the Caped Crusader to the silver screen at 7 p.m. Monday, March 21, in Pruis Hall.

Although now one of the most successful movie franchises in history, getting the first Batman film made was the culmination of more than two decades of work by Uslan to bring forward a more serious, dark version of the character. In his program, Uslan shares the principles that allowed him to persevere despite repeated rejection and encourages audience members everywhere to reach for their dreams.

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