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30th annual UB Distinguished Speakers Series to feature James Franco, John Cleese, Eric Holder


Mon, Jul 25th 2016 03:25 pm

By the University at Buffalo

Award-winning actors James Franco and John Cleese, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and astronauts Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly are among the speakers who will headline the 2016-17 Distinguished Speakers Series at the University at Buffalo.

The 30th annual series also will feature Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and former director of marketing at Facebook, and Roxane Gay, a bestselling author whose work has received international acclaim for its exploration of feminism and social criticism.

"From some of Hollywood's biggest stars to astronauts who have literally reached for the stars, UB's annual Distinguished Speaker Series is celebrating its milestone 30th season with another outstanding lineup," said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. "We are excited to welcome this year's lecturers - leading public figures at the vanguard of 21st century arts and culture, science, business and the justice system - to spark dialogue and lively discussion about key contemporary issues shaping our world. We look forward to bringing this discussion to our university and our community, and to continuing these valuable conversations throughout the academic year."

The series will kick off on Sept. 22 with twin brothers Mark Kelly, commander of two NASA shuttle missions, and Scott Kelly, the first U.S. astronaut to spend a year in space, who are the subjects of NASA's groundbreaking twins study, which monitored Scott from space and Mark on the ground as a control model to better understand how space affects the human body. Lecture sponsor is the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Randi Zuckerberg will speak on Oct. 26. Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, a boutique marketing firm and production company, she created and ran the marketing program for Facebook from 2005-11, and is the author of "Dot Complicated," a New York Times bestseller about her personal journey on the front lines of Facebook and her thoughts on how technology is changing our lives. Her lecture is sponsored by UB's centers for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Executive Education.

Actor John Cleese, whose work includes "Monty Python's Flying Circus," "Fawlty Towers" and the Oscar-nominated film "A Fish Called Wanda," will speak Dec. 9. An entertainer with a unique comedic style that has inspired countless writers and comedians, he is the author of the bestselling memoir "So Anyway...." and the founder of Video Arts, the world's largest provider of business training programs with an international reputation as the premier source for business know-how. Cleese's lecture is sponsored by the UB Center for the Arts.

Eric H. Holder Jr., 82nd attorney general of the U.S. (2009-15), will present UB's 41st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration keynote address on Feb. 16. An attorney who has served under presidents including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, he was the first African-American attorney general of the U.S., and the longest-serving attorney general in the nation's history. His lecture is sponsored by the UB Minority Faculty and Staff Association.

Writer and cultural critic Roxane Gay, the Graduate Student Choice Speaker, will speak on April 5. Her collection of essays, "Bad Feminist," a New York Times bestseller, is considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. Associate professor of English at Purdue University, she is a founding editor of PANK and nonfiction editor at The Rumpus, and her writing has appeared in publications that include the New York Times, McSweeney's and The Nation. Her lecture is sponsored by the UB Graduate Student Association.

Golden Globe-winning actor and filmmaker James Franco will close out the 2016-17 series on April 29. The Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker, Franco's film credits include the critically acclaimed drama "127 Hours," the "Spiderman" trilogy, "Milk," "Pineapple Express" and "This is the End." In addition to writing, directing and starring in films, he is the author of "Palo Alto," a collection of short stories, and released "MotorCity" with his band Daddy. He made his Broadway debut in 2014 in the stage adaption of "Of Mice and Men." His lecture is sponsored by the UB Undergraduate Student Association.

All programs will take place at 8 p.m. in Alumni Arena, UB North Campus, with the exception of "An Evening with John Cleese," which will be held at 7 and 9:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts.

Series subscriptions will go on sale to the general public on Aug. 1. Individual lecture tickets will go on sale Aug. 15.

For more information on the speakers, subscription and ticket prices, and sponsors, visit the series' website: http://www.buffalo.edu/ub-speakers.html.

The UB Distinguished Speakers Series continues to benefit from the vital support from a host of sponsors, including the program's presenting sponsors, the Donald L. Davis Lectureship Fund and UB's Division of University Life and Services, along with the undergraduate Student Association, which is now the exclusive series sponsor for the 20th consecutive year. The Distinguished Speakers Series is also made possible by the support of the community through the purchase of series subscriptions and individual lecture tickets. No state funds, tuition dollars or general gifts to the university or UB Foundation are used to underwrite the Distinguished Speakers Series. 

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