Convocations

Tara Peris-Caputo || taraperis@weber.edu || 801-626-7334

Kirsten Powers
FOX News political analyst/Columnists for The Daliy Beast

  • Thursday, September 17, 2015
  • Constitution Day!
  • Wildcat Theater
  • Noon
  • Sponsored by WSUSA Convocation, The Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service, the Office of the Provost

A FOX News political analyst and columnist for the The Daily Beast, Kirsten Powers brings a unique perspective to her commentary from her real-world experience working in politics and business. The Women's Media Center has called her "powerful" and "a trailblazer." Powers is also a member of USA Today's Board of Contributors where she writes on politics, culture, women's rights/feminism, and faith.

Kirsten Powers' political career began answering phones for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Following his win, she joined the Clinton-Gore transition team. She landed at the White House in 1993 where she moved quickly through the ranks to become Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public Affairs. After serving as America Online's Vice President of International Communications, Powers returned to politics as Press Secretary to Andrew Cuomo's 2002 governor's race before turning to political commentary and writing.

Since joining FOX News in 2003, Powers has been featured on the O'Reilly Factor, Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News Sunday, and other FOX programming. Powers provided 2008 election coverage from the primaries to the inauguration of President Barack Obama. She covered election night for the 2010 mid-term elections and 2012 GOP primary. Her writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Observer, The Daily Beast, The New York Post, and Ellemagazine.

Known for providing independent-minded analysis and insight on the cultural and political issues of the day, Powers pierces through partisan rhetoric and gives the honest analysis Americans desire in a political and media environment that has become increasingly divisive. A coveted keynote speaker, Powers delivers timely, insightful talks, performed with same real-world relevance that has propelled her successful career.

Dr. Eric Michael Dyson
Best-Selling Author/Scholar/Cultural Critic

  • October 9, 2015
  • 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Union Ballrooms, Diversity Conference Keynote & Convocation Speaker
  • Free and Open to Public

Biography

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson – who is an American Book Award recipient and two-time NAACP Image Award winner – is one of the nation’s most influential and renowned public intellectuals. He has been named one of the 150 most powerful African Americans by Ebony magazine. The Philadelphia Weekly contends that Dr. Dyson “is reshaping what it means to be a public intellectual by becoming the most visible black academic of his time.”

Dr. Dyson’s pioneering scholarship has had a profound effect on American ideas. His first book, 1993’s Reflecting Black: African American Cultural Criticism, helped establish the field of black American cultural studies. His next book, 1994’s Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, was named one of the most important African American books of the 20thcentury. Dr. Dyson’s first book on Martin Luther King, 2000’s I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr., made a significant contribution to King scholarship by recovering the radical legacy of the slain civil rights leader. According to book industry bible Publisher’s Weekly, his 2001 book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, helped to make books on hip hop commercially viable. His 2006 book Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster was the first major book on Katrina and probed the racial and class fallout from the storm. Dr. Dyson’s 2005 New York Times bestseller, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?, helped to jumpstart a national conversation on the black poor that has been called the most important debate in black America since the historic debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. His book, The New York Times best-selling April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America, has been hailed by TheWashington Post as “an excellent sociological primer on institutionalized racism in America.” His most recent book, Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson, offers a sampling of his sharp wit, profound thought, and edifying eloquence on the enduring problems of humanity, from love to justice, and the latest topics of the day, including race and the presidency. It is both revealing and relevant, and at once thoughtful provoking and uplifting.

Not only has Dr. Dyson taught at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities – including Brown, Chapel Hill, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania – but his influence hasarried far beyond the academy into prisons and bookstores, political conventions and union halls, and church sanctuaries and lecture stages across the world.

Dr. Dyson has appeared on nearly every major media outlet, including The Today Show, Nightline, O’Reilly Factor, The Tavis Smiley Show, and Real Time with Bill Maher – and he has cemented his star appeal on such shows as Rap City, Def Poetry Jam, and The Colbert Report. He is also a contributing editor of Time magazine. In addition, he hosts an hour-long news and talk program on NPR, “The Michael Eric Dyson Show,” where he delivers thoughtful analysis of most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today.”

His powerful work has won him legions of admirers and has made him what The Washington Post terms a “superstar professor.” His fearless and fiery oratory led the Chronicle of Higher Education to declare that with his rhetorical gifts he “can rock classroom and chapel alike.” Dr. Dyson’s eloquent writing inspired Vanity Fair magazine to describe him as “one of the oday’s biggest stories from pop culture to race relations.

Dr. Dyson is presently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University where, in 2011, he received widespread attention for his course “Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z.” His legendary rise – from welfare father to Princeton Ph.D., from church pastor to college professor, from a factory worker who didn’t start college until he was 21 to a figure who has become what writer Naomi Wolf terms “the ideal public intellectual of our time” – may help explain why author Nathan McCall simply calls him “a street fighter in suit and tie.”

  • Topics:
  • In Caricature: Racial Profiling & Its Impact on Black America
  • Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z
  • What Have We Come To? Wars Between the Generations
  • African American Influence on Pop Culture
  • Dr. King for the 21st Century
  • Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
  • Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina & the Color of Disaster
  • Martin Luther King Jr. & (African-) American Leadership in the 21st Century
  • Race, Racism & Race Relations in America

Blake Leeper
Olympic/Paralympic Games Medalist & American Bladerunner

  • Thursday, January 28, 2016
  • Wildcat Theater
  • Noon
  • Free and open to Public

Biography

Ever since Blake Leeper was a child, he has been determined to be a star athlete. Although Leeper was born a bilateral below-the-knee amputee, he was raised to believe the only disability in life is a bad attitude. Using prosthetics from an early age, he has overcome extreme obstacles. Through all the ups and downs, he has stayed true to himself and kept his eye on one ambition: to become the first American Paralympian to run in the able-bodied Olympic Games. With his sights set on Rio, Brazil in 2016, Leeper, known as “The American Bladerunner,” has a history of making people take notice. He continues to turn heads with his amazing performance on the track and in front of audiences when sharing his personal journeyof overcoming the odds.

Leeper donned prosthetic legs not only to walk, but to also participate in organized sports. He played varsity basketball in high school and then began honing his skills on the track once receiving a pair of customized running prosthetics. Since then, Leeper has been unstoppable. He has competed at several events, including Endeavor Games and the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships. In addition, he won both silver (400 meter) and bronze (200 meter) medals in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. After garnering such notable wins, he received a flood of endorsements, including ones from Nike, Fathead and Wheaties, as well as appearing on Good Morning America and Arsenio.

Being a member of Team USA is an honor to Leeper. He said, “It gives me a sense of importance, and a chance to compete and to be a competitor.” Leeper has always followed a bold path, which has allowed him to develop a “no exceptions” mindset. Putting himself to the test every day, he has become a strong, independent man with the confidence to follow his dreams. Now, Blake Leeper is intimately telling his story to audiences from all walks of life. His inspiring and powerful message will motivate others to never give up, discover their own ability to “find a way,” and reach their fullest potential.

Topics:

  • The American Bladerunner: My Personal Story
  • Finding Abilities in Your Disabilities
  • Running Towards Your Dreams