Western Carolina University's Distinguished Lecture Series is pairing national topics
and high-profile speakers to engage students, campus, and our community.
Each speaker will bring unique perspectives from leaders in education, arts, music,
politics and more. Students can also earn DegreePlus credit from most events in the Distinguished Lecture Series.
Join us as we connect with the people who are shaping the nation. All speaker events
are free and open to the public.
The Honorable Loretta Lynch - Tuesday, September 18th
5-6pm at the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center
One of the most highly accomplished public figures in America today, Former Attorney
General Loretta Lynch has been a leading progressive voice during her 30+ year highly
She is the first female African American Attorney General of the United States, appointed
by President Barack Obama in 2015. She also served as the head of the U.S. Attorney's
Office for the Eastern District of New York twice, under both President Clinton and
President Obama. Described by President Obama as "the only lawyer in America who battles mobsters, drug lords, and terrorists, and
still has the reputation for being a charming 'people person," she has been instrumental in shaping the direction of the nation on a number of tough
issues. She improved the relationship between local law enforcement and the communities
they serve, and she has taken bold stances on criminal justice reform.
Lynch has spent years in the trenches rising through the ranks as a prosecutor, aggressively
fighting terrorism, financial fraud, and cybercrime -- all while vigorously defending
civil and human rights.
While leading the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, she
became known for the high-profile civil rights conviction of two Brooklyn police officers
who brutally assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.
While in private practice, Lynch served as a volunteer legal advisor for the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established to prosecute those responsible for human
rights violations in the 1994 genocide in that nation.
Born in Greensboro, NC, the daughter of a school librarian and fourth generation Baptist
minister, Lynch was also inspired by stories about her grandfather, a sharecropper
in the 1930s, who helped members of his community who had no recourse under the Jim
Ken Langone - Monday, October 22nd
5-6:15pm in the A.K Hinds University Center Grand Room
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and co-founder of Home Depot, Ken Langone will join
Dr. Edward Lopez of the Center for the Study of Free Enterprise for a Fireside Chat.
Langone will discuss his experience in entrepreneurship, as well as stories and ideas
from his new memoir, I Love Capitalism: An American Story.
"There's one important point I want to make right at the beginning of this book,"
Langone writes in his 2018 memoir, "The thing I can't say and never will say is that
Growing up poor in WWII-era Roslyn Heights, New York, Ken Langone has gone onto major
success as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and television commentator. His career
in finance began as a salesman, matching business ideas with financiers. In 1974 he
started his own investment firm, Invemed, and in 1979 Ken arranged financing for he
and two business partners to co-found The Home Depot. By 1989 Home Depot was the nation's
largest home improvement store and today employs over 380,000 associates across 2,000
With his wife Elaine, both devout Roman Catholics, Ken has made major philanthropic
donations to universities, medical schools, hospitals, and children groups including
Ronald McDonald House, Robin Hood Foundation, Promise Academy, and more.
Michael Steele - Tuesday, February 12th
5-6pm at the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center
Michael Steele served as the first African-American chairman of the Republican National
Committee, and former Lieutenant governor of Maryland, and the first African American
elected to statewide office in Maryland. Until recently he was President and CEO of
The Steele Group, a consulting firm working with institutional and individual clients
to design overall business development, investor, networking, and communications strategies.
Mr. Steele is currently a political analyst for MSNBC. Mr. Steele's ability as a communicator
and analyst have long been showcased by his position as a contributor on the Fox News
Channel and as a regular host for the Salem Radio Network's nationally syndicated
Morning in America Show. Additionally, Mr. Steele has been an entertaining and eloquent
guest on cable political talk shows such as HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher and Comedy
Central's Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
As chairman of the RNC, Mr. Steele was charged with revitalizing the Republican Party.
A self-described "Lincoln Republican," under Steele's leadership the RNC broke fundraising
records (over $198 million raised during the 2010 Congressional cycle) and Republicans
won 63 House seats, the biggest pickup since 1938. His commitment to grassroots organization
and party building at the state and local levels produced 12 governorships and the
greatest share of state legislative seats since 1928 (over 600 seats).
As Lt. Governor of Maryland, Mr. Steele's priorities included reforming the state's
Minority Business Enterprise program, improving the quality of Maryland's public education
system (he championed the State's historic Charter School law), expanding economic
development in the state and fostering cooperation between government and faith-based
organizations to help those in need.
Mr. Steele writes a regular column for The Root.com and BET.com and his writings on
law, business and politics have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington
Times, Politico.com, Townhall.com, The Journal of International Security Affairs and
Catholic University Law Review, among others. He is the recent author of Right Now:
A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda, which is a call to arms for grassroots
Born at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Maryland, Mr. Steele was
raised in Washington, DC. He spent three years in the Order of St. Augustine in preparation
for the priesthood. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University ('81'), Georgetown
Law Center ('91), and an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership. Mr. Steele
is a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Landover Hills, MD, where he attends
mass regularly with his wife Andrea.
Cristina Henríquez - Thursday, March 21st
7:30pm-9pm in the A.K Hinds University Center Grand Room
The 2018 One Book Selection, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez was
chosen for its tremendous interdisciplinary potential and the meaningful conversation
it will inspire about topics that matter.
Cristina Henríquez is the author of The Book of Unknown Americans, which was a New
York Times Notable Book of 2014 and one of Amazon's 10 Best Books of the Year. It
was the Daily Beast Novel of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Book, an NPR Great
Read, a Target Book of the Month selection, and was chosen one of the best books of
the year by BookPage, Oprah.com, and School Library Journal. It was also longlisted
for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the
Dayton Literary Peace Prize.