N.J. Speakers Series announces 2016-2017 season

Newark, N.J. (March 24, 2016)The New Jersey Speakers Series, presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University, announces the speakers for its 2016-17 season: seven evenings of diverse opinions and world perspectives on Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Celebrating its third season this fall, the series will open with Academy-award winning actress Rita Moreno (Oct. 6) and will welcome former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak on Oct. 27. A panel discussion on Racism in America with former NPR host Michele Norris; Wall Street Journal columnist and author Jason Riley; and Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will take place on Dec. 1. Other featured speakers for the season include Monty Python co-founder John Cleese (Jan. 26, 2017); former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (Feb. 23, 2017); broadcast journalist Ted Koppel (March 23, 2017); and Presidential historian Jon Meacham (April 20, 2017).

“FDU is proud to present another outstanding line-up of speakers for our third season,” said Sheldon Drucker, president of FDU. “We are particularly pleased to introduce a thought-provoking panel discussion on Racism in America – a new format for our series, offering insights and an historical perspective which promises to open minds to different viewpoints and diverse perspectives. As a university devoted to preparing world citizens through global education, we believe our series informs, challenges and inspires our audience to look beyond our own backyards into a world of possibilities.”

Rita Moreno is one of only 12 actors who have won all four major awards – an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a supporting role for portraying Anita in the film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Recently, Moreno was presented with the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Ehud Barak was Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001. He entered politics following a 35-year career as a highly decorated officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He served as leader of the Labor Party until 2011, including posts as Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government from 2009 to 2013.

More than 50 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, three distinguished panelists will explore Racism in America from their divergent perspectives. The panelists are: Michele Norris, a former host of NPR’s All Things Considered; Jason Riley, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board and author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed; and Morris Dees, co-founder and chief trial attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971.

John Cleese co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe behind the British comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus and four Monty Python films. He created or appeared in a long list of movies but is probably best known for co-writing and starring in the British sitcom, Fawlty Towers, and co-starring with Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish Called Wanda.

President Barack Obama nominated Gen. Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2011, a position he held until his retirement in 2015. He served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army before this appointment. Prior to that, Dempsey had a distinguished military career, with an assortment of commands in Europe, Iraq and the U.S.

Ted Koppel is best known as the first anchor for ABC’s Nightline, serving in that role from the program’s inception in 1980 until his retirement in 2005. After leaving Nightline he served as managing editor for the Discovery Channel. Koppel is currently a senior news analyst for NPR and a contributing analyst to BBC World News, America and NBC News. In 2015 he published Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, which reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is, shockingly, unprepared.

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer prize-winning presidential historian, has profiled Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson and, most recently, George H.W. Bush. His body of work spans from the founding fathers to the civil rights era. A former editor-in-chief of Newsweek and a contributing editor to Time magazine, he now serves as the executive editor at Random House.

The New Jersey Speakers series brings world leaders, acclaimed authors and other fascinating personalities to NJPAC for seven Thursday evening presentations, each of which is followed by an audience Q & A with the featured speakers.  Presented by FDU, the New Jersey Speakers Series is sponsored by NJPAC, WCBS Newsradio (880 AM), and nj.com/The Star-Ledger.

The New Jersey Speakers Series is sold by series subscription only.  Subscription prices range from $245 to $475.  (Prices are for tickets to all seven programs.)  For tickets or information, visit www.NJSpeakersSeries.org, or call 1-888-MY-NJPAC or 1-888-696-5722.

About Fairleigh Dickinson University  

Devoted to preparing world citizens through global education, Fairleigh Dickinson University is New Jersey’s largest private university with two campuses in northern New Jersey and international campuses in Wroxton, England, and in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  FDU has a diverse student body with more than 1,000 international students. It offers over 100 degree programs at the associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctor's levels. Its wide range of offerings, coupled with the depth and expertise of its faculty, has Fairleigh Dickinson University poised to serve the citizens of New Jersey and beyond. For information, visit: www.fdu.edu.

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