Western Carolina University will begin a new Distinguished Speaker Series for high-profile speakers to engage the campus and community in dialogue on national issues, beginning this academic year.

The upcoming series was announced Wednesday, Aug. 15, in remarks by Acting Provost Carol Burton during WCU’s Opening Assembly for faculty and staff. The inaugural event will be Friday, Aug. 17, with poet and civil right activist Nikki Giovanni speaking at the New Student Convocation beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

Each event will bring perspectives from leading figures in education, arts and music, politics, business and economics. The intent is to give students, faculty, staff and community members direct access to the voices that are shaping the nation, Burton said.

The series will be co-sponsored by WCU’s Division of Academic Affairs and Center for the Study of Free Enterprise. The lectures are free and open to the public. Other scheduled speakers are:

  • Loretta Lynch, former U.S. attorney general and the first African-American woman to be confirmed for the position, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 5-6 p.m. at Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.
  • Ken Langone, billionaire businessman, philanthropist and co-founder of Home Depot, Monday, Oct. 22, 5-6:15 p.m. in A.K. Hinds University Center Grandroom.
  • Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chair, former Maryland lieutenant governor and conservative political commentator, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, 5-6 p.m. at Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.
  • Cristina Henríquez, author of “The Book of Unknown Americans,” WCU’s One Book selection and The New York Times’ Notable Book of 2014, Thursday, March 21, 2019, 7:30-9 p.m. at the A.K. Hinds University Center Grandroom.

For more information, contact Glenda Hensley, director of WCU’s Office of Student Transitions, at 828-227-2786 or ghensley@wcu.edu.