Angelou and Springer kick off University Lecture Series

It’s being dubbed a “must attend” semester, and although most events will take place in the Sun Dome, sports have nothing to do with the lofty buildup now surrounding the University Lecture Series (ULS).

This spring, the ULS steps out of a low-profile fall semester with a lineup packed with big-name speakers, which organizers say is unprecedented in the program’s history.

Program coordinator Mike Dolinger has high expectations for this semester’s event turnouts.

“This semester’s lineup is probably the best ULS season ever,” Dolinger said. “If you take the speakers we had in the fall, like Jack Hanna and the ‘Perspectives of Hip-Hop In Today’s Society’ Panel, and match it up to the speakers we have this spring, I am sure you will not find a more diverse, entertaining and enlightening year of speakers and presenters ever in ULS history. We expect a huge increase in USF students coming to our events.”

The season of speakers opens Jan. 14 with Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou, who is slated to give a lecture on the value of ethnic, economic and religious diversity. Angelou has made herself a household name with bestselling books like I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Even The Stars Look Lonesome.

Following up Angelou’s visit is another household name – but one that’s not literary.

Jerry Springer will visit the University on Jan. 24, giving a lecture titled, “Media and Society.”

Springer became infamous as the host of his daytime television show, known for trash-talking guests and heated physical scuffles, but Dollinger expects that his experience in other areas of media and politics will make him a captivating lecturer.

USF senior Ashley Casey is looking forward to the first two installments of guest lecturers.

“I definitely want to see Maya Angelou when she comes here,” she said. “She has been someone I’ve admired for years, but never really thought I would see in person. I think Jerry Springer will be cool too. I’m sure he will have some interesting things to say.”

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson will speak Feb. 12 with a lecture called “Fair Game.” Plame Wilson gained national attention in 2003 when her covert identity was revealed in a syndicated newspaper column after her husband accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence in order to invade Iraq.

Filmmaker and activist Spike Lee will take center stage March 4, giving his lecture, “Celebrating Black History Does Not End in February.” Lee has been creating controversial films and documentaries since the mid-80s, with works like She’s Gotta Have It, Malcom X and most recently When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which discussed New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina.

ULS wraps on April 10 with twin brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber. Tiki Barber has made a reputation as a renaissance man with his diversified work as an NBC correspondent, NFL Pro Bowl running back, Sirius Satellite Radio host, scholar and philanthropist. Ronde Barber is most known for being an NFL cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he also contributes to the community through his focus on youth education and mentorship.

With such a varied list of guest speakers, ULS aims to satisfy the even more diverse USF student body.

“Our theme changes from year to year,” Dolinger said. “But the overall message remains the same: We want everyone on this campus to think critically, speak often, and realize that diversity is on this campus, be it race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and every way that makes us all different. We must respect this concept and foster it any way possible.”