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Big names announced for ULS, Frontier Forum, Homecoming

Laverne Cox will come to campus to speak for the University Lecture Series.

To end Week of Welcome with a bang, several prominent speakers were announced for future lectures on campus, and Center for Student Involvement (CSI) also announced the headliner for this year’s homecoming after party.

Receiving the most applause at Friday’s Round-Up comedy show were the announcements of trans activist Laverne Cox, who will speak as part of the University Lecture Series (ULS) in the spring, and rapper Big Sean, who will perform at this year’s Homecoming in October.

The day before, social media on campus was abuzz with the announcement that former Star Trek actor and LGBT advocate George Takei will come to campus in April as part of the Frontier Forum Lecture Series, presented by the USF Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Faculty and sponsored by the USF Office of the Provost and the USF College of Arts and Sciences.

The first speaker announced for ULS is RJ Mitte, who played Walter White Jr. on AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” He and his character share the condition of cerebral palsy, and his lecture will cover overcoming adversity in the entertainment industry. Mitte also works as a celebrity ambassador on behalf of United Cerebral Palsy. 

He will speak Sept. 16 in the MSC Ballroom, and his lecture will cost $18,500.

On March 21, Cox will come to USF to share her message of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically. Cox is the first transgender black woman to appear on a mainstream television show, beloved for her Emmy-nominated role as Sophia Burset on Netflix’s hit series “Orange is the New Black.” She is the first transgender black woman to appear on a mainstream television show.

ULS is contracted to pay $40,500 for Cox’s lecture. 

The announcement of hip-hop artist Big Sean, who will perform on campus Oct. 9, received some of the largest cheers at Friday’s Round-Up. Big Sean is best know for hits such as “Blessings” and “Dance (A$$),” both of which have cracked the Billboard Hot 100, along with other collaborations with rappers Kanye West and Drake. 

After leaving hints on social media and reaching 100 new likes on Facebook, the College of Arts and Sciences revealed its Frontier Forum speakers, forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu and author Laura Schroff.

Omalu, who will visit USF to speak Dec. 3, is known for performing the autopsy on Pittsburgh Steelers player Mike Webster and discovering a new disease he named “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” or CTE.  Actor Will Smith will play Omalu in the upcoming December 2015 movie, “Concussion.”

Schroff, author of “An Invisible Thread,” is set to appear at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 25. Published in 2011, the book is a New York Times best-seller that covers the story of how Schroff became friends with a struggling homeless boy in New York City. Schroff’s story focuses on the impact a single act of kindness can make.

Last but not least, Takei was announced as a Frontier Forum speaker slotted for April 18 at 8 p.m. in the Sun Dome. 

Beyond his work as Sulu on the classic science-fiction show “Star Trek,” Takei is a prominent pop culture figure through his staggering social media presence on Facebook and Twitter and his vested interest in social issues. Takei also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.