Distributed May 10, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis



Commencement 2001

Laura Linney, Barry Scheck to headline Commencement Forums
Brown’s 31st annual Commencement Forums, to be offered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, 2001, will feature presentations by leaders in the fields of science, technology, law and entertainment.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Actors Laura Linney and Tim Blake Nelson, Oscar-winning special effects wizard Scott Anderson and famed attorney Barry Scheck are among the speakers headlining Brown University’s 31st annual Commencement Forums Saturday, May 26, 2001.

An integral part of the University’s Commencement/Reunion weekend, the Commencement Forums draw upon the knowledge, talent and expertise of Brown alumni, faculty, parents and special guests to consider timely social, political and personal issues. An outgrowth of the campus teach-ins of the early 1970s, the forums offer a window on the intellectual world of Brown. This year’s speakers will share lessons learned in the arenas of law, medicine, technology, history and entertainment.

Eighteen forums will be offered on May 26, beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing throughout the day in various locations on campus. Each session will last 60 to 90 minutes and will include time for questions from the audience. All forums are free and open to the public on a space available basis.

Editors: Times and locations are subject to change. For the latest information, contact the News Service at (401) 863-2476 or visit the Web site (www.brown.edu/news) for updates.

Those with special needs who plan to attend should contact the University at least 24 hours in advance by calling University Events at (401) 863-2474 during business hours or Brown Police and Security at (401) 863-3322 after business hours.

The forum schedule is attached:

9 a.m.

  • Laura Linney ’86 and Tim Blake Nelson ’86 on The Business of Show Business
    Academy Award Best Actress nominee Laura Linney ’86 and actor/director Tim Blake Nelson ’86 will speak on “The Business of Show Business” in Room 101 of the Richard and Edna Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. Linney has appeared in more than 20 films, earning acclaim for her performance as Jim Carrey’s wife in The Truman Show and her Oscar-nominated turn last year in You Can Count on Me. Nelson most recently appeared alongside George Clooney in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? and is now filming Minority Report with Tom Cruise. Both have made it to the big screen through talent and hard work, and they’ll share the lessons they’ve learned on their way to success.


  • James G. Blight on Chasing Wilson’s Ghost
    James G. Blight, professor of international relations at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies, will present “Chasing Wilson’s Ghost” in the main auditorium of the Albert and Vera List Art Building, 64 College St. Drawing upon his recently published book, Wilson’s Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing and Catastrophe in the 21st Century (co-written with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara), Blight will examine the lessons of past conflict and carnage and offer a pragmatic historical and philosophical argument for avoiding war and achieving sustainable peace.


  • The Class of 1951 Forum – A Culture of Corruption: The Future of Values in America
    Stanley M. Aronson, dean emeritus of the Brown Medical School, will moderate a forum on “A Culture of Corruption: The Future of Values in America” in Sayles Hall on The College Green, with Neil B. Donovan ’51 (president of Pacific Coast Brands, Inc.), Paul S. Nadler ’51 (professor of finance at Rutgers University Graduate School), Lucile F. Newman ’51 (professor emeritus of community health) and Mordecai K. Rosenfeld ’51 (securities lawyer and author). The panelists will reflect on the ethical, moral and religious trends of the past several decades and speculate on the role “good old fashioned values” may play in America’s future.


  • Lawrence Small ’63 on A 21st Century Smithsonian
    Lawrence Small ’63, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, will present a forum titled “21st-Century Smithsonian” in Room 001 of the Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. Small will offer insight on how the 155-year-old Smithsonian – the foremost caretaker of the American heritage – will capture the soul and significance of the last years of the 20th century while maintaining the relevance of its older exhibits.


  • Jon Beckwith on DNA as Destiny: Debunking the Myth
    Pioneering geneticist Jon Beckwith will speak on “DNA as Destiny: Debunking the Myth” in a forum in C.V. Starr Auditorium in W. Duncan MacMillan Hall, 167 Thayer St. In 1969 Beckwith, a geneticist at Harvard University Medical School, became the first scientist to isolate a gene. In this forum, he will reflect on the historical and contemporary role of genetics in society and offer a perspective on the recently discovered human genome map.

10:15 a.m.

  • Scott Anderson ’86 on Hollow Men and Invisible People: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Building a Digital Human
    Special effects wizard Scott Anderson ’86, an Oscar winner for his talking barnyard animals in Babe, will discuss his greatest challenge to date – creating a digital human being for the movie Hollow Man – in the forum “Hollow Men and Invisible People: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Building a Digital Human” in Room 101 of the Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. Anderson, who was also the creator of the army of alien space ships in Starship Troopers, led a team of special effects specialists in a two-year effort to recreate the human body for Hollow Man; he’ll talk about the artistic, physiological, dramatic and technical issues and processes they dealt with in creating their Academy Award-nominated digital version of actor Kevin Bacon.


  • Biersteker, Cooper, Eustis and Gleason on An Encounter in Copenhagen
    [Note changes: This forum had been scheduled for 2:15 p.m. in the Salomon Center.]
    Thomas Biersteker, director of Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies, Nobel Prize-winning Professor of Physics Leon Cooper, Trinity Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Professor of History Abbott Gleason will present a forum on “An Encounter in Copenhagen” in Stuart Theatre. Panel members offered a new course at Brown this spring based on Michael Frayn’s Tony Award-winning play Copenhagen. Now they’ll bring their interdisciplinary perspective to this discussion of the September 1941 meeting between Germany’s top atomic scientist, Werner Heisenberg, and Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr – a meeting that reunited two Nobel Prize-winning physicists, once mentor and student, who found themselves on opposite sides of a terrible war.


  • Christopher Chyba on Extraterrestrial Life: Just Around the Corner?
    Christopher Chyba, the Carl Sagan Chair for the Study of Life in the Universe at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, will present a forum titled “Extraterrestrial Life: Just Around the Corner?” in the Starr Auditorium of MacMillan Hall, 167 Thayer St. An associate professor in geosciences at Stanford University, Chyba will review the intriguing clues in our solar system, as well as the detection of an abundance of distant planets, that suggest there may be extraterrestrial environments suitable for life.


  • Marie Brenner on Great Dames
    Marie Brenner, writer-at-large for Vanity Fair, will present a forum titled “Great Dames” in the main auditorium of the List Art Center, 64 College St. Brenner, who is known for her edgy journalism, recently published Great Dames: What I Learned from Older Women, a collection of intimate portraits of some of the most remarkable women of the last century; she’ll discuss how these same women serve as role models for young women who aspire to both professional success and traditional femininity.


  • James T. Patterson on A Troubled Legacy: Brown v. Board of Education Nearly 50 Years Later
    James T. Patterson, Ford Foundation Professor of History at Brown, will discuss a half-century of race relations and school desegregation efforts in the forum “A Troubled Legacy: Brown v. Board of Education Nearly 50 Years Later” in Room 001 of the Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. Drawing from his latest book, Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy, Patterson will consider whether the Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark ruling was the milestone it was expected to be.


  • Barry Scheck on DNA for the Defense: The Innocence Project
    Famed attorney Barry Scheck, perhaps best known as a member of the O.J. Simpson defense team, will present “DNA for the Defense: The Innocence Project” in a forum in Sayles Hall on The College Green. Currently a professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University, Scheck now leads the Innocence Project, a pro bono legal assistance program for convicts challenging their guilty verdicts with new DNA evidence – resulting in the overturning of 37 convictions since its founding in 1992. Scheck will look at DNA technology and the future of criminal defense in the United States.

2:15 p.m.

  • Margaret H. Marshall on Judicial Independence: A Mighty Invention
    Margaret H. Marshall, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, will lead a forum on “Judicial Independence: A Mighty Invention” in Sayles Hall on The College Green. A passionate scholar of constitutional democracy, Marshall will explore the effects of John Quincy Adams’ constitutional model on new democracies and old, from South Africa and Slovenia to Canada and Britain.


  • Alan Zametkin ’77 M.D. on Readin’, Writin’ and Ritalin
    Neuroscientist Alan Zametkin ’77 M.D. will discuss “Readin’, Writin’ and Ritalin” in a forum in Room 001 of the Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. It was 11 years ago that Zametkin, currently senior staff psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health, revealed in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that hyperactivity in children and adults is a biological disorder diagnosable with medical imaging and treatable with medications such as ritalin. He’ll review the lessons of the past decade and offer perspective on coming developments in the field of hyperactivity treatment.


  • Karl Jacoby ’87 and John Thomas on National Parks: Whose Land?
    Assistant Professor of History Karl Jacoby ’87 and John Thomas, Brown’s George L. Littlefield Professor of American History, will discuss “National Parks: Whose Land?” in a forum in the Starr Auditorium of MacMillan Hall, 167 Thayer St. Drawing from their recent books, A Country in the Mind and Crimes Against Nature, Jacoby and Thomas will examine the struggle between conservationists attempting to save the country’s wilderness from encroachment and the residents and workers displaced from those protected lands.

3:30 p.m.

  • Spencer Crew ’71 on The Authorized Exhibit: History and Culture in the American Museum
    Spencer Crew ’71 will lead a forum on “The Authorized Exhibit: History and Culture in the American Museum” in Room 101 of the Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. As the American population changes, museums and other cultural institutions are challenged to fully represent its diverse experience. Crew will discuss how to bear witness to all American histories and balance popular and political opinion with a scholar’s concerns.


  • Lawrence Corey on The Road to an HIV Vaccine: The Intersection of Science, Policy, Frustration and Hope
    Lawrence Corey, head of the Virology Division at the University of Washington and the program in infectious diseases at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will speak on “The Road to an HIV Vaccine: The Intersection of Science, Policy, Frustration and Hope” in Sayles Hall on The College Green. With new drugs extending the lives of HIV patients, many Americans believe the AIDS crisis is over – despite the fact that these treatments remain unavailable to more than 90 percent of those infected with HIV. Corey will discuss the competing interests and issues influencing the quest for an HIV vaccine.


  • Perales, Sherman and Stotland on How Can We Do Right When the Climate is “Right”? Standing Up for Social Justice in a Conservative Administration
    Three alumnae of Brown’s Women’s Studies Program – Nina Perales ’87, an attorney with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Political Access Program; Laurie Sherman ’84, health, education and human services advisor for the mayor of Boston; and Eve Stotland ’95, a staff attorney at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, California – will lead a forum titled “How Can We Do Right When the Climate is ‘Right’? Standing Up for Social Justice in a Conservative Administration” in Room 001 of the Salomon Center for Teaching on The College Green. These public interest attorneys will consider the changes that may occur under President George W. Bush.


  • Debra L. Lee ’76 on From Laugh Track to Fast Track: Black Family Images on Television
    Debra L. Lee ’76, president and COO of Black Entertainment Television, will present a forum titled “From Laugh Track to Fast Track: Black Family Images on Television” in Starr Auditorium in MacMillan Hall, 167 Thayer St. Nearly a decade after the trailblazing success of The Cosby Show, only a handful of prime-time sitcoms offer a similar weekly window into African American homes. Lee will survey the new landscape of programming and the changing television images of black families.

#####