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Distributed May 12, 2005
Contact Mark Nickel

The 237th Commencement
Broadway to Brain Science: Brown To Offer 19 Commencement Forums

Brown University’s 35th annual Commencement Forums will begin Saturday, May 28, 2005, at 9 a.m. Presenters, drawn from the ranks of University alumni, parents, honorary degree recipients and special guests, will present sessions ranging from arts and culture to biomedical science, history and biography to gender studies and international relations. All sessions are open to the public without charge.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Peru’s former U.N. and U.S. ambassador, an Academy Award nominee, and scientists involved in the U.S. and Soviet Cold War race to the moon are among more than two dozen presenters at Brown University’s 35th annual Commencement Forums Saturday, May 28, 2005.

An integral part of the University’s Commencement/Reunion Weekend, the Commencement Forums are an outgrowth of the campus teach-ins of the early 1970s. They offer a window on the intellectual world of Brown, drawing upon the knowledge, talent and expertise of Brown alumni, faculty, parents and special guests to consider timely social, political and personal issues.

Nineteen forums will be offered this year, with sessions running concurrently at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each session will last 60 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 ( for updates.

Persons with special needs who plan to attend a forum should contact the University at least 24 hours in advance by calling University Events at (401) 863-2474 during business hours or Brown Department of Public Safety at (401) 863-3322 after business hours.

A schedule of forums follows.

9 a.m.

  • The Joan and Frank Rothman Lecture:
    Chromosome Ends: Telomeres and Telomerase in Human Health and Disease
    MacMillan Hall, Room 115
    Elizabeth Blackburn, the Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology at the University of California–San Francisco, discusses the implications of her work with telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres, which cap and protect chromosomes. Telomeres and telomerase are important factors in human aging and the development of certain cancers.
  • Thinking Like a Girl? The Question of Women in Science and Mathematics
    MacMillan Hall, Room 117
    Anne Fausto-Sterling, professor of biology at Brown, and Cornelia Dean ’69, senior writer for The New York Times, discuss the continuing debate over whether women are innately less suited than men for work in science and mathematics. William Warren, professor of cognitive and linguistic sciences, moderates the discussion.
  • The Wilmeth Lecture in American Theatre:
    Regarding Broadway
    List Art Center, Room 120
    Laurence Maslon ’81, associate arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and coauthor of Broadway: The American Musical, discusses a century of change in the Broadway musical from the crossover revues of Ziegfeld to the financial juggernauts that bring the sound of Broadway around the globe. Clips from the PBS series highlight a perceptive view of this most exciting, frustrating and enduring art form. A book signing follows the forum.
  • Give and Take: Origins, Course and Future of American Philanthropy
    Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 001
    Warren Ilchman ’55, director of The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship Program for New Americans, explores the origins and growth of American philanthropy. Beginning with a comparison of the American experience to that of other countries and traditions, Ilchman will present an analysis of the factors that might adversely affect American philanthropy in years to come.
  • The Extraordinary Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island
    Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 101
    David McCullough, author, biographer and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, discusses his new book, 1776, about the men who marched with George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence. The book centers on two young American patriots, including Nathanael Greene, a Quaker and Rhode Island native, who was made a general at the age of 33. A book signing follows the forum.

10:30 a.m.

  • The Andean Countries Today and Tomorrow:
    Internal and External Options in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia
    Sayles Hall
    Julio Ortega, professor of Hispanic studies and director of the Transatlantic Project at Brown, moderates a discussion with Ricardo Luna, Peru’s former ambassador to the United Nations and the United States and now a Cogut Visiting Professor in the Center for Latin American Studies at Brown; Carolina Gallegos-Anda ’03, a Goldman-Sachs financial analyst for emerging debt capital markets; Rene Mayorga, a Bolivian scholar and professor of social sciences and a Cogut Visiting Professor in the Center for Latin American Studies at Brown; and Marcella Echavarria ’95, Colombian writer and founder of SUR, a gallery dedicated to arts and design.
  • The Maurice and Yetta Glicksman Lecture:
    The Changing Brain
    MacMillan Hall, Room 115
    Mark F. Bear ’84 Ph.D., an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, discusses the tremendous progress neuroscientists have made in understanding how experience modifies the brain. This knowledge has suggested new insights into the causes of, and potential treatment for, cognitive dysfunctions ranging from autism to age-related memory impairment.
  • The Ruth B. Sauber Distinguished Medical Alumni Lectureship:
    Sexual Chemistry Now and in the Future
    MacMillan Hall, Room 117
    Bonnie R. Saks ’72, ’75 M.D., clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of South Florida in Tampa and president-elect of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, outlines what psychosocial influences, sexual pharmacology, sex receptors and sexual enhancers have to do with medicine now and in our future.
  • One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana
    List Art Center, Room 120
    C.D. Wright, poet, professor of English, and MacArthur Fellow, discusses her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster to create striking portraits of isolated – yet very human – inmates in three Louisiana prisons. A book signing at the exhibit in the Bell Gallery follows the forum.
  • The History of the U.S./U.S.S.R. Race in Space Exploration
    and Its Implications for the New U.S. Initiative
    Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 001
    Wesley T. Huntress Jr. ’64, director of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution, and Sergei Khrushchev, senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies, review the Cold War race to the moon and discuss lessons that might provide important insight into President Bush’s exploration initiative.
  • The Fog of War: The Movie and the Book
    Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 101
    James G. Blight, professor of international relations (research), and janet M. Lang, adjunct associate professor of international relations (research), both at the Watson Institute for International Studies, have just published The Fog of War: Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara, based on the 2004 Academy Award-winning Errol Morris documentary film. They will screen a specially edited 37-minute excerpt from the movie and will discuss the lessons they draw from the film and book for war and peace in the 21st century. A book signing follows the forum.
  • Dave Eggers on Writing, Publishing, and More
    Smith-Buonanno Hall, Room 106
    David Eggers, author of How We Are Hungry, You Shall Know Our Velocity, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, explores the writing process, the publishing world and the many different ways to get involved in one’s community. Eggers will also speak about his current projects and respond to audience questions.

1 p.m.

  • Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs:
    Women’s Rights and Human Rights in Afghanistan
    Sayles Hall
    Sima Samar, chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and director of the Shuhada Organization, will describe the obstacles that Afghani women still face, including lack of resources, absence of security and lack of accountability for human rights violators. She will discuss current work to improve the situation for women’s rights and human rights in Afghanistan and what the international community can do to make a difference.
  • International Financial Diplomacy
    MacMillan Hall, Room 115
    Thomas J. Biersteker, director of the Watson Institute for International Studies, and Barbara Stallings, the William R. Rhodes Research Professor at the Watson Institute, will discuss the accumulated debt burden of developing countries and its recurring threats to the stability of the international financial system. William Rhodes ’57, who has represented the interests of private financial institutions in resolving global debt crises over the last quarter century, will also comment.
  • Neurotechnology: Reading Minds to Recreate Movement
    MacMillan Hall, Room 117
    John Donoghue ’79 Ph.D., the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience, and Gerhard Friehs, associate professor of clinical neurosciences (neurosurgery) discuss their groundbreaking research that led to the development of the BrainGate Neural Interface system. That implantable mind-to-movement system is enabling a quadriplegic man to control a computer using only his thoughts. The technology may lead to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders and possibly to the augmentation of human function.
  • Education for Civic Engagement: A Catholic Perspective
    List Art Building, Room 120
    The Rev. Philip A. Smith, president of Providence College, outlines how the depth and the breadth of education shapes both the quality and content of public discourse and presents the Catholic perspective on education for citizenship, the common good and solidarity, noting the strengths and the weaknesses of this tradition in the American context.
  • July Fireworks: The “Real” Deep Impact Mission to a Comet
    Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 001
    Peter Schultz, professor of geological sciences, explains the science of slamming an 820-pound projectile into a comet moving at 22,800 miles per hour. This historic NASA mission, called Deep Impact, will create an enormous crater, offering scientists their first look inside a comet, a time capsule that may hold clues about the formation and evolution of the solar system.
  • On Being A Woman in Film: From Brown Until Now
    Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 101
    Academy-Award nominee JoBeth Williams ’70 discusses what it’s like to be a woman in show business, the art versus the business aspects, her beginnings at Brown, and how they led to her success.
  • The Toy Box
    Rites and Reasons Theatre, Churchill House
    The Africana Studies Department presents this research-to-performance-method play about student diversity at Brown. The Toy Box is written by Brown undergraduate playwrights and directed by Donald W. King ’93.


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