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Presidential Lecture Series

OCTOBER 22, 2015

21st Century Cures: Advances in Autism
Suzanne and Bob Wright
Co-founders of Autism Speaks
Peterson Chapel, Cowles Hall, 6:00 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public.  

Suzanne and Bob Wright are Co-founders of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. Inspired by the challenges facing their grandson who suffers from autism, they launched the foundation in February 2005.

Bob Wright served as Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, of the General Electric Company and also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal. Bob joined NBC as President and Chief Executive Officer on September 1, 1986, and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal until May 1, 2007. Bob had one of the longest and most successful tenures of any media company chief executive, with more than two decades at the helm of one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. He has a strong history of philanthropy and community service, for which he has received numerous awards and accolades. He serves on the boards of Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, LLC, EMI Group Global Ltd., and AMC Networks Inc., and is a Trustee of the New York Presbyterian hospital. He is also Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and Senior Advisor of THL Capital. Bob is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and of the Law School of University of Virginia.

Since its inception, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides raising over $325 million committing over $180 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its “Light It Up Blue” initiative. Also, Autism Speaks’ award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received $323 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a Grandparent School Kit, and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 30 states thus far. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

In 2008, Suzanne and Bob were named in Time 100’s Heroes and Pioneers category, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the NYU Child Advocacy Award, the Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award, the American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award and the Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy 2011 Leadership Award. In the past few of years the Wrights have received honorary doctorate degrees from St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University, Fairfield University and UMass Medical School – they delivered respective commencement addresses at the first three of these schools. The Wrights are the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor in St. John’s and Fairfield University’s history.

The Wrights have three children and six grandchildren. 

MAY 19, 2016
Garrison Keillor
Master Storyteller and Host of Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion 
7:00 p.m., Clemens Center

One of the most prolific American storytellers of all time, Garrison Keillor is a writer and humorist best known for his popular live radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, which attracts more than 4 million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations each week.

Keillor is also the host of the daily radio and online program, The Writers Almanac, and the editor of several anthologies of poetry, most recently, Good Poems: American Places. A best-selling author, he has published more than two dozen books, including Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, Pilgrims, Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny, and Homegrown Democrat. In 2006, Keillor played himself alongside a cast that included Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and Kevin Kline, in the critically acclaimed film adaptation of A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman.

With Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, Keillor has also been honored with the National Humanities Medal, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

Offering insight and stories from his journey as one of America’s greatest storytellers, Keillor captivates audiences with his unique blend of comedy, charisma and wisdom.

For Tickets
607-734-8191 / 800-724-0159 /
Hours: M-F 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
(Orders taken at the Clemens Center by Window/Phone/Door/Internet)