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Presidential Lecture Series

The Presidential Lecture Series features distinguished speakers and topics related to the mission of Elmira College as well as the global society in the fields of science, health care, religion, education, media, technology, politics, business, culture, and the arts. The series aims to cultivate academic discourse outside of the classroom and foster a sense of community dedicated to academic excellence and social responsibility.

OCTOBER 22, 2015
21st Century Cures:  Advances in Autism
Robert Wright
Co-founder of Autism Speaks and Former CEO of NBC
6:00 p.m., Peterson Chapel, Cowles Hall
This event is free and open to the public.  

Bob Wright served as Vice Chairman and Executive Officer of the General Electric Company and also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal.  He 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 foremost media and entertainment companies. Bob Wright has a strong history of philanthropy and community service, for which he has received numerous awards and accolades. One of his most significant accomplishments is the establishment of Autism Speaks with his wife, Suzanne.  Bob and Suzanne founded Autism Speaks in 2005 after their grandson was diagnosed with autism, and in ten years it has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization.  

Under the Wrights’ leadership, Autism Speaks has raised and invested more than $550 million in science and medical research, advocacy, awareness and family service programs.  In addition, Autism Speaks has helped secure autism insurance coverage in 42 states and $3 billion in federal funding for autism research.  The organization has forged partnerships in more than 70 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness.  In the United States, Autism Speaks is credited with raising autism awareness by nearly 50 percent among parents of young children.  And each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in nearly 100 cities across North America.  Working with member countries, the Wrights helped establish the UN-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day, celebrated each year on April 2nd.  In 2015, more than 18,000 buildings, landmarks and monuments on all seven continents illuminated the sky blue as part of Autism Speaks’ annual Light It Up Blue campaign on World Autism Awareness Day.  The Wrights have also begun worldwide outreach to the faithful following the first ever Vatican Conference on Autism in November 2014, where they gave remarks, and then met and were inspired by Pope Francis.

Bob Wright serves on the boards of Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, 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, and is the former member of the Executive Committee of Rand Corporation and a former Board of Director of EMI Group Global Ltd. Bob Wright is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and of the Law School of University of Virginia.

Bob and Suzanne Wright 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)