This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of John Amaechi

Recent Speakers on Campus

Former NBA player John Amaechi (pictured right) visited campus on October 8 to talk about his life experiences and new autobiography, Man in the Middle. In February 2007, Amaechi was the first player in the NBA to come out as a gay man, and his visit was featured as part of the Coming Out Week at the college. He currently serves as an official spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out Project. Though he did not begin playing basketball until he was 17, Amaechi quickly rose to become a power forward and center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, and Utah Jazz from 1995 to 2003.

Dr. John Mather, who shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics with cosmologist George Smoot for their work on the Big Bang theory of creation, delivered the Matthew Vassar Lecture to a standing-room-only crowd on October 29. Mather, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and Smoot analyzed data from NASA’s Cosmic Background explorer that revealed primordial hot and cold spots in the cosmic microwave background radiation. Their research and discovery helped popularize the Big Bang theory. In 2007, Mather was listed among Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, delivered the William F. Starr lecture on September 27 to a full audience in the Vassar Chapel. O’Brien’s 1995 novel, In the Lake of the Woods, was this year’s Freshman Course text and provided a context to discuss the role of the citizen and the writer during a time of war. O’Brien has received numerous awards for his books, including the National Book Award in Fiction, and The Things They Carried was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle.

On Oct. 24, Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, delivered the annual William Gifford Lecture. The critically acclaimed author has published 13 books of poetry, a memoir of his Sri Lankan childhood and several award-winning novels. The English Patient (1992) received the Booker Prize for fiction and was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1996.

Terry Gross, the host and co-executive producer of National Public Radio’s Peabody Award-winning program “Fresh Air,” came to campus on October 4 to discuss her show and her journalistic style. NPR’s “Fresh Air,” a weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, has more than 4.7 million listeners on 450 public radio stations. In 2004, Gross published a collection of her favorite interviews, entitled All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists.

November 2007


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