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Inaugural events highlight responsibilities of higher education

Symposia to examine University’s role in the city and world

When Boston University opens its doors to the world on April 27 to celebrate Robert Brown’s inauguration as president, it will put its best faces forward.

Four academic symposia, scheduled for Friday, April 28, will bring together leaders from throughout the BU community to discuss the University’s responsibility to its students, its role in the city, and its place in the world as a research institution. The panels, featuring faculty and staff from both the Charles River and Medical Campuses, as well as guests from the Boston Architectural Center and WBUR, will explore BU’s past and present and the challenges ahead.

“As President Brown has stated, Boston University is a great private, urban, research university engaged in the city and the world, and the symposia reflect these attributes,” says David Campbell, the provost of the University. “The four symposia planned for the day all enhance these characteristics and the inaugural theme of Celebrating Our Legacy, Forging Our Future: Boston University and Beyond.”

The morning symposium, BU and the World, begins at 9 a.m. and its topic is The Role and Responsibility of a Great University to Address the Critical Global Issues of Our Time. Led by Gerald T. Keusch, the assistant provost of the Medical Campus and director of the Global Health Initiative, and Ronald K. Richardson, the director of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences African-American Studies Program, the panel includes Dana Robert, the Truman Collins Professor of World Mission, from the School of Theology, and Elie Wiesel (Hon.’74), the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, from the University Professors Program.

BU and the City, the second symposium, is scheduled for 11 a.m., and Karen Antman, the provost of the Medical Campus and dean of the School of Medicine, and Douglas Sears, the dean of the School of Education, will lead in a discussion of the topic Making President Murlin’s Vision Real. Lemuel Murlin was the third president of Boston University, from 1911 to 1924; his goal was to create a university “in the heart of the city, in the service of the city.” Participants include Delores Handy, the afternoon anchor on WBUR, and Tin Le (SMG’01), a graduate of SED’s Upward Bound program.

The third, BU and Research, at 2 p.m., addresses Debating the Practice of Scientific Research: Promises and Pitfalls of Interdisciplinary Research Within Universities. It will be led by Bennett Goldberg, the chairman of the College of Arts and Sciences physics department, and Kenneth Lutchen, the chairman of the College of Engineering biomedical engineering department, and among the participants are Aram Chobanian, president emeritus of the University, and Gloria Waters, the dean of Sargent College.

The final symposium, BU and Education: Diversity, asks, What Is Higher Education’s Obligation to Address Inequality in a Pluralistic World? Kenneth Elmore, the dean of students, and Linda Wells, the dean of the College of General Studies, will lead, and participants include Theodore Landsmark, CEO of the Boston Architectural Center, Charles Glenn, the chair of administration, training, and policy at SED, and Shahla Haeri, a CAS associate professor of anthropology. The panel begins at 4 p.m.

All symposia are free and open to the public and will be held in the SMG Auditorium at 595 Commonwealth Ave. More information is available on the inauguration Web site.