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Bill Moyers Headlines Alumni Weekend

Thousands return to campus today


Veteran journalist Bill Moyers will give this year’s Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture on October 29. Photo courtesy of PBS

Alumni will return to BU this weekend to catch up with classmates, attend open houses, art exhibitions, and classes led by star faculty, take campus tours, and mingle at parties, luncheons, and receptions.

Nearly 4,000 alums and their families and friends are expected to attend Alumni Weekend 2010, which will feature the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture, delivered by veteran broadcast journalist Bill Moyers; the presentation of the annual Boston University Distinguished Alumni Awards; Alumni College classes on the midterm elections, nutrition, hoarding, and children’s literature; and an Oktoberfest-themed tailgate party followed by a Terrier men’s ice hockey game against UMass Lowell at Agganis Arena. Events are also open to BU students, parents, faculty, and staff.

Alumni Weekend, October 29-31, is the BU Alumni Association’s biggest alumni event of the year, says Meg Umlas, executive director of alumni relations. “It’s a time when we welcome all alumni back to campus to reconnect with old friends and make new ones,” she says.

One of the marquee events kicking off the weekend is tonight’s Zinn lecture at 7 p.m. in the GSU large ballroom. It’s the first lecture in the annual series following the death last January of the political activist and author who taught in the College of Arts & Sciences political science department for 24 years. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Moyers’ career in broadcast journalism has spanned four decades. He was executive editor of public television’s Bill Moyers Journal and later became senior news analyst for CBS Evening News and chief correspondent for the documentary series CBS Reports. He established Public Affairs Television in 1986 and produced hundreds of hours of programming with his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers. Their weekly public affairs series, Bill Moyers Journal, was relaunched in 2007.

Before entering broadcasting, Moyers was deputy director of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration and was a special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1963 to 1967, including two years as White House press secretary. He left the White House in January 1967 to become publisher of Newsday.

Moyers retired from television this year and now serves as president of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.

Another weekend hallmark is the presentation of the BU Distinguished Alumni Awards, the highest honor the University bestows on its graduates. This year’s recipients are Roger Dorf (ENG’70), retired vice president of Cisco Systems; Christine Hunter (CAS’80, MED’80), a U.S. Navy rear admiral and deputy director of TRICARE Management Activity, which coordinates health care for military beneficiaries around the world; and Howard Koh (SPH’95), assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Read an interview with Koh here.) Parul Vadehra (COM’03) of New Delhi, India, will receive the Young Alumni Award. The weekend also will feature the presentation of alumni awards by individual schools and colleges.

This year’s President’s Panel, hosted by President Robert A. Brown, is titled Challenges of Healthcare—Perspectives on Our Future. Moderated by Karen Antman, School of Medicine dean and Medical Campus provost, the panel will feature four national experts: George Annas, a BU William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and chair of the School of Public Health’s department of health law, bioethics, and human rights; BU trustee Cleve Killingsworth, Jr., retired president of Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield; Thomas Lee, CEO of Partners Community Healthcare; and Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center. The discussion begins at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in the GSU’s small ballroom.

The Alumni College classes will cover a variety of subjects, including the panel discussion The Swinging Pendulum of U.S. Politics, with faculty from the College of Arts & Sciences political science department. Joan Salge-Blake (SAR’84), a Sargent College clinical associate professor of nutrition, and Stacey Zawacki (SAR’98), director of BU’s Nutrition & Fitness Center, will talk about nutrition and longevity, and Gail Steketee, dean of the School of Social Work and an expert on hoarding, will discuss the problem, its symptoms, and treatments.

One of the new events this year is a central affinity party, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the College of General Studies. Returning affinity groups and networks include BU Bands, Community Service Center, resident assistants, and black, Latino, and LGBT alumni. The central setting, Umlas says, will allow alums to mingle, chat, and enjoy cocktails with one another.

“Fall is a lovely time of year to be in Boston,” Umlas says, “and this weekend, which offers more than 100 events and engages alumni from each school and college, is the perfect time to return to campus.”

A full schedule of Alumni Weekend activities is available here. A hospitality tent, with refreshments and information, will be open on Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Marsh Plaza.

A SCVNGR check-in will be announced during the first period of the men’s hockey game on Saturday evening. Attendees with smartphones will be given the chance to download the app, and then everyone will simultaneously check in during the first intermission. If attendees do the social check-in and another challenge, they can win free popcorn (supplies are limited). One lucky check-in will receive a limited edition Frozen Fenway jersey, courtesy of the Dean of Students Office.

Join in more Halloween Alumni Weekend fun with a SCVNGR trek (set of themed challenges) called The Ghosts of BU, which harkens back to famous alumni and other characters and buildings from BU’s past. The trek is available here.

Cynthia K. Buccini can be reached at cbuccini@bu.edu.

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