Fairfield University's Open VISIONS Forum announces an intriguing 2004-05 season


Open VISIONS Forum, an outreach program of Fairfield University's University College, announces its eighth season, featuring distinguished and diverse speakers from the worlds of art, culture and public affairs. They are: Award-winning authors Salman Rushdie and John Irving; "Sopranos" actress Jamie-Lynn DiScala; journalists Howard Fineman and Charlayne Hunter-Gault; humanitarian and children's advocate Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia; Daniel Libeskind, lead architect on the new World Trade Center site; and Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., the counselor of death row inmates who wrote Dead Man Walking.

Salman RushdieTickets will be available on May 17.

Acclaimed author Salman Rushdie, whose controversial book The Satanic Verses won the 1988 Whitbread Award and sent him into hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini called for zealous Muslims to kill him, opens the series on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. Born Muslim in Bombay, India, Rushdie released his first book, Grimus, in 1975, following it with the Booker prize-winning Midnight's Children in 1981. Often considering murky religious and political situations through satire, fantasy and mythology, his books have both enlightened and enraged. But despite harsh criticism and even death threats, he continues to add to his intriguing legacy.

Jamie-Lynn DiscalaJamie-Lynn Discala, best known as brainy, acerbic mafia daughter Meadow Soprano on HBO's acclaimed series "The Sopranos," will speak on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m. Discala first came to prominence in the mob drama, but she's been adding to her resume ever since, most recently with the title role in the USA network's "Going Down: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss." Discala unveiled her clear soprano voice in her Broadway debut as Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" in 2002 and in the national tour of "Cinderella" opposite Eartha Kitt in 2001. A survivor of anorexia, which she detailed in her book "Wise Girl," she is a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association. Her appearance is co-presented by the Fairfield University Student Association.

Howard FinemanHoward Fineman, Newsweek's chief political correspondent and deputy Washington bureau chief, takes the stage on Monday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. A nationally respected writer and commentator on politics, Fineman is also an NBC news analyst and was named one of the country's foremost political reporters by Washingtonian magazine. Over the years, he has covered the rise of the religious right, the power of talk radio, race and politics, the Clinton administration and scandals, the impact of digital technology and the candidacies of Gary Hart, Pat Buchanan, Jesse Jackson, Ross Perot, Steve Forbes and Bob Dole. The Forbes Media Guide lauded him as a "standout in the press corps."

Princess Elizabeth of YugoslaviaPrincess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia left her homeland as a child nearly 50 years ago, but her heart has always been with the people of that war-torn region. Praised by the Associated Press for being among the first to launch an international effort for humanitarian aid through the United Nations and her Princess Elizabeth Foundation, this outspoken advocate has worked with world leaders from Mother Teresa to Mikhail Gorbachev to the Dalai Lama to promote peace. Her efforts have meant much-needed food, clothing, supplies and schooling for thousands of refugees, children and others. She will deliver Fairfield University's annual Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lecture on Monday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m.

The Jacoby-Lunin lecture was created in 1951 to promote causes of humanity and brotherhood. The lecture is presented in affiliation with the University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies.

Daniel LibeskindDaniel Libeskind, lead architect of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, will speak on Sunday, January 23, at 3 p.m. Born in Poland, Libeskind became an American citizen in 1965 and began his career as a professional musician. He left music to study architecture at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and has developed an international reputation for designs for the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Maurice Wohl Convention Centre in Tel Aviv, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and many other sites. He is the first architect to win the Hiroshima Art Prize, which is given to an artist whose work promotes international understanding and peace.

Charlayne Hunter-GaultCharlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN's Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent will be the featured speaker on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m. Hunter-Gault, joined CNN in 1999, after spending two years as National Public Radio's chief correspondent in Africa. Prior to that she had a 20-year career with PBS, where she was a national correspondent for "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer." She anchored the award-winning "Rights and Wrongs," a newsmagazine dealing with human rights, and has won two Emmy awards, two Peabody awards and other honors for her work. She has also written for the New Yorker, spent a decade at the New York Times, and is the author of In My place, a memoir of her role in the Civil Rights Movement as the first black woman admitted to the University of Georgia. Fairfield University's Center for Multicultural Relations is co-presenting Hunter-Gault's appearance.

John IrvingOne of America's most respected novelists, John Irving, will take the Quick Center stage on Sunday, March 20, at 3 p.m. beginning with Setting Free the Bears in 1969, Irving has spent more than three decades writing some of the country's best-loved books, including The Hotel New Hampshire, The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany and A Widow for One Year. Winner of the O. Henry award and the National Book Award, he won his first Academy award for his adapted screenplay of his own "The Cider House Rules" in 2000. In addition to writing, Irving has a passion for wrestling and has coached at several private preparatory schools. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992.

Helen PrejeanThe season concludes with Helen Prejean, C.S.J., a nun whose work counseling death row inmates led to her best-selling book Dead Man Walking and the Academy award-winning movie of the same title. Prejean, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, began her prison ministry in 1981, when she dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans. She used her experiences with condemned inmate Patrick Sonnier as the basis for Dead Man Walking, which made the 1994 American Library Associates Notable Book List, spent 31 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Prejean continues her crusade to educate the public about the death penalty and to counsel inmates. She has received countless awards for her work, which continues with her upcoming book on two possibly innocent men on death row. Prejean will deliver the third annual Ignatian Residential College lecture, funded in part by the Lilly Endowment, on Wednesday, April 6, at 8 p.m.

Open VISIONS Forum is an art, culture and public affairs lecture series designed to challenge "the life of the mind." Since its founding in 1997, the series has attracted a range of notable speakers, including actress Mia Farrow, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, PBS filmmaker Ken Burns, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and acclaimed author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D., professor of visual and performing arts, is director and moderator of the series.

All lectures take place in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University. Ticket prices are $25 for each lecture, with discounts available for senior citizens and students. For tickets or subscriptions, call the box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com. For information on becoming a patron of Open VISIONS Forum, call University College at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2688.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 10, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 269