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Philadelphia Speakers Series Presented by Widener University Announces 2013-2014 Season

Presented by Widener University, the Philadelphia Speakers Series will celebrate its 10th season during 2013-14 with another impressive lineup of politicians, authors, business and world leaders.

Seven evenings are scheduled at The Kimmel Center, with the opening event scheduled Tuesday, Oct. 1. Philadelphia Speakers Series 2012-2013

The Series will open with Bill Bryson, bestselling author and humorist, followed by George Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece, and Robert Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, Inc.; Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate; Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., former Ambassador to China & Singapore and former Governor of Utah; and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, will complete the season.

"Widener University is proud to celebrate 10 years of providing the Philadelphia region with one of the most unique cultural experiences in the United States, and we are thrilled to be able to offer yet another remarkable season of presenters to our students, alumni, faculty and Philadelphia area residents," said James T. Harris III, D.Ed., president of Widener University. "Our speakers represent some of the greatest minds of the 21st century and our audience should benefit greatly from the insights provided by these remarkable leaders." 

Speaking on Oct. 1, bestselling author and humorist Bill Bryson  has chronicled his travels around the world for nearly three decades. In 1989, Bryson published his first travel book, The Lost Continent, a hilarious memoir to taking trips through small-town America in his mother's Chevy. Since then, he has become one of the world's most beloved and prolific writers, chronicling everything from hiking the Appalachian Trail in the immensely popular A Walk in the Woods to his experience of moving from England to the United States in I'm a Stranger Here Myself. His most recent books include his 2006 memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, At Home: A Short History of Private Life in 2010, as well as several volumes of the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Other speakers include:

  • Oct. 14 - George Papandreou served as Prime Minister of Greece from 2009 to 2011. Named as one of Foreign Policy Magazine's "Top 100 Global Thinkers" in 2010 for "making the best of Greece's worst year," he led the Greek government during the country's deepest crisis in post-war history, and helped shape the European response. Earlier in his career, he helped engineer the Greek-Turkish rapprochement as Foreign Minister (1999-2004) and has won several awards for his efforts to promote peace and democracy. Around the world, Papandreou has deployed 'Green Diplomacy,' calling for the protection of the environment. He also has championed human rights at home and abroad, and is an active supporter of the information society and e-democracy.
  • Nov. 11– Appointed Secretary of Defense by President Bush in 2006, Robert Gates continued in that capacity under President Obama. Earlier he served for 26 years in the CIA, serving as director of Central Intelligence from 1991 to 1993 and at the National Security Council. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon retirement, Gates now serves as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary. He also has been recognized with the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and has three times received the CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. He is the author of the memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insiders Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, published in 1996.
  • Jan. 13, 2014 – Called one of "Silicon Valley's most creative engineers," Wozniak single-handedly invented the early Apple computers, contributing significantly to the microcomputer revolution that followed. With Steve Jobs, he founded Apple Computer, Inc., leading its research and development. In 1981, he returned to the University of California Berkley and finished his degree in electrical engineering/computer science. For his achievements, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the highest honor bestowed on America's leading innovators. In 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame.
  • Feb. 24, 2014 – Dubbed "the most popular poet in America" by the New York Times, Billy Collins  was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute in Florida. He has published many collections of poetry and his latest book, Aimless Love, is being released in 2013.
  • March 31, 2014 – Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. began his career in public service as a staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He has since served four U.S. Presidents in critical roles around the world including Ambassador to Singapore, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Asia, U.S. Trade Representative and most recently, U.S. Ambassador to China. A graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, he has seven honorary doctorate degrees.
  • April 21, 2014 - Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-Winning historian and author whose 2005 book, Team of Rivals, was the basis for Steve Spielberg's 2012 Academy-Award winning film, Lincoln. Working as an assistant to President Johnson, her first book, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, became a New York Times bestseller and launched her literary career. She also is winner of the Pulitzer Prize for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

All of the presentations will begin at 8 p.m. at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are sold by series subscription only; prices range from $265 to $495 per person. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact the ticket office as soon as possible to order tickets. For more information, visit or call 215-893-1955.

Presented by Widener University, the Series is sponsored by WHYY.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton, Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,500 students. Visit the university website,