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Philadelphia Speakers Series Announces 2014-15 Season

Award-winning actor Alan Alda

Actor Alan Alda, known for his roles on M*A*S*H and The West Wing, kicks off the 2014-15 season on September 29.

Last night, the Philadelphia Speakers Series announced the speakers for its 2014-15 season – seven lectures on Monday evenings at 8 p.m. at The Kimmel Center.

Presented by Widener University and celebrating its 11th season this fall, the series will feature award-winning actor Alan Alda (September 29), former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (October 20), film documentary producer/director Ken Burns (November 10), former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (January 5, 2015), former Presidential advisor and current CNN political commentator David Gergen (February 9, 2015), Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough (March 16, 2015), and former CBS News anchorman Dan Rather (May 4, 2015).

"Widener University is proud to present the Philadelphia Speakers Series, an outstanding opportunity for our community to benefit from the perspectives of national and world leaders, authors, activists, historians, humanitarians and other influential individuals," said Widener University President James T. Harris, III. "We look forward to seven more powerful and memorable evenings that will both enlighten and inform our audiences."

Philadelphia Speakers SeriesFrom Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H to Arnold Vinick on The West Wing, Alan Alda has been a staple on American television for more than four decades. He earned 32 Emmy nominations and six Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. Well known for California Suite, The Four Seasons and other movies, he also was nominated for an Academy Award for The Aviator.

Julia Gillard's political career was crowned by her service as Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Australian Labor Party from 2010 to 2013. She was the first woman to hold either position. Born in Wales, Gillard moved with her family to Adelaide when she was a child. Her earlier political career included numerous cabinet and shadow cabinet positions.

Ken Burns has directed and produced some of the most acclaimed documentaries ever made, including The Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994), The War (2007) and Prohibition (2011). His films have won 12 Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations. In 2008, Burns received the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award.

Named one of America's 10 Best Senators by Time magazine in 2006, Olympia Snowe became widely known for her ability to influence the outcome of close votes in the U.S. Senate. She was the youngest Republican woman elected to the U.S. Congress and is also the first woman to have served in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of the U.S. Congress.

David Gergen served as a presidential advisor during the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Now a senior political analyst for CNN and a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, his election team coverage has twice won the Peabody Award, once with the MacNeil/Lehrer Report and once with CNN.

David McCullough is the acclaimed author of Truman, John Adams, and most recently, The Greater Journey. This two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award has been called a national treasure. A gifted storyteller, he has narrated several PBS documentaries, including The Civil War and Napoleon, and the motion picture Seabiscuit.

Dan Rather anchored the CBS Evening News for 24 years, from 1981 to 2005. During this time, he also contributed to CBS's 60 Minutes. Rather is now the managing editor and anchor of the cable television news magazine, Dan Rather Reports. In 2012, he released his bestseller, Rather Outspoken, his book on his life and the state of journalism today.

Presented by Widener University, the Philadelphia Speakers Series is sponsored by WHYY and The Haverford Trust Company.

The Philadelphia Speakers Series is sold by series subscription only. Subscription prices range from $265 to $515. (Prices are for tickets to all seven lectures.) For subscriptions or information, visit, or call 215-893-1955.

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 and professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate's, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, PA, and Wilmington, DE, serve approximately 6,300 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. For information, visit